- 03-15-2013, 04:17 PM #1
Ok, after two days of playing around my new 620 and trying to figure out how to sync my music collection, I believe I've seen some light, and I thought I would share what I found out, in case it may be useful.
How WP8 sync works?
When we plug our WP8's USB to the PC, the device is not mounted as "Mass Storage Device" like an USB drive, but as a MTP device, or at least this is what happens with my 620 (some people posted here that they actually get the memory card mounted with a letter assigned, so this is probably not universally true).
This means that our computer doesn't have full control of what is in the telephone or in the SD card: while being able to drag&drop files may let us think this way, the telephone is still "in charge" of controlling what comes in and out of its storage devices, and organizes everything according to its taste and the settings of the MTP-capable program we used to sync.
When we move a music file through WMP, the Metro or the desktop app, as well as dragging and dropping, the telephone stores the actual file in the "Music" folder, but then creates another file, containing the metadata (Title, album, artist, cover picture and so on) that links to the actual file. When we open the Music app on our phones, what we see is a list of these files containing the metadata, and not a list of the actual music files.
This implies that, if this "metadata file" is duplicated for some reason, there will be double entries in the list. In the same way, if the metadata contains wrong information, those will be displayed on the phone, doesn't matter what the real metadata in the actual files are. We can even delete the actual file from the device, but it will still be in the phone's list (and won't be able to play).
If you want to check, go into Folder Options from the control panel and select "Show hidden files" and deselect "Hide operating system files". Navigating into the Music folders of your phone, you will find some hidden directories named Album, Artist and Playlist, with inside the "metadata files" I'm talking about.
What actually causes the issues with the syncing process is that every program we use to sync the device creates these metadata files in a different way: I still don't have clear which app does what, but some of them puts the metafiles in the telephone memory (even if the actual music is on the SD), some other puts it in the memory card, and some other again just adds "link" in an already existing files without bothering cancelling the old links.
So, how do we get rid of duplicate entries?
1- First of all, activate the hidden files and operating system files from the folder options
2- Navigate in the "Music" folder of your telephone and get rid of all these files. For the SD, you can do the same, but I suggest formatting it from the telephone.
3- Also erase the eventual music files. You won't see them in the telephone and you don't want them to waste your storage space.
4- To check if you removed everything, just open the music player on the phone: if it says "there is nothing here" everywhere, you're done.
5- If you haven't already done it, deselect all the "go online and download information about the artists" thing in Xbox Music: that's another app that could create duplicates.
6- Now that your telephone is clean, choose an MTP-capable app: personally, I would recommend Mediamonkey or Windows Media Player over the phone companion apps.
7- Sync the music on the telephone with the app you chose, and, most important thing, stick to it. Don't use other apps, don't drag&drop files around. Just stick to the app you chose to do any modification in your music library, and everything should work just fine.
Cool, but even this way, my music is still messed up and my covers are missing. Why?
WP8 has a particular way of handling ID3 tags of a song: from what I've been able to see, the Album Artist field "wins" over the Artist one, and that seems legit.
What is less intuitive is the way the "Artists" categories are created: in order to be shown in the "Artists" list, a song must have BOTH an Artist or Album Artist tag AND an Album tag. If the Album tag is not properly filled in, the song will show up as "Unknown artist". Another "weird rule" is about the "Composer" tag: if this doesn't match with the Artist, the album will be shown as "Unknown Artist". And there probably a lot more of these "weird rules" we don't know about.
I hope this long post helps. Feel free to more information, or to make observations.
- 03-15-2013, 04:49 PM #2
I will need to go through this when I have time. I don't have duplication issues (yet) but I want to understand this nonetheless. Two questions:
1. What do you mean by "Also erase the eventual music files. You won't see them in the telephone and you don't want them to waste your storage space." Do you mean delete the top level music folders that were already there or something else?
2. While I don't have duplication issues, I do have the album art issue. So are you just using that MPAtool app to fix yours or are you just leaving it to where your phone does not always show the album art? I thought about using that app but there is a comment about unable to delete some remaining 'dummy files' so I have not used it yet.
If you figure out which methods put all data onto the SD card versus sharing both phone and SD resources, please update us. I love Win8 phone but I am used to my WebOS file structure where I can see what goes where and can move things as needed. Maybe there is a developers course online that details the file structure of a Win8 phone and how to manipulate it (or at least how to understand it).
Thanks for your write-up on this...good job!!!
- 03-15-2013, 05:07 PM #3
2 - I haven't used MPATool yet. I spent a lot of time putting the album art in all my music, and now I want my telephone to use it!
I may use MPATool to get the artist image, but only if Xbox Music messes up the tags. I still have to try it.
Honestly, I really don't know which app puts what where, because today I repeatedly tried something like 6-7 sync apps before figuring out "how it works". So far, looks like Mediamonkey creates an .alb file in each folder (and thus is important to have it putting all the files from a same album in the same folder).
What I did note is that WMP seems being the one that "behave" better with the phone: if the phone shows something bad, WMP does the same. Personally, I still prefer Mediamonkey (WMP doesn't detect when I change something in my library without rescanning everything), but looks like WMP does quite a good sync.
- 03-16-2013, 04:00 PM #7
Redid everything and synced with the desktop version of windows phone app instead of the metro/modern version. I have all music on my sd card and there are no files within any of the music folders on the phone side - so that is good. I assume since I have "connect with xbox music" turned off, that is why I have no background images when playing music via xbox music app (whereas before I had some, but not all). When I play music from the Nokia music app it does have background images but they are also grey if I am on the lock screen. I may turn "connect with xbox music" on later again to see if some of them come back and to see what files it creates on the phone side of things. I love WP8 - they just need to finish some polishing up!
- 03-16-2013, 04:27 PM #8
I listen to a fair amount of music and using to put I all on my phone. However, with Win8 and WP8 and Xbox music subscription, I listen to almost everything from the cloud. It does a good job of putting my music on my computer into xbox and syncing them to my phone. For some reason, not all music syncs, but I will work on that. I have most of my artists showing up in my music and i just stream them. And for me at least, xbox music for $10/mo is really a great deal. Now I know that some people don't always have a good connection and some people don't want to use up their data with music. But it works good.
- 03-16-2013, 09:29 PM #10
Ugh, disregard my previous posts. I actually did have duplicates still. I tried all the options except for using Mediamonkey (did not want to load another program, but may have been worth it looking back). Reformatting the SD card, rebooting, making sure everything was out of the music folders, and making sure connection to Xbox music was off, I tried:
-Syncing with the metro/modern windows phone app
-Syncing with the desktop version windows phone app
-Syncing with Windows Media Player
-I tried just dropping the music files directly into the SD card while the SD card was still in the phone but this would always seem to lock things up (for this option, I did try to move the whole music folders over which contained the mp3 and images for the album...maybe I should have just tried the mp3s).
And I got duplicates with each option (except the SD option which would just fail).
What I finally had to do was format my SD card in the phone and then click the option to remove the card. Then I took the back off my phone and removed the SD card and then connected it to my laptop. Then I used Windows Media Player to sync the music with the SD card while it was in my laptop. I put the SD card back in my phone and after a few minutes the files seemed to be converted from 'other' to 'music' but not really sure about that (it seemed to do that in the background). Then I tested using my music apps and it worked. This was the only option that did NOT created the duplicate files for me. It was painful. I am mental at this point.
I want to turn on the connection to xbox live music to see what happens within the phone to get rid of the grey backgrounds (I am thinking it will not create the duplicates now but may be wrong) but I am wiped right now and don't want to deal with this anymore for the night. I'll try some other day.
EDIT: I ended up turning the connection to xbox music back on and it did not create duplicates, so I at least have background for SOME of my music. I guess for now when I want to add more music I will remove the SD card from my phone and sync it within my laptop. Surely this will get fixed eventually.
Last edited by wmgreenjr; 03-16-2013 at 09:45 PM.
03-17-2013, 10:06 AM #12
- 66 Posts
Before any of my music gets put in my PC library for transfer and use by mobile devices I put it through mp3tag studio. Any mobile device downloads goes back to the PC.
The only artist tag left is album artist, no composer tag, no contributing artist. Album art gets embeded in each file, no external metadata needed.
All music and albums are displayed correctly with album art.
- 03-17-2013, 02:19 PM #13
Ok, sadly I have to say that my theory "stick to one app for transfer and everything will be ok" proved to be wrong, at least using Mediamonkey...
Today, I got duplicate/triplicate entries in the list, went checking and the .alb files in the sd card weren't there anymore, while the "metadata files" where all in the phone memory and all of them contained 2-3 references to the same songs.
Mediamonkey was showing everything fine exploring the music library on the phone, while doing the same with WMP showed all the music, but with no tags.
I'm now "wiping" the metadata files and going to do another tentative... My theory now is that the "Metadata files" in the phone memory are created directly by the Music+Video app.
Transferring the files in "Mass storage mode" (putting the microSD inside the computer) leaves all the work to the app, that does it in its way.
Did you check updating/removing a song?
Sadly, to me removing and reinserting the memory card every time I want to sync my music is not an option...
EDIT: Re-synced again, this time with Windows Media Player.
WMP creates an hidden folder named "Album" on the memory card and places there some .alb files linking to the actual songs.
Unplugged the phone, opened Xbox Music, and all the songs where duplicated. Plugged it back, the .alb files WMP created on the memory card are disappeared, while the telephone has populated the "Album" folder on the phone with files containing double references to the real file (I guess one because it noticed the file in the Music folder, and another one because it noticed the .alb file pointing to the file).
EDIT2: Manually editing the double entries inside the meta-file has no effect whatsoever, after unplugging and repplugging, they come back double. Either Xbox Music recreates them double every time, or they don't get really cancelled as explorer seems to imply.
Last edited by d_abbatelli; 03-17-2013 at 03:08 PM.
03-17-2013, 03:21 PM #14
- 135 Posts
Nice findings, but my findings are very different :)
With my 820, I just drag and drop music. For some reason the phone access is a little buggy; sometimes a file will just refuse to copy over for no reason, but will copy over later... and other times a file will copy until 99% and never complete. Or rather I just cancel it after 30s because I'm mad. If it's taking that long, something isn't working right anyway.
The music app is slow to update, *but it always updates eventually* and for me it always correctly displays what files are physically there. The only duplicates I have are from the cloud... and I'm fairly sure that has something to do with WP being too lazy to scan for matches, because I played with tags for an entire day with no consistent results... I just turned off cloud access.
As for tags, yeah if your tags aren't filled out properly then you get interesting results. That's not really an issue, because there is a special circle in **** for people who have messed up tags :P
Something to note: zune/iTunes/ios/etc all use Album Artist, not Artist, so that shouldn't be a surprise.
Use MP3Tag at default settings. Fill out at least the bare minimum: album, album artist, title. Probably a good idea to fill out artist too. You can get tags automatically from musicbrainz. Find the setting for embedding album art (it might be on by default). Once album art is *INSIDE* your mp3s, you can delete all those annoying folder.jpg / albumart.jpg / other annoying files, you won't need them anymore.
Even if you think your tags are pristine, I recommend loading them in mp3tag and pressing save- they'll all be rewritten using a more compatible version of ID3 and text encoding. The default settings work on EVERYTHING I have ever tried. Other taggers use varying versions of ID3 and varying character encoding, creating a cluster****... So never use anything but MP3Tag to write music tags unless you know for sure the version/encoding being used is compatible with your device.
I've successfully loaded over 6,000 MP3s on my 820 and play/browse with the default music player. Tags and album art all work. There are no duplicates. And I did it by drag and drop. I see people complaining about WP reading tags incorrectly or lacking a proper syncing tool, like this is somehow the end of the world... Neither of those things are actually issues. In fact, the process is exactly the same as what I used to do with my iPod classic and rockbox. Write tags CORRECTLY, embed album art, copy music over to the hdd keeping the same folder hierarchy. All playlists I export from any player can be easily modified by changing the root directory to whatever your device denotes as root. This process is simple enough, and having to manage my media library in a program I don't even use (or want to install) in order to sync to my device doesn't sound like a good idea at all. Having the ability to *not* use a proprietary media sync tool is a strength, people!
Sent from my Windows 8 device using Board Express Pro
- 03-17-2013, 04:53 PM #15
In this scenario, manually keeping track of the different versions and the different files is just impossible, so, while I do not use programs for general music management as iTunes or WMP, I need some tools that go beyond the drag&drop: before, I was using FreeFileSync (an open source, cross-platform program for folder syncing), but this doesn't work with windows phone, since the memory card is shown as an MTP device instead that as a storage device. While there exist other solutions supporting MTP device, they have to deal with the same "little bugs" you described, and this basically means that they end up not doing their job.
Finally, about the tagging: I am perfectly fine tagging my music, and even if I don't understand why a file with an "Artist" tag should end up as "Unknown artist", partially retagging some of my songs is a compromise I can accept. But then, I want the syncing software to notice I changed a tag in a file and change it accordingly in the telephone, and this just doesn't happen.
Last edited by d_abbatelli; 03-17-2013 at 05:46 PM.
- 03-18-2013, 06:30 AM #16
I just contacted the Microsoft Support about this issue.
She asked me whether I had an SD card in the telephone, and after my "yes", she said this is a know issue with the microSD and MS is working on it.
Right now, there is no way to avoid duplicates. Even simple drag and drop creates double entries.
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