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Syncing large numbers of music files with a Windows Phone 8.1

I went through this over the last week or so, having picked up a Nokia Lumia 1520, and adding a 128 GB microSD card to it so that I could replace my beloved by slowly fading Zune player (yes, I know, Zune you say?  Are you nuts? No, not nuts.  It’s been a great player, very well built, fantastic form, but one can only keep running the Zune software for so long and expect things to still work).

I wanted to sync roughly 16,000 files.  Windows 8.1 has a Metro app that will allow you to add music (and photos and other things) to a phone.  But, like many a Metro app, it doesn’t work that well.  You select a huge number of directories to add (as you are likely to have a huge numbers of directories when syncing that many songs), click add, and then…..the Windows Phone app does something.  For a very, very, very long time.  After an hour or three, I gave up.

To get the files onto the phone (which doesn’t mean you can actually listen to them at that point, but I’ll get to that), I used the Windows Phone app for Desktop, which, for the most part, works at least okay well enough to get the job done.  It takes a hell of a long time, but you can at least see it start quickly, and get a running total of the number of tiles to copy, the number completed, the number remaining, you know, things you might consider important when syncing large numbers of files from a PC to a phone.  I was syncing both music and pictures so I don’t know how long it took to sync just the music files, but I’m going to estimate it at about 8 hours.

Great.  So, now all those files are on the phone, I can listen to the sweet sweet musi……um, why am I clearly not seeing all the songs?  Let me search on a specific artist….95% of the songs are not appearing in Xbox Music.  Now, we know XBox Music on Windows Phone sucks, so let’s try Mix Music….nope.  How about (insert randomly searched for Windows Store music player app)…nope.

Did the files really get copied?  Windows Phone 8.1 now has a file explorer, let me search for a specific song that isn’t appearing….yep.  There it is.  And I can play it from the file explorer.

Okay, let’s try shuffling my collection in XBox Music, since that seems to be the only way to figure out how many songs it recognizes (it appears in the Recent Plays list with number of songs)….4000 songs?  What the hell.

Come back a while later after not paying much attention….6000 songs.  Uh, okay.  So, it’s clearly indexing the files after they were added.  How, why, how to trigger this…..

What I discovered (and there may be other ways of doing it but this was what worked for me) was that I could shuffle my collection, start playing….and then walk away.  After quite some time, it even showed a “adding files” counter in the upper left.  It took…I don’t know.  4-6 hours?  It wouldn’t index the files unless the phone was actually in the XBox Music app. 

Wonderful functionality/usability.  Anyhow, I can now listen to all my tunes.  If I hadn’t also dealt with an entirely separate mass music sync involving iTunes and OSX, I’d rant a lot about XBox Music, but you can find enough of that elsewhere.

posted on Sunday, September 07, 2014 9:34 PM Print
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