Recovering my iTunes Library file from a dead Mac Mini

My Mac Mini died. Won’t boot. Fortunately I keep all my data files (music, photos) on an external USB drive so moving them to a different machine is no biggy. However, all my playlist and song rating info is in the lookaside db file that iTunes refuses to store anywhere besides the boot volume.

Smart friends of mine said I should just go dig this file out of my time machine backups. They are right. However I am not sure I had this machine backed up. So the hard way for me.

The Mac mini: Inside and Out | Desktop | Editors’ Notes | Macworld explains how to crack open the Mac Mini case. I wasn’t worried about damaging the case so I used a little extra force. Then you need a pretty small phillips head screwdriver (eyeglass screwdriver for instance) to remove all the screws inside to separate the guts from the case, and to separate the drive from the motherboard, fan, etc.

I finally got it out. A SATA drive, I ran to Fry’s and got a 2.5″ SATA enclosure, they have a huge variety, from $15 to $50. I went for the cheapest “hot swap” enclosure (though I am not convinced that hot swapping would really work), about $25. Crappy looking but it seemed to work.

If only iTunes would store ratings in the mp3 metadata, I would not have had to do this. At 20,000+ songs tho, this data becomes important…