Here’s an iTunes tip for Windows users whose iPods no longer work in iTunes. If iTunes no longer launches automatically when you plug your iPod in, and when you do launch it manually you get an error message telling you to reinstall the iPod software, don’t reinstall the iPod software. I had this problem this evening and the iPod software actually wasn’t at fault.
The fault in my case was the iPod Service, which runs as a service in the background to allow programs like iTunes and the iPod Updater to communicate with your iPod, had somehow become unregistered and was no longer running on system startup. Perhaps somewhat confusingly the iPod Service is actually part of iTunes, not the iPod drivers, and so if the iPod Service is not working then it is iTunes you need to reinstall and not the iPod software.
To do this, open up Control Panel and select Add/Remove Programs, then highlight iTunes and click Change/Remove. When it asks you whether you want to remove or repair, select Repair and let the installer reinstall the iTunes files for you. This will reregister the iPod Service and should get you going again.
Finally, a bonus tip for users of iTunes without iPods: You can save the 4MB of memory that the iPod Service uses by disabling it. Click on the Start menu, choose run, and type in services.msc, then click OK. Right-click iPod Service, click Stop if the service is running, then under ‘Startup type’ select Disabled. Remember that if you do later buy an iPod and want to be able to synchronise it with iTunes or update the firmware you will need to re-enable this service, though you’ll still be able to use it with other programs like Winamp.