Scott Hanselman

iTunes 7 Unspeakably Slow

October 26, 2006 Comment on this post [48] Posted in Podcast | Reviews
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When did iTunes start sucking?

I rarely Blog Bileā„¢ but I've been an iTunes fan since day one, and suddenly iTunes 7 is the only application that can utterly suck the life out of Windows. It's ridiculously slow. Literally simple things like moving or resizing the window are "Click...wait 2 seconds...drag" operations. I've got a lousy 7034 songs and I can't even scroll or search without pain. It's bad under Windows XP, but it's unusable under Vista. I'm also totally unable to play my protected songs under Vista RC2. I've googled, but I'm not getting a sense that this is a pervasive problem.

Is anyone else seeing this problem? What happened to cause iTunes to fall from grace?

Please, discuss.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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October 26, 2006 9:52
It uses up 100% of my CPU when it is downloading anything (I suspect a Do..Loop). I hate it deeply, but I have failed on multiple occasions to find anything remotely comparable for the purposes of listening to podcasts.
October 26, 2006 10:14
I haven't really noticed any slowness, though I spend more time listening to music than resizing the GUI.
October 26, 2006 10:31
Upgraded to 7.0 last week. I wish I hadn't. When launching it remains total unresposive for 3 minutes while it detects the iPod. Once it detects the iPod it quickly flips over to the music store and is unresponsive again for another 3mins while it sync's the iPod. Who's writing this crappy software?
October 26, 2006 11:31
Upgraded to 7.0 failed to see my iPOD consistently and when it did would lock up completely updating it, so I'm back on 6.0 and I've discovered about 10 songs usually the first 1 on an album have disappeared.
Strangely 7.0 worked on my wife's machine and ipod but the newest update completely hosed her install it wouldn't see the iPOD or if it did complained it was corrupt, so she's back running the original 7.0 version which says the iPOD is fine.
October 26, 2006 11:36
I noticed this aswell. Whilst the IPOD was connected it was really slow scrolling through the album covers. Luckily I only have to use it every few weeks to update my girlfriends IPOD.

As an alternative I have to say I am very impressed by Media Player 11. The syncing between my WM5 based smartphone (i use this as a music player) and my music collection is seamless. Can't speak for Podcast functionality though as I don't use it.
October 26, 2006 11:47
Man its slow. Downloading stops my computer from running and showing the albums in Coverflow is like taking my computer back to the days of a 386. Other issues include my podcasts being "lost" so iTunes cannot find them and syncing issues. Can I have iTunes 6 back please?
October 26, 2006 12:21
I actually reverted back to the old version till 7 becomes stable.

October 26, 2006 12:30
It started sucking big time with 7.0. The processor usage is very high when downloading any files. This is even if the file is from a site with a slow link and there's only one file left to download. So its likely there is some fault in the way the download system is implemented. 6.x was fine for me.

Also, playing any videos with 7.0 is unusable i.e. like you can see the frames flick by. I've sort of lived with it for a while waiting for a new version to fix the problems. May well go back to 6.x since there's no sign of a fix even after the last minor version upgrade.
October 26, 2006 12:30
I've begun to hate iTunes with a passion. When I got my gorgeous iPod Nano, I loved it. Until I installed iTunes, which is one of the least intuative Windows applications I've ever used. Then, I wanted to get the music I *paid for* onto another device. Enter, DRM Hell.

Before owning an ipod, I drank the Apple kool-aid and believed that Apple with UI and usability GODs. That was before I'd used iTunes on Windows. Man, it's terrible. Just terrible. And don't get me started on Quicktime.

Apple software on Windows SUCKS.
October 26, 2006 12:41
iTunes 7 is a very poor piece of software at the moment, I agree.

I have my music archive on a separate disk and I used to sync the iPod with that archive and then disconnect the disk. On subsequent syncs, iTunes v.Previous ignored the missing files and merrily created a local iTunes directory.... everything just worked.

Now, with iTunes 7, the programme gets itself in a terrible mess trying to find the files on a disk that isn't there - at least that's what it appears to be doing - and goes to 100%. I have about 6000 songs so I thought it might eventually come back; a poorly written loop, perhaps, but one that only had to run 6000 times. After an hour and a half, I gave up.

Roll on 7.0.2, 7.0.3, 7.0.4, 7.1........

October 26, 2006 14:18
To be fair, I've always objected to having to use iTunes - but since I liked the iPod I've not really had much choice. However the new version brings new boundaries to the word "Lame". Like folks here, I get 100% CPU utilization during a download, it takes ages to start up, performance when started sucks. I'm using a Dell Precision M70 with a 2.26 Pentium M and 2GB memory on Windows XP.

Strikes me that iTunes 7 was rushed out to support the movie store and to update the UI inline with the (quick nice in comparison) new Windows media player that ships with Vista. I know that they have a small development staff and I expect it to get better over time - but for now it really sucks.
October 26, 2006 14:43
I have a music collection that's nearly 100GB. I had to move my collection to a dedicated Windows XP box and share the collection to keep my main system from being a doorstop. The system is completely unusable with iTunes running with a large collection. I tried MediaMonkey and it comes close, but doesn't allow me to use my AirTunes or share out my collection.

In any case, I recently went completely over to OS X for my main desktop and notebook computers and can't imagine ever looking back.
October 26, 2006 15:16
I use it every now and then, though I'm sticking in 6.X for the time being. And even that is rather sucky. The UI has always been slow, but it's more than that. For some reason, iTunes loves using 20% of my CPU when just playing music. Not very acceptable.
October 26, 2006 15:24
well, it works pretty good on my laptop, but it's hell on my desktop pc (which is much slower and has fewer ram)

but there is an alternative, which I use for listening to mp3s: media monkey ( it has a guided tour for using an ipod with it:

I love this program. It runs pretty fast and has lots of options.

but (why is there always a but ...) it doesn't support podcasting. but there's a link to another software for that, so I'll try that one, too.
October 26, 2006 15:31
I have to agree. My home desktop PC is pretty old but beats Apple's minimum spec for iTunes. The UI was a bit laggy in v6 but I could live with it. However, with iTunes 7.0.1 the PC is completely unusable for minutes at a time while the CPU hammers along at 100% doing who knows what. It is a massive resource hog.
October 26, 2006 16:03
I agree. I've got almost 8000 tracks in mine and it is slow. The most annoying thing is that to click play/pause when the iTunes window doesn't have focus takes two clicks! One to focus, one to play/pause.
October 26, 2006 16:48
It's terrible for me as well. I think they didn't pay enough attention to Windows, and also rushed the release.

I have the same resizing/moving problems with iTunes. Browsing is slow. Also, the scroll wheel doesn't work ... but only when iTunes is showing on the second monitor!! (I personally think that last bit should go in the daily wtf). The new download code seems to write and flush every block, because my disk goes nuts while it's downloading (I've run filemon to confirm it's iTunes).

Also, my iPod crashes on half my podcasts ... something about mp3's being encoded in mono or with weird encoding rates breaks it, supposedly.

It's junk. I wish I could downgrade iTunes and my iPod, but I can't. The one and only item they improved with iTunes 7 is that updating 30 podcasts no longer eats 100% of my CPU for minutes on end.
October 26, 2006 17:22
I've run into exactly the same thing. iTunes under Vista is a dog on my PC. The latest update (7.0.1 IIRC) made things better, but it still runs slower than any other software I have.
October 26, 2006 17:30
OGG. Linux/Windows/Whatever. Cowon. iAudio. Freedom. Don't be a DRM slave.
October 26, 2006 17:42
About the time I upgraded to 7 mine started slowing down. I also noticed the videos (tv shows) section as being the worst, just try to scroll. PUKE! Hope they fix it soon. Or might be time for a zune?
October 26, 2006 17:44

OGG has nothing to do with iTunes being slow. Its the music manager, not the music encoder.
October 26, 2006 17:56
I disagree with Andy, who said it is not an intuitive app, but really, that's not what we're discussing here anyway.

I'll chime in and mention that iTunes 7 does run perfectly fine on my iMac. Seems to be an issue with iTunes 7 running on Windows.

I can't imagine this is deliberate..
October 26, 2006 18:53
I've wrote about this recently as well. It's gotten (a little) better after a repave on Vista, but it's still slow especially compared to the new WMP build. I only with someone would writed a MTP driver for the iPod... if I only had time!

It does seem to get better over time, and I think par tof that is the gapless analysis which seems to suck up 100% CPU.

Oh, and come on - it's not Apple's fault, it's Microsoft's fault for not having a faster platform... :) (For those who don't get the joke, I'm referring to this)
October 26, 2006 19:44
I think toddje nailed one of the problems in that it takes one click to get focus and then another to click play pause. This gives the _impression_ of extreme slowness. But I've sortof gotten used to it, and treat it gingerly - I tend to use the mini player as that seems to be a little kinder on the old CPU.

I've got 42279 tracks in my library and I just never try and mess with it if at all possible.

I also use a Griffin PowerMate ( which makes it easier to do basic stuff (volume, pause/play, skip) without touching the UI.

Is anyone else addicted to right click, get album artwork?
October 26, 2006 20:09
I've also noticed that it takes FOREVER to sync to my iPod now. I've got probably 25Gb of content on my iPod, but the incremental changes are small. Nonetheless, it takes upwards of 20 minutes to sync after I plug it in. Very frustrating, especially when the update just consists of a couple podcasts.
October 26, 2006 20:21
maybe it's because apple is putting all it's money into the anti-pc (read anti-microsoft) ads. i'm just glad i'm saving for a zune, not an ipod.
October 26, 2006 21:27
Hey Scott, doesn't Process Tamer control iTunes for you? Does for me.
October 27, 2006 0:17
My favorite new ITunes 7 feature is that during music playback, if I switch to Virtual PC or certain other apps, the audio playback goes into a stuttering mode that is completely unlistenable. It happens so often it's almost as if I need to leave my PC untouched while it's playing music.

I wonder if there is a class action here in that the new ITunes completely prevents us from playing the DRMd music we paid for up in here.
October 27, 2006 2:45
ITunes 7 also doesn't seem to work under Windows Server 2003. The 6.x versions did (even tho' they weren't officially supported).
October 27, 2006 2:47
I blogged about it a while ago too...

I've found that it's unbearable to use when trying anything with video... which is sad as I'd happily buy 'shows' from them (instead i've had to opt for the free ones with commercials online on
October 27, 2006 3:31
The thing that's really been bugging me about iTunes 7 is that it keeps triggering Data Execution Prevention warnings; it usually happens when I try to close iTunes, but once in a while I'm getting it when iTunes is just sitting there, idle. This only seems to happen on my desktop with Juice (a podcast manager) running, but I've been running the same version of Juice for the last ten or twelve iTunes updates with no problem. I've also seen the iPod syncing problems mentioned above.

On my laptop (a slightly slower processor but twice the memory), zero problems.
October 27, 2006 4:05
iTunes has been horrible for me since version 4 or so. It's very poorly written s/w - I used a gdi inspector (from MSDN) back when and it was hogging/leaking a huge about of brushes, dc's and pens. I uninstalled and haven't looked back.
October 27, 2006 18:08
If you think iTunes is bad, you should try the new Yahoo Music Engine 2.0 update. They switched engines from WMP to Musicmatch.... It spidered my local hard drive and extracted playlists for nearly 11,000 albums in my personal collection. The data file blew up to 12 megs of playlist information, which apparently chokes the program for about 10-15 minutes when starting up, consuming about 400-600 megs of ram. Just launching the app takes up 60-80% of my 2.66 ghz proc for that time. When I log on at work, it populates my playlists from the central server, and then attempts to find the missing files. Even if i let it load them & then delete the database file, it still repopulates them regularly. When I asked Yahoo support to remove the playlists from the server because they are making my computer useless when its on, they only respond with "that feature is not implemented". There is a general trend of music store / player software sucking as of late, but iTunes 7 isn't even the worst of the lot.
October 27, 2006 21:50
I freaking noticed this last night....

I literally thought I had a virus.

October 27, 2006 23:14
Isn't it amazing that we can build database applications with terrabytes of data that are more responsive than commercial applications that have what amounts to a handful of records? Most Media Players seem to suck if you even get a few songs into them. How bad of a database engine can you use?

FWIW, i've hated iTunes since I first looked at it. It's just all wrong, but I put up with it mainly to get my songs onto my iPod. My iPod's days are numbered though - the iPod software on the device is just flaky as heck and the whole proprietary crap of not being able to easily get music just copied over is just not going to fly anymore now that there are other alternatives for players that don't suck...

I see no reason to support Apple and their arrogant attitude...
October 27, 2006 23:33
I'm having the same problems as everyone else. Slows way down or freezes randomly. Sound skips apparently for no reason. I've noticed these problems getting progressively worse with each new release. How long could it really take to just start over with a savvy Windows dev team and write it from scratch? My brother has a new dual-core power book and it works awesome on it...
October 28, 2006 15:24
One feature, the sharing of music, I used to use was nice. I could use my Mac Mini as a server and let that download podcasts etc. and play them on my windows machine. Unfortunetely that no longer works with 7.x :(, I am getting some odd error when I try to connect that doesnt make a lot of sense. Have seen people with the same complaint on the Apple iTunes forum.

Now I am using the combo of FeedDemon and Winamp to get my podcasts and play mp3s on my Windows machine :).
October 30, 2006 6:25
Works great on OSX. I haven't noticed any slowdown at all.
October 31, 2006 22:13
The UI is a bit slow, but much more annoying is the very slow download of podcasts. It takes about 1 hour to download a 50MB file (I'm on broadband and it should take 5 minutes max). This didn't start with iTunes 7 but rather just one week ago without any reason.
October 31, 2006 23:06
So now I just got my first win32 unhandled exception in 7. Sweet...
November 08, 2006 14:48
hmm... yup doing the same for me only had an ipod for a few weeks
love the hardware but itunes sucks. Got 30GB of songs and Itunes
just locks up 90-100% CPU after as soon as I plug my IPOD into
the USB. It doesnt seem to come back.
I tried unchecking some of the sync options only to have itunes delete
30gb off its disk! that really sucks.

Anyway I think an earlier post may have come up with the solution
to my problem. I also think that Itunes is looking for a disk that
is not connected i.e my backup mp3 disk which was used first of all
to copy my mp3's onto the IPOD.
The currently is not connected to my system as its just a backup

Im going to copy all the mp3's I have onto my main disk and see if this
helps this sucky software sort itself out.


November 13, 2006 19:31
itunes is slow on vista ATM becos of graphics drivers - for EG i have an ati card and they have no open GL support yet - so itunes acts as if there are no grapihcs drivers installed

fun fun fun
November 14, 2006 8:02
iTunes 7 is just bloatware, and it really is a bad indication for Apple that they released such a terrible version of the software. Without a doubt I will be trying out Zune tomorrow. Not that I have really high expectations that a Microsoft product isn't also going to be bloatware, but since I don't have an iPod, I really don't have a strong connection to iTunes, and if Zune runs better, I may just have to bail on iTunes for good.
November 21, 2006 0:46
iTunes 7 is just a desaster. I have 2 iPods, a car interface, gave away my CD players, purchased many many CDs on iTunes, and now it simply doesn't work any more. Apple tec support accuses my PC or my network of being too slow - ridiculous, it worked fine until I installed iTunes 7, an all other traffic goes lightning fast. Currently I don't know what to do, I'm quite desperate, as I'm fully depending on iTunes/iPods, and I absolutely regret that.
November 26, 2006 13:52
it is not only slow under xp but in my case also under mac osx! i have my music on a networkserver...
every click/scroll - long wait (i would be happy with 2 seconds)
it is so crap
November 28, 2006 21:14
iTunes 7 is pretty slow for me when managing my music (my library has around 10,000 songs) but is completely stalls my entire computer when playing music...especially at the point when a new song comes on. I have LOVED iTunes for the last two years until version 7. Now I have to use MediaMonkey to play my music and iTunes to sync to my iPod and listen to my podcasts. Needless to say iTunes slows both my Laptop and my Desktop down miserably while playing music...and both of my machines are fairly high-end machines. Guess I will try rolling back to v 6.x to see if that helps.
December 17, 2006 2:27
also using vista with itunes, and was pretty fucked up, seeing my cpu being at 100% as soon as i start itunes, well i found a solution so speed it up. i excluded the Users/Username/Music directory from indexing, cause as soon as i startet itunes, the indexing services went to 30% (each of them, there are 3 i think.) now everything works (quite) fine, except the known speed issues from itunes7 that are also related to xp
December 23, 2006 4:22
Using iTunes 7 on Vista RTM x64.

Takes ~10s to startup
Another ~40s of high CPU
As soon as iPod plugged in hits 100% for the duration of sync
Occasionally menu bar goes strange, and app misbehaves/crashes
Occasional DEP exceptions

All in all pretty sloppy. Complete opposite to the iPods themselves.

Apple are doing them a massive diservice with the quality of this sw.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.