My computer's hard drive died, and I had to replace it. All my songs are still intact on my iPod, but how do I get them back on the PC?
You can't copy those music files to your desktop or laptop using Apple's iTunes software because that program blocks iPod-to-computer song transfers. Apple sees that as an invitation to widespread copying.
But when it's your own music at stake, you shouldn't feel guilty about using third-party software. A wide variety of programs can tackle this job, but if you're using Windows, try CopyPod (www.copypod.net), which is free for 14 days and then costs $9.50. On Mac OS X, iPodRip (www.thelittleappfactory.com), $10 shareware with 10 free sessions, has many fans, but I was impressed by a free, open-source download called Senuti (wbyoung.ambitiouslemon.com). All three programs worked well, even with songs purchased from Apple's iTunes Music Store. But make sure you enable "disk use" for your iPod, which allows it to serve as an external hard drive, before using any of them.
To me, the existence of so many widely used iPod file-transfer tools is proof that Apple was wrong to thwart iPod-to-computer copying.
How can I monitor the upload and download speeds of my Verizon DSL connection? Can I tell what's causing some Web sites to load slowly?
Use a bandwidth-test site to check your connection's speed. Here are two: wdc.speakeasy.net and speedtest.dslreports.com.
Whenever a single site appears to be running slowly, it's almost always a defect at that site alone. When it's not, you will usually find that everything on the Web is running slowly; in that case, call your Internet provider. If that lasts for more than a few hours, the odds are your computer is at fault -- but that's a topic for another column. Or 20.
-- Rob Pegoraro
Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.