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Syncing Zune Music with the GS3 & exFat is Evil
I have a large music collection - probably 45,000 songs. I used Zune desktop software to manage the collection and a Zune MP3 player before large capacity MicroSD cards and smartphones made standalone MP3 players irrelevant. No matter what you might think of the Zune MP3 players, the desktop app is a work of art and much better than itunes. Getting the Zune software to sync with an Android device has always been a challenge - especially so on the Galaxy S3. I've finally got everything to work as I wanted, so I though I'd share. I'm using a USA spec Verizon 16gb Galaxy S3 - no root.
First, I've tried DoubleTwist, WinAmp, and Windows Media Player to manage the sync. DoubleTwist seemed to lock-up on the size of my collection, WinAmp looked really promising - especially with WiFi, and Media Player was somewhere in between... but let me back up.
exFat vs Fat32
Before trying anything, format your SD card in Fat32. NOT exFat, which is what the phone and Windows 7 will do by default. See this link for the reasons why - but trust me, exFat can't play with MP3 tags and filenames on this phone. You'll need software on Win7 to format in Fat32 - links in the thread below as well.
[Q] exFAT file system on microSD cards - xda-developers
I stumbled on this link after multiple attempts at transferring music to my SD card using all the sync programs listed above failed - both via WiFi, USB on the phone, and sticking the card in the PC direct. My problems included "lost" music tracks, files viewable on the phone but not on the PC, files with incorrect extensions which were then unplayable even after correcting them, etc. Basically everything the OP in the thread linked above experienced. So anyway, Fat32, then what I describe below - instant fix.
Sync Programs Part 2
I didn't go back and try any of the sync programs above again, as I found the solution I'm about to talk about, but I suspect they would all work better and weren't the problem in the first place as I originally thought before reading about the exFat issues. BUT - be warned: WinAmp changes your music's file names to the song title only on the phone! I don't like that. My songs are all titled Track#-Artist-Album-Song Title and I want to keep it that way. This might not be a big deal to you. DoubleTwist would still probably choke on the size of my collection, so I doubt I would have tried it again. Media Player probably would have worked, but if it chokes in the middle of a sync, it clears all the songs you had loaded into the queue to sync! Grrrrr.....
The answer for Zune
But all was a moot point once I found a very tiny free program called Zuneplex.
zunplex - The Zune Playlist Export Tool
Zuneplex will take your Zune playlists and load the associated music onto the device of your choice. I decided to cut out any phone issues and just slap the SD card in the PC, but have since added one or two albums using the USB cord and the phone set to media device. Zuneplex will allow you to simply load and forget music, or it will monitor changes to allow for syncing to some degree. I planned on loading 52 gigs of music on the SD card and rarely ever removing stuff, so a robust sync wasn't my main concern - but it appears Zuneplex can do it to some degree.
To make things even easier, I created a new Zune playlist in the Zune software titled Galaxy, and added every artist/Album/Playlist I wanted to that global playlist so in the Zuneplex program I only had one playlist to sync. It wasn't fast - took at least an hour or two to sync, but it was accurate and no strange data issues. You can also choose options for recreating folder structures, etc.
Convert Zune Playlists
Once I had all the music on the device, I needed my playlists to transfer over and be recognized by PowerAmp - my player of choice. Zune playlists are a .zpl file extension - which PowerAmp doesn't recognize, so I used a converter program to convert them into .m3U format. The one I used is linked here, but there are many out there.
Download ZPL Converter 220.127.116.11 Free - Zune Playlist Converter - Softpedia
Once I had the playlists converted, I copied them onto the SD card into a "Playlist" folder and put my SD card back in the phone and booted up. A check of the files showed all the music was there and no weird data issues. I had used a playlist cleaner app from the app store to remove any and all prior playlists from previous failed sync attempts to clean up the phone first, so when I booted up I would be starting fresh. I had PowerAmp do a full rescan of the library (make sure to point it to the correct folder on the external SD card) and then went to the settings in PowerAmp and imported the playlists. They showed up as file-based playlists in Power Amp. Not sure if it mattered, but I seemed to notice every time I exited PowerAmp and reopened the file based playlists needed to rescan the folders to find the songs. Maybe it wouldn't matter, but I was nervous they would suddenly stop working, so I long pressed on the file-based playlist and selected "add to playlist" and added the old playlist to a new playlist named exactly what the old playlist was named! These save as System Based Playlists which seem to just expect the music to be there and don't go looking for it. Plus PowerAmp gives you the option of exporting these to then use as back-ups.
I found I missed a few albums on the big upload, so I tried simply plugging the phone into the PC with a USB and dragging dropping into the correct folders - worked like a charm.
I would still love to see an official Zune sync to Android app, but I'm finally very happy with the results. No matter what sync or other software you use, formatting in Fat32 seems to be the best way to ensure everything after that goes smoothly, and if you use Zune on your PC then Zuneplex might be the way to go. Hope this helps somebody save the 4 days of time and frustration I wasted!