Same problem. Years of saved podcasts, especially This American Life and Under The Influence, where the podcasts are only available for a limited time, are gone, completely wiped from the hard drive, not in the trash, no other trace anywhere.
What the heck are the engineers at Apple thinking? This is the stupidest, short sighted move I have ever seen in iTunes. I am mad as ****!
Here's my solution to the disappearing podcast file issue:
I went into my Time Machine backup and restored my iTunes Podcast folder over to a separate hard drive, NOT to the original folder. Then I went to Google Music and began uploading all of those podcast files to Google's storage servers.
Could Google lose my files? Sure, I guess so. But I have the files in redundant backup on Time machine as well as on a separate hard drive. I'll be damned if I'll EVER rely on iTunes or Apple's cloud to manage my music ever again.
On the positive side, Time Machine is a great tool and it has saved my data more than once.
Between this destruction of my podcast files (totally unacknowledged by Apple, as usual), and what I consider the destruction of iOS in the recent "upgrade" to iOS 7, my faith and patience in Apple is down near zero.
Your post has been extremely helpful in at least understanding what has happened - though it doesn't address my situation completely - since I definitely had hundreds of UNPLAYED podcast episodes that were deleted.
I listen to about 30 hours of podcasts per week, in the car and at the gym. When my "collection" was obliterated, and managed my way through the initial shock, and then I started redownloading what I could.
Then I synced my phone, and all of the newly downloaded episodes - unplayed episodes - were deleted again.
So here's my QUESTION: I believe that what you're recommending will solve the problem. But why? What is "Sync podcast subscriptions, settings and stations" intended to do? And what is going wrong??
Thanks to all of you for your posts. I spent hours over the weekend thinking I was alone in this.
Same problem here. I updated the iTunes into 11.1 about 10 days ago, and everything seems fine until this morning. I found that all but the newest one of all the podcasts I have kept were deleted, both from iTunes library and my hard drive. I do not have backup for them. So I spent a whole day figuring out solution. Finally I spent about 20 bucks on Copytrans and transferred the content back from my iPod Classic.
The solution from turingtest2 makes sense, I tried that on my recovered iTunes library and so far so good. Yet I always use "keep all the episodes" setting on all of my devices, I still cannot understand why the auto deletions happened to me. I guess maybe it's because the new iTunes Radio? Because that's the only place I have the "only keep the newest episode" (because it is default and I did not check that).
One final thing. I keep some podcasts that are no longer available on iTunes store. I just checked "subsription" box for one of them, then all but one of the episodes disappeared in iTunes library (luckily they are still in the hard drive). Such problem may also emerges for a podcast only keeping most recent old episodes online. I am really frustrated by the weird programming of iTunes 11.1. Such design only makes sense if Apple would like to enforce the order of iTunes store in everyone's computer.
I installed 11.1.1 - no fix for me at all.
Even worse, I don't seem to be able to get back episodes through the iTunes store. the TAL website directs me to iTunes, but the iTunes Store shows ONE, yes, ONE episode available for download. Even when I click "Old Episodes". I can't find any references to other people having this issue, is it somehow just me?? Same thing happens for The Moth, but for whatever reason iTunes happily gave me all back episodes to 2008 for RadioLab... so it's not impossible, and it's not an "Old Episode" functionality issue, it's... malice?
The iTunes update wasn't ever going fix the issue of a deleted podcast archive. Ideally you would have had a complete backup of your library to restore from in the same way that I did. Alternatively you might have some success with an undelete tool such as FreeRecover provided that the area of the drive the files were removed from hasn't yet been reused. Where the podcast feed has the complete archive online these can be redownloaded, but that isn't always the case. I subscribe to a number of feeds where each episode is only live for 7 days.
It isn't malice, it is down to the implementation of the "Sync podcast subscriptions" option and a failure to consider the worst case implications of enabling it.
At this point, it's almost like beating a dead horse, but I'm not hearing the answer to my question.
I agree it wasn't malice. But I remain unaware of the intended purpose of "Sync podcast subscriptions" and how this result was not anticipated. I'd also like to know why such a volatile new setting was implemented as the default, instead of showing a tool tip saying, "There is a new option to do < X >. To implement it click this".
To bottom line this: when iTunes started deleting my podcasts, what was the intended result? Was it to limit my vast iTunes library to only the podcasts that were on my phone? If that's the case, why? When would a person ever want that?
btw - Maybe I'm in the minority (in more ways than one), but I like iOS7, so this is not an indictment of the product as a whole. I'm not a hater. Something bad happened, and that's what I'm reacting to.
This iTunes mishap is one of many Apple demonstrations of careless development that have been increased lately. Other applications have been affected by this "effect" and, in my case, cannot use them anymore despite I paid good U$ for the privilege of a license.
At some point users must fight for a roll-back option available on each update so at least there is a chance to revert the damage.
One thing I learned from this problem is that Time Machine do not allow you to go back in time and restore an app like iTunes although you can restore its library.
As I recall the feature wasn't enabled by default. Instead on the first visit to the Podcasts section of the library there was a big splash saying "We've introduced this new feature would you like to turn it on?", and no indication of the possible harmful side effects. It never occured to me that it might be a problem or, more importantly, do something irreversible.
To the tidy, well-organized, non-hoarder I can see that listening to a podcast on a device, and then having it disappear from all libraries as it is finished might be just what they want. But that's not me. I like the idea that I can subscribe to a new podcast on my iPad, and that it could then be accessible on my computer automatically, complete with the information about which episodes I've played so far and where I'm up to in the one I'm currently listening to. I don't use the automatic deletion rules in my main library, but I guess if I did then I would want played episodes to expire whichever device I'd listened to them on.
I'm wondering if the order in which the device and iTunes were updated may have some bearing on the problem as I'm slightly surprised that I haven't see more complaints of this issue. Perhaps if iTunes was updated first, and delivered its podcast status to the cloud, and then the device was updated to iOS and receives it, then there would be no mass deletions. That might also explain how the issue eluded testing.
This "Big Erasure" happened to me overnight. I noticed something was wrong this morning when I was syncing podcasts before leaving for work, but didn't know whether things were gone or just not being shows - one of those "only show unplayed episodes" types of things - but I was bothered all day by the thought that the content was actually gone.
I don't apple understands just how much of a screwup this is.
I had a few hundred gigs of podcasts that are either no longer available or are now behind a paywall. Hundreds of hours of history programs, gone.
I counted it up. On just ONE podcast that had a mere 33 episodes sent into the void it would cost me $101 to replace them.
HEY APPLE! THIS IS VALUE THAT YOUR SCREWUP HAD ERASED!
When windows screwed up and failed to notify me of an impending drive failure on my desktop machine, I installed linux onto the replacement drive and spent three months on data recovery just to get a workable image of the gasping drive so as to restore my itunes library. That's how much effort I was willing to put into saving the stuff when the problem was not something that could be predicted, and I kept windows only for gaming and itunes syncing...
Now, I'm supposed to swallow the fact of all that content gone, just because of someone's flippant design presumption that mobile content that is not going to be on the mobile device should also be trashed from the plenty-of-capacity location of the main itunes library? IDIOCY!
A hundred dollars, for 33 episodes! And I've had hundreds of episodes GONE!
Have you tried using an undelete tool such as the FreeRecover software I linked to earlier? You may not get back everything but you should find a lot of it can be recovered, if you haven't done too much with the drive since the tracks were deleted.