How to Fix: iTunes Error 54 in Windows 7, 8, 10

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Leslie B. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I just recently upgraded to Windows 10 and now when I run iTunes, I receive error 54 - whatever that means. I am unable to access anything in iTunes. Can you help? "

My response:

From what I understand, iTunes error 54 refers to a general input/output (I/O) error. This means that iTunes is having trouble reading or writing to a file or folder on your hard drive.

This can be caused by various things, including a corrupt file, locked or inaccessible files or folders, or if an .m4a file could not be converted to a lower bit rate. The latter case would be rare unless you recently ripped (converted) a bunch of files and attempted to import them into iTunes. If so, you may receive the dreaded error code 54 if the "Convert higher bit rate songs to..." option is checked when running iTunes.

Since you just updated to Windows 10, I'll assume that this is a file permissions problem. As such I'll provide a number of steps you can try to resolve the issue. Also note that these steps are generic, which means they will also work for Windows 7, 8, and 10.

How to Fix: iTunes Error 54 in Windows 7, 8, 10

  1. First, check the hard drive for file system errors. A dirty file system can cause I/O errors, thus resulting in the iTunes error code 54 you received. To do so: click Start, then type in "My Computer" for Windows 7, or "This PC" for Windows 8 and 10; wait for My Computer / This PC to appear in the list, then click it. Next, right click over top of the C drive, and select Properties. Go to the Tools tab, then under the Error Checking heading, click on Check button. This will scan the drive for errors. If there are any errors, then you will need to reboot the computer to fix it. If this doesn't resolve the problem, proceed to the next step.
  2. Oftentimes a program won't run in Windows 7, 8 and 10 because it needs Administrator access; as such the problem may be that iTunes cannot update a file or folder because it doesn't have permission to modify files on the hard drive. Running iTunes with Administrator access may fix this problem. To do so: right click on the iTunes icon (assuming it's on the desktop), select Properties, then go to the Compatibility tab, and under the Settings sub-menu, choose "Run this program as an administrator". Click OK, then try running iTunes again. If that does not solve your problem, proceed to the next step.
  3. Next we'll try running the program in compatibility mode. To do so: right click the iTunes icon again, go to the Compatibility tab, then under the Compatibility Mode, check mark "Run this program in compatibility mode for:", then select Windows 7, and click OK. Try running iTunes again. If that doesn't work, undo the changes suggested in this step by unselecting the Compatibility Mode. When that's finished, proceed to the next step.
  4. Another problem may be that your permissions on your iTunes folder may have been messed up due to a Windows upgrade. To reset the permissions on all the files and subfolders, do the following: click Start, then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for the Command Prompt or CMD.EXE to appear in the list; right click it and select Run as Administrator. A black Administrative Command Prompt window should appear. Use your mouse to highlight the below text:

    cd %userprofile%
    takeown /f "My Music" /r
    icacls "My Music" /reset /T
    echo this is a dummy line
  5. Right click over top of the highlighted text above, then select Copy. Next, go to the Command Prompt window you opened, then right click in the middle of the window and select Paste. Press Enter on the keyboard to execute the final command. Assuming you don't receive any errors, your file permissions on the iTunes folder should now have been reset. You can try running iTunes again and hopefully it should work. If that doesn't work, proceed to the next step.
  6. With all of the above changes made to the system (which should have effectively reset the permissions, etc), the last option I suggest is to reinstall iTunes. Many programs aren't compatible with Windows 10 from the get-go, for example, simply because Windows 10 was not available when the program was produced. The only way to resolve this problem is to download a newer version of the program (in this case, iTunes). Reinstalling iTunes over top of iTunes with a newer version should hopefully fix the issue. I would suggest doing this even if you didn't recently upgrade or reinstall Windows, as reinstalling programs usually also resets file permissions.
  7. If none of that works, you can also try an iTunes alternative for Windows - such as WinX MediaTrans. It can smoothly transfer videos, photos, music, ringtone, iTunes purchases and more between iPhone iPad and Windows 5X faster than iTunes. It also manages files, which gets around the iTunes error 54 when you need to backup or sync your iPhone.

I hope that helps.

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About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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