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Mac OS X Fix: iTunes can’t connect (-9813) AND .Mac can’t connect errors

This is a tech note for people who are also having this same frustrating problem.

For the last six months or so, I’ve been unable to shop at the iTunes Music Store. I could connect and browse and even listen to clips, but I could not purchase anything, and I could not subscribe to free podcasts.

I’ve also been unable to sync my computer to my .mac account, or change my .Mac settings in system preferences. I could access the .Mac settings, but I got an error message that .Mac couldn’t connect, login failed, when I tried to click the Sync tab in the preferences. When I tried to access the iDisk preferences, I received an error message to check my network connection. When I tried to access my iDisk from the Finder, however, I had no problem.

While it gave me no end of frustration when I try to use these services, I use them so rarely, I tend to forget that I have the problem until I actually need to buy music or access my address book from the road. The .Mac issue was unusual, because my Mac doesn’t give me a warning when I run iSync and can’t actually sync to .Mac, that I didn’t notice until November when I was in a foreign country without my cell phone or address book, and I discovered that my .Mac address book was five months out of date (I discovered this, of course, because the first person I wanted to mail a postcard to was my sister, who recently moved, and the online address book had her old address. Note to others: when you travel, always send postcards to someone who moves a lot.).

I had already tried the Apple support email, which gave me a series of troubleshooting tasks which weren’t very well documented and which, more to the point, did not actually solve the problem. Two weeks later, they sent me a follow-up survey to see how satisfied I was with the support experience, without actually responding to my follow-up responses.

*sigh* Here are just some of the things I did to try to fix the .Mac problem:

  • Ran Keychain First Aid.
  • Deleted all my .Mac keychains
  • Tried to find and restore the X509Anchors keychains, which all the online forums told me were corrupted. Mind you, Keychain First Aid did not report this corruption.
  • Ran the Mac OS X 10.4 installation CD and ran Network Diagnostics and Disk First Aid.

At that point, the network diagnostics showed that Appletalk wasn’t talking, but until then, everything reported as being just fine. Could it be that Apple is using this protocol for .Mac and the iTunes Music Store? This is about the point where I realized the two issues were probably related and were probably beyond my abilities to diagnose and fix.

I went back to the Apple support discussion boards. These boards can be a wealth of information, because the users actually provide suggestions, rather than blaming your network connection, or saying “yes, a lot of users are having that problem. Can you answer some questions for us?” the way Apple support seems to be doing lately. That’s not a knock at Apple support– I think the Apple userbase has just waaaay outstripped their ability to handle all incoming problems, and frankly, when there isn’t a solution at hand, you’re tied.

In the iTunes Music Store forums, I found a post that suggested that either restoring the X509Anchors keychains from another Mac was useful, or you could use a program to extract it from your installation disk, or you could just reinstall Mac OS X and run Software Update until your Mac is back to normal, selecting the “Backup User Files” in the Installation Options so you don’t lose everything. I don’t have another Mac to restore from, and the Keychain First Aid no longer reported a problem with my anchors, so I wasn’t sure that was really the issue.

I suspect that most people who have trouble using the iTunes Music Store don’t have a problem accessing .Mac because they don’t subscribe to .Mac. However, I cannot be certain that the two problems are actually related. I can be certain, however, that the same solution fixed them both. Nonetheless, I feel fairly confident in making this statement:

The solution to not being able to buy from the iTunes Music Store (error -9813) and not being able to access .Mac (“.Mac login failed”) is to reinstall Mac OS X 10.4 while preserving your user files.

The following is a step-by-step procedure if you don’t know how to reinstall your Mac OS X software. These instructions are for fixing the .Mac and iTunes Music Store problems in Mac OS X 10.4.8. You can find out what your software version is by clicking the Apple menu and selecting “About This Mac.” The version number will be displayed in very small type, probably in grey, so get out your bifocals to read it.

Note/Disclaimer: I am not an Apple employee, agent, or representative. This procedure is only what worked for me. It may or may not work for you. You might lose your data if you do it incorrectly. You might lose your data if you do it correctly, too. If you do this, you do so at your own risk.

I haven’t had any of the other iTunes Music Store problems, so I don’t think you should try this fix if the error message you get when you try to use iTunes Music Store is anything other than -9813.

Did this work? Leave me a comment to let me know if this procedure helped you or not, and if you had both the iTunes Music Store (-9813) problem, and the .Mac problem, or some other problem.

Update 1/14/07: Again, I cannot confirm any connection, but I do note that: .Mac syncs. I can shop on the iTunes Music Store. And Appletalk is talking all the time, as evidenced by my Activity Monitor program.
Continue reading Mac OS X Fix: iTunes can’t connect (-9813) AND .Mac can’t connect errors

Short, but sweet

Today is my birthday; I’m really glad I got to spend yesterday doing the videoblogging workshop, and I wanted to remind everyone who attended that Node 101 Grand Rapids is not so very far away from you, if you want to learn more about videoblogging and get in touch with a local vlogging community. Josh Leo, whose videoblog I demo’ed at the workshop yesterday, is a great videoblogging pioneer who has started the Grand Rapids group to help promote it in the Western Michigan area.

When I get home, I have a bit of video to edit and post from my trip, and I know I owe you all a video post for you all on how to embed a video. The info on embedding is covered in Chapter 13 of Videoblogging for Dummies. In the meantime, though, you can learn a lot about posting to you blog by watching this FreeVlog tutorial.

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