Fix media library duplicates on WP without deleting files


Windows Phone has recently shown good progress over the last year in terms of growth and popularity. Yet, apart from the app gap (which is slowly being filled up), the platform is still known to possess some annoying bugs which have persisted over a long time without any official fix available. One such annoying bug lies somewhere within Windows Phone’s media management module.

Fix media library duplicates on Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone users around the world have reported that their photos, videos or music automatically create multiple copies of themselves. When you delete a single copy, the rest of them don’t open. There have been ongoing discussions spanning across multiple Windows forums pertaining to the issue, but a real solution hasn’t been found yet.

This bug was probably introduced after GDR 2 update for Windows Phone and usually affects devices with external SD Card support. Some users have suggested that it might be because of the syncing method used (Windows Phone 8 currently uses 4 different ways to import content into the phone: The Windows Phone Modern App, the Windows Phone app for Desktop, using Windows Media Player to sync its contents, or using File Explorer to import items via drag and drop or by copying files). But switching to a different method of syncing doesn’t seem to work for everyone.

Also, re-syncing usually involves emptying the entire media library on the phone, formatting the SD Card and then, and then recopying the music, videos and photos back to the card over again. And even then, you’re not sure the duplication won’t happen again. It’s a lot of time consuming re-work for something that doesn’t even offer a guaranteed fix to the problem.

Well, we have tried out several ways to eliminate duplicates from the Windows Phone library without having to delete an entire media collection. And after a few failed attempts, one of them was successful. It has worked for us and we’re quite certain that it’ll work for you too.

Why does Windows Phone create duplicate media files?

Only the folks over at Microsoft may be able to answer that. We can only make a guess that it occurs when you try to copy / sync an item which is already present on the phone. The phone’s media library is probably maintained by a file, which keeps a tab of all the music, videos and photos present on your SD Card. It would also keep a record of metadata, like song artist, album and so on. In other words, this library file links the information you see on your phone (for example, in the Music + Videos hub) to the files on your SD Card. The file also makes it possible to browse through your media collection without an actual file manager.

When this file gets corrupted, it creates multiple attributes for the same file. So, when you delete a particular copy on your phone, it deletes the actual file present on the SD Card. Now, all the other references to the same file still exist, but the file has been deleted. This might be the reason why the other copies fail to open a file when one copy has been deleted.

Remove media duplicates from Windows Phone

Even though you see multiple copies of media on your phone, Windows Phone does not create multiple copies of files on your Windows Phone. The problem thus lies in a corrupted library file. Unfortunately, there is no way to edit or replace this file. Here, we’ll rather try and let Windows Phone recreate the library from scratch, and this time, without the duplicates.

Note: If you have upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 and have apps installed on the SD card, the following steps might corrupt these apps. So, make sure you move all your apps to phone memory before proceeding any further. Go to Settings >> Storage Sense >> Tap on SD card >> apps+games. Tap on the selection button at the bottom and check “select all”. Finally, tap on the move button to transfer the apps to phone memory. After successfully completing all the steps, you can transfer the apps back to the SD card if you want to.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Remove the SD Card from your phone and access it on your computer through a suitable card reader. Once you plug in the card, you should notice only single copies of media files.
  2. Open File Explorer and enable view for hidden files on your computer (Open Folder and Search options >> View tab >> Select Show Hidden files, folders and drives).
  3. Other than media folders (like Music, Videos, etc.), you should see two additional folders labeled WPSystem and System Volume Information on the SD Card. Delete the WPSystem folder. System Volume Information folder can’t be deleted directly on Windows. For deleting it, you need to run a few commands in an elevated (Admin) Command Prompt.Update:  Some of our readers have pointed out that the WPSystem and System Volume Information folders remain hidden even after enabling the “Show Hidden files, folders and drives” option. It appears that you also have to uncheck another option in order to view these folders. Go to Folder and Search options >> View tab >> Uncheck “Hide protected operating system files” option >> Click OK. You will now be able to see both folders in File Explorer.
  4. Note the drive letter assigned to your SD Card.
  5. Go to Start and type “CMD” in the Search box.
  6. Right click on the result (Command Prompt) and choose “Run as Administrator”. Now, execute the following commands one after the other, assuming H is the drive letter assigned to the SD Card:
    attrib -s -h /S /D
    attrib -r /S /D
    rd "System Volume Information" /S
  7. And enter Y to confirm the delete operation.
  8. Now, turn on your Windows Phone and connect it to the computer (without the SD Card).
  9. Navigate to your Phone storage and ensure that there are no references of files from the SD Card. Usually you’d save your photos, videos and music on the SD Card, so the Phone Storage should not display any media file.
  10. Disconnect both the phone and SD Card from your computer and insert the card back onto the phone.
  11. Power on the Windows Phone and let it rebuild its library file.

Hopefully, by following these steps, you would have successfully got rid of duplicate file copies. If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to share it with other fellow Windows Phone users.

Share your thoughts

  • sounak

    till date the only solution that has worked flawlessly! thanks a tonne! 🙂

  • sounak

    btw..i didnt find ‘system volume information’. only the WPSystem folder existed..and i executed the same commands in cmd, only changing the folder name to WPSystem in quotes. and after it was done and the library re-built, i uninstalled nokia camera and reinstalled it. that solved every problem.

    p.s. my phone (lumia 625) runs the BLACK update.

  • ugh

    cannot find the WPSystem and System Volume Information folders :/

    • 7mod

      You might have to perform an additional step in order to
      view WPSystem and System Volume Information folders. Go to the Folder and
      Search options, click on the View tab and uncheck Hide protected operating system
      files option. We have also updated our article to include the additional steps.
      Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

      • shwetabh

        after unchecking the hide protected os files i m still unable to see SYSTEM VOLUME INFO FOLDER…what to do next?


    i couldnt find any of the file when i use sd card reader. instead i find the wpsystem file when i insert the sd card into my lumia 520 and connect it to the pc but it doesnt get deleted. what should i do now?

    • 7mod

      You won’t be able to delete those folders when the SD card
      is inside the phone. The delete operation will work only when the SD card is
      accessed through a card reader. As for viewing the hidden files, you need to uncheck
      “Hide protected operating system files” option under View tab in Folder and
      Search options. Check our updated section for more details.

  • Laurens

    Thanks a lot for this, this seemed like the only properly elegant solution, and it has indeed worked. Little note, deleting the System Volume Information file didn’t seem to do anything at first, but I realised this was because I hadn’t deleted the album info/album art files (or whatever they are) that are stored on the phone and not the SD card (PhoneMusicAlbum, may need to unhide the folders). I deleted the files in there while the SD card was attached to the phone, with the result that the music was also deleted from my SD card. Rebuilt the library using WMP and everything is working fine for the first time in months. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that the album art/info stuff is now on my SD card and not on my phone storage, I wonder if that was the source of the confusion? I hope that’s the last time I have to use this, but again, massive thanks for solving this ridiculous headache.

  • கார்த்திக் (KARTHIK)

    The above solution for me worked only for music not for photos
    then i contacted @winphonesupport-a official windows support team and mentioned about duplicate issued in windows, after lot of suggestions which mostly not worked they suggested the hard reset(first take all backup through settings & move all items from SD card to any where like PC and format card)-factory reset and then restore settings and mails, messages by connecting Microsoft account(it will take around 1 hour to restore process- mails,messages, apps etc) when phone prompts to sign in on initializing and move files to SD card , now duplicates will not occured.

    • Vichalit Vyakti

      i have tried the hard reset method too. Initially it seemed to have worked, but after about 2 months when i plugged in my phone into my friends laptop, the same duplication issue has returned.

  • Michael

    David, thanks for the time and effort. I followed your instructions to the letter, but sadly it hasn’t worked. My Lumia 620 merely rebuilt a library full of duplicates. It is the most aggravating problem I’ve encountered on WP8. Next upgrade I’m switching to android or iphone for sure. Thanks for trying though.

  • Hi @disqus_008b3BPjDx:disqus! It’s really unfortunate that our solution hasn’t worked for you. When we provide a solution, we test it out thoroughly, in order to ensure that our readers find it useful. In your case, it seems like your phone is unable to rebuild the library correctly. But this issue didn’t occur in our tests. If we are able to replicate your exact problem, we’ll try to provide you a suitable fix. Till then, regrettably, we can’t guarantee a working solution.

  • glamracket

    …this worked. Amazing. One question: is the fix now permanent or will I have to do it every time I sync the phone with my desktop?

  • Marvin

    It worked 🙂 thanks! though the “System Volume information” can’t be located by the CMD, I just deleted the WPS folder (hidden) I followed the instruction about “Folder Options” and that’s it! no more duplicated copies. thanks David!

  • vox89

    The System Volume Information folder could be found earlier in the SD Card, but recently this seems to have changed. If you don’t find System Volume Information folder, then just delete WPSystem and see if your problem is solved. It worked for me.

    • Michela

      I’m I the only who is still searching for BOTH folders?? I already unchecked the “hide protected operating system files” option.. D: Please heeeelp!!! (do you have any videos about this???)

  • DVE

    Damn. It’s working! Thanks dude.

    Btw, it seems folder “System Volume Information” cannot be seen already. It has changed. So I only deleted the WPSystem and it worked. 🙂

  • DVE

    This is working. Amazing.

    PS: “System Volume information” folder cannot be seen already, I think it has changed. If that so you can just skip the #5, #6, #7 step! 🙂

  • Lord Tywin’s Hand

    Thank you so much! I was a little sceptical trying this but it has worked for my phone. Will it be a problem after I connect my phone to my laptop via the cable and transfer files with COPY and PASTE? or after I upgrade my phone to Windows 8.1? Thanks so much again.

  • Walt220

    Thank god I stumbled on this solution. I have been trying for almost a year to get an organized music library without multiple entries as well as pictures being in my album two, three, or more times!! I tried all the things suggested all over the web like formatting the SD card, resetting the phone, and reloading all the music and pictures to no avail! I was almost ready to trash the Windows 8 phone and go to something else since no solution seemed to work for me and apparently thousands of others. I decided to give this method a shot… I was worried about making a ‘Command Prompt’ as I am pretty unsure of what I am doing (I’m 65 and only recently entered the wonderful world of computers!!) but found it was not necessary to make a Command Prompt. When I revealed the hidden folders as described, I simply deleted the ‘WPSystem’ file on the SD card despite the pop-up warning. There was no ‘System Volume Information’ folder that I could find but I plugged on regardless. Deleting the ‘WPSystem’ folder did the trick and though there were a few tense minutes while I waited for the library file to rebuild (since I have over a thousand songs and hundreds of pictures of my grandchildren!!). However, all was displayed perfectly with no repeats and it took hardly any time at all compared to all the other failed suggestions out there on the web. Thanks ‘David’ for this clear solution that even I was able to follow…. perhaps Microsoft needs to be sent a copy of this solution since they seem in no hurry to fix it themselves!

  • Nishanth

    Thanks a lot for your solution. I did exactly what you mentioned and it worked perfectly fine.
    next day i transferred some pictures from my friends mobile to my mobile. the pictures got saved in Saved pictures in the memory card. The duplicate images are also displaying for the transferred files.. So do i need to apply the fix each time i transfer files to my mobile???

  • sissy bell

    worked for me: this was too long so i skipped it: i just moved the whole music folder from my phone to my computer, deleted manually all the not working songs from the phone (there was no “select all” option btw.. huh?!), then copied the folder back from my computer to the phone’s music folder. fixed it for now.

  • sztefan

    what about phones without SS, such as lumia 920 ? how to referesh/ delete the stupid media library on the phone itself (without using computer) There is no such thing as options in ‘music’ in this phones