Running iTunes 18.104.22.168 on my new Windows 7 64 bit box I noticed that none of my podcasts were auto deleting any more. So I checked iTunes on my recently replaced 32 bit XP box to see if I was imagining things. The Auto Delete was still on that one. So I upgraded it to 22.214.171.124 as well and, sure enough, auto delete disappeared.
I can only assume that Apple was finding too many people becoming confused by this feature and just did away with it completely. I am a little disappointed because I very much love systems that maintain themselves.
The workaround is simple, I listen to my podcasts using a smart playlist where the play count is less than 1 (yes the very same playlist that won’t sort correctly on the iPod because Apple’s iPod programmer’s don’t understand the concept of “Sort” columns as implemented by their iTunes programmers).
I have always maintained a smart playlist called “Obsolete podcasts” that just looks for podcasts with a play count > 0. From there I could see when there was an issue with the auto delete or I could resurrect (’tis the season..) podcasts that needed repeating – such as “learning Spanish”.
Now I’ll just go into that “Obsolete Podcasts” playlist from time to time and wholesale delete everything in there. The Smart Playlists will ensure that the older podcasts won’t clutter up my day to day listening experience.