There’s a Chance That Apple Music Could Erase All Your Music Files. Uh … Yikes?

So, Apple Music May Accidentally Erase Your Music Files

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Apple Music has received a lukewarm reception since its launch last year, with users complaining about the fact that the service attempts to delete all “duplicate” music files, which can often lead to false positives getting deleted as well. The service assumes you don’t want more than one copy of the same song, so when Apple detects that you have multiple rare acoustic versions of a song with the same title, it’ll assume those copies are duplicates. That’s irritating, but at least you still have all the original files, so you can add them back into your library even if Apple Music doesn’t understand why you’d want to do that. But what if all of those original files … disappeared?

That’s what happened to composer and Apple Music user James Pinkstone, whose blog post about the experience reads like a modern-day ghost story. When Pinkstone upgraded to Apple Music, the service added every mp3 and WAV file on his computer into the service, re-labelled them and removed the “duplicates” (including many false positives), and then deleted all of the original music files from his hard drive. Permanently.

All of those music files got absorbed into the Cloud, so Pinkstone could have re-downloaded all of them, but it would have taken him several days to restore his entire 122 GB of music. Pinkstone was able to recover his original files using a personal backup that he’d made weeks earlier, and thank goodness for that. Without that recent back-up, he wouldn’t have even been able to get most of his files at all, due to the fact that Apple wouldn’t return the songs that it perceived to be “duplicates.”

There was yet another layer of concern for Pinkstone: he’s a freelance composer, so his computer contained a lot of WAV files of his in-progress compositions. Apple Music only allows users to re-download files as mp3 or AAC files, not as WAV files, so re-downloading his own compositions from Apple would have resulted in a reduction in quality. If Pinkstone hadn’t had that recent backup, he could have ended up losing a plethora of important work files as a result.

This experience hasn’t happened to everyone who uses Apple Music; many people online seem confused about how and why this happened to Pinkstone’s files. Some have theorized that Pinkstone’s problem may have arisen because he didn’t have iTunes Match, but even the Apple customer service reps that Pinkstone spoke to before writing his blog post admitted that they weren’t sure how to fix the problem. What’s more, even users who have both iTunes Match and Apple Music have experienced some problems with the service.

To sum up, you should get an external hard drive and back up all of your music often, just in case something unexpected occurs. If you’re about to upgrade to a new music service, you should definitely back up all your music before installing anything. Because yikes.

(via Twitter, image via Freestocks.org on Flickr)

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Author
Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).