Apple sent two engineers to a customer’s house to troubleshoot after he wrote about how iTunes deleted swathes of his music collection, and his story subsequently went viral.
The Cupertino, California-based company is now rolling out an update to iTunes in an attempt to solve the issue.
James Pinkstone had detailed his frustrating experiences with Apple’s music software in a blog post earlier this month titled “Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.”
In it, he laid out how 122 gigabytes of music vanished from his library after he signed up for the subscription service Apple Music.
“iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive,” he wrote. “REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.”
Pinkstone’s story was subsequently picked up by the tech press, with opinion divided as to whether this was a flaw, or if he had—inadvertently—opted into this service and Apple Music was working as intended.
Apple has since said it was a bug, and it rolled out an update to iTunes that should address the issue. “In an extremely small number of cases users have reported that music files saved on their computer were removed without their permission,” the company said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We’re taking these reports seriously as we know how important music is to our customers and our teams are focused on identifying the cause. We have not been able to reproduce this issue, however, we’re releasing an update to iTunes early next week which includes additional safeguards. If a user experiences this issue they should contact AppleCare.”
To get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong, Apple sent two of its engineers to visit Pinkstone. He was given a special version of iTunes, he wrote in a blog post, “in the hopes that the deletion would again occur … If something did go wrong … this version of iTunes would document what happened in more detail than the consumer version could.”
Ultimately, Apple didn’t manage to reproduce the issue—as it says in its statement. As Pinkstone wrote:
After lunch, we spent hours troubleshooting, but the problem eluded us. This time, the files remained, which was just one of many confounding elements of my whole saga. The problem wasn’t cut-and-dry, therefore has proven difficult to replicate. For example, one of the many confusing things about the initial file loss was that only most of my music files had disappeared. Most, but not all. To further muddle the issue, the missing—and remaining—files had little in common; some were WAV, others Mp3, others protected AAC files that I’d purchased when iTunes went through its 2003 through 2009 “controlling boyfriend” phase. Genre, size, and artist name varied greatly among the missing files, as did date added. There was no discernible pattern.
iTunes and Apple Music have been accused of accidentally deleting customers’ music before—notably shortly after launch, when Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple had nearly 5,000 songs deleted. He got face time with Apple employees, too, in an attempt to fix it. Let’s hope the most recent update from Apple fixes the issue for good.