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No, Apple Music is not deleting tracks off your hard drive — unless you tell it to

On Wednesday, I saw a post widely shared about an unfortunate individual who lost half of their local library and was blaming Apple Music for automatically deleting their local files.

I sympathize, and I'm very glad this person had a backup of their music, but I want to dispel some FUD here: Apple Music has definite problems and its matching algorithms aren't great, but this is simply not how the service works. Apple Music should never automatically delete files off your primary Mac's hard drive unless you specifically delete them first.

  • Update: A bug with iTunes on the Mac may be to blame for an extremely small number of users losing files. Apple is investigating.

How Apple Music on your primary Mac works

When you enable Apple Music on your original Mac, the service scans your music library and matches any tracks you own to its streaming library. This is so, when you're on a secondary device — like an iPhone, iPad, or other Mac — you can stream those tracks at their highest quality without having to download local files. These referenced files become part of your iCloud Music Library.

If you have tracks that aren't in Apple Music's library — say, personal recordings, for instance — they will be uploaded as-is to your iCloud Music Library, though songs encoded in ALAC, WAV, or AIFF will be uploaded as AAC 256kbps files for easier storage (opens in new tab).

Once this matching and uploading process is complete, you have two libraries: your locally-stored library on your original Mac with all your old files, and an iCloud-stored library that you can access from other devices.

Where it gets confusing

On your original Mac, Apple Music will never delete songs without your knowledge. Your original library is scanned into iCloud, but your songs are yours, and Apple will not automatically delete them, or replace them with its own proprietary copies.

On an iPhone, iPad, or secondary Mac, this process is different: Any songs you play on those devices are sourced directly from your iCloud Music Library, and even if you download them locally, they can be removed from your device if your iPhone's storage space dips too low.

You can, however, download iCloud Music Library-sourced tracks on your Mac if you delete your original copies — and this is what I suspect may have happened to Vellum Atlanta author James Pinkstone's original library, possibly unknowingly.

When you press delete on a song in your iTunes Library with Apple Music or iTunes Match enabled, you'll see the following dialog:

See more

If you choose "Remove Download," it will send the local file from your hard drive to your Trash, but leave the reference in your library — so that you can stream that track directly from iCloud Music Library. It won't delete the file until you empty your Trash.

This is great if you're on a laptop and want streaming access to your music library, but you don't want the hassle of having 40GB of music on your hard drive. But it should only ever be done on a secondary computer or secondary iTunes Library — never for your master library.

This is because iCloud Music Library's matching is far from perfect: It's been known to match live albums to studio ones, original songs to cover tracks, and more. If you delete your original files to save some space, you're putting those tracks at the mercy of iCloud.

Worse, iCloud Music Library only sticks around while you have an active Apple Music subscription: If you delete songs and replace them with iCloud versions — even if you re-download those versions to your hard drive — they'll disappear or become inoperable 30 days after you cancel your subscription.

As such, I've advised from the beginning to always keep a master copy of your original library when using streaming services that match your library, and back up that library before signing up for anything cloud-related.

Is this Apple's fault?

Sort of. iCloud Music Library is confusing as all hell, and it's been so since the first days of iTunes Match. That's absolutely Apple's fault.

In an ideal world, iCloud Music Library would work like Dropbox, or even iCloud Photo Library — whatever you upload is yours, it doesn't get "matched" to anything, and as long as you re-download everything before you cancel your subscription, you're fine. But DRM and downloading streaming tracks you don't have ownership rights to mucks things up. iCloud Music Library is always going to be complicated, and people are going to make mistakes because of it. And if they don't have backups, those mistakes might be costly.

There's also a possibility that some nasty bug wiped out Pinkstone's original library unintentionally. We haven't been able to reproduce this problem, however; Apple is currently talking with Pinkstone and investigating other reports from a small number of individuals.

Whatever the case, Apple Music was never designed to delete Pinkstone's source library, and it won't delete yours. That's simply not how the service works on your primary Mac. But if you're not aware of how iCloud Music Library stores copies of tracks, you may delete your local copies to save space, thinking you can get them back — and get screwed as a result.

For more information on iCloud Music Library and the Mac:

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

138 Comments
  • I beg to differ! Back when Apple Music first came out, I did the free trial on my MacBook Air. While it was matching my library, I noticed a handful of seemingly random songs started greying out and wouldn't upload. When I checked for them in the filesystem they had been totally deleted. I never once told it to delete the songs, and I know the songs were there prior to matching, one because I'd listened to them recently, and two because I thankfully managed to recover them from a Time Machine backup from just prior to matching. There was no rhyme or reason, no pattern, it just decided to obliterate random files from my disk for no clear reason.
  • That is super-weird and not how AM is supposed to work. Glad you had a backup, and why I encourage everyone to use backups before turning on streaming or cloud services.
  • Considering the number of people telling that they, too, had the same problem with iTunes Music... shouldn't be better to update the title and the content of this post? Victim blaming - "It's not Apple fault, it's because the blogger was so stupid to click the wrong button an infinite amount of time suffice to delete 122GB of files" - is not so cool.
  • So if you run a stop sign, it's the town's fault?
  • No, but to further stretch your analogy, if someone is accusing you of running several thousand stop signs, it does seem quite reasonable to suspect that's not quite what happened.
  • Except there aren't several thousand.
  • Do you think people are that stupid and ingenious? A random no name blogger randomly posts that scaremongering story JUST the day before Apple announces student pricing for Apple Music? Yup! Like nobody would go online and lie about Apple... Sent from the iMore App
  • (https://twitter.com/noahmittman/status/617048296905940992)
    There was a bug at launch where if you add the AM version of an album, when you own a version of it, and local iTunes shoves the duplicates under the same "album" entry on the Mac. I think either then, or when you removed the AM album on iOS, iTunes Mac would delete your original files. This happened to me, once, and I had to recover from the Purchased tab of the store. Obviously, I never added an album I knew I already owned again, so I can only assume in they fixed this bug — it's seriously nasty, and people expect AM to be smart enough to know that an album they own in My Library shouldn't be shown in Apple Music as something that can be added *again.*
  • It's called a bug, and today's Apple software is riddled with the stuff. Since this has happened before, maybe the bug isn't totally squashed. So yes, Apple Music might just be deleting tracks from your hard drive.
  • Ditto to this...there was no reason to have deleted local files and I certainly didn't tell iTunes to do so. Thankfully i had backups.
  • My experience was that the tracks would not play and or disapear momentarily while the syncing was in progess. When the icloud syncing would complete all the music would re-appear and work on all devices. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've seen iCML and iTunes Match be so buggy that I wouldn't rule out something like random deletion. Still, backups are a necessity for all sorts of scenarios. I would love to use Apple Music - I had the free trial and I was very close to keeping it, but the main feature that gives it a leg up on other services is the integration with your main library. That's where it falls down. These are the main things keeping me from subscribing to Apple Music, and please correct me if any of these have been made better: 1. Incorrect album matching. For the life of me I'll never understand why it doesn't trust my tags when matching, and if it can't match the music fingerprint to the track I said it was, let me keep *my* copy of it. This would prevent people from just tagging albums to be what they want (more an issue for Match customers). 2. In the event of a bad match, let me *easily* fix it. See how Plex handles fixing mismatching as a simple, bare minimum way to address this issue. 3. Unbelievably stupid "smart" playlists. They can't reference other smart playlists. This is a thoroughly solved problem (see: Tunes, i). I love fancy smart playlists and this hamstrings the whole service for me. 4. Forgetting my "sort as" tags. To be fair, THIS HAPPENS EVEN WITHOUT APPLE MUSIC (on my iPhone, I have to remove and resync affected tracks). For the love of Jobs, can we please just agree that the correct way to sort artists is the way it's been done for hundreds of years, by last name? Please? Tori Amos goes in A, not T. 5. Cache cleansing my iPhone at bad moments. I saw someone (maybe Serenity?) mention this as a problem recently and it's frankly unforgivable the way it works now. I listen to music on flights all the time. I either read or listen to music. If my favorite albums aren't on my phone when I want them I will go crazy. Oddly enough this also happened to me a couple weeks ago even though I don't subscribe to Apple Music anymore. I suddenly only had three songs from a recently purchased album that I was listening to a lot, and I was on a plane. Gah. 6. Album cover art? This was a catastrophe for me when I tried iTunes Match, I honestly can't remember if it was also a problem during my Apple Music trial, but I still see people complain about it. I used to have lots of problems with the phone's cover art cache, but I fixed it by removing all my music and re-syncing it. I own the 128GB phone because music is the #1 thing I use my phone for. The reason I have an iPhone instead of an Android is because of the first generation iPod Nano, which turned into an iPod touch, which turned into an iPhone 4 when I finally got rid of my flip phone. My music experience has seriously shaken my confidence in Apple as a software company, especially as it relates to services. I'm nervously watching my Photos database update right now...
  • #5 can be even more devastating. I have medically diagnosed anxiety and panic disorder which is triggered by large crowds. I happen to live in NYC where this is a serious problem. I use my music as a coping mechanism and sensory depravation in order to prevent the trigger of an attack in a place like a subway or bus. Apple Music cleansed my iPhone during one of the most stressful moments in my life. I was lucky enough to be able to get to my computer and resync the tracks, but were this to happen and I not notice before boarding a crowded train, I don't want to imagine what could happen. I know I'm not the only person with a mental health illness where access to music is important for one's health. Besides anxiety sufferers, those with PTSD also use music to block out sounds that could cause an episode. I don't think Apple understands that access to music is not just about enjoyment or convenience; for some of us, it is a serious quality of life issue.
  • Funny, music is the best cure for my anxiety disorder as well. Well, that and valium ;) Doctor prescribed! I have come to appreciate that better living through doctor monitored chemistry is possible. Best of luck, I know exactly how you feel.
  • "For the love of Jobs, can we please just agree that the correct way to sort artists is the way it's been done for hundreds of years, by last name? Please? Tori Amos goes in A, not T." I used to agree but then what does one do with Bon Iver? Or Franz Ferdinand? Or Abdel Kabirr & the Soto Koto Band? I eventually resorted my CD collection to match the way iTunes does it because why have to try to remember if the artist is using their name or not. "Album cover art?" I have >35,000 tracks in Match many with album art that I scanned in (because they never existed as a CD). I have Greatest Hits albums that, when I ripped the CD, I changed the album art and track names/numbers back to their original albums (ZZ Top). I have Greatest Hits CDs that I left as Greatest Hits albums in iTunes. I have never had any of my album art replaced by iTunes. I'm not saying it's impossible, it just never happened to me. For most of my tracks I have laboriously added lyric metadata.Those lyrics follow the Matched tracks from device to device. However, one has to download the track to the device to get the lyrics... it doesn't work with just streaming. I have added lyrics to some Apple Music tracks that I downloaded to my Mac. Those lyrics are available on my iPhone (if I download the track). While nothing is perfect; I would like Apple to provide an API so my DJay Pro app could stream non-downloaded tracks (like it can with Spotify), I have been generally happy with iTunes.
  • https://blog.vellumatlanta.com/2016/05/04/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriou... Oh really?
  • Feycat, that's what triggered her post in the first place. What I got from her article is that Apple Music isn't designed to do what it did there, and "Amber" either misunderstood him or gave him bad info. It's either a bug or user error; I personally lean towards bug, and what cheesed this guy off was that so many in the Apple community assume it's user error. I've seen that behavior myself and it is not constructive. Why anyone would give Apple Music the benefit of the doubt is quite beyond my capacity.
  • Well, why not give Apple Music the benefit of the doubt? This is an isolated case. Where are the thousands or millions of complaints? There are none. Where's the class action suit? There isn't one. What I'd like to know is why people assume it's a bug, and the user wasn't at fault. Haven't we all done something stupid at one point?
  • Not quite an isolated case. Jim Dalrymple wrote about having the same problem in July of 2015. http://www.loopinsight.com/2015/07/22/apple-music-is-a-nightmare-and-im-... "As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices."
  • That's only half the story. You can still get those files back.
  • [CItation needed]
    I mean unless you're lucky enough to not have that space on the hard drive overwritten and you can run an undeleter app those files are gone. I doubt it but it would not surprise me if iTunes overwrote those areas with random data to prevent recovery.
  • Yes, I'm sure Apple engineers are hard at work ******** people over. Can I roll my eyes any harder?
  • @starmikenj Ah, so you used to work for them. +1 Insightful. Oh wait, no. -5 Trolling.
  • how? ALL files that were not purchased through iTunes which includes all CD files are no longer in my iTunes...I can't find them anywhere on my computer. CD files are also missing on my fathers, husbands, and sisters accounts....how do we get them back?
  • iTunes 12.2.1, the first update after Apple Music was released, fixed a bug where Match and Apple Music had crossed signals. That's likely what Dalrymple ran into. Really, the launch was terrible.
  • Dalrymple later indicated that it was attributed to user error. Not defending Apple here, just pointing out that you are not sharing the latest post on that story.
  • Jim's story is not a good example, as he acknowledges that he deleted his files off his source computer - exactly as Serenity describes. A.
  • I know your comment is from
    4 months ago but this comment just saved me probably thousands of songs!! So a big thank you. I am so fed up with Apple. They robbed me of my song purchases!!! Straight up! I was about to cancel my auto renew of the apple match. I had a feeling something would happen. Now I know for sure! Apple protects it's self through there small print. I have also found some songs are "not available"! I'm so glad I have to pay $10 a month and then an annual fee to keep some of my music I already paid for!
  • If you've read the original article you would have gotten the answer regarding lack of class action suit. Spoiler: The terms and conditions every user accepts.
  • Funny, I've gotten several class action mailings regarding Apple before. T&C doesn't mean they're bulletproof.
  • umm... "never" say never.
  • 40 gig of music.... how quaint
  • Do people really have giant collections of music... that they paid for? I have about 45gb of legally-acquired music, resulting from about 1100 albums (some are partial). To me, it seems like a lot. Most is 256 kpbs AAC.
  • Yes -- music professionals especially. DJ's have enormous libraries. I do original composition and songwriting. I record an uncompressed wav files for each take of each instrument. A three minute compressed song file is fairly small, but the project file that created that single song can easily be multiple gigs, because it includes uncompressed wav recordings for each and every take of each and every instrument performance. Holding on to the project file is crucial, because if a music supervisor wants to license my music for a tv show, they may want an instrumental version of a song, or they may want the voice, the instruments, and and the percussion as separate audio files, or they may need some other modification that will require me to go back into my project file, edit, and re-print the track. That's just the stuff I wrote myself. I also have a large collection of music CD's I've bought and imported to my computer over the years. And in my opinion, it kind of defeats the purpose of purchasing a high quality recording if I'm only going to listen to a reduced quality version of it, so I always import my music uncompressed.
  • I've had a similar experience, although not identical. I have music tracks I've ripped from CD which are now greyed out in iTunes and cannot be played at all in iTunes. I think this happened when I signed up for iCloud Music. However, the actual m4a files are still on my hard drive, just no longer 'linked' into iTunes.
  • tevendale, I saw that happen during my Apple Music trial, and as I recall it did eventually fix itself. It had something to do with the giant initial synchronization/matching it had to do... I think. So if you only recently added those tracks or joined Apple Music, maybe give it a day or two at most and see if it just sort of starts working. If they've been like that for a while now... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Dalrymple's posts in particular persuaded me to stay away as far as possible from Apple Music. Mind you, I tried iTunes Match before and that was a bit of a disaster. My problem is that about a quarter of my library consists of classical music I received through the years on cassettes, reel tapes, LPs and so forth, and digitized myself. Everything backed up of course (on- and off-site) but I use it for daily reference and I wouldn't trust any service with the task of matching that stuff - let alone one as apparently flaky as AM. Where, if my experience with iTunes Match is anything to go by, support is pretty much non-existent.
  • I learned that years ago. iTunes has always had undocumented ways of creating issues with computers. Around 2003 it had uncontrolledly duplicated my entire music library against my wishes and I never looked back. I'm just not surprised that undocumented actions of this heavy handed software are still causing issues today. iTunes has multiple dropdown lists that don't have a choice "Do nothing", it's intrusive. Combined with making it very difficult to do things like manage your own devices without iTunes, it's just **** on Earth. Install as few Apple software products as possible, unless you are comfortable in calling any bugs or annoyances as "features".
  • BULL.
    CRAP. YES THEY DO by default it deletes anything in your library it thinks is a match. you MISSED THE POINT of the article - it's not even about the deletions.. it's about UNRETREIVABLE deletions (ie: one of a kind items you can't get back when apple gets it wrong) and how there's no retrieving your original file's quality when it does get it right
  • "by default it deletes anything in your library it thinks is a match."
    sounds like a lot of FUD... AM buggy and matching unreliable? yea, I've been frustrated too. but this is just FUD until someone shows reproducible bug.
  • "by default it deletes anything in your library it thinks is a match." - No, it really doesn't. Like the guy whose problems triggered this whole media firestorm, I am an indie musician and have tons of my original stuff in my library. When I signed up for Apple Music I didn't lose a single local file, original or otherwise, and I had close to 20K tracks at the time.
  • I've noticed that too with ripped CDs. They load into iTunes no problem, but will not sync to my iPhone 6. That is until I turn off Apple Music Library. Then the CDs will transfer no problem. Of course now all the songs I've downloaded from Apple Music are gone and have to be redownloaded. And not only that but some albums that I bought from the iTunes store also disappear and have to be downloaded again. If they could get the transfer of ripped CDs while leaving Music Library turned on, that'd be great.
  • yea unfortunately they don't allow you to mix old school iTunes sync and iCloud library sync. so if you ripped CDs you have to let iCloud sync for you, I've done it so far. I do miss being able to just sync locally, sometimes more reliable.
  • I'm confused by your complaint. I sync my own ripped CDs as well as Apple Music tracks, via iTunes to my iPhone, all the time. It's automatic and wireless. I do subscribe to iTunes Match as well though. Now, iTunes Match shouldn't be necessary (as Apple Music can also match those tracks, and link you to their DRM'ed version, or just upload it without) but iTunes Match does it without DRM regardless, and is only $25/year. But it works perfectly for me, all tracks (regardless of origin) sync perfectly to my iPhone 6.
  • The problem I encountered is that my iPhone music will only play if I am on wifi and can access the music on Apple music; otherwise 2/3 of my music is greyed out. Any help would be appreciated.
  • Can you tell me how you got your music to sync to your iPhone6? Even after I turn off Apple Music, 2/3 of my music is greyed out and will not play. I have about 3500 songs, only 1/3 of which were purchases from iTunes and now they are not accessible on my iPhone.
    If anyone can help me solve this problem, I will be grateful.
  • Bells110st, I noticed on my iTunes on my PC that I had to check the box that said sync entire library. I had had only selected the box that said only sync checked items. I have a lot more songs in my iTunes library than I keep on my phone so I didn't want to transfer the entire library to the phone. But as an experiment I checked the box marked sink entire iTunes library and it worked. It still only transferred the songs that were checked So I didn't have to delete a lot of songs from my phone. You might give that a try and see if that works for you. Good luck.
  • "they will be uploaded as-is... though songs encoded in ALAC, WAV, or AIFF will be uploaded as AAC 256kbps"
    Rene wrote this line, right?
  • Serenity, even if we ignore the potential from random bugs and the experiences others have posted claiming that some other mechanism of iCML deleted their songs, relying only on the information in your article, I disagree with your conclusion that it's only "sort of" Apple's fault. Look at the warning message again. It is talking about removing the song from your "iCloud Music Library and other devices." The songs people are complaining about being deleted are their original, master copies that are on the computer they are currently using. Not the copies in iCloud and not the copies on other devices. I would never in a million years expect that "Delete Download" would affect my master song...the one that I UPLOADED, not downloaded. This isn't a matter of understanding how iCML works. Even if you know how it works, that warning message is completely wrong. Not merely a "misunderstanding" as Jason Snell tweeted; it's just plain, 100% wrong when the song it is acting on is a source copy. It only talks about "downloads" but affects both downloaded songs and your master copy that was uploaded. And "other devices" to me does NOT include the Mac that I am currently using. It means, you know, other devices. Even if you ignore the bad song matching, etc, iCML needs to be able to tell the difference between an iCloud version of a song and the original, source copy. It should never alter or delete a source copy without getting very explicit permission from the user. As you noted, iCML is confusing enough the way it is. Warning messages like this certainly don't help the situation. There is absolutely no aspect of that warning message that would suggest you were about to delete the master copy of your music file on your computer, and every indication that it is only deleting the iCloud copy of that song (both in iCloud and on other devices). The blame squarely rests on Apple for this one, if not for the mechanisms behind the scenes then certainly for the incredibly bad warning dialog box. It is sloppy arrogance on Apple's part and is leading to their customers losing data.
  • > It only talks about "downloads" but affects both downloaded songs and your master copy that was uploaded. That's not true, though. If you have downloaded the file (or it started life as a local file and got added to the cloud later) you have the option to delete the local copy only while leaving the cloud copy intact. > iCML needs to be able to tell the difference between an iCloud version of a song and the original, source copy. It should never alter or delete a source copy without getting very explicit permission from the user. It doesn't. I've been a subscriber since day one and I've never had this happen. It always asks if you want to delete the local version only, or local + cloud. (Maybe it could be worded better but I never had an issue with the actual functionality.)
  • "It doesn't. I've been a subscriber since day one and I've never had this happen." This has never happened to me, therefore this doesn't happen? Can you really not accept even the possibility that other people may have encountered a software feature or glitch that you have not seen?
  • What's more likely? posters saying files aren't really deleted are lying or you just aren't finding your files / user error?
  • How about everyone is telling the truth and are right about their experiences? Some people are having files deleted and some are not. I've never experienced the problem, but that doesn't mean others have not. Heck, I don't even use Apple Music. Does that mean no one else does?
  • And yet the author of the article didn't explain their specific steps, and nobody else has reported this happening. Putting my money on user error.
  • Could the iCloud and Apple Music work any more complicated? No wonder people can't agree if it was likely a user error or bad programming.
    Either way, in the end the program isn't clear enough for normal user, and that is Apples problem, try to make a OS that suits all and works for all as it is. Ends up being more complicated than i.e. Android. This is why I don't (can't) sync my photos on all devices withouth loosing photos on all devices rendering the feature useless for me. Just as this thing with Apple Music.
  • If the user chose "Remove Download" and clicked confirm, would this delete songs off his hard drive?
  • "The way it's supposed to work" and "the way it ends up working is sometimes two different things." I prefer to own my music and curate it to my devices manually.
  • Apple screwed up by having the match SUCK at first. I waited to try Apple Music until they raised the limit from 25k to 100k songs, because I already had over 50k, most of it live concerts (moe., Phish, dead, etc).
    At first it was abysmal, really bad matches. I'd be listening to my live show only to have random studio versions played back to me. Even worse, once I was listening to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" only to have a version from the live album pulse substitute in for a song... I reported it as a bug, reset my library, emailed and tweeted powers that be, but still crap.
    A couple of months ago I got an email my bug was fixed. A month ago I reset my "Music in the cloud" and watched, horrified, that only 5,000 songs were uploaded (rather than the 28,000 that had been uploaded the 1st time I turned this on). I was SURE it was epic fail, but as I started listening I found that the reason it was only 5k was because it kept the actual music in the cloud to match against, and ONLY uploaded the ones that were actually incorrectly matched. I have been using it for a month, randomly pulling up shows that had failed before, and so far not one mismatch. I think they finally realized that for the price of storage, they should ALWAYS err on the side of the end user and upload the music, unless they can be more than 100% certain it is a match. I have yet to have a failure, and it finally delivers the holy grail I wanted....
    Now if they'd only add handoff
  • This article commits a pretty serious fallacy: it claims to talk about what Apple Music is actually doing, but it only actually talks about what Apple Music is SUPPOSED to be doing, without offering any evidence at all regarding whether those are the same thing. Serenity, I agree with you completely when you say "Apple Music should never automatically delete files off your primary Mac's hard drive." But what something SHOULD do and what it ACTUALLY does are often very different. Mr. Pinkstone (and the commenter "detunedradios") have clearly had experiences outside the bounds of what Apple Music claims to do. Do you have any evidence that Apple Music ISN'T automatically deleting files off these people's primary Macs? In short: How can you be so sure that Apple Music isn't doing something that it "should" not be doing?
  • I can't reproduce it, nor can a number of folks I've asked. This article was written to quell the notion that Apple is intentionally stripping you of your files to force you to subscribe to Apple Music. If there's a bug out there, and it is possible even if I can't reproduce it, that really sucks and it's something Apple should fix ASAP. But I have a problem with angry people getting thousands of other users terrified that Apple Music is going to intentionally delete their music for nefarious reasons.
  • It has to be user error. I just can't believe it's not.
  • I'm of the school of thought that says there's no such thing as user error, only badly designed software that allows users to make errors. Also, "errors" on the scale of "accidentally deleting your entire music library" are not things that any software - let alone a flagship app like Apple Music - should allow to happen without waving several huge red flags in front of the user and requiring multiple, active confirmations. I doubt Apple are deliberately trashing people's files, but from the end user's point of view that doesn't actually matter. Gone files are gone. One might argue that negligence/bad design is just as bad as malice from that perspective.
  • Ok, so how many "do you REALLY, REALLY, *REALLY* want to do that?" alert dialogs are acceptable?
  • Personally, if I'd designed it, the option to automatically delete local files probably wouldn't even exist inside the app. User's files should be sacrosanct, deletable only by "normal" methods through Finder or whatever. Disk space is cheap. Recovering vanished files is not. Especially when the music matching system is known to be imperfect. If it had to exist, what I would do isn't an OK/Cancel dialogue because nobody reads those, it would be a text box that you have to type "Yes, please delete my files" into.
  • Ok, but again, does iTunes allow you to delete your files willy-nilly? No. The only time (I believe) is if you try to sync a device with a different Apple ID account. That could be what happened here, either intentionally or accidentally, without knowing the consequences. Either way, it was a choice the user made, but the article is written to sound like Apple deleted everything maliciously. The point is, there's a step missing in the article. Whether the author is aware of it or not, he left out a crucial step.
  • Even then, Apple Music must not delete my files. Ever!
    Not talking about files that originated from Apple store, but the ones that were on my hard drives. Doesn't matter what the situation is, hand off!!!
    If there is a feature that allows Apple Music to delete _my_ files it is wrong. Fix it, Apple.
  • I agree with you that I don't think they would intentionally delete music for nefarious reasons. But I do feel that they are probably deleting music, intentionally, because either through carelessness or arrogance, they have utterly failed to communicate to the user what the options are in that warning dialog box. Users who insist they didn't give permission to delete their files may very well not remember clicking that option in the dialog box because it appears to have absolutely nothing to do with deleting the original files. The end result is the same. Users have lost data and Apple's reputation for quality takes a hit.
  • Apple's reputation is fine. One blog by someone who doesn't understand how things work isn't going to tarnish anything.
  • Serenity, I'm a software developer, I currently work for a firm building web and mobile applications. We receive bugs reports from users all the time. Sometimes I can't reproduce them. Sometimes we go through every staff member, device and browser in the office, plus a bunch of virtual machines, and still can't reproduce the error. Sometimes we have screen grabs, proving 100% that the bug exists, and STILL can't reproduce them. That doesn't mean that the users are wrong. It only means that we can't reproduce the bugs. Your intent in writing this article may well be to quell fears of nefarious intent by Apple, but that's not what your article says. Nor what the title says. With your title "No, Apple Music is not deleting tracks off your hard drive — unless you tell it to". You are asserting, as though it's a fact, that everyone who has made this claim is wrong, and that your experience of Apple Music, invalidates their own. Please take a step back, and show some respect for other computer users who have their own experiences, that apparently differ to yours. If there IS a bug that causes files to be deleted, or even a poorly written confirmation box causing users to inadvertently approve deletion, then people should be wary of using the software, and getting the word out is important. Software screws up. All the time. Asserting other people's claims to be false, because you haven't been able to replicate it is also not particularly helpful.
  • If this were actually a "bug" then there would be thousands of similar blog posts, and pitchforks at Apple's gates, and protesters calling for Tim Cook's head. Anyway, the moral of the story is, "have a solid backup plan." Because yes, any software *could* screw up, and cause even more damage than this. iTunes isn't some unique boogeyman. And in my opinion, wasn't even the actual cause of the original blogger's issue.
  • "If this were actually a "bug" then..." You can't dismiss the possibility that there is a bug or crappy feature because it's not widely complained about - though I'd cite the fact that several on this blog have shared similar anecdotes of messed up, corrupted and removed tracks... - regardless: Bugs with limited proliferation occur and impact users literally every day. The fact that bugs so often occur only in limited circumstances, for limited users, with limited OS/software/hardware combinations, is exactly why bugs so often get through testing. Because you can't possibly test for every possible combination of things. Lets be clear, I'm not saying Apple are "in the wrong" if there is a bug with the claimed results (though they are in the wrong if it's an intentional feature). Bugs happen, it's a fact of software development. They do and will always happen. I'm saying that Serenity is wrong to categorically deny that there is a bug or feature with the claimed results.
  • This wasn't a bug. Think about it. For it to be a bug, that means the software had to be written with an entry point of "delete the user's files and then back them up from iCloud". That DOES NOT EXIST in iTunes. This mythical "bug" is a multistep action which means that there must be an entry point and reason to exist to be triggered accidentally. This is why I cannot believe it exists. User error. No other explanation.
  • Dunno about you, but I've seen a few pitchforks in this thread... I've seen enough people say this happened to them that I'm not at all comfortable calling it user error, and I hope Apple isn't either.
  • So where's Apple's response? They're pretty good at getting explanations out for real bugs.
  • They're probably on bug hunting mode. If they were 100% confident, they would have said something either way.
  • "Your holding it wrong" was one of those.
  • It's also not particularly helpful to accept every software bug opinion on the Internet at face value. If that were a viable approach, every single piece of software would be worthless and riddled with bugs according to the Internet.
  • My music files were irreparably altered when I tried the trial. Mismatching songs, titles, artists, album name... It was borked. The only thing I could do, after hours with support, was wipe my library and restored from Time Machine. They soon came out with a one click button to wipe the cloud files on AM so users could start fresh. Because turning it back on would have just caused it all to happen again.
  • From the original article: "Although several people had described problems similar to mine, they were all dismissed by condescending 'gurus' who simply said that we had mislocated our files (I had the free drive space to prove that wasn’t the case) or that we must have accidentally deleted the files ourselves (we hadn’t)." It's funny how you just confirmed that attitude. Are you seriously claiming that someone would repeatedly delete 122 GB of music by mistake through that dialogue?
  • Something tells me he actually deleted ~/Users/Music/iTunes from his computer, and started a fresh new library, syncing to his iCloud Music Library locker, without iTunes Match, and had no idea what he was doing in the process.
  • This. It's the only explanation, except for possibly syncing a device with a different Apple ID account.
  • Quote: "Apple Music ~~~should~~~ never automatically delete files off your primary Mac's hard drive unless you specifically delete them first." Of course. It SHOULD never work that way. But this blogger says it did. And she says most of the "experts" she talked to simply thought she was careless and deleted stuff. Quite frankly, what you describe here is a process that literally no one will understand. Click "remove download" to delete your files, or whatever the **** that means. Your headline is a bald-faced lie; Apple IS DELETING YOUR FILES WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT, because the setup is too complicated for use