Apple sent senior engineers to customer's house to investigate music deletion issue

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited May 2016
James Pinkstone, whose blog post about an apparent iTunes music deletion bug went viral last week, said on Tuesday that Apple flew two senior software engineers across the country in attempts to troubleshoot the issue.




This past Saturday, two Apple employees, identified only a "Tom" and "Ezra," flew from California to Pinkstone's house in Atlanta, Ga., in hopes of exposing a potentially devastating iTunes issue that wiped 122GB of music, some of it original compositions, from the musician's laptop ten days earlier.

Earlier this month, Pinkstone said iTunes removed most, but not all, locally stored tracks without his express consent, a nightmare scenario for users who have spent years, or even decades, curating their music library. An Apple Support representative was unable to pin down an exact cause, but speculated Apple Music compatibility issues might be to blame.

Last Friday, Apple issued a statement confirming that "an extremely small number" of users had reported similar problems. While the company could not reproduce the issue, it said an updated version of iTunes with "additional safeguards" would be released to address user concerns. The update was pushed out on Monday as iTunes version 12.4, but it appears Apple is no closer to identifying what, exactly, is going wrong.

This past weekend Tom and Ezra had Pinkstone reactivate his Apple Music account and proceed through the usual iTunes track syncing procedure that uploads unmatched files to iCloud for streaming access. Throughout the process, a specialized version of iTunes tracked potential code abnormalities, while the two engineers discussed options and next steps with a team back in California.

Tom and Ezra left Saturday afternoon, instructing Pinkstone to continue using the software as he would normally, for example buying songs, importing tracks and customizing playlists. They returned on Sunday to pick up the data logs.

After hours of troubleshooting and a real-world stress test, Apple was unable to reproduce the problems Pinkstone described in his initial complaint. The company is not yet ready to chalk it up to user error, however.

"One of the things on which Tom, Ezra, and I seemed to agree was that Apple is not off of the hook yet. Their software failed me in a spectacular, destructive way; and since I rang that bell, many people have come forward with similar stories," Pinkstone writes. "Some may be a result of user error, but I have a hard time believing all are."

Apple may not have a solution in the can, but the company is obviously making a concerted effort to find one. Perhaps most telling is Apple's willingness to send out two senior engineers -- cross-country -- to a customer's home over what amounts to a software bug. Few companies would do the same.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    revenantrevenant Posts: 621member
    well, whoever gets sacked can join up with forstall and make broadway together.
  • Reply 2 of 40
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    Who is James Pinkstone and why is he getting special treatment from Apple?
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 3 of 40
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Who is James Pinkstone and why is he getting special treatment from Apple?
    I figured you'd know since you're up to date with Apple daily,

    He's an iTunes user who made a viral blog post about iTunes deleting his music.

    https://blog.vellumatlanta.com/2016/05/04/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriously/

    It gave Apple haters much to fap to and only went viral because it put Apple in a negative light.(something like StageFright or google going through android data won't go viral though)

    It's also a rare incident like bendgate which Apple also responded to due to media hysteria.
  • Reply 4 of 40
    hi this happened to me today, not as big as 122 gb but around 4 gb at first i couldn't make any sense of it but then looking closer at the itunes library contents all my files were there but nothing showed up in itunes no apps, no music, no tones nothing. then i checked the media files everything was there in the library but not showing up in itunes ui my assumption there is some broken link in the itunes source code since this happened to me after i upgraded to itunes 12.4 i dont think this is solved yet. anyways good thing itunes makes a back up of the libraries all i have to was to copy my backup library into the new library and everything was back to normal hopefully it doesn't happen again!
  • Reply 5 of 40
    zblazezblaze Posts: 2member
    We had two IPhones, a 16GB IPhone 5 and a 5S that started to delete music off the phones automatically about a year ago.  Woke up one morning and my entire music library had disappeared off my phone.  And few days later the same thing happened to my wife on her phone.  We would put our music back on our phones and a week or two later the same thing would happen again.  

    After this went on for awhile we started noticing that when the phones got low on storage space that's when our music would be automatically deleted.  We have since upgraded to the 64GB iPhone 6 and the issue for the time being has gone away.  We will see if it returns when these get tight on storage space.

    Has anyone else experienced this?


    edited May 2016 caliafrodri
  • Reply 6 of 40
    Look I remember when AppleMusic first launched. I was so excited for the 90 day trial to expand my music library with all those files from iTunes. I signed up quick on my Mac OSX and watched iTunes spin my hard drive scanning my music library and uploading a ton of files from my library, I had a bunch of AAC files from many artist albums that iTunes does not carry. I was a bit of a AAC file snob, trying to keep every possible MP3 file out of my iTunes library. Then AppleMusic was just chugging away, uploading all kinds of stuff, cpu running off the rails and I though what was going on? I run a separate directory sync application for backing up my files outside of any Apple ecosystem I ran a directory scan of my iTuens library and compared the directory against my back up in ReadOnly mode. To my surprise iTunes was ripping all my music to MP3 format, uploading a bunch of MP3 files, and then yes deleting my ACC file leaving MP3 file in the place. I restored my iTunes library from the back up, turned off iTunes music in OSX for the first two months and ran AppleMusic only from my iPad. I am certain at that time, sharing my music across all my Apple device meant that they were ripping MP3 file for track iTuens/AppleMusic could not find and uploading them to the AppleMusic cloude, which meant all my other devices downloading these files were only getting .mp3 files??? Any how many, many months later I turned AppleMusic back on for my Mac iTunes. So far it has been working as expected, but I always keep a full back up of my iTuens library and files from before AppleMusic, but its like a 80GB anchor of data I have to keep around somewhere. Bad software, bad user interface, user error? I am pretty sure I never saw a dialog that said "AppleMusic would like to trash you iTunes library. Proceed? [Yes][No]"
    afrodrijackansi
  • Reply 7 of 40
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    zblaze said:
    We had two IPhones, a 16GB IPhone 5 and a 5S that started to delete music off the phones automatically about a year ago.  Woke up one morning and my entire music library had disappeared off my phone.  And few days later the same thing happened to my wife on her phone.  We would put our music back on our phones and a week or two later the same thing would happen again.  

    After this went on for awhile we started noticing that when the phones got low on storage space that's when our music would be automatically deleted.  We have since upgraded to the 64GB iPhone 6 and the issue for the time being has gone away.  We will see if it returns when these get tight on storage space.

    Has anyone else experienced this?



    I saw it happen when my storage ran low too. Not sure if the problem still exists since this happened last year.
    This guy is describing a different issue in the article though.

    I wonder why with 122GB of music, this guy didn't create a backup?

  • Reply 8 of 40
    ksecksec Posts: 1,568member
    That is why we need Time Capsule.
    diplication
  • Reply 9 of 40
    visualzonevisualzone Posts: 294member
    So far I see only a couple of users mention to at least backed up. You'd think after one incident of losing info a person would learn to backup. If any data is that important you'd think someone would backup. I mean how long does it take to do a backup the day you're working on something important? Backup, backup, backup people and once in awhile do a HDD copy or clone.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 10 of 40
    zblazezblaze Posts: 2member
    I could be waay out in left field with this comment, but seeing how the desktop version and the IOS version are blending together to some degree the automatic deletion off the IOS could be tied to the desktop version.  It's just a guess that the low storage space on the phone triggered the event.  It could have been any number of things that come together to trigger it.

    Is it possible that this buggie code has made it to the desktop version in some shape or form? 

    Flame away!
    jfc1138
  • Reply 11 of 40
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    cali said:
    Who is James Pinkstone and why is he getting special treatment from Apple?
    I figured you'd know since you're up to date with Apple daily,

    He's an iTunes user who made a viral blog post about iTunes deleting his music.

    https://blog.vellumatlanta.com/2016/05/04/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriously/

    It gave Apple haters much to fap to and only went viral because it put Apple in a negative light.(something like StageFright or google going through android data won't go viral though)

    It's also a rare incident like bendgate which Apple also responded to due to media hysteria.
    Sorry I didn't follow his blog post other than some people in my Twitter feed questioning if it was completely accurate. Still is this just some random iTunes user getting special treatment from Apple?
  • Reply 12 of 40
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    zblaze said:
    We had two IPhones, a 16GB IPhone 5 and a 5S that started to delete music off the phones automatically about a year ago.  Woke up one morning and my entire music library had disappeared off my phone.  And few days later the same thing happened to my wife on her phone.  We would put our music back on our phones and a week or two later the same thing would happen again.  

    After this went on for awhile we started noticing that when the phones got low on storage space that's when our music would be automatically deleted.  We have since upgraded to the 64GB iPhone 6 and the issue for the time being has gone away.  We will see if it returns when these get tight on storage space.

    Has anyone else experienced this?


    That's an interesting point. That 122 GB couldn't be stored in his phone so perhaps the glitch has to do with a mishandling of coordinating storage decisions?

    palomine
  • Reply 13 of 40
    jamesnayjamesnay Posts: 14member
    So far I see only a couple of users mention to at least backed up. You'd think after one incident of losing info a person would learn to backup. If any data is that important you'd think someone would backup. I mean how long does it take to do a backup the day you're working on something important? Backup, backup, backup people and once in awhile do a HDD copy or clone.
    Because Humans = Stupid... How many times do we have to hear about people's nightmare data loss stories before the lightbulb goes off in people's heads that they should have a backup strategy especially before updating your software.  I'm so tired of reading these stories and shaking my head "oh if only they were using iCloud" over and over again.  I know this is a bit of an unusual case but still.  There is almost no reason why anyone should suffer data loss on any device in this day and age if the take a little time to configure their cloud or wireless backup.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 747member
    So far I see only a couple of users mention to at least backed up. You'd think after one incident of losing info a person would learn to backup. If any data is that important you'd think someone would backup. I mean how long does it take to do a backup the day you're working on something important? Backup, backup, backup people and once in awhile do a HDD copy or clone.
    Backup is very important habit. But it is more important that Apple should make its products fully functional and fully tested 
    cnocbuijackansiafrodri
  • Reply 15 of 40
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,273member
    ksec said:
    That is why we need Time Capsule.
    Two different TCs (plus a replacement one from Apple) cr4pped out on me in the past five years. As a result, I do not use it any more.

    I have a cloud backup service, and a couple of 500GB hard drives onto which I manually back once every week or so.
  • Reply 16 of 40
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    cali said:
    I figured you'd know since you're up to date with Apple daily,

    He's an iTunes user who made a viral blog post about iTunes deleting his music.

    https://blog.vellumatlanta.com/2016/05/04/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriously/

    It gave Apple haters much to fap to and only went viral because it put Apple in a negative light.(something like StageFright or google going through android data won't go viral though)

    It's also a rare incident like bendgate which Apple also responded to due to media hysteria.
    Sorry I didn't follow his blog post other than some people in my Twitter feed questioning if it was completely accurate. Still is this just some random iTunes user getting special treatment from Apple?
    A random user with a blog. 

    I'm stunned that someone would store that much data without a backup. That's almost wilful stupidity. And once you remove user error and trolls then we'll probably see that the size of problem is disproportionate to the number of web pages it's generating. 

    Still, people are stupid so Apple has to come up with a way to help them.  

    As a side note, it's not enough to just take backups. Every so often you should do a test restore to make sure it's actually working. 



  • Reply 17 of 40
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Bears repeating. No backup? Really? I've tens of thousands of image files and I've three storage locations. Backup being far cheaper than those 122 GB of music he's misplaced I expect. 
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 18 of 40
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,331member
    See, this is what a company that actually gives a fuck does. Even though this story is bullshit for the most part, a result of one blog post predictably blown out of proportion, distorted, and predictably smeared on every blog and news site, with all the trolls jumping on the bandwagon, and clearly lying about their own supposed Apple-inflicted trauma. 
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 19 of 40
    ksec said:
    That is why we need Time Capsule.
    Two different TCs (plus a replacement one from Apple) cr4pped out on me in the past five years. As a result, I do not use it any more.
    Did you see how Time Capsule is designed? It's made to be pretty, not to run optimally. There is an integrated power supply and a hard drive in an enclosure that has tiny cooling vents and not even a fan. Drive and power supply overheat and usually fail right out of AppleCare coverage. You're much better off with an Airport Express and an external USB drive (although your Airport Express power supply is likely to fail, too -- three of mine have, but they're inexpensive to replace with aftermarket options).
    Of course it would help if there was some sort of provision allowing to aggregate multiple drives, but given how Apple arbitrarily removed RAID functionality from El Capitan, it's clear they won't add it to their Airport devices so I'm not holding my breath. Looks like you might be better off using third party solutions for serious backup needs.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    cali said:
    zblaze said:
    We had two IPhones, a 16GB IPhone 5 and a 5S that started to delete music off the phones automatically about a year ago.  Woke up one morning and my entire music library had disappeared off my phone.  And few days later the same thing happened to my wife on her phone.  We would put our music back on our phones and a week or two later the same thing would happen again.  

    After this went on for awhile we started noticing that when the phones got low on storage space that's when our music would be automatically deleted.  We have since upgraded to the 64GB iPhone 6 and the issue for the time being has gone away.  We will see if it returns when these get tight on storage space.

    Has anyone else experienced this?



    I saw it happen when my storage ran low too. Not sure if the problem still exists since this happened last year.
    This guy is describing a different issue in the article though.

    I wonder why with 122GB of music, this guy didn't create a backup?

    Yeah, got at least 4  full backups of my music collection, 2 are not even in this house (30 years worth tagged to the hilt)  and its about 120GB.
    You can get decent quality USB 3.0 keys of 128GB these days on sale for maybe $30 at best buy
    If I count partial backups of only my top 20% best songs (yes, all my songs have been assessed for how I enjoy them), then it is probably 10 backups.
    The incoming pile of songs is backed daily so at most I'd lose 1-20 songs.
    edited May 2016
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