iTunes and Your Vulnerable MP3 collection

By | September 13, 2005

My friend and fellow columnist Phil Baker writes about Apple’s new iPod in his San Diego column, but he also points out a serious problem with the company’s new iTunes software, something I have experienced myself. Phil points out that it’s not just a minor glitch but something affecting lots of users:

Apple also introduced a new version of iTunes 5.0 that offers a number of new features including faster searching, Outlook syncing and parental control. However, when I tried upgrading my iTunes running on a PC, the installation failed and I cannot access my iTunes. Based on Apple discussion groups, many are experiencing the same problem. (Of course, I checked only after I had the problem!) So hold off for now before upgrading, at least on PCs. Apple needs to come up with a fix and fast.

This kind of thing scares me. It scares me because we don’t yet grasp how fragile our music collection has become. Before we had a pile of CDs we could always go back to if our tapes, MP3s or burned CDs gave up the ghost. Nowadays our music collection may be just in the form of MP3 files, and what happens to them if something goes wrong? What happens if MP3 software (or a system crash, a hard drive error, or a stray catheter) corrupts your files, your tags, or your authorisation and proof of purchase? At what point do we say, “forget this, I’m not going to pay for anything that doesn’t come in some physical form I can stash on a shelf”?

12 thoughts on “iTunes and Your Vulnerable MP3 collection

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  2. Stephen Davies

    I would say always backup. There are a few different means in doing so, such as external hard drives and the like, but one I’m favouring at the moment is Streamloader ( Here you can store mp3s, videos, pictures, documents etc.

    There are different subscription plans and even the free version allows you 10gb of storage and the option to download 100mb a month. But you have your collection anywhere you go with an Internet access.

    The only downside is the uploading times. It’s a bit of a slow process, but once that’s done, backing up every now and then shouldn’t take too long. It sure beats losing your full media collection.


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  4. Perc

    I experienced the same problem, and resolved it by going to the apple site and running iPod updater – because all the iPods need to have their software updated to sync properly with this latest version of iTunes. After the update, everything went along fine.

    My problem has perpetually been with randomly losing mp3s (like 1 or two tracks or artists will disappear) after updating. I don’t know why this happens, but it perpetually weirds me out.

  5. Akshay

    What bugs me is the fact that you have to repurchase any songs that you’ve purchased and downloaded … I can understand not being able to do so, say 15 days after purchase, but i lost some MP3s to a crash the same day I purchased music from iTMS.

    Hey Jeremy, have you noticed any of these new background processes that run with iTunes 5.0? I forget the names, but ZoneAlarm flagged them for me. Google research pointed me to a couple of forums that indicated they were part of iTunes 5.0.

  6. Anonymous

    I love my CD collection and will never get rid of it.

    Using iPods or whatever hardware/software device that allows third parties to decide about my music collection is unacceptable. It’s like letting other people decide where and when you can use the bathroom.

    I continue to buy CD’s every now and then despite owning one of those simple chinese mp3 players, that don’t get even near an iPod but at least it’ll never bite me.

  7. Dave

    ANY data is vulnerable. Why should your MP3s be any different?

    Backup your data. Backup frequently, and to multiple mediums. Failure to do so leaves one vulnerable and will elicit no sympathy from me.

    I expect any program to corrupt my data, any hard drive to fail, and any PC to burn up. Hardware can be repurchased, programs can be re-installed and data (if backed up) can be recovered.

    Just how hard of a concept is it?

  8. phil

    Thanks for the reference to my column. I’ve been following the threads on the Apple site at

    There seems to be hundreds of people reporting similar experiences in the last few days, but still no comment from Apple. I’ve tried a number of fixes, including rolling back my computer and reinstalling an earlier version of iTunes. But now that version crashes. I’ve spoken to Apple tech support two days ago, and they seemed to be unaware of the issue.

  9. RL

    iTunes Ate My Podcast Feeds
    I’m afraid I did the same as your friend Phil Baker. My problem was that iTunes 5.0 erased all my podcast feeds (which I’d spent weeks building up). My theory: Apple wants to erase all your old feeds so that you go back to iTunes to get new ones, instead of the nice mix of wierd stuff from across the Web that you had before…
    Next – world domination. Good luck to all in the same predicament.

  10. bball4life

    some artists will disappear when you are searching under artists because they may be on compilations… only some do this for some weird reason… so i fixed the problem by changing the compilations from yes to no


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