How do you backup.
With the backup method
in this link ^^^^^^
You'll need an external drive, or spare capacity on another computer on your network, but it is worth the outlay for piece of mind. The tool I use there is for Windows but there are equivalents for Mac.
See this post for tips on restoring a recent backup of your database following an upgrade or crash.
I'm obviously being too subtle with the links. I use a folder cloning tool called SyncToy as described here: https://discussions.apple.com/docs/DOC-2682
Or you can use 3rd party tools to burn backups to DVDs.
In a nutshell you need to copy your entire iTunes folder somewhere else, then if the original dies you can restore the copy. If the copy dies just make a new one. Tools help streamline the process of updating the backup.
Apple hasn't sold new music with DRM for quite some time. Back in the day it was DRM or nothing. Indeed many found their original CD rips with Windows Media Player encumbered by DRM unless they disabled the default options, and migrating those rights from one computer to another was a nightmare in comparison to signing in with an Apple ID.
I found an easy way to get around this a long time ago when it was still an issue. If you still haven't found ways to get around it, this worked for me back in the day.
Just burn a music CD of songs you've purchased. then re-import it as you would an album you purchased at a store. As far as I know, the DRM doesn't transfer. You can have it in any format this way, convert formats, open the files in other programs, put in on non-apple players, etc. you basically have any other music file.
I know it's not particularly practical if you have a LOT of music this way, but re-writable cds being very popular now and the fact that they're not doing DRM anymore make it a god quick-fix. There are also lots of ways to trick a computer into thinking there are various kinds of physical storange in place that there isn't, particularly with unix-based systems... like OSX. I'm not the most up-to date on the OSX, but my old computer would believe just about anything you told it. I'm sure there's a way to burn a "virtual" CD and then re-import it.
The discussion seems to have shifted a bit, and this will probably be burried before long. Maybe others have replied with something similar before, but here goes. Despite the fact that, like most of you I'm sure, I'm still ANGRY about this problem, I seem to have discovered a somewhat tedious, but so far effective sloppy fix. (i would almost say it's a kind of " SOLUTION to the problem of iTunes deleting music files " for seo, purposes.)
Long story short, I went to Preferences and disabled the option to let iTunes manage it's media folder. I stated earlier that i would try this and since then, i haven't had problems so far, so i decided to share.
For those who don't know how:
- open Preferences, on Windows it's under "Edit" on a Mac (if i remember right) it's under that little apple-shaped icon in the upper left corner when you have the itunes window selected (if it's not there, there are pleanty of other guides to tell you where, or you can just hover over menus until it shows up).
- In any case, open Preferences, go to the "Advanced" tab, and under the "iTunes media folder location" area are two check boxes.
- The first box is "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" with a bit of a description underneath (Sorry, this is from the windows side, but it's usually similar between the two). UNcheck this box.
Some issues with this method:
Since unchecking this box, I haven't had any problems with iTunes DELETING music files (granted, i didn't have any problems before now, either). If you uncheck this box, but still keep the option for iTunes to "copy files to iTunes media folder when adding to library" it will create folders and such when you add new things, but it will not adjust this when you change something about the song data. Because of this, if you change the title, artist, or album, it may have problems FINDING the file again. If you run into this, just choose the option to "Locate" the file when you try to play or "get info" on the song and find it int he file system on your computer. This would be the "tedious" bit I mentioned earlier. It's a pain in the butt, but i think better than the alternative.
Since then, if i want to change the information about a song after it's added to itunes, i then have to somehow manually re-locate or move the file to it's new expected place so iTunes can find it. but i've also found out how to manage song information from Windows Explorer (you can even manage several files at once), and you may be able to find it in Finder as well. The benefit of this is manipulating all the info about a song before importing it so that it gets coppied into the right place and you don't have to worry about it once it's imported. It was primarily in this manual file management that i noticed the following.
Why I think this works:
I know the problem has been around for at least a year now. It seemed to happen to me after an update or two. but my best hypothesis is that at least one cause is a clash of file managing, more specifically, file naming. overall, Apple tends to be much more forgiving with it's file names than Windows; that is, it allows longer file names with a wider variety of permited characters. and, I believe, iTunes often has even more lax naming conventions than OSX.
I've noticed that recently, my windows 7 has been much less forgiving in the file-name department, not allowing various punctuation marks and such that it's used to. and i've found several old files who's names have been truncated. There have also been issues in the past with non-roman characters (that is, asian, cyrilic (russian-ish), greek, mathematical symbols, etc.) turning into poorly interpreted computer giberish. I've also fond in the past, that not only the file name matters, when it comes to length, but also the length of the file path (that is, the names of all the files you go through to get to the file you want).
Because of this, many of my song and artist names seem to have been suddenly changed. Truncated, punctuation marks turned to underscores, spaces removed, and non-roman characters tranlated to gunk... and then, becouse gunk is usually longer, truncated. iTunes seems to have tried to cope with this, but failed, because it's looking for exact matches to song and album titles. in some cases, i noticed the names in my itunes library were changed. in some cases, it seems to not be able to find the files. (I noticed that even after re-locating all my files, it still seems to have problems finding some of them by name because the two systems are still trying to compensate for one another in that regard.)
I believe that initially, when this suddden clash occured, iTunes tried to adjust where it could, and tossed files it thought didn't belong in it's library. I wasn't careful with the emptying of my recylce bin once, but i do remember noticing very late that one of my dumps shortly before i discovered this issue had an unusually large number of files in it-- somewhere in the hundreds or thousands, which is the number of songs i lost.
So, in conclusion, I would say this:
If you are already in this forum thread, chances are, this has already happened and there is little to be done about it now. But, a small thing you can do to minimize damage in the future is KEEP A VERY CLOSE EYE ON WHAT IS IN YOUR RECYCLE/TRASH BIN. I've started emptying mine more frequently to keep the files in it at a manageable number, making sure that i can remember that i actually meant to delete everything that is in it. I always at least CHECK THE NUMBER OF ITEMS my computer tells me that it's going to delete. If it looks high, I check out the contents. If you're paranoid about data loss, it's a pretty good habit anyway. I just got lazy with it for a while, and now look what's happened. only my other paranoid habits saved me.
iTunes for Windows has always converted various characters that are not permitted in filenames by Windows into underscores. iTunes has always truncated file & folder names to a maximum of 40 characters and overall path length is limited to 255 characters.
Make a backup, keep it updated, pay attention to what is going to change in the update, if neccessary stop and recover missing files in the source location from their backups.
On moving house three years ago I donated all my vynil and CDs to an Oxfam shop. Was it Chris CA who said you're only entitled to have songs while you physically have the CD? For heaven's sake, a lot of my CDs came from charity shops in the first place! (Well the second place if you insist.)
I bought into iTunes Match around midsummer 2012. Around a week after it had all uploaded I realised it was now replacing my 256kbps tracks with 128k - DOWNGRADING the quality! So I stopped it (but I will keep up the subscription).
Right now, my Mac iTunes Library says I have 6635 songs. I mistakenly bought an iPad with only 32G storage, so I keep its music on a USB drive - but don't have that connected when I plug in the iPad, unless I have some new music. (Also have an iPhone 4S which I don't put any music on, pending the iPhone 6.)
So why, like everyone else here, is some of my music now just vanishing off the Mac? Could it be connected with Artists? For example, I had a CD with 14 songs, 6 by Robert Tear and the remaining 8 by Thomas Allen. Only the Thomas Allen ones have vanished (so far!).
But look, the vanished ones are by an artist who's name begins with "A" - could it be that some Apple iTunes server bot is working through the stuff I'd put into Match last year, in alphabetical order by artist? Could it also be because has someone paid a tiny amount to Oxfam to buy that CD, and imported it into his iTunes?
All my media is connected to my library all the time. My devices sync with selected playlists. I don't use iTunes Match. The library exists as a self contained folder on an external drive and everything is backed up to two clones. (One at home, one at work, and a portable that travels between them.) When I'm updating the clones I can see which files are going to be added, renamed or deleted, which gives me the chance to check that all is good. As far as I am aware in six years nothing has ever been removed that I couldn't account for. And I update my clones two or three times a week. I'm not saying it isn't possible that for some users iTunes is randomly deleting songs, just that I've never seen the issue and I have trouble coming up with a mechanism that might explain it if there really is one. It is easy enough to accidentally remove a track, album, or artist with the right/wrong keyboard commands, and if confirmation dialog boxes have been disabled you may not get any feedback that you have done so. Apple certainly aren't deliberately removing media because someone else uploaded your old CDs. Although Chris is correct over the legality of that they wouldn't be able to tell. It may help that I don't let iTunes manage my media folders, but I doubt it. A monitored backup is the way to go.
I can give another Could it be: Robert Tear is dead, Thomas Allen isn't. But it seems unlikely that any agreement with a PRS (Performing Rights Society) would be that elaborate. And guess what? This morning Robert Tear's songs have reappeared! So now I'm wondering if there could be a bug in the file system, affecting items with a more-than-average amount of metadata?
@turingtest2: Thank you for your assurances about Apple. There are 28 pages of people talking about vanishing songs in this thread, and personally I hardly use the keyboard in iTunes, only in the search box. Yesterday I had to use Cmd-I to fix an empty column after importing a brand new CD (which will now go to Oxfam), but otherwise I just use the trackpad.
And didn't someone report a Genius Bar or phone call in which an Apple guy admitted the problem but said they've no idea why it's happening? That seems credible, iTunes must be a huge kluge of chopped & changed code by now.
Since yesterday I have unchecked Keep iTunes Media organized. Everything is kept in the default built-in SSD. Even the reduced set for the iPad is just a copied selection from ~Music/iTunes/iTunes Media, and that was a one-off excercise last year.
And I have a Time Capsule; with Time Machine it's a great automatic backup mechanism. I'm glad I didn't rush into using it yesterday. I've no idea how many of the 6635 songs had exclamation marks then, with TC I was completely unfazed and just went to this forum.
My library is a little larger than a free dropbox account would support. While for small libraries it might be OK to put the generally unchanging meida in a dropbox I suspect that it would not be a good idea to have the live database in a dropbox folder. The database is updated everytime you play a track which could result in a lot of traffic to the dropbox, and might potentially lock the database as iTunes is trying to update it.