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Testing: iTunes update aggravates network, local library destruction
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Jul 14, 2015, 09:54 AM
Apple's release of an iTunes point update yesterday was seemingly relief from the manifest problems induced by the first release -- but reports immediately started coming in questioning what the value of the update was, and what it actually fixed. We repeated our earlier testing with iTunes networking shares, and tossed in some local store sharing which was underway with version 12.2, and were dismayed by our findings.

Apple's fix yesterday nebulously mentioned that the patch was for current or prior iTunes Match subscribers afflicted by metadata issues, as well as relocation of music files. In very quick testing last night, we determined that this problem has not been resolved, even for those with minor manifestation of the renaming and retagging.

MacNN was in the middle of testing reports of vast destruction of external drives' libraries, and had scattered failures -- but not enough to unilaterally declare that it was a problem across all drives or libraries. The new patch has induced problems where there were none. Before the patch, two out of 19 enclosures which span 12 different USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt to SATA bridgeboard chipsets would reliably see corruption of an iTunes library. Even with the two, a replacement of the .ITL file with a backed up copy generally salvaged the mess.

Following the patch, library data destruction jumped to 10 out of 19 enclosures spanning manufacturers and bridgeboards! In two of the 10 instances, the .ITL replacement worked. In the remaining eight, no amount of database manipulation saved the library. Problems manifested in relocated and renamed files, as well as metadata destruction and manipulation. In some cases, files weren't just moved, but "lost" from the finder as well -- not traditionally deleted, as the files weren't in the trash. We're working on a commonality, and are continuing our testing on this matter.

We started swapping actual hard drives around inside enclosures assuming it was an interaction between the bridgeboard, OS, and iTunes. We expected to see the same enclosures manifest the problems, but in this case, 11 out of 19 enclosures manifested problems.

So, the problems go well beyond just the bridgeboard and iTunes, but include some combination of drive hardware, bridgeboard, and iTunes 12.2.x. We don't have enough data yet on what combinations to declare "safe" and are going to implement a more organized test to try and determine what can be relied on from a hardware perspective. We're also going to add USB 2.0 cases, as users often store music on slower drives.

Libraries stored on an internal drive, either a non-OS drive in the case of a slab-side Mac Pro, or on a hard drive in conjunction with a SSD in a Mac Pro seem safe, or at least, less affected by the bug. We're still doing testing on these configurations, but they seem safer than on external storage either directly attached by USB or Thunderbolt, or iTunes libraries stored on a network share. It is important to note that every enclosure, and every drive results in a stable, uncorrupted library in iTunes, even with an active iTunes Match subscription.

At this time, MacNN strongly recommends that users not store iTunes libraries on network shares or on external drives -- a problem aggravated by the latest patch! If files are backed up on external and untouched by iTunes, the files remain safe, so the issue isn't the Finder by itself. Apple's iTunes since version 12.2 is the primary culprit, as a library maintained under iTunes remains intact and pristine.

Regarding our testing: we don't have the resources to test everything, and this isn't the last word by far on the subject. MacNN feels that Apple has utterly and completely dropped the ball on this matter -- especially aggravating since the company claims that "Music is in our DNA" in the past. If music is so vital to the company, then why doesn't it understand that management and organization of what we own is important too?

Our gear loadout, while better than most users', isn't infinite. If you have a report for us of corruption minor or major, or a fix for your own problem, please leave us a comment here or email us. Please provide information on your hardware, and the make and model of your drives that you've seen a problem manifest.

-- Mike Wuerthele
Managing Editor
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jul 14, 2015 at 01:16 PM. )
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Jul 14, 2015, 10:19 AM
I thought the entire purchase of Beats was a "let's be cool" boondoggle. The latest fiasco is the poisonous fruit of a poisonous tree. Fortunately I don't depend on iTunes on a daily basis.
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Jul 14, 2015, 10:43 AM
So people who constantly screw around with their libraries using various schemes for non-standard locations are having trouble? Imagine that.
Mike Wuerthele
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Jul 14, 2015, 10:58 AM
While I'll give you the NAS or network-shared storage as unusual, storing your library on local external storage is hardly a "non-standard" use. If this was going to be an issue, and Apple knew it, it should have been promulgated, and the ability to move your library elsewhere removed or disabled.

What about on a drive that isn't the OS drive in an aluminum Mac Pro? Should that be allowed?
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Jul 14, 2015, 12:27 PM
Just to be clear. My configuration is a Mac Pro with boot SSD and iTunes library stored on internal RAID 0. iTunes 12.2 borked my library, and I won't be bothering to test later versions of iTunes until we know the issue is fixed. Restoring the itl file did nothing to resolve the issue. I had to completely restore from a prior OS clone and revert to iTunes, which works properly. No iTunes Match or Apple Radio were ever involved. Also, thank you for being will to call Apple out as having "completely dropped the ball". I know I beat this dead horse a bit, but it's important: The mainstream media has been too rosy and forgiving of Apple during a period in which the usability of their UIs and the reliability of their software has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Because Apple is raking in the money anyway, the only way we are likely to get them to change their ways is if these problems are plainly called-out. The type of issue we are seeing here is not supposed to be the Apple Experience.
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Jul 14, 2015, 01:01 PM
I subscribed to Apple Music on launch day, I had about 8 thousand tracks. After the update, half of them were corrupted to and overwritten by other files in my library. Like the actual files in the finder were overwritten. This update is a mess, and Apple should fire everyone they got from beats who's working on the coding side of things, because they created a mess like I've never seen on a Mac.
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Jul 15, 2015, 01:09 AM
I have an important practical question. Does the corruption occur in any cases where iTunes Match is *not* subscribed to (but where iTunes is updated and the iTunes library is stored on an external drive)? I haven't updated yet, and I'm wondering if just turning off iTunes Match is a solution.
Mike Wuerthele
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Jul 15, 2015, 07:39 AM
It isn't, I'm afraid. Happens either way.
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Jul 15, 2015, 10:36 AM
Typical HD's are not big enough to store large quantities of music and movies on them and Apple is well aware of this and they would like but will never get people to store their compete collection on servers that Apple own just for the simple fact that as Apple has shown us with this cluster****, that they can not be trusted, so we store our collection on external HD's or what ever format a end user so chooses and Apple had better get their head out of their arses and start dealing with this fact of life.
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