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

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.