Dear iTunes…I Hate You

It seems everyone has an experience losing something on their computer, whether it’s an essay that gets corrupted the night before its due, a huge Excel file that takes 20 minutes to save then crashes, or your entire music library getting wiped out. I have had several bad experiences with technology that resulted in major losses of data. It seems like we’ve all had our computer troubles that make us want to scream, and I have, very loudly at times. But there’s one for me that takes the cake.

Back in November 2015, I travelled to the UK from my home in the United States for the first time on a solo backpacking trip. I toured around London and then took an overnight train up to Scotland to visit Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Highlands. While there I visited countless museums, castles, historic sites, and homes.  It was also during this time that I fell in love with University of Glasgow discovered the Museum Studies program. I brought with me a point and shoot Canon camera and my iPhone 5S (which actually took better pictures than the camera), and used both to document my adventures. Over the entire three and a half week trip I took about 2,000 pictures, most of which were landscapes and artefacts from museums so I could remember the amazing things I saw.

Three days after returning home, I went to a Black Friday sale, the largest shopping day in the US, and upgraded my iPhone to the 6S. The worker at Best Buy ensured me that all the pictures from my trip would be safely transferred to the new iPhone. They were. Fast forward two days to when I finally plugged in the new phone into my computer to transfer over the pictures. iTunes automatically comes up and recognizes the new phone with a pop up window stating ‘Would you like to restore this iPhone.’ Not knowing any better, I clicked ‘Yes.’ After watching the progress bar complete the task, I noticed that all the pictures on the phone were from six months before from the last backup, none recent. I started to freak out as I frantically searched through iTunes and the rest of my computer wondering where the 1,000 pictures on the phone were. I went through every folder and crevice of the computer but they were missing. I had a huge melt down, complete with angry crying and screaming as I realised most of the memories I had from my trip were missing.

I proceeded to call Apple support and was on the phone with them for two hours. All they could tell me was that because I decided to ‘restore’ the iPhone, iTunes deleted all the data on the hard drive and replaced it with the data from the last back up which I had done months ago. I was so angry at myself, Apple, iTunes software, and even my new iPhone. I could get nothing back, all the data was gone. All that remained of my amazing trip were the photos I had taken on the point and shoot Canon camera (albeit there were 1,000 pictures on there as well). I felt like a chunk of my memories were missing – it was like the trip never happened at all.

It took a while for me to even consider taking pictures on my new phone or even installing an update. I am still wary of using iTunes and syncing my phone. I almost never do it because I am afraid of what could happen. I will only open up a file explorer to drag and drop the pictures off my phone now.

I am so happy to be back in Scotland where I will have a chance to retake the pictures I lost. After two years, I started to love my iPhone again and its ease of use, but I will always have a scar in my heart caused by iTunes.

Moral of the story:

-DON’T USE iTUNES….Just kidding. It is a good application to listen to music. I share an Apple Music subscription with my family.

– Always backup your important data to an external source like a separate hard drive, iCloud, Google Drive, etc.

– Always verify backups, and keep them up to date before you do something that could wipe data

This experience in particular made me realise the importance of backing up digital data and, as a Museum Studies student, how it relates to digital information at museums, archives, and libraries. Many have information stored in online databases, and it is important to have offsite backups in a secure location that is accessible and properly catalogued. Let’s hope they take these precautions and don’t suffer my fate.


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