While we love technology, sometimes its purveyors make our blood boil. We're talking about annoying policies and practices, whether a new PC stuffed with junkware or how we have to switch providers just so we can get a better mobile phone.
Unrecoverable digital music files
Your hard drive just went to the great storage heap in the sky, taking your entire music collection along with it. Re-ripping songs from your CDs is easy enough, but what about the music you purchased and downloaded from online stores such as AmazonMP3 and iTunes? You paid for those songs, so surely you can just re-download them when necessary, right? Wrong - neither store permits return trips to the well.
Admittedly, you wouldn't expect a bricks-and-mortar seller to replace your CDs if your house burned down. But CDs are tangible goods that cost money to manufacture, ship, and store. Music downloads are mere bits and bytes that require only bandwidth, and there's plenty of that to go around. Why shouldn't you be able to download your songs a second time or even a thirty-second time after you've paid for them?
When we asked, AmazonMP3 spokesperson Heather Huntoon said only that "we recommend customers create a backup copy of their music". She also noted that because all of Amazon's music is sold in MP3 format, you don't have to reauthorise a computer when restoring your tunes. In contrast, iTunes makes you jump through some authorisation hoops to restore even those purchases you've backed up.
And speaking of iTunes, Apple utterly ignored all our inquiries on this subject. We've heard anecdotal evidence that the company's customer-service reps will sometimes replace lost purchases, but that isn't the same thing as a store policy that tells customers "don't worry, we've got your back".
The fix: As Amazon's Huntoon says, back up your music. You can store up to 25GB worth of stuff online for free at MediaMax or 50GB at ADrive, though you should be prepared to invest considerable time uploading everything. And consider shopping elsewhere: Napster and Rhapsody have no problem letting you re-download music you've purchased. Both services also offer a subscription option that allows unlimited downloads from their substantial libraries, another worthwhile insurance policy against lost music collections.
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