Why Is Apple Music Deleting My Downloads? (Explained)

Apple Music is great when everything’s working as it should, and it gives you access to a massive library of music for your listening pleasure.

But sometimes everything’s not working as it should.

For instance, you might be one of many users who report the annoyance of having music they downloaded to their library simply disappear.

If you are, worry not, because today we’re going to take a close look at this commonly-reported issue, what might be causing it, and what you can do about it!

Here’s Why Your Apple Music Downloads Might Disappear:

Various settings within Apple Music could be responsible for the disappearance of downloaded songs. If your “optimize storage” feature is turned ON, or if iCloud Music Library is OFF, these features may automatically delete files to free up file space. An undiscovered glitch could also be the cause.

Smart Phone with Apple Music App open with a playlist. White headphones connected.

Before we dive into explaining this question, if your problem is actually the opposite of downloads being deleted, head over to our article about why Apple Music has duplicate songs, albums and playlists.

What Would Cause Apple Music to Delete Downloads?

There are a number of possible causes for this commonly-reported problem.

The first, and the most common culprit is the “optimize storage” setting within Apple Music.

This setting can be useful if you want to, well, optimize your storage, as it will try to remove things you don’t seem to be using much to free up file space for you.

Where this gets annoying, however, is when the automatic service determines that you aren’t interested in a downloaded song because you haven’t listened to it recently enough, and removes it.

To solve this, simply navigate to your settings in Apple Music.

  1. In your settings, select ‘music’
  2. Then scroll down to find the “optimize storage” setting
  3. Now, turn it OFF.

This should be the first setting you check if you’re having this problem, as it’s the most common cause for the random disappearance of downloaded songs.

If you’ve got more questions about Apple Music and storage, we have an entire article dedicated to answering your questions!

However, it’s not the only thing that can cause it, so if you have “optimize storage” turned off and are still having this problem, there are a few other things you can try.

Another setting that can cause this problem is the “iCloud Music Library” feature, which synchronizes your downloads on every device via the cloud.

In this case, it’s having it turned off that causes the problem because turning off this synchronization will cause previously-downloaded songs to be deleted.

To ensure that this does not happen:

  1. Go to ‘settings’
  2. Then, press ‘music’ again
  3. This time look for a setting called ‘iCloud Music Library’ and make sure it’s turned on.

If this still doesn’t solve your problem, there’s one more setting that could be causing it, at least if you’re on an iOS device.

If you’re using Apple Music from an iPad or iPhone and still get this problem after checking both the storage optimization and iCloud settings, you might have “Show Apple Music” turned off.

This is an iOS setting (meaning it’s a setting on your device itself rather than Apple Music) that toggles whether or not you want to see this content on your device.

To check this setting:

  1. Once again, go to ‘settings’
  2. Then ‘music’
  3. Now, look for an option called “Show Apple Music” and make sure it’s on.

Once you’ve got the settings all sorted out, be sure and restart your device(s), as some changes may require a restart before they can be noticed.

Unfortunately, though, some users still report experiencing this problem after checking and ensuring that all three of the above settings are in order and restarting their devices.

If you’re one of those users who still have songs disappear after going through all three settings that might be causing it, all we can say is that there may be a bug or glitch causing the problem in Apple Music.

This is just speculation, but plenty of people report having all their settings correct and still losing music, so we can only conclude there must be another problem at play.

Sadly, we can’t say what, exactly, that problem might be, or how to solve it.

The best advice we can give in this case is to first double- and triple-check to make sure Optimize Storage is OFF, iCloud music library is ON, and Show Apple Music is ON.

Then, contact Apple Support and let them know you’ve already tried all of the above troubleshooting; hopefully, an Apple employee will be able to help.

Do Software Updates Cause Your Music Downloads to Delete?

It’s certainly possible that software updates could cause music to disappear, but we couldn’t find any hard evidence for this one way or the other.

There is, however, precedent for this sort of thing with other apps and services.

Software updates, especially particularly big ones that add new features or change existing frameworks significantly, have caused accidental data loss on plenty of other apps and services.

So, that certainly could be happening with Apple Music as well.

Software updates could be part of the problem when it comes to randomly-deleted music, or they could have nothing to do with it at all; either is possible until more evidence is found.

How Do You Restore Your Apple Music Library if it is Deleted?

If you have had your downloaded music randomly disappear, figuring out how to prevent it from happening again is only half of the solution.

The other half is getting it back in the first place.

There are at least a couple of ways to go about this.

The simplest, but most tedious way, is to manually go back and download every song you used to have in your library.

This method will certainly work, but it can be annoying and time-consuming to remember, search for, then download every song all over again.

The other, more convenient option is to synchronize your library with iCloud.

  1. To do this, you’ll want to make sure your iCloud Music Library is set to “on,” which should already be done if you followed the troubleshooting advice from a couple of sections above.
  2. Then, make sure all the songs you want to stay in your library are updated in your iCloud.
  3. Finally, restart your device, because sometimes the changes won’t be seen until you do so.

At this point, your songs should already be automatically downloading from your iCloud library.

How Can You Protect/Backup Your Downloads?

There are several ways you can go about backing up your Apple Music songs if you’re worried about losing them again.

One method is offered by Apple Music itself, and many other alternative methods are available from third parties.

The option included with Apple Music for this purpose is one we’ve already talked about a few times in this article so far: the iCloud Music Library.

This feature acts as a cloud-based backup of your downloaded songs, which will remember which songs are in your library across all devices and synchronize them with your local downloads.

If you don’t trust Apple Music alone with your backups, though, a number of third-party options are also available.

In fact, there are so many options that we could write an entire article about all the different ways you could do this, but for now, we’ll just cover one popular service called TuneFab.

This service can be used to remove DRM encryption from your Apple Music songs and create local, DRM-free backups that will stay on your hard drive forever unless you personally delete them.

In fact, if you haven’t signed up for Apple Music yet, but plan on doing so, it’s a good idea to back up all your pre-existing music first.

This is because Apple Music can actually change your local files into DRM-laden Apple Music files, which can be a nasty surprise if you’re not expecting it.

It is also worth noting that while TuneFab itself is a legitimate, legal company as far as we can tell, it is possible to misuse their service in a way that could be considered piracy.

We don’t know whether this would be the case with backing up songs you didn’t purchase but instead downloaded from your Apple Music subscription, but it is possible.

For this reason, we cannot specifically recommend you do so, but it is certainly something TuneFab lets you do, so proceed at your own risk and in compliance with any relevant laws.

That being said, if you did purchase a music file, you are within your legal rights, in the United States, to create a personal backup of the music you purchased, as long as you don’t distribute it.

Does Apple Music Have a History of Losing User Music?

Insofar as this has been a problem that users have been reporting for years, yes, Apple Music has a history of various users reporting this exact issue.

That being said, we cannot say for certain if this is simply because people continue to be confused by settings like Storage Optimization, or if it goes deeper than that.

Regardless, it’s certainly an annoying issue to encounter, and one users seem to have been reporting for basically as long as Apple Music has existed.

With all that in mind, we hope you’re able to find a solution to this frustrating issue after reading our article.


How to Stop Apple Music From Deleting Songs

TuneFab Apple Music Converter

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