I have been using the audio platform “Roon” for several years now. Many will now ask? What the hell is Roon? Never heard of it… Well, let me explain briefly. Roon is a leading music management software for audiophiles. It provides the ultimale HiFi experience with features such as:
- Music with context based on rich metadata services
- Superior organization by bringing own files and streams together
- Support of leading HiFi (HighRes) streaming services such as Tidal & Qobuz
- Strong personalized music discovery with innovative recommendation technology
- Best possible sound quality with bit-perfect playback including powerful digital signal processing
This sounds great, not? I believed that too. And it’s no secret that Roon meanwhile enjoys a large following in the audio community. You can say that Roon has become the de facto standard for open music platforms. The secret is the combination of broad support for HiFi devices, high-quality streaming services, audio collections with local files and the comprehensive metadata. Roon manages music data. Period. It does not provide any rights to use music as a service itself. Everyone must bring their own music files to the platform and sign up for a separate streaming subscription (currently supported: Tidal or Qobuz). Of course, this music management service is not free. In fact, it costs good money: between USD 120 – 155 per year.
Since Roon is such a great media management experience, many audio lovers have put endless hours into curating their favorite albums, music tracks and playlists. On no other platform can you seamlessly unite local files with streaming services. And many audiophiles have enormous collections of unique recordings that no streaming service makes available. True rarities. That is why this combination is so important. Building your own collection in this mix of files and streams is an important aspect of Roon.
So what makes Roon so interesting overall is DATA about MUSIC. And you would think that Roon has understood this as well. Well, I guess we all got that wrong! Honestly, they are all just incredible amateurs in this field. What happened to lead me to this statement?
Now, since data about music is so important to users, it is logical to assume that Roon will take appropriate measures to protect this valuable asset. And they have been doing so (supposedly) for many years… Since users put many hours into maintaining their own music collection, it makes sense to regularly backup this important data. These data have many personal purposes:
- Personal listening preferences
- Favorite artist, albums and tracks
- Rating of albums
- Individual playlists
- Own album cover art
- Personal tags
So in this case: Backup! And none of this is rocket science. Roon recommends using the integrated backup solution. Isn’t that perfect?
I have been using this backup solution since 2018. Although I have not set up a backup schedule, I regularly run my backups whenever I make multiple changes or if I update the Roon software. A few days ago Roon provided us with another update. The update went smoothly and the app worked just fine. But when I tried to do another backup afterwards, I got quite a shock. After the backup tool started doing a snapshot, it failed with the message:
I then quit Roon and restarted the app without any problems. But I was not able to create another backup. What had happened? Fortunately, Roon has a support community. Immediately I stumbled upon it: The new version of Roon does a data consistency check prior to backing up. If this fails, you can no longer run any backups. I was still lucky. My Roon application was still working. Other users were no longer able to use Roon at all. The situation can be solved only by restoring a previous backup or by completely rebuilding the database from scratch (total data loss). However, since Roon only does a consistency check since the last release, it may be that all previous backups already contain the data corruption and are therefore not usable. I went back over a year and could not find a single backup that worked. Many other users failed as well…
The real problem is Roon’s behavior. The support is not helpful at all. When I was asking for official support, Roon was not really into it. Their standard message still is: “Do a fresh install with the latest release. The backup tool detects database corruption and prevents such issues in the future.” In other words: Roon handed out a useless tool for maintaining their valuable data and now leaves its users alone to deal with the problem. The most despicable message came from the COO himself: “As for corruption, it is not a crisis. We are talking about 0.03% of our total users.”
Translation: Fuck off!
I strongly doubt this number based on the entries in the support forum. Especially since only a small percentage of users actively participate in the forum and if you don’t make regular backups (which experience shows is only a small percentage) then you may not even notice the data corruption. I would now like to make a statement on this topic:
“Roon didn’t understand that their business model is data. And if you don’t care about your customers’ data, you end up losing your business.”Alex Reusch
Dear Roon, that’s YOUR MISSION: DATA about music.
Many companies have a backup strategy, however a recovery strategy is necessary to be successful with databases. Is it too much to ask that a company dealing with a large amount of individual user data to take a strategic approach to data recovery? Roon says such problems are now a thing of the past. The new version solves the problems with data inconsistency. But can we be sure about that? Is there any way to verify this? Or is the next stupid excuse just around the corner? Possible wording: “Oh, we thought the backup tool guarantees consistent data, but it doesn’t. Oops!” I trusted Roon once. Maybe that was reckless, since the guys at Roon are amateurs when it comes to securing data. But if the same problem happens to me a second time, I will be the only one to blame. Only idiots make the same mistake twice.