Why does my music disappeared from Android?

It can be frustrating when you notice that music files have gone missing from your Android device. You may have spent time and effort building up your music library, only to find that some or all of your tracks seem to have mysteriously disappeared.

Checking Storage Permissions

One of the most common reasons for music to disappear from an Android device is that the music app no longer has permission to access the storage where the audio files are kept. Android requires apps to explicitly request access to sensitive parts of the system like the storage, camera, contacts etc. through permissions.

If storage permission is revoked from the music player app, it will no longer be able to access or play any of the audio files stored on the device. To fix missing music, open Settings and go to Apps. Look for the music app in the list and select Permissions. Make sure the Storage permission is enabled. If not, turn it on. This should allow the app access to the music files again.>

As explained in this Quora post, sometimes the Storage permission does not show up in the list. In that case, clearing app data and cache for the music player may help. You can also try factory resetting the app under App Settings.

Internal vs External Storage

On Android devices, music can be saved to either internal storage or external storage like SD cards. Internal storage refers to the built-in storage on the device, while external storage refers to removable media like SD cards.

Saving music to internal storage has the advantage that the files are accessible only to that device. This makes it more secure and integrated with the operating system. However, internal storage tends to have less capacity than external SD cards. Running out of internal storage can cause issues with saving new music or apps.

With external SD card storage, there is virtually unlimited capacity for music files. The downside is that media on SD cards is not managed by the Android OS, so corrupt or ejected cards can cause music to disappear. There are also permission issues – if an app was granted access to an SD card, uninstalling the app could remove files. Some apps may not allow music playback from external storage.

Overall, internal storage is best for managing music through Android apps like Play Music. But external SD cards provide more raw capacity. Users need to be careful with SD card maintenance and app permissions to avoid inadvertent data loss.

Corrupt SD Card

A corrupted SD card is one of the most common reasons for music disappearing from an Android device [1]. SD cards can become corrupted due to physical damage, sudden removal while writing data, file system errors, or malware. When an SD card is corrupted, the file allocation table or directory structures get damaged, leading to data loss. The Android OS may not be able to properly read files on a corrupted SD card, causing all media including music to seemingly vanish from the device.

Specifically, a corrupted SD card may display some of the following symptoms that can result in music disappearing: read/write errors, inability of Android to mount the external SD card, corrupted music files that won’t play properly, missing folders and music files even though the storage space is still used up, or the SD card becoming entirely unreadable by Android. Reformatting or fixing the corruption on the SD card using data recovery tools can help restore missing music on Android caused by a glitched SD card.

Syncing Issues

One common cause of disappearing music on Android devices is syncing problems between the phone and your computer or cloud storage. Many people use iTunes or cloud services like Google Play Music to sync their music library across devices. However, sync conflicts can sometimes occur causing music to disappear from the Android device.

For example, if you delete songs from your iTunes library on your computer but the change hasn’t synced to your Android phone yet, it may look like songs have vanished from your phone. Or sometimes the sync gets interrupted causing files not to transfer properly. Additionally, if you have the same songs synced from multiple sources like iTunes and the cloud, the duplicates may be removed on the Android side.1

To avoid syncing problems, it’s best to use only one primary source to sync your music library to your Android device like the cloud or iTunes. Make sure sync completes fully each time without interruptions. You can also try manually triggering a sync or rescan on your Android device to check for any missing music files. With patience and keeping a consistent sync setup, you can minimize errors and missing files due to sync conflicts.

App Caching Issues

One possible reason for music disappearing from an Android device is due to app caching issues. Apps like music players or file managers will often cache (temporarily store) music files and metadata to improve performance. However, when the app cache is cleared, which happens automatically from time to time or when manually triggered, this can mistakenly delete music files. The app thinks the cached music is temporary data that can be deleted, even though the actual files reside in permanent storage.

According to an Android Stack Exchange thread, clearing the Media Storage app’s cache/data can inadvertently remove music files from the system (Source 1). Other users on Android forums also report music disappearing when clearing app caches, though actual media files like photos or music should not be affected by cache clearing (Source 2).

To avoid this issue, be cautious about bulk clearing app caches, especially for media apps. Check app permissions and storage access before cleaning caches. Also make sure to back up your music library regularly in case files are accidentally deleted.

Factory Reset

A factory reset will wipe all data and settings from an Android device, returning it to the original out-of-the-box state. This includes any music files stored locally on the device’s internal storage. Unless music has been properly backed up before the reset, the files will be permanently deleted.

Performing a factory reset through the Settings app will give the option to backup some data first. However, according to Android’s Factory Reset Won’t Delete Everything on Android, “Music tracks and playlists stored locally won’t be included in this backup by default, so you’ll need to back those up manually” (source).

To avoid losing music files, it’s critical to manually backup any locally stored music to another location before factory resetting an Android device. This could include copying files to a computer or uploading them to cloud storage. Restoring music files from a previous external backup after the reset is the only way to recover them.

Software Bugs

Software bugs in the Android operating system or music apps can sometimes cause issues with accessing or deleting music files. According to one source, Google Play Music has had issues where it won’t allow users to delete certain songs, even if they are removed elsewhere, likely due to a caching or syncing bug.

Bugs may also arise after major Android OS updates that cause music indexing issues or problems accessing external SD card storage. For example, Android 11 introduced scoped storage changes that required adjustments by music apps. While rare, bugs could result in music files being unintentionally deleted or hidden from view in music apps.

If software bugs are suspected, try updating apps and clearing cache/data to see if that resolves it. Checking online forums for similar reports can also help determine if a particular music app or Android version is prone to bugs that lead to disappearing music.

Manual Deletion

One reason music files may disappear from an Android device is accidental manual deletion by the user. There are a few ways this could happen:

  • Bulk selecting and deleting files – Users may select multiple files at once, intending to delete some but accidentally also selecting and deleting music files. This is easy to do since many music files are small in size and display closely grouped together.
  • Errant taps when scrolling – When scrolling through a long list of files, users may accidentally tap on a music file and activate the delete prompt. In a hasty moment, they may tap again to confirm and unintentionally delete files.
  • Clearing app cache/data – Some users may try clearing an app’s cache or app data to troubleshoot issues. If music files are stored in the local storage of a music app, this can inadvertently wipe music files.

Accidentally deleting music files manually is an easy mistake to make on Android devices. Thankfully, there are various recovery options available which will be covered later in this article.


[1] How to recover deleted songs again?

Recovery Options

If your music disappeared from your Android device, there are some options you can try to recover it:
According to Google Support, you can check your app’s trash or recycle bin to see if your missing files are still there and recover them.

If not, you can use third party software to scan your device’s internal or external storage to find and extract deleted audio files. Some top audio recovery apps include DiskDigger Photo Recovery, Dumpster, and 7-Data Recovery.

Before recovering files, avoid adding new content onto your device, as overwriting the storage space can make files unrecoverable. Also be sure to back up any recovered files immediately.

As a last resort, you may need to reset your device to factory settings, then restore a previous backup containing your music collection from Google Drive or another cloud storage service.

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