Streaming app used by 40 million writes hundreds of gigabytes

For almost five months—possibly longer—the Spotify music streaming app has been assaulting users’ storage devices with enough data to potentially take years off their expected lifespans. Reports of tens or in some cases hundreds of gigabytes being written in an hour aren’t uncommon, and occasionally the recorded amounts are measured in terabytes. The overload happens even when Spotify is idle and isn’t storing any songs locally.

The behavior poses an unnecessary burden on users’ storage devices, particularly solid state drives, which come with a finite amount of write capacity. Continuously writing hundreds of gigabytes of needless data to a drive every day for months or years on end has the potential to cause an SSD to die years earlier than it otherwise would. And yet, Spotify apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux have engaged in this data assault since at least the middle of June, when multiple users reported the problem in the company’s official support forum.

“This is a *major* bug that currently affects thousands of users,” Spotify user Paul Miller told Ars. “If for example, Castrol Oil lowered your engine’s life expectancy by five to 10 years, I imagine most users would want to know, and that fact *should* be reported on.”

Three Ars reporters who ran Spotify on Macs and PCs had no trouble reproducing the problem reported not only in the above-mentioned Spotify forum but also on Reddit, Hacker News, and elsewhere. Typically, the app wrote from 5 to 10 GB of data in less than an hour on Ars reporters’ machines, even when the app was idle. Leaving Spotify running for periods longer than a day resulted in amounts as high as 700 GB.

Image result for spotify is writing massive amounts to junk data to storage drives

Spotify officials hadn’t responded to Ars questions more than two days after they were sent. According to comments left in the Spotify forum in the past 24 hours, the bug has been fixed in version 1.0.42, which is in the process of being rolled out. The update remains unavailable to many users, this reporter included. And that means Spotify’s drive-assaulting behavior continues unabated for many.

According to posts in the Spotify forum (see pages here and here, for instance), the massive data writes are tied to one or more database files with titles that include the string Mercury.db. Users have proposed several manual techniques that are supposed to correct or mitigate the problem, but the most preferable solution is for Spotify developers to fix this bug and to make the update available to all users immediately. The performance of millions of storage drives may count on it.

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