As of late, I haven't been keeping up with Apple and their software services. After all, I have no devices that can actually run iOS 7, and I recently purchased a Nexus 7 and a Nexus 5. Furthermore, I have discontinued my Hackintosh project for the time being as my desktop tower was too slow to run Mavericks quick enough for my liking, and while I miss the whims of Mac OS X, Windows 8 is smooth and effective enough to get stuff done if need be. BUT, what I would actually like to discuss today is a fantastic saviour by Apple, and that is iTunes Match.

As I've written here before, iTunes Match is a service that matches all your songs in an iTunes library with those in the iTunes Store, allowing you to effectively access all your music from any Mac, Windows PC, iPod, iPhone or iPad.

This comes in at a relatively cheap $AU35 a year, and considering you can upload your music that isn't even purchased from Apple, which can then be matched with music from iTunes' servers (and potentially upgraded in quality), it is fantastic value.
I love the service, mainly because it allows me to use multiple computers and not really bother with the actual syncing process between them, as iTunes just does it all for you. I also liked it at the time of purchase (and am now in my second year of the subscription), as it gives me peace of mind in the event that my main computer crashes or a serious calamity occurs in which all my local data storage and backups are destroyed, because I will still have all my music, in exactly the same state it was before the crash occurred. It was this feature that saved my bacon yesterday.

As aforementioned, my desktop tower is getting a bit long in the tooth, being purchased in 2009, it is now crashing on a near-daily basis, and suffers incredible slowdowns whenever I do anything more than have a few tabs open. Up until now, these system crashes (which existed under OS X, and of which I am still unable to ascertain the source) haven't really caused me to lose any data. Until yesterday.
Imagine this: Chilling with my music, browsing the web, then my desktop blue screens. I restart it and open iTunes again, upon which I am greeted with a lovely message: "Your iTunes Library file (.itl) is corrupted. iTunes has created a new library file." After much aggravation and face-palming, I click OK and examine the damage. The damage is very clear: I have no music files. Hooray.
I consulted the Apple Support forums, and found a post that reminded me of the existence of the "Previous iTunes Libraries" folder. Unfortunately, my latest automatic backup was created 6th February, and as I am very passionate about my music, a lot had happened since then in terms of new music, play counts, etc. So I had an idea. Simply use the library backup, and enable iTunes Match, allowing the two to sync up with the latest data from iTunes Match, redownload the songs that I lost in the process, and generally make everything back to normal.
So, now I have a basically-identical library to the one that got corrupted yesterday, without much effort, all thanks to iTunes Match!

It's worth noting, however, that the music files that I lost are still actually in the folder, but merely that the links in the iTunes Library File don't exist. So, when I redownloaded the songs, the originals still existed and the redownloaded tracks exist as My Song 1.m4a, My Song 2 1.m4a, etc. which could be seen as inefficient and potentially data-expensive in the long run, but for now I am pleased with the compromise between effort and efficiency.

It's certainly something worth considering the next time my subscription needs renewing...