Start backing up your music: Wal-Mart shuts down DRM servers

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) – Wal-Mart informed its customers that it will be shutting down its DRM servers on October, which should be perceived as good news by customers. But some users may be left with somewhat useless music files that were purchased before February of this year: DRM-packed songs that will not be backed up until October 9 cannot be transferred to another PC thereafter and cannot be recovered in the case of a system crash of a new installation of the PC.  

Even as we slowly say good-by to digital rights management (DRM) in digital music downloads, the transition is likely to bring some additional inconveniences for consumers. Wal-Mart notified its customers via email that it will be shutting down its DRM servers on October 9. The problem with this move is that the DRM that was included in WMA songs that were sold prior to February 2008 locks down music files to the device they are stored on: These cannot be recovered if they are lost once the DRM servers are gone, Wal-Mart said.   

The retailer said that it “strongly [recommends] that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD.” Such a backup will make sure that the music files can be accessed “from any personal computer.”

Customers who do not backup their DRM-protected music files before October 9, will “no longer be able to transfer [their] songs to other computers or access [their] songs after changing or reinstalling [their] operating system or in the event of a system crash,” according to Wal-Mart. However, “music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer.”

Music files that were sold after February 2008 are not affected by the shutdown of the DRM servers.