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Former Member
Message 1 of 90

Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

3916 views over at Apple Support Communities for

Why does iTunes delete my itunesprefs.xml?


First reported early June 2013

Many discussions of McAfee users working withMcAfee tech support (the "fun" multi-hour, waste-of-time kind).

Has classic tech support comments of "this is the first we have heard of this problem".  Funny (not).

Development has told a  user there that it is being worked, but it is time to turn up the heat.

This is still affecting everyone there (group solution has come to uninstall McAfee and get another product).


This has been affecting me, but I did not put 2 & 2 together until this week.  I thought I was getting new versions of iTunes (doh!).

Who else is experiencing this AND WANTS IT FIXED?

Then add your desire for a solution to this thread.

89 Replies
Former Member
Message 2 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

Also having this issue.

Been following the discussion on apple so am hoping there will be a fix from McAfee soon otherwise will have to look at switching.

Reliable Contributor
Reliable Contributor
Message 3 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

I read some of that thread (but not all of it, yet) then went and checked a few other places for confirmation of a hunch.

McAfee is not, I think, deleting that file. What I think it's doing is delaying the creation or copying of a file before iTunes closes, so that the app closes without re-creating the xml file. As it's xml its content has to be parsed, and real-time scanning may sometimes take too long to do this. Part of the reason may be that some of the contents of the file are encoded in Base64 (this is noted in several articles, but they're referring to older versions of iTunes). You'd have to get a copy of the file and look to see what the encoding is to see if that is still the case.

The file that is disappearing is almost certainly not the only one present on your system. Do an Explorer search for that filename and see how many copies it turns up. There should be two, but there may be four (if you have Roaming).

Why iTunes would delete that file I don't know, but it may be something to do with syncing. Nobody in the thread messages that I read mentioned whether they sync iTunes with any other device. Don't read too much into that idea just yet, I haven't got enough information on how the program functions to be sure if there's any syncing going on.

I'm still looking at this, and I may be on the wrong track entirely, but I suspect that the sequence is (briefly)

- iTunes starts to close

- It deletes the file you're all talking about (why, I have no idea)

- It then tries to recreate the file by copying it from another location

- McAfee Real-Time Scanning intercepts the file and delays the copying process while it examines the contents

- This takes too long for iTunes, which goes ahead and closes without verifying that the copy process has succeeded

- The copy process fails to complete, perhaps because McAfee then discards the contents of the xml file.

That is all guesswork, and I don't mind if you or someone else can demonstrate that it's completely wrong. But McAfee RTS doesn't delete files, although it might put a file into quarantine - in which case it would tell you so.

It's much more likely the the iTunes code doesn't bother to verify that a file operation has completed successfully during the shutdown process. Perhaps if McAfee whitelists the xml file it might allow any copy process to complete in time, but I think McAfee would be reluctant to do that because there are plenty of places where you can download that file, and some of them are definitely not safe sites.

I note that McAfee Tech Support advice (sometimes) is to roll back to an earlier version of iTunes which doesn't exhibit this behaviour. The implication is then that some change in the iTunes code is responsible for this behaviour. What is also possible is that McAfee code needs tweaking to allow for the iTunes code changes. The problem there is that changing McAfee code to allow one app to work again might break a dozen other apps, and the development teams don't want that kind of headache.

Let me know if any of that guesswork is helpful. There are plenty of places to look for information about this.

Former Member
Message 4 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

This is the first piece of intelligent analysis (even though a guess) that I seen on this issue.

As a timing issue it fits with the inermittent nature of the problem (files do not disappear every time).

Pity Apple and McAfee have been unable to nail it even though the offending version of iTunes was released more than seven weeks ago.

Message 5 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

I wonder if Technical Support have heard of this?   Hayton maybe it could be asked on our conference call on Monday?

Even though I use iTunes, I have no idea what this is about, sorry. ;-(

All I do know is that iTunes can be a real pain at times.

Message was edited by: Ex_Brit on 28/07/13 8:19:04 EDT AM
Former Member
Message 6 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?


     This is not actually an issue with the security. This is because of the update in iTunes. Just try this. Have iTunes removed from the computer as well as the traces of iTunes from the registry. Have your computer rebooted and reinstall the older version of iTunes on the computer and check if the issue persists.

If it is really an issue with McAfee the issue should accour again with the RTS is turned on. If not proceed using the Older version of iTunes.



Safe never Sleeps

Message 7 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

As an iTunes user myself I had to chip in here, however I must point out that I haven't personally experienced this particular issue.

It's not very feasible nor easy or even logical to go back to earlier editions of iTunes.

According to this thread over at Apple:  https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5096119?start=0&tstart=0 several people were/are having the same problem and someone there mentioned that AVG A/V was doing the same thing.

Has anyone submitted the file for clearance by McAfee Labs?

See:  https://community.mcafee.com/thread/2016  (It could be that simple, although somehow I doubt it).

Please also note that Technical Support is free of charge by phone or online chat and linked under Useful Links at the top of this page.  Just tell them that rolling back iTunes is not a good option and have them escalate the issue.


Message was edited by: Ex_Brit on 29/07/13 8:58:35 EDT AM
Message 8 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

Just found this thread about the iTunes problem which has been driving me mad for about 6 weeks now.  I thought it was down to my having an SSD on my Win 7 64 build and something like TRIM or the disabling of prefetch or some such was to blame.  I have 15 user licence with McAfee for which I pay a reasonable amount of money.  Going elsewhere is not an option for me ATM as I would have to visit all 15 PCs which are spread throughout the SE of England.  McAfee - it's long past the time to get you corporate finder out and fix this! How hard can it be?

Message 9 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

If VirusScan is deleting a legitimate file I've already posted what to do.  If an iTunes file is routinely being deleted then Apple should be contacting McAfee at the Corporate level.   I have not had any problems here with an iTunes files and folders, st least not with them being deleted, apart from some really maddening refusals by Apple software in general at remembering settings.   That has been going on for ever as far as I recollect.

Message 10 of 90

Re: Itunes - Why does McAfee delete my itunesprefs.xml?

Well the issue with McAfee Real Time Scanning and iTunes not playing together has resurfaced with the latest updates to McAfee issued on 10/17/2013 (see below for version details).

With real time scanning enabled, it appears that McAfee real time scanning will delete the C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes\iTunesPrefs.xml  when iTunes is closed.  This file holds user settings for iTunes, once deleted, when  iTunes is opened again the user is prompted as if it’s the first time iTunes is being opened (i.e., asks user to agree to license agreement, tries to run the tutorial, and makes user reset his/her preferences).

This is pretty simple to duplicate, first you must have a both McAfee and iTunes working prior to the 10-17-2013 updates (in other words, everything was working as expected before the update).  Then once McAfee updates, you can observe the iTunesPerfs.xml file being deleted when iTunes is closed.

If you disable real time scanning, the file is not deleted and iTunes opens normally.

One of these updates is related to the problem (not sure which one is used by real time scanning) :


Version: 12.8

Build 12.8.856

Last Update: 10/17/2013

Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware

Version: 16.8

Build: 16.8.708

Last Update: 10/18/2013

Engine version: 1682.0

Engine creation date: 10/18/2013

Personal Firewall

Version: 13.8

Build: 13.8.712

Last Update: 10/17/2013

SiteAdvisor (I’m listing this, although I do not think it has anything to do with the problem

Version: 3.6


Last Update: 10/04/2013


Version: 13.8

Build: 13.8.706

Last Update: 10/18/2013

Content version: 4732

Content update: 10/15/2013

Engine Version

I will submit the file per the ex_brit’s instructions here, I suggest that anyone having this issue to  do the same.

Then only work around I found is to stop real time scanning “before” you  close I tunes, then turn it back on after iTunes closes.  Which is a royal pain in the ….

The original Apple.com/support forum post is here:



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