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beets plugin verifying file integrity with checksums

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The beets plugin for paranoid obsessive-compulsive music geeks.

beets-check lets you verify the integrity of your audio files. It computes and validates file checksums and uses third party tools to run custom tests on files.

This plugin requires at least version 1.4.7 of beets and at least Python 3.7.

pip install --upgrade beets>=1.4.7
pip install git+git://

Then add check to the list of plugins in your beet configuration. (Running beet config --edit might be the quickest way.)

If you want to use third-party tools to test your audio files you have to manually install them on your system. Run beet check --list-tools to see a list of programs the plugin can use or add your own.


Let’s get started and add some checksums to your library.

$ beet check -a
WARNING integrity error: /music/Abbey Road/01 Come Together.mp3
Adding unknown checksums:  1032/8337 [12%]

The check command looks for all files that don’t have a checksum yet. It computes the checksum for each of these files and stores it in the database. The command also prints a warning if one of the third-party tools finds an error. (More on those later.)

After some time (or maybe a system crash) you’ll probably want to go back to your library and verify that none of the files have changed. To do this run

$ beet check
FAILED: /music/Sgt. Pepper/13 A Day in the Life.mp3
Verifying checksums:  5102/8337 [53%]

For later inspection you might want to keep a log. To do that just redirect the error output with beet check 2>check.log. All WARNING and ERROR lines are sent to stderr, so you will still see the progressbar.

When you change your files through beets, using the modfiy command for example, the plugin will update the checksums automatically. However, if you change files manually, you also need to update the checksums manually.

$ beet check -u 'album:Sgt. Pepper'
Updating checksums:  2/13 [15%]

Third-party Tests

The plugin allows you to add custom file checks through external tools. The plugin supports flac --test, oggz-validate, and mp3val out of the box, but you can also configure your own.

Custom tests are run when on the following occasions.

  • Before importing a file (see below)
  • Before adding checksums with the -a flag
  • When running beet check --external

The file checks are not run when updating files. The rationale is that if the checksum of a file is correct, the file is assumed to be clean and pass all the custom tests.

If some file fails a test the line

WARNING error description: /path/to/file

is printed.

Usage with import

Since it would be tedious to run check -a every time you import new music into beets, beets-check will add checksum automatically. Before file is imported the plugin will also check the file with the provided third-party tools. If the check fails beets will ask you to confirm the import.

$ beet import 'Abbey Road'
    The Beatles - Abbey Road
(Similarity: 100.0%) (Vinyl, 1969, DE, Apple Records)
Warning: failed to verify integrity
  Abbey Road/01 Come Together.mp3: MPEG stream error
Do you want to skip this album? (Y/n)

After a track has been added to the database and all modifications to the tags have been written, beets-check adds the checksums. This is virtually the same as running beets check -a after the import.

If you run import with the --quiet flag the importer will skip files that do not pass third-party tests automatically and log an error.

Automatic Update

The write and modify commands as well as some plugins will change a file’s content and thus invalidate its checksum. To relieve you from updating the checksum manually, beets-check will recalculate the checksums of all the files that were changed.

$ beet check -e 'title:A Day in the Life'
ded5...363f */music/life.mp3

$ beet modify 'artist=The Beatles' title:A Day in the Life'

$ beet check -e 'title:A Day in the Life'
d942...5a82 */music/life.mp3

This is basically equivalent to running beets check -u QUERY after a modifying command.

To make sure that a file hasn’t changed before beets changes it, the plugin will verify the checksum before the file is written. If the check fails, beets will not write the file and issue a warning.

$ beet modify 'artist=The Beatles' 'title:A Day in the Life'
could not write /music/life.mp3: checksum did not match value in library

Usage with convert

The convert plugin can replace an audio file with a transcoded version using the --keep-new flag. This will invalidate you checksum, but beets-check knows about this and will update the checksum automatically. You can disable this behaviour in the plugin configuration. Note that, at the moment we do not verify the checksum prior to the conversion, so a corrupted file might go undetected. This feature is also only available with the master branch of beets

CLI Reference

beet check [--quiet]
                 [ --external
                 | --add
                 | --update [--force]
                 | --export
                 | --fix [--force]
                 ] [QUERY...]
beet check --list-tools

The plugin has subcommands for checking files, running integrity checks, adding, updating and exporting checksums and listing third-party tools. All but the last accepty a QUERY paramter that will restrict the operation to files matching the query. Remember, if a query contains a slash beets will interpret it as a path and match all files that are contained in a subdirectory of that path.

The default check command, as well as the --add, --update, and --external commands provide structured output to stderr to be easily parseable by other tools. If a file’s checksum cannot be verified the line FAILED: /path/to/file is printed to stdout. If an external test fails, the line WARNING error description: /path/to/file is printed.

In addition, the commands print a progress indicator to stdout if stdout is connected to a terminal. This can be disabled with the -q, --quiet flag.

  • beet check [-q] [QUERY...] The default command verifies all file checksums against the database. The output is described above. Exits with status code 15 if at least one file does not pass a test.

  • -e, --external Run third-party tools for the given file. The output is described above. Exits with status code 15 if at least one file does not pass a test.

  • -a, --add Look for files in the database that don’t have a checksum, compute it from the file and add it to the database. This will also print warnings for failed integrity checks.

  • -u, --update Calculate checksums for all files matching the query and write the them to the database. If no query is given this will overwrite all checksums already in the database. Since that is almost certainly not what you want, beets will ask you for confirmation in that case unless the --force flag is set.

  • --export Outputs a list of filenames with corresponding checksums in the format used by the sha256sum command. You can then use that command to check your files externally. For example beet check -e | sha256sum -c.

  • -x, --fix [--force | -f] Since v0.9.2. Fix files with third-party tools. Since this changes files it will ask for you to confirm the fixes. This can be disabled with the --force flag.

  • -l, --list-tools Outputs a list of third party programs that beets-check uses to verify file integrity and shows whether they are installed. The plugin comes with support for the oggz-validate, mp3val and flac commands.


By default beets-check uses the following configuration.

  import: yes
  write-check: yes
  write-update: yes
  convert-update: yes
  threads: num_of_cpus

These option control at which point beets-check will be used automatically by other beets commands. You can disable each option by setting its value to no.

  • import: no Don’t add checksums for new files during the import process. This also disables integrity checks on import and will not ask you to skip the import of corrupted files.
  • write-check: no Don’t verify checksums before writing files with beet write or beet modify.
  • write-update: no Don’t update checksums after writing files with beet write or beet modify.
  • convert-update: no Don’t updated the checksum if a file has been converted with the --keep-new flag.
  • threads: 4 Use four threads to compute checksums.

Third-party Tools

beets-check allows you to configure custom tests for your files.

Custom tests are shell commands that are run on an audio file and may produce an error.

      cmd: 'mp3val {}'
      formats: MP3
      error: '^WARNING: .* \(offset 0x[0-9a-f]+\): (.*)$'
      fix: 'mp3val -f -nb {}'

Each tool is a dictionary entry under, where the key is the tools name and the value is a configuration dictionary with the following keys.

  • cmd The shell command that tests the file. The string is formatted with python’s str.format() to replace '{}' with the quoted path of the file to check.

  • formats A space separated list of audio formats the tool can check. Valid formats include 'MP'

  • error Python regular expression to match against the tools output. If a match is found, an error is assumed to have occured and the error description is the first match group.

  • fix Shell command to run when fixing files. The command is formtted similar to cmd.

A test run with a given tool is assumed to have failed in one of the following two cases.

  • The combined output of stdout and stderr matches the error Regular Expression.

  • The shell command exits with a non-zero status code.


Copyright (c) 2014 Thomas Scholtes

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


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