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Apple acknowledges Snow Leopard data loss bug

updated 07:10 pm EDT, Mon October 12, 2009

Guest login could delete data permanently

Apple on Monday admitted that a serious bug in Snow Leopard could cause permanent data loss and said that it is working to find a fix for the problem. The company, responding to a growing number of posts on its discussions forums, confirmed that users can lose data when logging into the guest account on their Mac first and then logging into their regular account. Although the problem is not widespread, the consequences -- especially for those without backups -- could be disastrous: some users are finding all their data to be missing and their accounts completely reset.

"We are aware of the issue which occurs only in extremely rare cases and we are working on a fix," an Apple representative said in a prepared statement delivered to CNET.

On the company's support boards, there are about 100 posts discussing the Snow Leopard-related data loss issue dating back to early September, but Apple only today acknowledged issue. Some have traced the problems back to permission issues on the disk itself, but it is unclear if this is the root cause of all the problems.

Apple, however, did not provide a timeline or a workaround for the issue, although many are suggesting that users disable the guest login until further notice or to create a managed account without a password. A few other more complicated workarounds and tips are available for those who need to restore their lost data.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is dealing with a much larger data loss issue related to the company's recently acquired Danger mobile group that created the immensely popular Sidekick mobile texting device: a storage equipment failure that affected both the main server and its backups is likely to cause many of its users to lose of their contacts, calendars, and other information.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just can't get out of betat

    And the joke is on you.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MS and Apple

    It seems they now have much more in common.

    I think I need to rely on my old Amiga500 for my computing needs for the near future.

  1. jreades

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A bit rich...

    God forbid that I become an MS fanboy (ok, it'll never happen, the only firm that I detest more than MS is ESRI) but I've got to say that the small number of posts here after the large number of gleeful posts on the MS data loss item is somewhat telling.

    I seem to recall having the pithy biblical proverb "Look not to the mote in your neighbour's eye but to the log in your own" drilled into me as a child. It seems rather apt here, even though the amount of egg on MS' face far exceeds what Apple is facing.

    I'd like to point to several issues with Apple's handling that I *really* wish they'd work on:

    1. It takes *100* posts on the same topic for Apple to even acknowledge that there might be an issue.

    2. This is a catastrophic bug if you aren't backing up properly (and hugely inconvenient if you are) and yet there's no indication of what's being done.

    3. There's also been no proactive communication from Apple on the fact that it even exists. If I didn't read MacNN daily I'd have no idea this was happening.

    MS seems to be doing a fine job blowing up in public, but Apple extends the secrecy mentality around product development out to application/OS development as well, which seems counter-productive. Who, for instance, is going to invest in Aperture when the last major release was nearly 2 years ago and there's no indication that a version 3.0 is even being worked on? A little more openness in these areas would go a long way to making me happier with Apple, and would probably do a lot to help enterprises condone the switch to Apple hardware/software (corporate buyers will need a *bit* more than rumours of new devices/apps to work with).


  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    time for more software!

    As a tip for the poor souls that have to deal with this and don't have a backup, take a cue from me:

    You can buy some software that, providing you haven't overwritten the data that was deleted, recover your files. I am currently dealing with a corrupted disk and have found this software to be quite useful:

    They offer a free trial that will do the initial scan to tell you whether or not your data is recoverable. I really wish I had this the other two times a drive of mine failed and i lost almost all of my data. I wish I had it the time Aperture erased an entire CF card full of photos before they were imported while I was shooting a wedding.

    Pardon this plug, but having recovery abilities like these are really saving my butt now and could have been sooooo useful in the past.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Perfect programming term. Implies "it only has happened a few times, no need for the masses to worry about". Sort of like the "Installing iTunes can wipe your hard disk" bug from way back when. Or the "Don't connect Firewire drives to your Mac, it'll make the disks unreadable" bug from 10.3.

    But goes to show you. I didn't even know OS X had a 'guest' account. Is that new in the world of Snow Leopard?

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