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By | Cade Metz 12th October 2009 22:35

Fanbois howl over data-munching Snow Leopard bug

Guests not welcome

More than month after reports of a home-directory-eating Snow Leopard bug first surfaced, Apple fanbois continue to howl that the new Mac operating system is munching their personal data.

CNet's MacFixIt site first reported the alleged bug on September 8, after noticing a few posts on Apple's support forums, and now, as ITWire detailed over the weekend, the forums are brimming with such complaints (here, here, here, here, and here).

Apparently, Snow Leopard (aka Mac OS X 10.6) has a habit of wiping out "home directories" when a user logs in to a Guest account following an upgrade from Apple's previous operating system: just Leopard (aka Mac OS X 10.5). Typically carrying the name of the user, the home directory includes all the standard user file folders, including Documents, Downloads, Music, Picture, and more.

"I had the Guest account enabled on my MacBook Pro," one user wrote on September 3, just after the release of Snow Leopard. "I accidentally clicked on that when I went to log in. It took a few minutes to log in, then after I had logged out of that account and back into mine, my [entire] home directory had been wiped. All of doc, music, etc. gone."

Another user was hit just this weekend. "Nooooo!!! This morning I had access to Guest Account and than all my data were lost!!!" he wrote. "I had 250GB of data without backup and I lost everything: years and years of documents, pictures, video, music!!! Is it possible to recover something? Please help me!!!!"

According to other posters who've experienced the problem, they've had difficulty reproducing the problem. "The randomness is what's most creepy," says one, "[I] agree that someone's got to be able to reliably reproduce the error or this may be a long fight."

Some indicate the problem occurs only if a Guest account was active under (just) Leopard prior to the upgrade. It would seem that bug does not occur when the Guest account is set to "sharing only," the default setting.

Users who had Apple's Time Machine backup service running say they were able to restore their lost data. ®


Apple does not send such things to The Reg, but it has tossed a statement at Cnet acknowledging Snow Leopard's data loss bug. "We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix," the statement reads.

This story has also been updated to say say that apparently, the bug does not occur when the Guest account is set to "sharing only."

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