Snow Leopard Bug Bites Mac Users

Mac users running Mac OS X 10.6, a.k.a. “Snow Leopard,” have gotten a nasty surprise thanks to a bug that causes all of their personal data to be erased under certain conditions.

The problem stems from users who log into the computer using the “Guest” account name. After logging off the computer and logging back as a guest, they get the rude surprise to find their data all gone, completely erased.

The issue isn’t new, either. It’s been discussed on Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) official support boards since early September. Users have reported losing everything, from applications’ settings to the contents of folders containing personal documents and data files.

Snow Leopard’s home directory, where the computer’s primary user’s data is stored, is replaced with a new, empty copy after the Guest user logs out. Documents are cleared and the Desktop and Dock folders, which are system directories, are reset to a brand new install condition.

Reports of the bug go back to September 3, just six days after Apple launched Snow Leopard. The problem seemed to only manifest with those who upgraded their computer from the prior generation OS, Mac OS X 10.5, also known as “Leopard.”

Apple issued a fix, versioned 10.6.1, on September 11. No mention of this bug was made.

The only users able to recover anything were using Apple’s Time Machine backup service. People on the thread have expressed great reluctance to attempt to reproduce the bug, for obvious reasons.

User unhappiness

Apple has yet to comment or respond on the thread, which features a few rather unhappy folks.

“Wow. RIP 9.30.09 all of my business / school files. Irreplaceable client files for my media business. GJ Apple” wrote “emperoroflove.”

” Nooooo!!! This morning I had access to Guest Account and than all my data were lost!!! I had 250 GB 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!!!!” wrote “carlodituri.” This post came under ridicule for the author’s admission of a lack of backups.

“Add my parents to the list of people waxed by this bug. Brand new iMac, less than 1 month old, EVERYTHING lost. Just as I convinced them to go Mac (after years of trying). My god…how can ANYONE advocate Apple now?” wrote “Ratty Mouse.”

An Apple spokesperson told “We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix.”

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