Snow Leopard Could Eat Your Data, But Apple's Working On A Fix

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News Posted: Wed, Oct 14 2009 1:14 AM
Apple prides itself on providing operating systems that "just work," though some are saying OS X 10.6 (its latest version) "just works against you." Too harsh? Maybe, but there's no denying that the latest bug is one that's simply too large to stay quiet about. For years, OS X was as stable a consumer OS as the world had ever seen; by and large, the system never really caused users any major issues, and security concerns were practically nil.

With the introduction of Snow Leopard, however, more bugs than ever are surfacing. Some of it probably has to do with the wider customer base that Apple has gained with its surge in popularity, but there's just no excuse for having a bug that literally consumes a user's data if they make one wrong move in the Guest Account. And mind you, this bug is still present even after 10.6.1.

As the story goes, users upgrading their Apple system to 10.6 could actually delete all of their data by entering the Guest Account at the wrong time. Users all over the Web have reported that entering the Guest Account would cause the system to hang, and when the forced an exit, their main profile greeted them with no user data at all. Documents, media, everything--just gone.



Of course, the easy fix is to simply disable the Guest Account, but what if that's a feature you routinely use? After widespread outrage, Apple has come forward to acknowledge the problem and promise a fix. In typical Apple fashion, it asserts that the problem only occurs in rare cases, but still, this is a huge, huge issue. If you don't backup your data, and you accidently surf over to the Guest Account in Snow Leopard, you just might lose all of your data. Not cool. Oh, and considering that Windows 7 launches next week, the timing here couldn't possibly be worse for Apple (or better for Microsoft, as it were). Might a new PC vs. Mac ad be on the horizon?

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 8:18 AM

>> In typical Apple fashion, it asserts that the problem only occurs in rare cases, but still, this is a huge, huge issue.

That can be completely avoided now that it's known.

MS fanboys are spreading this "problem" all over the web, but it's really hard to reproduce. Even if you do everything below, it won't happen every time.

First, you have to have already had the guest account enabled before updating to Snow Leopard.

Now, you have to somehow crash the machine while using the Guest account (which most people wouldn't use - since it is supposed to wipe all of it's own data on every reboot).

Finally, you need to log back in with the Admin account (instead of the guest account you were just using). I don't know how often Apple users need to login as Admin, but it's never necessary under Linux, and I only rarely use it in Windows. I think people doing something as guest when a crash occurs are much more likely to just restart their guest session.

Then, and only then, will the system *maybe* delete the admin accounts data. Which is why there are less than a handful of people reporting this problem, out of the entire base of OS X users.

Simple solution: If you crash while running as guest, log back in as guest first before logging in as admin - just in case.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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3vi1 replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 8:28 AM

Here's what will be interesting:

Let's see how long it is before Apple releases a fix, compared to the unavoidable data corruption bug in Windows Home Server that took Microsoft 6+ months to fix.

And no - I don't own any Apple PCs.  I just dislike seeing this completely avoidable "huge, huge" issue blown out of proportion.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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realneil replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 9:02 AM

Like most people using Snow Leopard, I don't use guest accounts on my iMac, so this is a moot point for me. I'm glad it was discovered and that there is a fix coming along for it too. (yawn!)

Compare this to Microsoft dropping user's data, forever, (no redundancy!) all of it, on the Danger backup service they provide for the T-Mobile SideKick and the yawns start to fade away. This happened to all their accounts, and if you reset the phone or unplugged the device's battery then all of your data is Bye-Bye McFly!

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kid007 replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 11:07 AM

I see a commercial coming up about this crap... who lose more data. who cares...

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gibbersome replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 12:46 PM

3vi1,

Thanks for the info. I had no idea the problem was that hard to recreate.

Windows users need something to feel good about. The OS is targeted much more than its Apple counterpart and it notorious for crashes.

This recent niggle will give a chance for Apple to show how to fix errors in its OS quickly and effectively.

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gibbersome replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 12:55 PM

Hi, I'm a Mac....Big Smile

 

Can't think of anything to funny to say at the moment (probably because I'm not a Mac owner).

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realneil replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 3:16 PM

My Win7 RC1 boxes have never crashed. (knock on wood)

Vista was a steaming, unworthy Turd before the service pack came out. It was never worth the money that I shelled out for three Vista Ultimate's and Win7 SHOULD be on the cheap if you bought Vista and bled out with it. Microsoft has no scruples to speak of though.

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kid007 replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 3:44 PM

Hi, I'm a PC I crash more than you do, and with my new OS I crash less. What about you Mac? hahahahha i could spend the whole day doing this thing...

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realneil replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 4:45 PM

This story is about macs crashing/losing loser's user's data. Big Smile It's happening to some of us right now,............

I have a iMac with Snow Leopard on it and it's bitchin. No drips, runs, burps, or farts either. I love the damn thing.

The Win7 boxes are the same, yep, the same, and I love them too. My gaming has never been better and will be even better this weekend too!

The Win7 boxes will be attacked more than the Macs will, and may be compromised on the national level, but mine will be fine. I promise.

So overall it's a good time to own a computer, any computer. Even my little Ubuntu Box is a nice little Mo-Fo to use.

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Hi I'm a PC and I look suspiciously like Bill Gates.

Never had much experience with Apple products (don't own a Mac, Macbook, Ipod, Iphone, don't even use Quicktime). There's something "cultish" about them. Also can't really justify the extra cost.

Got a trusty $25 Sansa for an mp3 player, a durable Nokia 6650 for a phone, an aging but rock solid Toshiba X205. Compared to my classmates, I feel a bit out of touch, but I'd like to think that I dance to the tune of my own song.

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Good advice on how to avoid the bug, 3vi1.  My brother has an iMac, and even though I doubt he ever uses Guest, I'll pass on the advice to him .

Hello

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realneil replied on Wed, Oct 14 2009 5:34 PM

Gibbersome: Nothing wrong with your own tune.

I bought my iMac a few years ago with the last of my California House cash. (I sold a house and left the state)Then I moved to Virginia and never looked back. I was going to use the iMac to process Photographs and to Rip my DVD collection, both of which the Mac does really well. I've got allot of them done too.

It's been a great computer and I like having it, but would not spend the money on it again. It was just way too expensive when I was done with all of the whistles and bells. I know now never to buy whistles and bells from Apple though, they're about 50% higher than anyone else. it cost me a small fortune when all was said and done.

You can accomplish anything you need to with a PC. It may not be as elegant and trendy, but it works. Linux computers also fill the void. They are basically FREE and do it all too. PC components are a far better buy than equivalent Mac hardware and the harsh reality for allot of us is that we have to consider this when getting/building a computer. This doesn't take away from the quality of the Mac platform, it just guides our decisions based on what we can afford. PC machines with Windows installed play games better and have many more games ported to them than Mac does. It's true that Macs will run Windows, but not as fast as a PC will. Gamers recognize this fact.

 

I'll get off of the SoapBox now,...................

 

 

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Drago replied on Thu, Oct 15 2009 11:04 AM

I wonder if there will be a mac virus floating around now that exploits this issue. Personally i think it would be hilarious as all these ID10T mac owners think they are immune to everything, would finally get their just desserts. This is a huge problem and i am sure more people are affected by this than just "home" users. There are lots of schools and businesses that do stuff more and more with macs and running a guest account protects the computer in case someone gets on the damn thing. These are the people that should be worried to death. The reason you run a guest account is to restrict access and abilities of users. When you cannot do that since it could wipe all your data that is a major problem. I dont see apple getting this fixed till about this time next year as we all know apple loves to drag their feet on getting anything fixed.

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Oct 15 2009 4:00 PM

What I want to know is who ever doubted a snow leopard would eat stuff. This is basically a stupid grab at nothing though. My brother is an apple faithful (who can blame him our first real computer was a IIe which he was using while I was on the Commodore 64. But he upgraded to snow leopard when it came out and hasn't seemed to have a problem.

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Indeed.

Gamers also realize that hardware components for PCs are cheaper than Macs too. I'm surprised Apple has grabbed as large a share of the OS market as they have since Macs have such a downside.

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3vi1 replied on Tue, Oct 20 2009 7:49 AM

Last Friday, only a few days after the data deletion story broke, Apple released a new 10.6.2 beta that includes a fix for the problem.

So, this "completely avoidable non-issue that only ever affected a handful of people" will be eradicated very shortly.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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realneil replied on Tue, Oct 20 2009 8:15 AM

Good, maybe they're a little sensitive to problems with Snow because it's getting allot of media attention lately. Everyone seems to want to compare it with Win7 like there is some sort of contest between the two OS's. They are Apples and Oranges though. (no pun intended)

Both OS's have their strong points this time around, but both are much more stable than past releases too.

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