Snow Leopard guest account bug deletes user data

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Reports of a potentially critical Snow Leopard bug that can erase a user's account data have continued to surface since the operating system's debut [Updated with Apple official comment].



Since Mac OS X 10.6 launched in late August, numerous reports online have detailed the issue, which is triggered by logging in and out of a guest account on a Snow Leopard machine. Upon logging back in to their regular account, users will find that it has been wiped of all data.



The issue has prompted numerous threads (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on the Apple Support Discussions, with reports suggesting the issue cannot be reproduced with any exact certainty. Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge the issue.



"When I logged into my MacBook Pro this morning, it was as if I had logged into my Guest Account and not my standard user profile," user parshallnet said. "No icons on the desktop, the desktop wallpaper was the default 'space' photo and not the one I had assigned, no documents in the docs folder, apps behaved as if I'd never opened them before."



The issue was initially reported when Snow Leopard first launched, but complaints have grown as adoption of the platform has continued. Monday, Engadget highlighted the issue.



A month ago, CNet detailed a potential fix for the issue, which is reportedly caused when users have had a guest account enabled for login prior to the install of Snow Leopard. The easiest way to avoid the issue is disabling the guest account.



If afflicted by the bug, the home folder can be restored, though without a backup, the loss of data is likely permanent. If a user has Time Machine running, they can restore their Snow Leopard installation while holding 'C' at startup and choosing "Restore from Backup" from the "Utilities" menu.



Update: In a brief statement, Apple acknowledged the issue Monday evening, according to CNet



"We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix," a spokesperson said in a prepared statement.



Since its launch in August, Snow Leopard has been received with positive reviews and strong sales. A quick update, Mac OS X 10.6.1, was released soon after, but apparently did not provide relief from the guest account bug.



Mac OS X 10.6.2 is currently in beta and only available to developers. It has nearly 150 general focus areas.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 98
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    I guess data wiping is becoming all the rage these days!



    In this case, I credit Microsoft for getting there first. Cupertino's photocopiers were still warming up...
  • Reply 2 of 98
    I'm glad I never ever use the guest account, but this needs to be fixed yesterday.
  • Reply 3 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dlux View Post


    I guess data wiping is becoming all the rage these days!

    In this case, I credit Microsoft for getting there first. Cupertino's photocopiers were still warming up...



    No no no, Apple did it first! Remember the iTunes fiasco from a few years back?
  • Reply 4 of 98
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    The Mac is meant to "just work"



    I'm switching back to the PC. I really am. Yes, I'm being sarcastic. This bug sucks though.
  • Reply 5 of 98
    If you are using Snow Leopard and are NOT using Time Machine, I'm not sure what advice I could give.
  • Reply 6 of 98
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post


    If you are using Snow Leopard and are NOT using Time Machine, I'm not sure what advice I could give.



    Use Time Machine? That might be good advice.
  • Reply 7 of 98
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chai Life View Post


    I'm glad I never ever use the guest account, but this needs to be fixed yesterday.



    The problem seems to be related to guest accounts carried from Leopard to Snow Leopard. As far as I know, if you enabled your guest account under Snow Leopard or you disable then enable your upgraded snow leopard guest account then you will be fine. Furthermore, not every one had the problem and many were not able to reproduce the problem.



    But I have to say this... APPLE IS DOOMED
  • Reply 8 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    The problem seems to be related to guest accounts carried from Leopard to Snow Leopard. As far as I know, if you enabled your guest account under Snow Leopard or you disable then enable your upgraded snow leopard guest account then you will be fine. Furthermore, not every one had the problem and many were not able to reproduce the problem



    that last bit seems to be the crux of the problem. they can't reproduce the issue to figure out what's wrong.



    some folks are saying if you just have guest enabled it happens. others are saying you have to go into the guest account and afterwards, the next time you log into your regular account, everything is wiped out. Some are saying if you turn on guest in Snow Leopard, it happens. others say only if you had it on before you upgraded.



    plus yet again, it seems that folks are hip to scream on the blogs but not to actually go to official Apple channels to give them the info they might need to figure out what's going on so they can fix it
  • Reply 9 of 98
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    that last bit seems to be the crux of the problem. they can't reproduce the issue to figure out what's wrong.



    some folks are saying if you just have guest enabled it happens. others are saying you have to go into the guest account and afterwards, the next time you log into your regular account, everything is wiped out. Some are saying if you turn on guest in Snow Leopard, it happens. others say only if you had it on before you upgraded.



    plus yet again, it seems that folks are hip to scream on the blogs but not to actually go to official Apple channels to give them the info they might need to figure out what's going on so they can fix it



    Yes.. and this issue mysteriously just surfaced more than one month after Snow Leopard release. I follow few Apple centric websites and this is the first time I've heard about it!
  • Reply 10 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MarkAllan View Post


    No no no, Apple did it first! Remember the iTunes fiasco from a few years back?



    Wasn't there also an issue with Panther (or maybe Jaguar) where it would involuntarily format your Firewire drive during OS installation?
  • Reply 11 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Use Time Machine? That might be good advice.



    Or Carbon Copy Cloner. That's what I use. Mighty fine it is too.
  • Reply 12 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post


    Yes.. and this issue mysteriously just surfaced more than one month after Snow Leopard release. I follow few Apple centric websites and this is the first time I've heard about it!



    Well, if it is related to upgrade installs, then the delay in major reporting isn't unexpected. The early adopters of Snow Leopard are probably on average more tech savvy and more likely to do a clean install which would avoid this problem. I believe Snow Leopard now defaults to upgrade and clean install is hidden, so as more people switch and just use the default upgrade install, more cases would crop up. If Apple is pointing everyone to use an upgrade install, they should have more thoroughly tested the common cases, which having a Guest account would seem to be.
  • Reply 13 of 98
    You tell the guest to buy his own damn Mac.



    Actually I never log off or on I just shut down.
  • Reply 14 of 98
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,746member
    And odd issue, quite uncharacteristic of Apple. An interesting "bug" that seems not easily reproducible, cropping up over a month after SL's release.



    In any event, using the Guest account is extremely rare. You probably wouldn't find anyone doing beta testing on such an account. Whatever was changed in the code for that function was probably believed insignificant, so it wasn't thoroughly tested.



    The Apple support thread contains around 50 posts, most of which aren't from people with this problem, who claim an occasional issue with something that only occurs in a particular method, sometimes but not always. This bug in Snow Leopard is apparently not easy to reproduce and will not even work on a clean install. So if you were planning on buying a new Mac, this wouldn't even affect you.



    It helps to maintain the proper perspective on the issue. But with Apple, 10 users complaining = 10,000 users complaining. Everything is magnified, often irrespective of the actual breadth and scope of ths issue.
  • Reply 15 of 98
    isaidsoisaidso Posts: 750member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post


    If you are using Snow Leopard and are NOT using Time Machine, I'm not sure what advice I could give.



    If SL users aren't using Time Machine for some reason, that's fine. But they sure should be backing up by some method. At the very least, they should have a backup that they performed just before they did their upgrade to Snow Leopard.

    But this does suck. Personally, I still have not upgraded to SL, and I certainly won't be until I know this bug is squashed.
  • Reply 16 of 98
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Use Time Machine? That might be good advice.



    Indeed.



    Given that there are a significant amount of people with the Time Capsule failure issue as well though it would certainly suck to be in the group that overlaps with this issue. The Time Capsule failure has eliminated my backups without warning, if I also had guest users enabled under Leopard (which I did at one point), I would be in the position of losing everything even though I would be following all Apple advice and using all their latest software and hardware.



    Personally, I think this is just one more indication of how over-stretched Apple is right now and how they really need to beef up their QC efforts to match the beefed up sales they've been enjoying.



    I liked it better when Apple was a small company that no one else I knew had heard of.
  • Reply 17 of 98
    Scary stuff !!
  • Reply 18 of 98
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,746member
    It seems this problem does not happen on Snow Leopard (upgraded from Leopard) upon enabling guest log-in, which suggests one possibility could be some Snow Leopard incompatibility with how the guest log-in was initially enabled. If you had it enabled in Leopard before upgrading and the problem happened without any changes to the guest account settings, then it could be from an incompatible setting between how Leopard and Snow Leopard handle the guest accounts. As such, try going to the Accounts system preferences and toggling the guest log-in setting to see if that refreshes the way the system is handling the guest account.
  • Reply 19 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MarkAllan View Post


    No no no, Apple did it first! Remember the iTunes fiasco from a few years back?



    No what Happened?
  • Reply 20 of 98
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fast Fred 1 View Post


    You tell the guest to buy his own damn Mac.



    Actually I never log off or on I just shut down.



    Yeah I never ever used that in the 7 years I owned a Mac. \
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