CUPERTINO, Calif.—Over the past month, numerous threads on Apple support discussion boards have revealed a serious problem with the company’s new Snow Leopard version of OS X that involves the potential loss of all user data.
According to iTWire, “The glitch seems to be triggered by using a Guest account and then trying to log back into a regular account. In some cases, users have reported finding their regular account empty of data, as though it were a brand new account.”
Apparently, the problem was first reported shortly after the Snow Leopard began shipping, but while Apple has not yet provided an official patch for the problem, there have been several suggested work-arounds until the original cause is found and corrected.
“Speculation is that something makes Snow Leopard treat the regular account like a Guest account,” says iTWire, “from which by default all data is deleted upon logout. Further speculation is that the problem occurs when the Guest account was already enabled in Leopard before being upgraded to Snow Leopard.”
According to CNET’s MacFixIt, “This problem seems to be occurring with people who have had the guest account enabled for log-in before upgrading to Snow Leopard. After the upgrade, some problem with the account configuration can result in a non-guest account being cleared and reset the same way guest accounts are reset upon logout.
“So far this has not happened for computers where the guest account has been enabled after upgrading. As such, one preventative measure is to disable the guest account's ability to log in (and then disable the account altogether), and re-enable it so Snow Leopard sets it up instead of using the configuration that Leopard set up.”
Topher Kessler, who writes MacFixIt, also suggests that if you do not need a guest account, simply disable it to avoid any problems. “If you do need guest log-in functionality and do not want to take any chances,” he advises, “you can create a managed user account without a password to use instead of the guest account.”
Needless to say, Kessler also strongly advises all users to keep a backup of their data. “We strongly urge everyone to use Time Machine or a similar full system backup for this very purpose, and hopefully those who are affected have a recent backup handy.”