Snow Leopard Bug Escapes Apple

Snow Leopard, Mac OS X’s latest arrival which hit consumers in August, apparently carries a large-scale bug that has his some users extremely hard.  The chatter on Apple’s forums, as well as other networks Web-wide including Twitter, is publicizing the dismay and, in some cases, outraged betrayal felt by Mac users.

Greg Keizer wrote a story for Computerworld describing how some users of Snow Leopard first upgraded from Mac OS X 10.5, also known as Leopard, then logged in as a “Guest,” and suddenly found that all their personal information had been lost.  Keizer’s report wasn’t the first, either; the problem’s been around for weeks, according to Cnet’s MacFixit column, as has been the rumor of a solution.  Apple marginally substantiates the rumor when contacted for more information, responding with an automated “We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix.”

Some people are smoothing over the alleged panic, assuring us in AppleInsider, Apple Discussions, and other forums that the bug is a minor mishap, affecting only a small percentage of users, and that Apple can be counted on to provide a suitable fix.

For that small percentage, however, the seriousness of the issue is much more prevalent, especially to those who have lost photos, music, and documents that cannot be easily or cheaply replaced.  “All my data were lost!!!” and similar outcries can be found in the forums, and the biggest question they are clamoring for an answer to is how Apple could have missed the presence of such a destructive glitch when they beta tested Snow Leopard.

An AppleInsider contributor answering to “ltcommander.data” strongly maintains that Apple dropped the ball.  He dismisses the notion that Snow Leopard users themselves could have created the bug through an operator error, stating that said users are on average “more tech savvy” and less likely to commit such an error on a clean install of the product.  He blames Apple for not more rigorously testing the cases in which Snow Leopard is commonly installed and used, which certainly includes having a “Guest” account.

It is also alarming that Apple has remained so silent on the existence of a problem that has existed for over a month.  Calls to Apple to learn more about the issue go unreturned, and according to AppleInsider Apple “has yet to publicly acknowledge the issue.”  Apple’s slow response doesn’t fit with the actions the company would be expected to take, if it wants to prevent bad press.  The bug may only affect a few users, but those few are capable of raising a lot of noise.

Despite the threat the bug poses and Apple’s seeming unwillingness to deal aggressively with the problem, it’s unlikely that Apple users’ loyalty will falter.  “Ireland” wrote in AppleInsider, “I’m switching back to the PC.”  He immediately recanted, “Yes, I’m being sarcastic.  This bug sucks, though.”

The most important lesson to be drawn from this unfortunate experience is the necessity to keep reliable and frequent backups of all important data.  Hopefully that lesson will sink in not just for Apple users, but PC users as well.

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