Update: Snow Leopard Bug is a Doozy -- How Did Apple Miss It?

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Reports of a major bug in Snow Leopard, the latest version of Mac OS X that debuted in August, are creating dismay among Mac users in Apple's support forums, on Twitter, and elsewhere across the Web.

According to a Computerworld story by Greg Keizer, some Snow Leopard users report that they've lost all of their personal data after upgrading from Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5), and then logging into a "Guest" account. The reports aren't new; CNET's MacFixIt column first wrote about the glitch (and a potential fix) over a month ago.

Update: Apple has responded to a request for a response stating only: "We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix."

Comments from Mac users in several forums, including Apple Discussions and AppleInsider, range from sheer panic -- "scary stuff" and "all my data were lost!!!" -- to calm assurances that the Snow Leopard bug isn't a big deal, and that it will affect only a tiny percentage of users.

But even if the bug's impact is minor, it's certainly a big deal to those users who've lost their music, photos, and documents. Which raises the question: How did Apple let such a serious, data-destroying glitch get past beta testing?

On AppleInsider, one user named "ltcommander.data" believes that Apple was asleep at the wheel: "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 . . . 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."

Another question: If the bug was first reported over a month ago, why has Apple remained mum on the issue? Earlier today, AppleInsider reported that Apple "has yet to publicly acknowledge the issue," and my call to Apple PR today wasn't returned as of this posting. Given the seriousness of the problem, even if few users are affected, you'd think that Apple would respond more aggressively, if for no other reason than to fend off bad PR resulting from the incident.

It's doubtful the bug will cause many Mac users to defect to Windows, however. Wrote "Ireland" in the Apple Insider forum: "I'm switching back to the PC. I really am. Yes, I'm being sarcastic. This bug sucks though."

The ultimate moral of this sad tale? Back up, back up, back up!

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com .

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