Apple slow to promise Snow Leopard fix

Why does it take so much media coverage (and embarrassment) to get Apple to own up to a problem?

Apple says it is now working on a fix for a rare--but very serious--bug afflicting some Snow Leopard users. Apple's announcement came after the media this week ratcheted up coverage of the flaw, first noticed in early September.

"We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix," an Apple representative said in a prepared statement released to CNET on Tuesday.

Those reading the Apple's support discussion forums have been aware of the issue since early September. Computerworld's Greg Keizer offers more detail in this story. The Register, meanwhile, says the bug may date to 2007, adding that a fix may already be built into Mac OS 10.6.2, now in beta.

The bug, which appears after a guest account is opened and closed, causes the primary user's Home folder to disappear. The bug seems to afflict only Macs that have been updated to Snow Leopard from the previous operating system, Leopard.

The problem appears to occur only rarely and users are not actively trying to reproduce it (not the sane ones, anyway). A simple preventive measure is to disable the guest account (done in the "Accounts" System Preferences pane).

Users who suffer data loss--and are running Apple's Time Machine back-up application--can restore their Home folder from the backup. This is done by pressing and holding 'C' during start-up and selecting "Restore from Backup" from the "Utilities" menu.

My take: Follow yesterday's advice: Unless you really, really need that guest account, just turn it off. Moreover, make sure Time Machine, or some other backup application, is turned on.

I wonder why it takes so much media coverage (and embarrassment?) to get Apple to own up to a problem. And when it does respond, why just to one news organization? Actually, I know: It is just the customer-friendly Apple way.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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