Buggy version of Apple music software erases data

Some Mac users who downloaded the first release of Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes 2.0 jukebox software encountered a nasty shock: Erased hard drives. In an alert posted on its Web site, Apple warns that an iTunes 2.0 installer bug "can result in loss of user data" on PCs with certain configurations.

The flawed software was only available on Apple's Web site briefly, from Friday evening to Saturday morning, according to the company. Additionally, the bug only affects systems running Mac OS X with multiple hard drives or partitions. A repaired version of the software, iTunes 2.0.1, is now available on Apple's Web site.

In its alert, Apple describes the bug as "highly unlikely to affect most users." Apple representatives did not immediately return calls seeking further comment. Still, several dozen users reported in Apple's own discussion area and other online forums that they've been afflicted by the error.

"I installed iTunes 2 under Mac OS X, then back in Mac OS 9.2.1 I found my two data partitions completely wiped clean," posted one user on Apple's discussion boards. The area has attracted more than 250 posts from users chiming in with advice, questions and their own stories about buggy installations and missing data. One afflicted user set up a Web site "Victims List" at http://itunesvictims.n3.net/. Forums at MacAddict and MacNN are also buzzing with rants and recovery tips.

Apple recommends users who have lost data try using recovery programs, such as Symantec Corp.'s Norton Utilities or MicroMat Inc.'s TechTool Pro, to retrieve lost files. Users on the various online forums reported mixed success repairing their damaged drives; many said they had to resort to backups.

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