Snow Leopard Guest Account Wiping Some Home Directories

Some Snow Leopard users are experiencing total home directory wipes after logging into and out of their Guest accounts, and the issue is gaining some significant attention in the online world. Affected users find that after logging back into their main user accounts that it has been wiped of all data, an issue that caused no small amount of consternation in affected users.

The problem was first reported in Apple's own discussion boards, with many users reporting the problem, though it received little initial attention from the press.

For instance, user Rattymouse wrote in Apple's support forums, "Add my parents to the list of people waxed by this bug. Brand new iMac, less than 1 month old, EVERYTHING lost. Just as I convinced them to go Mac (after years of trying)."

He added, "My can ANYONE advocate Apple now?"

MacFixIt covered it in September, including a follow up article with tips on restoring your lost data. ITWire covered the topic over the weekend, an article that was then picked up by, which was itself then picked up on Engadget. In the past, it has often appeared to take increasing public scrutiny and discussion of issues such as this that affect a minority of users to get Apple to publicly address the problem.

Until such time as Apple does offer a solution for the problem, The Mac Observer advises users to do two things. The first is to simply make sure they have a backup of their files. Of course, that is a standing order for any computer user. The second piece of advice is to simply deactivate Guest accounts in Snow Leopard.

You can check the status of your Guest account settings in your Accounts preference pane in System Preferences.

Accounts Preference Pane

In the left hand of the pane, you'll see whatever accounts you have set up, with Guest Account at the bottom of the list. It will be labeled wither Disabled or Enabled. If it disabled, as in this screenshot, you won't need to do anything else.

If it is labeled "Enabled," click the lock icon in the lower left corner and enter your admin password. Then click on Guest Account, which will open up the pane below.

Guest Settings

Uncheck the the box for "Allow guests to log in to this computer," then click the lock icon to prevent further changes.