I Finally Managed To Screw Up My Mac – Snow Leopard Guest Account Erased My Files

by Klaus on September 10, 2009

in Operating Systems

Angry Snow LeopardI don’t know what happened and I never thought I should say this, but I finally had my first really bad “whoops” with my Mac, after being a Mac user for over 3 years.

By accident I clicked the “guest account” when I was going to login and it tried to login at my guest account but kept saying “logging in…” for a very long time, which usually only takes a moment. Eventually I decided to simply restart my Mac.

This time I logged in at my own user account as I was supposed to in the first place, it took a bit of extra time to actually get to my desktop. Once there, I noticed how all my desktop files and icons were missing – my wallpaper were still there along with all the applications in my menu bar.

Other things I noticed, my documents folder was renamed from the locally named “Dokumenter” in Danish to “Documents” – and it was empty, too. My Library folder was also renamed from Danish “Bibliotek” to “Library” and when I started Mail.app, Mail prompted me to set up a new e-mail account…

Don’t Panic!

I didn’t, I knew I had a daily updated Time Machine backup (but at the office, which didn’t help me at the time…) as well as a completely cloned copy of my hard drive using SuperDuper!. But I really wondered how this could happen and I still don’t have a clue.

Unfortunately my SuperDuper! backup was 10 days old so whatever I had saved locally within the past week and a half, might get lost – now the good thing is, I use Evernote to store pretty much all my documents and smaller files, so they are all at the Evernote servers anyway, somewhere up in the cloud. All my e-mail (except for the unimportant ones) are stored at my MobileMe account with Apple, also up in the cloud.

Basically what I would have lost if I just restored from my SuperDuper! backup was:

  • A few wallpapers I downloaded recently
  • A bunch of photos I had imported into iPhoto
  • A small video I made in iMovie
  • Various temporary files I usually have in my Downloads folder.

But then again, not really. Cause my Time Machine backup at the office holds all of this so I could just restore them tomorrow. I went for a faster solution though, since my Pictures and Movies folders went untouched, I simply made a backup of those files and added them once my restore was complete.

What I lost from this experience:

  • 1 hour figuring out what went wrong and setting up the restore process (the actual restoring took a little over an hour, but I spent that time being online since I could easily use my Mac while it was restoring)

What I learned from this experience:

  • Always keep a daily backup of your files, unless you store all your important things in the cloud.

SuperDuper! was super easy and amazing to deal with. I just plugged in my USB drive, rebooted, and I was up and running with my 10-day old Snow Leopard system like as if nothing ever happened. At this time I was so thrilled about SuperDuper! that I definitely wanted to purchase the Pro version of the application and to support the developers, but I didn’t as I found out I already purchased it earlier, I just forgot about it 🙂

I’m still curious about what caused all this, so just to be on the safe side I’m going to run ClamXav (antivirus), do another complete backup and then try my guest account and see if it happens all over again.

Update: I later found out that it’s probably a bug. If the guest account was created under Leopard and you upgrade to Snow Leopard, then this can happen. I’m not sure exactly what happens, or why. But it’s said to be a good idea to disable Guest account under Snow Leopard and enable it again, after which there shouldn’t be any problems.

I also noticed a few days after posting this article that somebody from Cupertino was reading it (thanks to live web stats, Woopra). I wonder if Steve Jobs had some guest account issues with his Mac 🙂

Comments & Leave a Comment

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

christie September 10, 2009 at 23:28

Whoa – good thing so much was in the cloud and that you had ways to get your stuff back! Daily backup sounds like such a chore, but I need to do it too. Our backup frequency should be determined by how many days we can stand to lose.

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Klaus @ TechPatio September 10, 2009 at 23:34

Luckily with a Mac, backups really couldn’t be easier, and I’m certain that you can get Windows software that does it just as easy, too.

You’ll never know when *something* just goes wrong, I suppose.
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Winmail.dat Fix: Letter Opener 3 For Apple Mail & Snow Leopard Released =-.

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Martin September 11, 2009 at 12:17

What can I say … daily backups ftw! Everyone needs it, everyone should have it – but usually, everyone finds out too late. God job actually keeping an up-to-date (more or less) backup. We need more cloud services

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Klaus @ TechPatio September 12, 2009 at 01:18

Definitely more cloud services are needed, but on the other hand, I like my Mac, so the thought of having a very cheap laptop with almost no power just because everything runs off of the cloud, doesn’t really excite me too much 🙂

But backup = important!

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Extreme John September 11, 2009 at 21:45

You know I hate to say it but I think we all knew this was going to happen at some point, especially with all of the crazy testing you have been doing.
.-= Extreme John´s last blog ..8 Reasons Follow Friday Sucks =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio September 12, 2009 at 01:23

Yeah I know – and I’m still running on the same system as when I got my first Mac in 2006. Well, kinda, all my settings, apps, etc., are the same – they’re just kept in place whenever I upgraded to Leopard and Snow Leopard and so on, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I have messed something up along the way 🙂

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Ryan, Webmaster Forum September 14, 2009 at 00:33

Unlucky… I once deleted my Mac OS when I tired to use boot camp. I used the mac partition and messed everything up… It took ages of help until it was a formatting problem (needed to have a new format of the mac os disk as it was in windows format)
.-= Webmaster Forum´s last blog ..Google Crawls According To PageRank =-.

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Rob McCance October 4, 2010 at 01:30

Good post and tips. Going to check out the superduper you mentioned.

I back up my windows machines all sorts of ways, but have been lulled in to a sense of security with this MacBookPro and need to snap out of it and figure out some backup plans.
Rob McCance recently posted… Why this Website is Better

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