The automatic updater for Intuit’s QuickBooks Pro 2006 and 2007 accounting software is causing massive data loss for Mac OS X users, Intuit confirmed.
Users reported that applying the automatic updater sometimes deleted their Desktop folders, which could result in the loss of gigabytes of data. The data loss occurred after the updater displayed various fallacious error messages, such as warnings about there being insufficient disk space or a lack of network connection, according to several posts Dec. 15 and 16 on Intuit and Apple support forums.
“A percentage of user files had been shoved into the Trash, while others were marked as deleted when they shouldn’t have been,” said Drew Janssen, owner of DriveRescue, a Baltimore-area data recovery service. “It’s worse than we first thought. … The phone’s been ringing pretty steadily since Monday morning, from all over the country. Something in the updater process in the QuickBooks update was deleting the Desktop and some other files.”
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Intuit said the problem affected a limited number of users before the company isolated and fixed the issues with the updater, said Heather McLellan, Intuit’s director of product communication for QuickBooks and other small business products. Affected users of QuickBooks Pro for Mac 2006 or 2007 can check the Intuit support site for help.
Janssen explained that when a file is marked as deleted in Mac OS X, it does not appear in the Trash, which would perhaps have allowed users to have manually placed the files back in their intended locations. Instead, though the files are still on the hard drive, they are invisible to the user and the computer is signaled that these files are available for overwriting—that is, new data, whether saved files or temporarily cached data, can replace the user’s files.
It’s best, Janssen said, for users hit by this bug to stop all work on the computer.
He also noted that, like all software updates, the QuickBooks updater requires users to type in the administrative password for the computer. This, he said, usually is one of the strengths of the Mac OS X in protecting users from viruses, but here, it gave the QuickBooks updater the ability “to do whatever it needs to do.”
“This was a poorly written updater,” Janssen said. “I do think Intuit is a great company with a great product,” he stressed, but added that “it would be a customer-positive step for Intuit to engage one or more data recovery companies to help those affected.”
“Otherwise,” he said, “this is a black eye.”
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