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Tuesday, November 06, 2007, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Apple chastised for ignoring two Mac data loss issues

Apple is taking some flak this week for failing to acknowledge and address two separate data loss issues — one present in Leopard's Finder and another having to do with faulty Seagate hard drives used in the company's MacBook line of notebook computers.

Leopard data loss issue

Tom Karpik explains that Leopard’s Finder has a glaring bug in its directory-moving code, which could lead to horrendous data loss if a destination volume disappears while a move operation is in action.

Unlike a directory copy action across drives, which duplicates a directory from one volume to the other and leaves the original intact, a directory move action across drives is intended to duplicate the original directory from the source drive to the destination drive, then delete the original from the source drive when the move to the destination drive is complete.

It appears that Leopard's Finder (as well as Finder versions dating back to Mac OS X 10.3 Panther) fails to check the integrity of the directory copied to the destination drive before deleting the source directory from the source drive. Therefor, if a directory move is interrupted partially through the move process, the Finder assumes the move was successful and deletes the original directory from the source drive, leaving a directory with only partial file contents on the destination drive.

The bug occurs regardless of the type of destination drive — be it a local USB drive, local Firewire drive, or SMB volume. On his website, Karpik has posted step-by-step instructions on how to reproduce glitch as well as a video demonstrating its affect.

Leopard data loss issue

Meanwhile, U.K.-based data-recovery firm Retrodata is warning Apple customers that they risk potential data loss due to a design flaw on certain 2.5-inch Seagate SATA drives, commonly found in notebooks such as the MacBook or MacBook Pro.

"The read/write heads are detaching from the arm and plowing deep gouges into the magnetic platter," says Retrodata Managing Director Duncan Clarke. "The damage is mostly on the inner tracks, but some scratches are on the outer track — Track 0 — and once that happens, the drive is normally beyond repair."

The problem is reportedly prevalent with Seagate 2.5-inch SATA drives that are manufactured in China and loaded with firmware Version 7.01. Model numbers affected include ST96812AS and ST98823AS.

Clark advises users to go to their System Profile, and under Serial ATA look for the "revision number."

"If it is firmware Version 7.01, then you have to panic," he said. "Apple is being utterly irresponsible and should launch a product recall."