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Intuit: Patched Mac QuickBooks still deletes data

Angry customers file class-action lawsuit in federal court

January 3, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Just two days after Intuit Inc. said it had finally come up with a permanent patch for a bug in QuickBooks on the Mac that erased files from users' hard drives, the company acknowledged it has not completely fixed the flaw.

Users who apply the patch -- available for manual download since Monday and scheduled to be automatically downloaded to all machines running QuickBooks 2006 for Mac starting Thursday morning -- are still at risk if they run the accounting software while in range of a wireless hot spot, said Ian Vacin, offering leader for Intuit's Mac finance line, in a posting to the product's support forum Monday afternoon.

Two weeks ago, QuickBooks 2006 users discovered that a buggy automatic update from Intuit wiped all files on the Mac desktop. The company warned customers against using QuickBooks, then recommended that they shift files from the desktop to other folders.

On Saturday, Vacin announced on the QuickBooks support forum that a patch would be available Dec. 31. The patch, he said, fixed the flaw by permanently disabling the software's upgrade mechanism.

Monday, however, he had to post a follow-up warning.

"We have determined that the prior bug re-manifests itself when QuickBooks Pro 2006 for Mac is initiated at public Internet hotspots and a redirection error occurs (for instance, when you are at [an Internet] cafe that requires you to pay to use its services," said Vacin. "We are working to resolve the issue and will have a patch available in the next few days." He urged users not to run the program while within range of a wireless access point.

A new patch will be posted on the Intuit site first and then fed to users automatically a few days later, Vacin said.

The December update that triggered the data deletions also affected users of QuickBooks for Mac 2007, although the bug only created extraneous files in the Desktop folder on systems with that edition; the files, Intuit said at the time, could be deleted.

Intuit has not been able to come up with a recovery solution for QuickBooks for Mac 2006 users who have had files erased, but instead has offered to reimburse users who purchase a copy of Data Rescue II, a $99 data recovery program sold by Prosoft Engineering Inc. in Pleasanton, Calif.

Three businesses that lost data during the update snafu have filed a lawsuit against Intuit and have asked a federal judge to grant the case class-action status. The firms -- Create-A-Card Inc. in New York, AGSJ Inc. in California and Philanthropic Focus LLC in Florida -- charged Intuit with reacting slowly to news from users of the buggy update and said that they each had lost irreplaceable data.

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