There have been similar reports in the past, with a number of "me too" posts included in these threads:
The reports are quite specific with regard to the missing items being limited to applications, which would be hard to explain if a general HD failure were responsible. No clear common factor was found, though some users were running Norton anti-viral software, with speculation that it might have malfunctioned and mistakenly deleted the apps. Are you running any anti-viral progams?
I thought I was going crazy until I found this post and links to some of the older ones. I have been using Macs since 1985 and consider myself an expert user.
Yesterday I logged onto my Mac Pro and discovered that Microsoft Office had disappeard. As in the entire Office suite. Documents created by Office were fine, but the software is gone.
I was willing to write that off as Twilight Zone material until tonight when I logged into my MacBook Pro to discover that the entire Final Cut suite (Final Cut, Motion, Color, etc.) has disappeared completely. Upon further searching I was able to identify a couple of other missing applications on the MacBook Pro as well.
I'm experienced enough to know that anyone can make an error, delete the wrong file, yada yada yada. But I am absolutely certain that I did not accidentally delete two major software suites off two different computers on two consecutive days. Thankfully I have multiple, reduntant backup systems, but this scares the crap out of me.
Anyone have any idea what's going on???
Thanks for the suggestion to make backups. As I mentioned in my post I have multiple, reduntant backup systems so this is not an issue for me. I'm well protected.
I'm as familiar with everyone else on this forum on the dangers and signs of a hard disk going bad. If this had happened on just one computer I could write it off. However, as I explained this happened on two different systems (Mac Pro and a MacBook) with two different software suites on two consecutive days. Is it remotely possible that both systems have hard drives that are about to go and independent of one another they happen to warn me by deleting major software suites while leaving everything else on the computer untouched? Yes, it is - I'll give you that. However, the odds of this happening by coincidence in such a narrow timeframe seem low at best.
I'm more inclined to believe there's either a rare bug in the OS (maybe something introduced in a recent system update that would hit both my computers at the same time), a virus or trojan that has infected my network (also low odds I suppose), or some other application that is somehow causing this behavior this behavior.
I've just discovered the vanishing apps problem, and this was on a new out-of-the-box Mac Mini with Lion 10.7.3.
- Unboxed a brand new Mini, hooked up peripherals, turned on
- When the first time wizard got to the Migrate option I hooked up my old Snow Leopard MBP in target disk mode via Firewire and copied Users (just me), Apps, and Settings
- On the first startup all but two of my apps had successfully migrated. I ran one, Google Chrome, to download the Lion version of an M-Audio driver.
- Did Software Update that returned five updates, no reboot required -- this Mac had just shipped so the OS and bundled apps were almost completely up to date
- Ran App Store to update and install purchased apps
- Disabled the Guest user
- Installed the new M-Audio driver, which required a restart
So, significant points so far -- after running Migration Wizard at least one of my old apps, Chrome, was there, since I was able to run it. Only two were reported as unmigrated. But after rebooting the system for the first time, my Dock applications got an overlaid question mark when I tried to run them. They were no longer in /Applications. From a bash prompt I've searched the file system and found nothing. Fortunately my Application Support is intact so it looks like I didn't lose any data.
The /Applications folder now contained only the apps which had come pre-bundled on the Mac, BUT they still had their App Store updates. Which makes more sense than them somehow reverting. And the one un-migrated app I installed (the M-Audio driver) was still there. But all of the migrated apps were deleted when I rebooted.
So why would a brand new Mac migrate non-bundled applications and then delete them all on the next reboot? Had I known this would happen I would have verified their location and looked at their file attributes. I even tried re-enabling the Guest User in case they were in one of that user's directories.
Honestly, not the best experience to have with a brand new Mac out of the box, even if I didn't lose any personal data (and the old MBP is thoroughly backed up, and this one will be too.) I may try reproducing it by re-running Migration Assistant on the apps, but I can't reproduce whatever the OS's state was when I first started it up.
Only followup I can offer is that I did a second Migration Assistant of just the applications and they seem to be sticking around.
I did notice that the bundled apps belong to root / wheel while the re-migrated ones belong to me / admin, "me" being the migrated admin user. So I wonder if that initial migration had some disconnect where the apps were copied first as belonging to an unknown user, and then either a cleanup on reboot or even the "Flashback removal" software update might have decided they all had to go.
Is there any known scenario where OS X will delete files specifically because they're ownerless?
> On the first startup all but two of my apps had successfully migrated. I ran one, Google Chrome, to download the Lion version of an M-Audio driver.
Before all this Flasback fiasco started I was on the trail of a suspected malware infection associated with M-Audio driver. The real site's download button had been disabled and a phony site arrived at by asking for a C-Audio driver was serving something that I could not fully analyse. I sent e-mails to a couple of folks whose logos and trademarks seemed to have been faked, but neither replied and as I said I had to move on.
As I recall there were a few comments about it when I Googled, but nothing definitive.
I just did a review of the topic of random apps disappearing within these discussion boards. After a brief search, here's what I have found.
- At least 20 people have admitted to being victimized by this random app disappearing behavior.
- There are at least 4 discussions on this topic, the earliest being September 12, 2009
- Apparently, the phenomenon manifests itself in both admin and non-admin console users
- It appears that this impacts people regardless of their use of antivirus software
- Many people declare that Disk Utility either finds minor errors or no errors whatsoever
- At least one user experienced the phenomenon with a newly unboxed Mac mini
- The phenomenon has manifested itself in Leopard, Snow Leopard, AND Lion systems
- The phenomenon affects both Apple and 3rd party apps
- This issue seems to leave all preferences and other app working files in place (meaning a simple drag-and-drop of the app back in the Applications folder restores all functionality, including registration/activation and user preferences)
- This issue has affected both casual and highly experienced Mac veterans
- At least one user claims to have seen their apps disappear right before their eyes
- At least one user (that would be me) found not only had the app disappeared from the Applications folder, but also from the Time Machine backup (all days)
Now that we have summarized some basic facts, let's try to get some questions answered which may lead us to the underlying cause. My questions for those affected include:
- Has anyone with a Time Machine backup ever experienced the same apps disappearing from within your backups?
- Have you experienced any other file system anomalies either right before or after you noticed the loss?
- How many affected people use the built-in file sharing?
- Was file sharing turned on in System Preferences when you experienced the loss, even if you weren't actively using it?
- Have you customized your system beyond that which is readily available via System Preferences with Apple's built-in preference panes (i.e. using Terminal to edit defaults or using a utility such as Onyx)?
- How often do you usually reboot your machine?
- Do you sleep your machine or does it stay on 24/7?
- Do you utilize FileVault? (not that this should matter…)
Please feel free to add any questions. My gut tells me this is some type of Finder bug that may have something to do with File Sharing, some daemon process, or some interplay with the Finder and file permissions/ownership. It's apparently a persistent bug (occurs across at least 3 major releases of OS X). I'm quite shocked that many, many others haven't been impacted by this, or that some researcher hasn't discovered this. As an aside, my primary machine is still running Tiger, and I have repeatedly experienced random file losses (both apps and non-apps). So if anyone has any insights to that, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Also, I'm not sure if anyone knows the following discussion members, but they all have said they have experienced this issue. If someone knows these people, please pass along the link to this discussion and maybe we all can make some headway against this nasty phenomenon:
- Eran Kendler
- Dave Ficks
- Jeff Berman
- Brandon Carroll
- M Arc
- Peter Stys
- CLACIL (sorry for the repeat, CLACIL)
Hey, Intersting analysis here!
So to reply to you questions:
1) I never used Time Machine
2) Everything seemed to be fine , just apps vanishing
3) I think file sharing 'is' part of the problem ..sometimes when I am at school I used to recive random stuff from other computers on my desktop and fill it all! , then I switched file sharing off and problem solved.
6) I re-boot it everyday ( I use my laptop for long hours, its my bestfriend haha, but at night I turn it off and some times I re-boot to switch to Windows to play some decent games)
7) Yes sometimes I do 'sleep' it .. but not for long hours , everynow and then..
8) Don't know what actualy it is..
By the way after the new installation I did some months ago everything is fine till now... hope everything remains fine haha
I hope everything remains fine for you. Maybe more people will find this discussion thread and share their experiences. Here's my recommendations to you that will help keep you and your files safe:
- If you don't have a Time Machine volume setup, buy an external hard disk and start using Time Machine.
- If you don't need File Sharing, go ahead and turn it off
- Also turn off any other services that you don't actively use (such as internet sharing, screen sharing, remote login, remote management, etc.)
If you do find yourself a victim of the disappearing apps again, I'd then suggest the following:
- Use Disk Utility to check your Time Machine volume
- Do a manual check to see if the affected apps have also completely disappeared from Time Machine
- If your Time Machine volume is OK, then reformat your internal disk and restore from the Time Machine backup
I wish I had hard answers for you and everyone else that's been affected by this, but until then, we need to always keep our backups up to date. Hopefully Apple will one day retire HFS+ and give us a completely modern file system and new Finder that isn't susceptible to these bugs.