QuickBooks' Latest Update Destroyed Mac Users' Desktops

Here’s one reason to use an online service to store financial data: no buggy updates to deal with.* Intuit’s December update for 2006 and 2007 versions of QuickBooks Pro on the Mac platform wiped the user’s Desktop folder and anything stored there. The company released a patch, but it didn’t work if you launched QuickBooks while connected to a wireless hotspot, oops. The latest patch, so far as we can tell, simply disables any further updates to the application—on January 3rd the company “began automatically feeding a patch to Mac QuickBooks users that permanently switches off the program’s upgrade mechanism to prevent a repetition of a data disaster.” In the meantime, since they can’t offer a way to fix the deleted Desktop folders, they’re offering rebates to users who buy a copy of the data recovery program Data Rescue II.

Some businesses, however, aren’t so easily mollified.

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.

“Intuit: Patched Mac QuickBooks still deletes data” [ComputerWorld]
“Update: Intuit patches Mac QuickBooks” [ComputerWorld]
(Thanks to DJ!)
(Image: Getty)

[Re. “no buggy updates”: At least not on the user side—we know that doesn’t guarantee anything…]


Edit Your Comment

  1. this is why you keep 2 sets of books. one in-house for the govt tax/fire insurance, and the other with you at all times to keep the “real books”

    at least that’s how I was raised

  2. TomK says:

    Also what kind of company would lose data to this bug? Backups. I’d be suing for due diligence failures if I was an investor in a venture that didn’t back up data. Pathetic on intuits part but I’d be embarrassed to admit that my company didn’t have backups and kept mission critical data on the desktop, with no backups. Just blows my mind.

  3. Buran says:

    I can’t imagine they’ll win as software publishers always weasel out of actually having a warranty.

  4. HykCraft says:

    Ha. Take that Mac users.

    Obviously, their QA didn’t department didn’t do ANY kind of testing with this update. Might as well shut them down.

  5. @Buran:

    it’s a brand name company. that’s all they’re known for. I don’t even THINK you can get to a real person without using their “pro” version or for puchasing an additional yearly membership.

    unfortunately, until people realize that this is a big market for this kind of service/software, they will always think of quickbooks as the shitty, but unfortunate affordable means to manage their small business

  6. @HykCraft:

    quickbooks sucks in general. it just sucks more on the mac (from personal experience as well)

  7. AT203 says:

    I’m hoping that “desktop file” was a typo, and not a misunderstanding of how file systems work… ?

  8. @AT203: Desktop folder?

  9. Xerloq says:

    Example of the QuickBooks update routine:
    1. Detect platform: MAC or PC
    2. If PC, then update
    3. If MAC, then DELETE A FILE!

    I can’t believe they don’t know why the updated are deleting desktop folders.

  10. trujunglist says:

    Who stores anything on the desktop anyway? No self-respecting Mac user puts anything on the desktop because it makes you look like a disorganized tool that doesn’t understand how to use the GUI. Folders exist for a reason people, there’s little excuse to have anything other than your HD, network, peripherals etc on the desktop.
    But yeah, good idea, let’s store the companies most sensitive and important material on the home screen so that anyone walking by can see what we’ve got, steal it, or simply erase it!
    Also, backups anyone? This isn’t rocket science, it’s computer basics. Clearly small businesses, so who wants to bet that all of their backups could’ve fit on one DVD, if not a CD?
    These companies are clearly computer illiterate and would’ve lost their data within a week anyway.

  11. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    And here I thought nothing bad could ever happen to a Mac.

  12. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Intuit has a history of screwing people with their products – both Mac and PC users hold them in very low regard. Just do a search on cnet or amazon and read some reviews.

    While unfortunate, it boggles the mind that many businesses still haven’t learned the importance of redundant backups. It would’ve cost them a lot less to buy a few extra HDs and store their critical data offsite than to file a lawsuit.

  13. formatc says:

    I’ve used Data Rescue II at work before. It’s a rather useful program. I was able to boot the Mac in target mode and I used DR2 from my MacBook to recover a user’s mailbox files. It didn’t even flinch at the fact it was mounted by FireWire and recovered what I needed. I’m glad to see Intuit is offering an olive branch and I hope the QuickBooks users have similar positive experiences.

  14. iEddie says:

    They should offer it for free.

    Seriously, though, WTF is wrong with them. What dumb functions are they using that can rm -rf ~/Desktop? Why is a wireless hotspot even in the question?

    Stupid. Now I know I’ll never be using QuickBooks. And probably not any other Intuit products either.

  15. formatc says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: Having the hardware and convincing the users to use it are two entirely different things. I work at a printing company, and our prepress department works with several gigabytes of data on a daily basis. None of them care to use our multi-terabyte RAID servers to store these files, and prefer to keep them locally. A Lacie drive recently died, and while everyone lamented the loss of 250gb worth of critical files, no one learned their lesson and the servers remain largely unused.

  16. formatc says:

    @iEddie: Easiest cause I could think of is “rm -rf .” where using wireless somehow breaks the chdir process so the current directory remains ~. I’ve done it before when I was testing backup scripts using the current directory and I forgot to specify that directory when I set it up to run automatically. My homedir got slurped up by it.

  17. formatc says:

    @formatc: Where the current directory remains ~/Desktop, that is.

  18. iEddie says:

    @formatc: That could be a possible explanation. But why would the current directory be ~/Desktop instead of ~? But you’re probably right, it meant to chdir to the another place where updates are stored (/tmp maybe?). They should verify that the chdir worked though.

  19. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @FORMATC: Geez – some people never learn. If they insist on keeping the files locally, they should at least cough up the $30.00 for Super Duper.


  20. randombob says:

    I would think this experience would be great reason to AVOID intuit’s online financial program, not a reason to GO TO IT.

  21. cronick says:

    I just have to chime in here to strongly object to the very first thing Chris says: “Here’s one reason to use an online service to store financial data: no buggy updates to deal with.”

    This is exactly why you shouldn’t use an online service.

    Just the other day, I took Gina @ Lifehacker to task for her review of Quicken’s new online service, Manage Your Money with Quicken Online.

    I was probably a little harsh with Gina. But, the fact is you gotta be crazy to put anything that important on the Internet without thinking twice or thrice.

    If these guys at Intuit can’t even update a program, any program, Mac or PC, without trashing users’ data then how can they be trusted to keep all of your financial data safe on the Internet? You’re putting every one of your bank account and credit card numbers in the hands of total strangers who already have a track record of making egregious blunders.

    And not just Quicken Online: By putting your financial life into the hands of ANY stranger you are begging for identity theft, fraud, and intrusive searches by the IRS. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read a news article about a big company that has been hacked and lost all their clients’ data, whether it be Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers.

    But with online money management, you’re putting ALL your financial numbers in one place… with thousands of other people… one huge hacker target. And, you’re trusting some stranger to protect your data.

    Is their IPSec department REALLY as good as some 15-year-old kid in Moscow working for the Russian mob? Where did they buy their SANs? Do they have TSM or some cheese-whiz DAT they bought at Frys?

    It may be convenient to give up control for your fate to a faceless corporation. They may give you a fuzzy happy feeling inside. But, if you don’t take personal responsibility for your life, then you accept whatever cr*p corporations choose dish out.

    OK. Enough ranting. Buy an external hard drive ($129), a good backup application ($80), and for gosh-darn sake USE PROTECTION ($60)!

  22. Buran says:

    @cronick: Buy an external hard drive ($129), be running Leopard ($129 or free with a new mac), have backup software be included ($0) and use common sense since there aren’t really mac viruses in the wild, but still, use common sense ($0).

  23. Skeptic says:

    BY DISCOUNTEGGROLL AT 01/10/08 06:58 PM
    this is why you keep 2 sets of books. one in-house for the govt tax/fire insurance, and the other with you at all times to keep the “real books”
    at least that’s how I was raised

    You are missing the point. The update didn’t delete people’s Quicken files it deleted everything on their desktop computer’s desktop folder and all the subsequent folders. I have several Gigs of files in a folder on my desktop and I’d be pretty pissed.

  24. t-r0y says:

    @cronick: Well said! You may have been harsh on Gina over at LifeHacker, but she needed the wake-up call. Unfortunately, I think she hit the snooze button. Buyer Beware: Don’t expect LifeHacker to help you keep someone from hacking your life!

  25. btdown says:

    Yeah..and all 12 mac users are upset….jeeze get a real computer already.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    slightly o/t, but personally i think these guys are out to lunch.

    i’ve been trying to set something up with intuit since september. i’ve been bounced around 6 different divisions that don’t seem to know where to send me. i thought i was getting somewhere towards the end of november, but my contact mysteriously stopped returning my emails/phone calls.

  27. elmyc says:

    @btdown: Yeah, ok. The problem here is the Intuit not the Mac or Windows Platform. There have been problems with both platforms and still you’re hating on the mac with no reason.

  28. kimsama says:

    @trujunglist: Sometimes graphic designers/film editors/etc keep stuff on the desktop when it’s in its nascent stages, before it becomes part of a library/project/etc because then it’s easy to get rid of if it’s not used (those files can be huge, and putting them into a folder could mean you forget about them and burn up tons of space).

    It would suck to lose a big media file.

  29. mathew says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the lawsuit, because I’m sure the Intuit EULA says they’re not responsible for any damage. It’d be nice to find out if bullshit EULAs can actually stand up in court.

  30. NoWin says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: “Intuit has a history of screwing people with their products – both Mac and PC users hold them in very low regard.”

    Or the online Quicken / Quickbooks website forums. They can get pretty heated against Intuit too. (makes for good reading now and then…learn a new cuss word.)

  31. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Mathew: Whaddya mean court? I’m sure they have something buried in the EULA that states “in the event of a dispute or data loss, customer agrees to seek redress through binding arbitration only”.

  32. Chris Walters says:

    @cronick: Just to be clear, I wrote that one good reason for online services is NO UPDATES ON YOUR END. I didn’t write “unbreakable security!” In other words, I was being slightly facetious.

    I agree pretty much with what you wrote, but I think there’s a place for services like Buxfer that keep your most sensitive data on your end but store an offsite copy of transactional data on their servers, for access everywhere. (Assuming they’ve improved how they store data on your end–they had some probs with storing passwords in clear text according to one of our readers.) I think an arrangement like that mitigates the most serious ID risks while giving you much greater flexibility to access and manipulate your data.

    But yeah, turning personal info over to corporations = goodbye security usually.

  33. Buran says:

    @btdown: I think someone’s in denial, a troll, is clueless, feels the need to be smugly superior to other people, or just doesn’t want to admit that the OS they’re in bed with is a POS.

    Seriously though, we don’t need more computer platform flame wars here, thank you.


    — The MILLIONS of Mac users out there

  34. firesign says:

    sorry, but i have no sympathy for any company (or individual) who keeps only one copy of any absolutely critical data and does not do regular backups of said data with verification. it’s just stupid.@btdown: you are both a lousy troll and an idiot.

  35. molife says:

    So NOT surprised. Been forced to use Intuits invasive, destructive and mob like software for years now. Not sure of another company with a more hostile business attitude. It’s like “they” own your books and charge you for the luxury of having access to them every once in awhile. And DON’T ask to hold them! “We’ll break a kneecap!”

    Intuit sucks big time.

  36. CyberSkull says:

    Seriously, the only way shit like this happens is if somewhere in the code there is an explicit command to delete ~/Desktop. How the hell does that get past QA anyways?