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article imageBug in Adobe software deletes the first directory it finds on Mac

By James Walker     Feb 15, 2016 in Technology
An embarrassed Adobe has been forced to admit a critical bug in its Creative Cloud suite of premium design software has been deleting users' files without warning or notice. The company has apologized and issued a new update.
The issue affects Creative Cloud users with Apple Mac OS X-based computers. Creative Cloud is Adobe's subscription-based software suite that includes image editors Photoshop and Lightroom, video editors Premiere and After Effects and several other design and development tools.
A recent automatic update to the Mac version of the suite introduced a major bug that could delete user or system files from the computer. With the update installed, Creative Cloud automatically deletes the contents of the first folder it finds in the computer's root directory once the user logs in with their Adobe ID.
The script responsible for the behaviour is indiscriminate and blindly deletes the first alphabetically-sorted folder it finds. On most Mac OS X systems, this will be a hidden system folder that starts with a period character, invisible to the user but containing important files.
The issue came to light when a large number of users of the popular Mac backup service Backblaze suddenly began to report issues with the software. The exceptional volume of complaints led the company to investigate.
During its research, one of Backblaze's designers applied the Creative Cloud update. Inevitably, their computer immediately began to reproduce the issues users had reported. Backblaze realised that Creative Cloud was the culprit.
Digging further into the problem, the company established that the Adobe software was deleting the first folder it found on the hard drive. Backblaze relies on a hidden ".bvzol" folder existing in the root directory, a name with an early appearance in the alphabet and therefore a likely - but coincidental - candidate for deletion.
Although it was Backblaze that discovered the bug, ".bvzol" clearly isn't the only folder Creative Cloud deletes. For users without the backup software installed, Creative Cloud just deletes the next folder instead, often ".DocumentRevisions-V10." This is a Mac OS X system folder that contains important data related to the operating system's autosave and version history features. Deleting it breaks these functions, potentially ruining the user's backup routine.
Adobe pulled the Creative Cloud update from distribution when it was alerted to the problem. It has since released a new patch that replaces the original version. Users who are being prompted to install a Creative Cloud update but are unsure which version has been downloaded are advised to contact Adobe. The company is working on a tutorial to help people avoid data loss as a result of applying the first patch.
In the meantime, there is an easy way to help mitigate the effects of the bug. Users can create their own directory with a name early in the alphabet to force Creative Cloud to delete that instead of something useful. Backblaze suggests ".adobedontdeletemybzvol" but any other name starting with ".a" should suffice for most users.
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