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My wife has a Macbook, is running the latest OS. Recently I needed to use my profile on her computer, so I ran it and software update had a ton of updates. I asked for her permission, ran the updates and when all was done, there were user profiles missing and the two profiles had avatars that we'd never seen before and the default desktop screen was displayed instead of the customized ones we had previously. We are not running time machine on this computer. Those user profiles were basically all that was lost. Walking through Finder in the various places, looking for the lost user profiles, turned up nothing. Any ideas out there for a remedy?
See what software updates were installed by going to System Preferences>software update. If one of the ones was an Mac OS X update you might be able to install a combo update to get the OS working properly again. You can also turn on root user and go into it to see if the user profiles really are missing. Or restart your computer holding down command(apple key) S and type in ls/Users at the prompt to show you all user accounts on the computer. If they really are gone the only bet is restore from backup. Never seen data loss that bad after Apple Software Updates.