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Chrome 79 is causing major data loss: What you need to know

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Great. Google has really screwed it with the latest Chrome release. The company has halted updates citing reports of the update “wiping out” data from third-party apps. Even worse: it seems that there’s no easy way to fix this mess, which the potential solution being as destructive as the bug itself, according to Chromium developers.

The bug comes from the way the new Chrome 79 handles data storage. The new version has changed Android’s own WebView service, which is used by a big number of apps to display internet content, from simple web pages to full blown web apps. Version 79 changed its storage structure but it didn’t migrate old content correctly. As a result, anything that was locally stored in the previous data structure will be destroyed.

Understandably, users and third party developers have expressed unmitigated frustration. “I am exhausted on customer services these two days...“ was one of the many comments in the Chromium development thread. And Android Police — which first reported on the issue — found that many users are destroying affected apps in the Play Store rating: “one-star reviews are pouring in for apps that are affected by the bug, and app developers are railing against Chromium developers.“

‘Fixing this will be destructive’

Things are not going to get any better soon. Aside from taking the update off the Google Play Store, things are going to get really tricky. Right now, Google is considering two strategies: the first is “continue the migration, moving the missed files into their new locations” and the second one is to “revert the change by moving migrated files to their old locations.”

But according to a Chromium developer, fixing this is going to be really hard:  “Fixing this now is going to also be destructive — we can add additional migration code to check if this file was left behind and move it, but that will overwrite the *new* location and replace any newly stored data with the old data.”

The development team member added that trying to merge the two local databases: “[it] doesn't seem super feasible and would still unavoidably cause data loss in the case where the same site has already set data in both copies.”

So if you haven’t downloaded Chrome 79 yet, don’t do it.

And if you have, like me, good luck! Hopefully your apps won’t be affected.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.