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View Full Version : Major (Hard Drive?) Problem With 3 Year Old Powerbook




Nawlins
Jul 12, 2006, 10:47 PM
I have a Rev A 12 inch Powerbook - 867 mHz, 640 RAM, 40 GB hard drive. The machine's always been reliable and has performed great over the years. I bought it the last week of July, 2003.

Yesterday, the Pbook was shut down, and I press the on button so it would boot up. Almost immediately, the hard drive makes a loud, whirring noise. The computer advances to the gray screen with the Apple logo, but it doesn't get past that point and the noise continues, as if it's a car engine that just won't start...

I'm going to take it to my local Apple Store in the morning, and hopefully the data, including my nearly 22 GB of music, can be saved. Any thoughts on how to get my computer working again? By the way, it's the original hard drive installed. Hopefully this is enough info to generate some ideas, I'm stumped.

Alex



baby duck monge
Jul 12, 2006, 11:24 PM
Does the Apple logo ever change to a folder with a question mark in it? Do you have a bootable external you could plug in and try to boot from? How long did you let it try to boot up?

Counterfit
Jul 13, 2006, 02:10 AM
Always make backups!
This coming from the person who just backed up for the first time in several months. :rolleyes:

mad jew
Jul 13, 2006, 02:45 AM
Did you try booting it from the OSX discs (holding C)? :)

Nawlins
Jul 13, 2006, 01:33 PM
Does the Apple logo ever change to a folder with a question mark in it? Do you have a bootable external you could plug in and try to boot from? How long did you let it try to boot up?


A couple times the Apple logo has changed to a folder with a question mark in it. After I hear the hard drive make those bizarre whirring sounds, I'll close the lid and the noise goes away (as if it's in sleep mode).

I don't have a bootable external to use - would it be worth acquiring?

I've let it boot up for up to 10 minutes - minutes and minutes of hearing that dreadful noise - before closing the lid so it stays quiet.

Nawlins
Jul 13, 2006, 01:34 PM
Did you try booting it from the OSX discs (holding C)? :)

I have not tried this - would that preserve the data on the hard drive, or would it all be erased?

Makosuke
Jul 13, 2006, 01:38 PM
I have not tried this - would that preserve the data on the hard drive, or would it all be erased?It will only wipe the drive if you tell it to. You can launch Disk Utility from the menus once you've booted from CD, which will let you do a directory check on the hard drive, and tell you what its SMART status (the hard drive's internal hardware check) says.

Frankly, though, if it's making awful noises, there's a VERY high chance that it's nearly or completely dead. If you don't have a backup, now would be a very good time to find someone else with a Mac, boot your PB in Firewire Target Disk Mode while connected to theirs, and desperately hope you can salvage the most valuable files before its completely toast.

If it is a hard drive failure, the longer you goof around with it, the more likely anything worthwhile on the drive will go poof for good.

blackstone
Jul 13, 2006, 02:31 PM
It will only wipe the drive if you tell it to. You can launch Disk Utility from the menus once you've booted from CD, which will let you do a directory check on the hard drive, and tell you what its SMART status (the hard drive's internal hardware check) says.

Frankly, though, if it's making awful noises, there's a VERY high chance that it's nearly or completely dead. If you don't have a backup, now would be a very good time to find someone else with a Mac, boot your PB in Firewire Target Disk Mode while connected to theirs, and desperately hope you can salvage the most valuable files before its completely toast.

If it is a hard drive failure, the longer you goof around with it, the more likely anything worthwhile on the drive will go poof for good.

Follow Makosuke's advice. If the hard drive is making unusual whirring sounds or, even worse, ugly mechanical sounds, everything you do to diagnose or repair the problem will probably accomplish nothing and will reduce the likelihood you'll be able to get useful data off the hard drive. Stop using the computer, turn it off, and do not do anything with it at all -- even turning it on briefly -- until you can boot up from someone else's Mac and connect your PB to it in FW Target Disk Mode.

Letting the hard drive rest overnight in a cool place (but not in the freezer or fridge) will improve your chances, because it will get rid of the heat buildup from the hard drive and processor running. Keep in mind that once you get it all connected and up and running, you will probably have only a short amount of time to transfer your data. I've seen hard disks die very quickly -- sometimes after 5 minutes of backup, sometimes as much as a couple hours.

Nawlins
Jul 13, 2006, 07:58 PM
How exactly do I boot up my Pbook from another Mac using Firewire Target Disk Mode?

My sister just got a new 17" Mac Book Pro, could the data be transferred? I haven't been touching my comp at all, still have to get it looked at by someone at a Genius Bar.

Passante
Jul 13, 2006, 08:27 PM
May I recommend SMARTreporter (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/23232) for all the Powerbook users who have Toshiba drives (mine failed after 3 years.) Actually everyone should use it.

Makosuke
Jul 13, 2006, 09:04 PM
How exactly do I boot up my Pbook from another Mac using Firewire Target Disk Mode?

My sister just got a new 17" Mac Book Pro, could the data be transferred? I haven't been touching my comp at all, still have to get it looked at by someone at a Genius Bar.Your sister's 17" MBP will do just fine. Get a 6-pin Firewire cable (has D-shaped connectors on both ends--buy one if neither of you have one laying around and you don't have any friends with one), plug it into the FW 400 port on both computers, and startup the MBP. Once it's up and running, turn on your computer while holding down the "T" key. A firewire logo should appear on the screen of your computer, and if you're lucky, your drive will appear mounted on the MBP. If it does, start copying important data immediately--it might run for a minute, might be ok for an hour.

If it dies during the copy before you've gotten the most important stuff, you can try turning your computer off and letting it cool for a while, then trying again to take up from where it froze.

Here's the full Apple article, for reference:

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=58583

Felldownthewell
Jul 13, 2006, 09:14 PM
How exactly do I boot up my Pbook from another Mac using Firewire Target Disk Mode?

My sister just got a new 17" Mac Book Pro, could the data be transferred? I haven't been touching my comp at all, still have to get it looked at by someone at a Genius Bar.


If you want to keep your data, back it up BEFORE you go to the apple store. They will obviously try to boot it and that may mess things up. Plus, if they take it, they may end up wiping the drive whether it is fixable or not. It may be pointing out the obvious but I thought I'd mention it.

raydave
Aug 19, 2006, 02:40 PM
My 2 1/2 year old 17" powerbook hard drive just died a few weeks ago. After much net research and talking to other MAC owners - hard drive failure in powerbooks and related laptops is a common problem after 2 - 3 years. I had mine repaired and it was covered under my Apple Care - BUY IT if you are a MAC owner - it saved me $500! And I still am covered for another 8 months.

It is worth owning a system disc as it does have a utility feature that can cure simple problems. Insert the disc on boot up while holding down the C key. If you do not own a system disc you can call Apple and they can ship you a new one that corresponds with the unit you have - they will charge you around $20 - again a worthwhile investment.

I was told that my hard drive failed due to 3rd party RAM that I had installed in my computer - however seeing as I had had the RAM in there for over a year - I question that conclusion.

If your HD is making a funny noise - that would sound like a major issue and I would try taking it to your local Apple store if you have one in your area.

One last quick note for all Powerbook owners (or Ibook - any mobile MAC) go to any local computer store and spend $20-$40 and buy yourself some sort of air flow pad that allows air to get under your unit so it stays cooler - the less you hear the fan in your unit going on the better and longer it will last.

Cheers ~