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Disturbing Behaviour in Powerbook Harddrive

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by stcanard, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. macrumors 65816


    Okay, this just started happening to me yesterday--

    When I'm listening to iTunes, every once in a while it will stop playing and go beachball on me. Happens for about 10-15 seconds then goes back to playing.

    During that time, my hard drive starts making a "click" sound, about once a second (different from the usual access clicks, louder). It almost sounds like the drive is skipping, and seems to me that it's having trouble reading.

    I've done a disk utility scan on the drive, and it reports no problems. I'm not sure how frequent the issue is, because I have enough ram that there is a lot of caching being done.

    Has anyone else run into this? There are no diagnosable errors in the drive, but obviously it's having trouble reading.
  2. macrumors regular

    YES :(

    I get the click sound. Also my hard drive starts making a load noise like its spinning really really fast. After a while my computer starts crashing and slowing down.

    I took it to get it repaired but then a new quirk appeared. After moving the powerbook around (say a long trip or a walk) the problem stops! Hence they didnt find the problem. SO i took it back and it worked fine for a month or two. Then it started. THat was aout a week before i went on holiday and when i was there my laptop was fixed again because of the journey from here to france!!?

    How much else do you know? I want to get to the bottom of this! When did you get yours? I think there may be a problem with a certain Revision or a batch of powerbooks.
  3. mpw

    These are the same syptoms that my iBook started with see previous posts around Sept.’04 for full details but trust me your hard drives are nearly kaput!

    Back all your data up NOW and get a new hard drive fitted ASAP.

    As far as the problem going when you walk it to the workshop for repair. I can’t remember if it was these or another forum but there was an article or account of one of those data recovery services that cost $$$. The engineer said most failed hard drives that they deal with can be bought back to life long enough to get data of by banging them against the wall!! A less extreme version is what’s happening when you move it about.

    Once my iBook started ticking and crashing it took 8 attempts to back-up before I was successful with out a crash during transfer to an external drive.
  4. macrumors regular

    But they wont do anything unless theres proof. Also mine has been doing this for months. And even lighlt shaking it stops it making the noise for a few secounds
  5. macrumors 65816


    Okay, 2 more questions (I had kind of assumed my drive was heading for death's door):

    1) Anyone got a decent way for me to back my entire partition up onto a wintel machine, and then restore everything? I really don't want to have to go through reinstalling everything.

    2) If I decide to put a new drive in myself, and recommendations on what a good drive would be?
  6. macrumors 65816


    Out of curiousity, do you have the Hitachi 5400RPM (80GB) drive?

    I've been going through the Apple forums, and apparently these drives are causing a lot of problems, the drives seem to be failing at an above average rate. Since the beginning of Jan there have been probably a dozen threads about the drive making funny noises, pausing the PB and then sudden death.

    I'm currently burning all critical stuff to DVD's. You might want to do the same.
  7. mpw

    By 'they' I assume you mean Apple and by 'won't do anything unless there's proof' I assume you mean under warranty. Can't help you there I'm afraid my iBook was ~3years old and well out of warranty when it went bad.

    I'm now waiting for a spare afternoon to take it apart as I don't even know what drive was in there to get a replacement.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    The hard drive in my old G3 Wallstreet made the dreaded clicking sound for a couple of years, but in the end the drive went dead. That sound is not a good one. Your drive will fail sooner or later, it is best to back it up very often at the very least, of course the best option would be to get a new drive.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Even if the drive lives for a couple of years, the constant delays on access will drive me crazy. I think I already have the new drive picked out:

    Seagate 100GB MOMENTUS 2.5INCH 5400 ATA/100 8MB CACHE

    People in the Apple forums seem to have had good luck with getting it installed. Now to find me a torx screwdriver.

    (Yes, before anyone asks, my powerbook is already several months out of warranty)
  10. macrumors 68000


    for backing up you HD try ...

    Carbon Copy Cloner

    that Segate is pretty cheap . im putting a 7200rpm HD from OWC in my PB

  11. macrumors 65816


    Lots of benchmarks around the Apple Forums showing the 7200 RPM doesn't make a noticeable speed improvement over a 5400 (especially with the amount of ram I have).

    I also don't want to worry about extra heat, battery drain, or noise.

    And ordering from a US site, dealing which exchange, customs, random duties, and shipping is just too much of a pain.

    So I picked a good price from a local dealer :)
  12. macrumors 68000



    im using my laptop for live audio and would like to have fast drive access without having an external FW drive. heat shouldn't be a problem with my setup. it won't be sitting on my lap and i won't even be touching the keyboard much (external MIDI/USB controllers). it sits raised so the heat should dissipate quickly. :)

    battery drain i've heard in PCs is actually less in most cases because the hard drive is spinning for shorter amounts of time and can quickly go back to rest ... i have yet to see batter drain on the mac side.

    im installing mine next month.

  13. macrumors 65816


    Definitely you need speed in an hdd more than me then. I'm doing mostly coding, and with > 1.25G ram the vast majority of the time what I'm doing is sitting in cache, I don't notice myself waiting for the drive ever.

    Instead of being raised, mine's usually on my lap, so based on recent news reports heat is a big issue ;)

    The drive's been bought, hopefully I will get to install it this weekend. At this point my system's basically unusable to my standards (I can't stand 15 second pauses every 5 minutes, and occasional finder lockups).
  14. macrumors 68000


    ;) You should post what you think of the drive. i may do some upgrades for some local mac users and that seems like the perfect drive for them. :)

  15. macrumors G3


    to the question at hand - the noise is usually drive heads stumbling around bad sectors on the drive. if it's under warranty CARBON COPY CLONER it and get it the hell back to apple. they'll replace it quickly.

    if it's not under warranty, shop around for another drive, but get someone who know's what their doing to replace it if you don't. they're easy to damage (esp the AlBooks).
  16. macrumors 65816


    Okay, time for an update. I bought the Seagate and decided to replace it myself (please excuse some verbosity here, I want to help this turn up in searches).

    Replacing Powerbook Drive

    The drive replacement is not trivial, but not too hard. I used the excellent guide at PBFixit along with a trip to xlr8yourmac which does a better job of explaining the clips under the optical drive.

    Getting the clips open was the only hard part (normally). It's hard to do or explain, I ended up sticking a small screwdriver up through the dust cover in the optical drive, and managed to pop them out. Now that I've done it once, I think I could do it a lot faster next time.

    Unfortunately all the screws are small, and one of heads holding the hard-drive assembly in place stripped, I ended up having to drill the head out. Not for the faint of heart, but not too bad.

    It took me about an hour, but 1/2 of that was trying to figure out how to release the clips above the optical drive.

    New Drive

    I bought the drive mentioned earlier, the 100GB Seagate Momentus. I've barely used it, but the new drive so far seems good. It was recognized and usable without any trouble, and it seems really quiet. I'll have to report later whether it affects my power usage.

    Old Hard-drive Health

    This is the bad news. I got an external drive enclosure, and tried Carbon Copy Cloner, but I was unable to get a bootable clone off the original drive. After a few hours of trying, the drive seems to have given up completely and now I can't even get it to mount.

    So I'm having to rebuild from scratch. Most of my stuff should be backed up (I have daily backups, plus emergency stuff I took when I realized things were dying). It's just going to take a long time.

    The moral of the story is, if you're hearing the clicking noises and seeing your system pause/freeze do something NOW. My system seemed like it was okay, except for a slow drive, but I was actually unable to recover everything!
  17. macrumors 68000


  18. macrumors 65816


    Battery Life

    Since I was overdue for my monthly battery conditioning (as recommended by Apple), I took today to do a battery test.

    Under normal to slightly stressed conditions (screen brightness at 3 bars, airport connected, browsing/editing and constantly listening to iTunes, the battery lasted 2h14m[1] which is about the same as I got before the swap. So there has certainly been no adverse affect on battery life, I'll have to experiment to see if it has gotten a bit better.

    Now I can see that my drive has been failing for a while. A number of things, especially Camino, are noticeably faster than they have been lately.

    [1] About 1/2 way into the test I checked activity monitor and noticed that Camino and Quicksilver were apparently having a contest to see who could use more CPU time. When I shut both of them down my battery remaining extended. I don't know if this had been going on for a while, or if I happened to look at exactly the right time, but this is battery time obviously a worst case scenario, which is good -- I've never got more than 2 1/2 hours battery time under my "normal" usage scenario, even without warring processes.
  19. macrumors regular


    When my 12" PB disk died (or started showing the clicking symptoms and SMART error) I backed it up this way.

    I borrowed a Lacie firewire harddirve (but any usb/fw disk should do as long as it’s big enough for your data) and booted off my restore cd. I installed the OS onto the firewire hard disk and everything was nice and stable from there. The internal hard drive shows up as usual on the desktop and I was able to easily copy everything from one to the other. After the 9 weeks when I got my replacement laptop from apple I could just drop everything back on from the Lacie and carry on. All very easy.

    An alternative method that I am sure would work too is if you had 2 macs and started one in "firewire target mode". I have never tried this, but I gather that it allows your Mac to appear as a firewire hard disk to a connected Mac allowing you to transfer that way.

    As long as you are not actually booting from the troubled hard disk you should be able to copy off whatever you want safely.

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