Bad Hard Drive vs Damaged Cables

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by flyingtoaster3, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. flyingtoaster3, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015

    flyingtoaster3 macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2015
    Hey everyone. I've got a mid-2012 refurbished Macbook Pro. I've very recently been getting the spinning ball quite often across all applications. It's crippled the workability of the laptop. I often have to wait quite a bit for simple programs such as Chrome or Firefox to open tabs. However, it sort of comes and goes. There will be brief moments where the computer seems to run just fine only to go again into a bouts of freezing.

    I was running Snow Leopard (I think) when the spinning ball started and decided to upgrade to Yosemite to see if it would fix the problem. Definitely hasn't made a difference at all.

    I've run the computer in Diagnostic Mode, I've run Disk Utility as well as a trial version of another program to see if there are any hardware/disk issues, but I keep getting a clean bill of health. In my research, I've discovered this isn't necessarily indicative of a bad hard drive though.

    Activity Monitor shows low memory pressure so I'm assuming that there's not an issue with memory. My computer has about 300+ GB of available space so it's also not a matter of a "full" computer.

    Importantly though, I believe I may have accidentally dropped my computer in a sleepy haze quite recently. To be perfectly lame and honest, I don't recall how bad the drop was or if it happened immediately before my problems, but my hunch is that it is related.

    My question is if it's possible to tell whether the laptop's hard drive cables were damaged (on my own) and whether those are the root of my problems? I've read on the forums they're quite delicate. With a relatively newer laptop, I'm hoping it's not signs of just a flat-out hard drive failure, but what's my best route here? I literally am leaving the country for a second-world country in a few days and don't have much time to figure this out and very unlikely will be able to repair it overseas. I'm bringing it into the Apple Store tomorrow, but I've always preferred to do as much on-my-own work as I can with these sorts of things.

    I've indeed backed up my files and tried to reset the PRAM and all that. But I haven't done the control+R reboot. I'd prefer not to do that unless it's absolutely recommended. I'm kind of on a tight budget these days, so as much as the SDD upgrade sounds appealing, if I need a new hard drive, I'm just gonna probably go with the basics of what my comp needs to run. I really only write, listen to music, watch movies/videos, and lightly play some low-usage games.

    Appreciate any help!

    Slight edit: Even in Safe Mode my computer struggles with lagging/freezing/spinning ball. In some ways, it almost seems worse in Safe Mode if that's possible. I've had a few times where as soon as I click to login, the spinning ball just comes up and sits there for ages until I just decide to force-shut down the computer.
  2. yjchua95, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015

    yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    I'm more inclined to think that the HDD is on the way out.

    The thing with HDDs is that they fail more than SSDs, because they've moving parts.

    Mavericks and Yosemite don't play well with HDDs.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Its possible that the cable was damaged if you opened the computer up for work (I didn't get that from your post, i.e., did you open it up?) but its more likely the hard drive failing.
  4. rigormortis, Jan 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015

    rigormortis macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2009
    things to try
    back up to your time machine. and keep running backups.
    this means you


    1. disk utulity doesn't seem seem to give you s.m.a.r.t. status anymore like it used to. you can see the s.m.a.r.t. status by going into about this mac, system report, storage.

    2. you cannot check a smart sensor when the drive is in any kind of usb enclosure.

    3. if the smart sensor checks out, i would suggest removing the drive, and putting it in a pc ( or maybe boot camp - i am not sure if boot camp will work ) and try hdd regenerator. but it costs $99 .

    4. hold hard drive to your ear and listen to any odd sounds, like ticking

    5. check your warranty.
    if you have applecare use it
    if you bought the hard disk as a "retail box" check with the hard drive manufacturer.
    if you bought the hard disk in a "anti static bag" (bare) you typically do not have a warranty.

    6. there are free boot cds that you can run on pc ( or in boot camp mode, again i am not sure ) to test the hard disk. these programs are called "hitachi DFT" or "sea tools" they are free of charge and are widely available on the manufacturer's website

    7. run apple jack
    apple jack can be downoloaded on source forge. it is a script file you can run in single user mode. it will repair permissions, check the disk, clean up applications caches, and clean your virtual memory, among other things. as far as i know it is still compatible with yosemite.
    if you are using file vault , you might need to reboot in unlocked mode. you do this by going into terminal and type "sudo fdesetup authrestart" your decryption key will be kept in ram so you can reboot in single user mode to run applejack

    8. back up to time machine and erase your hard disk.
    back up to time machine
    do a full 1 to 7 pass erase (the more the merrier) , a full wipe of the hard disk is almost the same thing as running 'hdd regenerator" by doing 7 full passes of the media you are actively checking to make sure you do not have any bad sectors. if you find any bad sectors, replace the hard disk.

    9. apple hardware test
    apple hardware test DOES NOT TEST DRIVES. it only checks to make sure one is connected.

    do not run any kind of advanced tasks like wiping or hdd regenerator on any SSD disk

    your beach balling could just mean you need to reinstall os x from scratch and restoring from time machine.

    it could also be that you are running file vault on a 5400 rpm drive and your just not used to it

    it could also mean you just intalled os x yosemite, and your not giving it enough time to build up application caches.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote above:
    [[ I'm kind of on a tight budget these days, so as much as the SDD upgrade sounds appealing, if I need a new hard drive, I'm just gonna probably go with the basics of what my comp needs to run. I really only write, listen to music, watch movies/videos, and lightly play some low-usage games. ]]

    Things almost certainly went from "bad" to "worse" when you moved to Yosemite, because Yosemite can be "beachball city" on a Mac with a platter-based hard disk drive.

    If you want better performance from it, the solution is easy:
    Install an SSD.

    If you shop carefully, you can get a 240-256gb SSD for less than $100. I'd recommend a Crucial brand over Samsung -- better value.

    Installation is screwdriver-easy. You need a Phillips #00 and a TORX T-6 driver.

    In the meantime, if you want to try to reduce the beachballs, I'd suggest you disable Spotlight and turn off compressed memory.

    Some may recommend that you increase RAM to 8gb (you may already have that), but RAM will make far less of a difference, than will the addition of an SSD.

    It's -possible- (though I consider it unlikely) that your internal HDD is having problems. What does Disk Utility report about it?
  6. flyingtoaster3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2015
    I have not yet tried to open it up. I'm rather inexperienced handling electronics from an internal perspective, so is it something a relative novice would recognize easily?

    I was experiencing this on the previous iteration I was on, Snow Leopard I think. I definitely wasn't on Maverick at any point. But I'm following your advice and trying out AppleJack right now.

    I don't hear any audible noises such as ticking from the laptop. The fan doesn't seem to be any different than it already was.

    Disk Utility turned up nothing. I had run CCleaner prior and cleared up some minor permissions and whatnot, but didn't notice anything different with the machine. I think I'm gonna give AppleJack a shot and see if it turns up anything. If a serviceable SSD can be found for about $100 then that's a lot better than what I was thinking it would be.
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    What you are describing does sound like a bad drive. It could also be the drive cable, but that is less common.

    To eliminate the cable, buy an inexpensive external USB drive and move your drive to that and option key boot to it. The system will be somewhat slow overall due to running over USB, but the other symptoms will go away if it is the cable.

    If it still does this when in the enclosure, I would get a new drive.
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If it hasn't been opened up, then its unlikely the cable. I thought maybe you were working on the computer.

    I would NOT recommend a novice to open up the laptop and start checking things.

    Odds are, the issue is a bad hard drive
  9. flyingtoaster3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2015
    I've resolved the issue now! I am leaving the country tomorrow morning so I kind of just had to break down and let some professionals handle it. Took it to a reputable, local joint and they discovered it was indeed the hard drive cable.

    I appreciate all the help everyone! Sorry I wasn't able to figure that one out on my own, but these forums helped me narrow it down pretty specifically for them.

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