FANCY A CHALLENGE? Help me with my S.M.A.R.T failing, file vanishing HD

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Fauldzy, May 1, 2005.

  1. Fauldzy macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2004
    Dartford, Kent, UK
    First of all I would like to point out how much of a fool I have been. There done. Now I beg you please stick with me on this one. The following report is quite long winded, but, I have done this for a reason! I am hoping the more I give to go on, the more likely someone is to make sense of my problem.. or maybe not? You decide...

    I am a slightly foolish owner of a 14month old 15" alu 1.25 Powerbook running Panther 10.3.7.

    I have been having a S.M.A.R.T Failure on my HD for almost a month. Occasionally after long periods (4+ hours) I will start to hear the HD clicking consistently and nothing will respond, everything will lock up, resulting in me having to power down using the power button

    Usually if I give the PB a rest period to cool down it will be alright.

    I had another crash. This time, after the crash it froze on startup (after the white screen, on the next screen when the progress bar is 'checking disks, initialising the system' etc.) Had to power down once again using the power button.

    I then used Apple's disk utility on the restore CD and found errors ( Unfortunately I forgot to write these down!) i did this about four times and then the message said something along the lines of 'appears to be ok' and restarted my PB.

    Loaded up fine as usual but still very slow. I think at this point I noticed that my usb pro mouse was no longer working, although it was still on (red light) so had to result to using my trackpad.

    I then got to the user login screen and logged into my account. As I did this I received a dialogue box saying:

    "There is a problem that prevents you from logging in at this time. Please contact your systems administrator for help" pressed OK and the PB continued to load up my user area.

    This is when I noticed the Dock, desktop appearance change. None of my work files where in my user folder. However everything else within the HD folder remained in tact, inc non-standard apps in the apps folder (apps that I had installed myself) Accidently I opened something to do with bluetooth. This is where I was told

    "No hardware for Bluetooth found on this computer" (As you probably well know Bluetooth came as standard on the PB, so it is there!)

    At this point I decided to run repair permissions from the disk utility and i am assuming at this point, resulted in some type of error message once it had completed:

    Verify Permissions For "disk0s9"
    Determining correct file permissions
    We are using special permissions for the file or directory ./system/library/
    filesystems/cd9660.util. New permissions are 33261
    Directory is missing ./Users/Shared
    Permissions differ on ./private/var/log/install.log , should be -rw-r--r-- , they are -rw-r-----
    Permissions differ on ./private/var/log/wtmp , should be -rw-r--r-- , they are -rw-r-----
    The privileges have been verified or repaired on the selected volume
    Permissions verification complete

    Also I noticed something weird in the console:


    Mac OSX Version 10.3.7 (Build 7s215)
    2005-04-30 12:23:08 +0100
    2005-04-30 12:28:55.553 Disk Utility [3953] ***Assertion failure in
    -[NSMenuItem initWithTitle:action:keyEquivalent:] , Menus.subproj/
    2005-04-30 12:28:55.553 Disk Utility[3953] Exception raised during posting
    of notification.Ignored.exception Invalid parameter not satisfying:
    aString !=nil

    By the way when I say start up is slow: it takes about 3minutes to load from powerup to desktop fully loaded.

    It takes roughly 20seconds from pressing the power button to receive the white screen.
    The white screen with Apple logo in the centre appears for 1 minute
    for 10 seconds there is just a blank blue screen.
    then the 'checking disks' box appears for 20 seconds
    From the log on screen to the desktop fully loaded takes another minute.

    From what I can gather in Disk Utility, around 30gig of my HD is used. That means that my files have to be still there, somewhere? I guess they might not be retrievable though?

    btw way.. did I not mention 'no backups made' , Hence what a fool I am! In my defence, just before the crash, I was looking on ebay for and external backup HD!.

    Oh what a mess. Please, anyone, if you can make sense of any of this... HELP ME!

    Kind regards - Chris.
  2. andrewfee macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2004
    S.M.A.R.T. is "Self-Monitoring Analysis Reporting Technology"

    Basically, it warns you in advance of a hard drive failure. As soon as you see it, you should back up everything on the drive, and you may as well stop using it, as it could die at any time. Not much help in your case I'm afraid, as it sounds like it's too late.

    You're going to need a new hard drive in your Powerbook, and unless you have AppleCare, it could be very expensive. (take it to a local computer shop instead of Apple - they'll probably be a lot less to fit a new drive)

    There are different kinds of recovery that can be done on a drive; if it's working, and files are deleted accidentally, you should be able to recover them yourself pretty easily via software, if not (which is the case here) the drive will need a lot more than this (possibly being rebuilt) and while it will be costly, your only option other than accepting that the data is gone would be to send it into a specialised data recovery company who may have to rebuild the drive.

    Oh, and never buy a second-hand hard drive, especially one to be used for backup purposes.
  3. Fauldzy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2004
    Dartford, Kent, UK
    Thanks for the swfit reply. Well I knew that much in that the SMART failure meant that the HD was on its way out.. its just, well I was hoping there maybe a slight glimmer of hope that someone might know if I can recover my user area where all the files are. Surely they cant jus vanish?!

    Does my above problem really appear to be beyond repair? I know and understand data recovery is an option, an expensive one at that! Which is why I would prefer to try to resolve the problem myself first, maybe with a little help!

    ..oh yeh totally agree with the second hand HD comment. Do not worry, I was searching on ebay for a brand new, unused backup HD :)
  4. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Apr 26, 2002
    Having had to use DriveSavers on a few occasions long ago, I can tell you that "clicking" is BAD. That usually means that the arm is contacting the HD surface, and no recovery is possible. Now when I hear it I toss the drive, and use my anal-retentive, freakozoic backup strategy to rebuild on the new drive.
  5. nate13 macrumors 6502


    Feb 16, 2004
    Fargo, ND
    no harddrive?

    The above comment about not buyin a HD... buy external! that is the way to back up (at least for me, w/ 100s GB of video constantly edited). I also my have misunderstood you, buying an internal backup, which i have no knowlage of whatsoever ;). ne who, good luck on your problem, I had a similar experience w/ a iBook, not a good time.
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Your first order of business is to see if you can recover your files.
    To that end STOP trying to boot from your hard drive - you are only making it worse.
    You need to
    1) Get another, new, 2.5" IDE hard drive (PS: eBay is not a good choice - you have no idea what you are really getting. A dealer should be able to provide a Seagate Momentus 5400 RPM 80 GB with a 5 year warranty for about US$160)
    2) Get an external 2.5" drive enclosure (Firewire would be best, USB 2.0 if you have to)
    3) Remove the internal hard drive and install the new hard drive (not too hard, you will need 2 very small Torx bit screwdrivers, #10 and #8 I think.)
    4) Reinstall your OS from the Apple CDs onto the new drive. You now have a functional Powerbook.
    5) Install the old dead drive into the external case and see if it mounts when attached to the PB. If you can see files, copy them to the new drive immediately, starting with your user folder. DO NOT replace your existing system and user files with these ones, instead create a folder on your new drive like "Recovered Data" and put the copied files in there.
    6) If you can't see files, get Data Rescue X from Prosoft and see if it can recover files
    7) After recovering what you can, you can try running Repair from Disk Utility, or DiskWarrior 3 from Alsoft. These may or may not improve the situation.

    > Les: Repeated clicking is more usually the drive heads slamming against the stops at the extreme end of their travel (which is still A Bad Thing TM). Head impacting platter surface sounds more like a bandsaw.

    > Nate: It's a Powerbook, so there is no question of installing an internal "backup" drive.

    Once this is all over, consider getting an external Firewire drive as a backuo for your Powerbook.
  7. cal6n macrumors 68000


    Jul 25, 2004
    Gloucester, UK
    You might be able to retrieve your data using an external USB2 or firewire casing for your old drive. IIRC, they go for about 20 quid on ebay. At the moment, everytime you try to access it, you're doing more damamge so just bite the bullet and replace it.

    I assume you've no applecare. If you're technically minded, it's pretty a straightforward procedure to change the drive. (I upgraded my own 1 GHz machine to a faster drive the day I bought it.) Just make sure you get a service manual from here:

    If you're not technically minded, then leave it to the professionals like Cancom. (not PC World!) :)

    At the moment, they might even be able to save your data but, if you keep trying to boot from it, that time will pass.

    Good luck

    *edit* I get my laptop drives here:
  8. Fauldzy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2004
    Dartford, Kent, UK
    Hello all!

    Glad to say this disaster finished with a happy ending! All my important files are now saved!

    A friend of my girlfriend discovered upon using 'search everywhere' (for the files I feared were gone) the results showed that they were infact in a folder called 'lost+found'. I myself never thought to try this simple method doh! I can only imagine that when I repaired my disk using the utility on the restore CD that it recovered and moved files to another, safe place! This must also explain why most my hardware was no longer being recognised or working as the drivers where no longer where they should be.

    I do not know, this is only my theory. Anyone else is welcome to shed some light on this strange phenomenon.

    Problem solved via two Seagate momentus HD's. I did a DIY replacement on my PB. Honestly it was so, so easy!! My main advice for anyone wishing to do PB repairs. READ MANUALS + TAKE YOUR TIME! Research and read a couple of different examples before you attempt to take apart. There are plenty of free detailed online manuals availible, just google.

    So with my old HD out I used an external HD enclosure to connect it to my newly installed seagate HD and just transfered the files straight over, simple! I am now looking to use the second Seagate as a permanent backup HD to sit next to my PB at all times!

    One word of advice here: Do not buy el cheapo USB enclosures for your ext HD's. Infact dont bother attempting to rely on using the USB bus to power an external drive! I found with my PB there is not enough bus power supplied. I bought an excellent ext firewire drive from:

    Brillant price, easy to install, no drivers necessary. This was supplied with the FW 400 lead, an optional USB 2.0 / 1.1 lead and a power adaptor. Although you do not require further power as there is an adequate amount supplied though the FW.

    Well I certainly learned the hard way, but I also learned a lot more about my PB!

    Thanks so much for all of your help and suggestions - Kind regards, Chris

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