Hard drive has problems - I'm confused what to do next

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by leep, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. leep macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #1
    So apparently the hard drive in my mid-2009 MacBook Pro is near death.

    I was having troubles with it the other night and after restarting it I received a kernel panic, basically "unable to find driver for this platform ACPI". You can see the full screen at http://i.imgur.com/DHFg9PUh.jpg

    I tried going into Recover mode and using Disk Utility to verify/repair to see what would happen. I forget exactly what happened when i first ran it, but now I get a message that it can't be repaired. Example screen here: http://i.imgur.com/O57e6NBh.jpg

    At one point when I booted into single user mode (or was it verbose mode?) I received "SATA warning: enable auto-activate failed". Usually running fsck doesn't have good results. Here's the screen from the last time I did that in single user mode: http://i.imgur.com/C6S2gCph.jpg

    When I try to boot into Safe mode it eventually gets about 1/5 of the way through the progress bar and then shuts down.

    This drive is about 6 years old and has been used a lot (and didn't have lots of space on it left, I know..) so I'm not surprised it's having troubles.

    I'm confused though what I my next steps should be.

    - Would something like Disk Warrior conceivably be able to repair any corruption or other issues?
    - Am I able to use the Reinstall OS X feature in the Utilities section of Recovery to install a new copy of Mavericks? Would that just be a waste of time even if I can do that?
    - I don't have access to other macs and only have the original 10.6 install DVD. Would I need to install 10.6, update to 10.6.8 and then re-download Mavericks (or higher)?
    - I realize the current contents on the drive may be toast. I have a time machine backup from a few months ago.
    - I currently have no bootable external drive/device.
    - I was going to ask if there are any files I can modify while in single-user mode that may help, but when I try to mount the drive I get errors: http://i.imgur.com/U2QIhPul.jpg
    - Ideally I'll replace this dead-ish drive with a ssd, although I'm still wrapping my head around exactly what kind I need. (i.e. do most ship with the spacer? How do I format it once installed and put on the OS as I think I can't use internet Recovery? Would something like the crucial MX200 500GB 2.5" ssd work in this machine? I have the screwdriver for the back screws and also a T6 for the drive.)

    Specifically, it's a MBP 13.3" 2.53Ghz, 8GB ram, 250 GB HD - MB991LL/A

    thanks. sad face.
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    Disk Warrior might be able to help you recover important data if that is your goal, but I suspect that drive is dead and no software package is going to fix it. Do not waste your time trying to reinstall the OS on that drive... it is a goner.

    What OS version was the Time Machine backup made with? Was it Mavericks? If so, you are in luck, since we can use that to restore to a new drive.

    So install your new drive (HDD or SSD either one) first. You do not need any spacers or anything. Just follow the iFixit directions for your model.

    Then once the drive is installed, attach the Time Machine disk and hold the option key when booting and choose the TM as the boot source. That will get you to a recovery screen where you can use Disk Utility to format the new drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then quit Disk Utility and click restore. That will put the OS and all your apps and data back on the SSD in whatever state things were in when you last backed up. Data you had since then will be gone of course.

    Once the restore is done you can shutdown and disconnect the Time Machine disk. Then startup and login to your account on the SSD. Then go to System Preferences and in the Startup Disk pane set the SSD as the boot drive. That should do it.
     
  3. leep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #3
    Well so far it's not going smoothly...

    I installed the SSD drive inside the MPB. I attached the drive with Time Machine backups via USB, rebooted via Option, and selected that drive. However, I only get the folder with a question mark on it. So I'm guessing I can't use TM as a boot source? (Yes, the recent backsups were done with Mavericks.) Is this an indication that I'm going to have problems restoring any data via this TM disk?

    In any case...

    I then booted from my original 10.6 install disk. Went into Disk Utility to try to format the SSD that way. However, I receive a "Disk Erase failed" message with "POSIX reports: The operation couldn't be completed. Cannot allocate memory." I basically encountered the same problem via Terminal. You can see both attempts here:

    Http://I.imgur.com/zp1rTwAh.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/hUQ5gfth.jpg

    In doing a little poking around online I see some mentions that apparently the version of Disk Utility on the 10.6 install dvd may have a bug that causes the above error. There are other people who state that they needed to replace the hard drive ribbon cable inside. My cable "looks ok" and I confirmed that the cable is securely attached to the new ssd. Are there any other reasons for this error message?

    It sounds like at this point I may need to buy an SATA-USB cable, remove the SSD from the MPB, attach it externally via the cable, put back in my old hard drive, and hope that I can successfully use Recovery disk utility to format the ssd (and then put it back inside).

    Assuming that goes ok now I'm worried that I won't be able to restore from a backup. If I understand correctly then I'd have to install 10.6, update to 10.6.8, download mavericks again, and hope that I can either restore a backup or migrate data?

    thanks!
     
  4. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #4
    A bad drive cable can cause these symptoms and it does seem like a lot if them are starting as these machines age a bit. You might try getting a cheap USB enclosure and out the old drive in there and see if it works.
     
  5. leep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #5
    What is the difference between a USB enclosure that doesn't have a separate power source and a SATA-USB cable? I'm getting all confused. I had planned on picking up a SATA-USB cable today to see if I could format the SSD with it (after removing it from MBP, etc). Couldn't I use that same cable to test my old original hard drive? Of there some simple difference that i'm not getting?!
     
  6. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #6
    Same thing, just that their is no enclosure of course with the sata-usb cable... but they work the same.
     
  7. leep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #7
    While my journey isn't over, here's an (encouraging) update...

    - Got a SATA-USB adapter/cable, plugged old drive into it, booted from its Recovery partition, and tried to format the new (ssd) drive that is inside MPB. Unfortnately, I received an error: "Disk Erase failed with the error: Wiping volume data to prevent future accidental probing failed." (screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/ZKI9uZ8h.jpg ). The good thing is that from poking around the web it seems this error may also be a result of a bad drive ribbon cable.

    - I then tried to reboot from my "dead-ish" partition on my old drive. It booted successfully! Obviously everything was a bit slow due to usb connection, but things worked. Holy moly. I had proof that my data may be okay.

    - Earlier today I checked with my nearest apple authorized service provider to see if they happened to have the replacement drive ribbon cable but they didn't. I had to order one online and in a few days I'll try to install it and see if that fixes all my troubles.

    - After reading some pages and watching some videos I also decided to try a quick fix. I put my original hard drive back inside. But I also applied some electrical tape to portions of the ribbon cable (mainly where it touches the casing as the theory is that over time a worn cable is touching it and then not working correctly). And then I restarted the mac and it successfully booted! However, I did start receiving a bunch of beach balls and slowness galore (which reminded me of what I saw before my original "crash"). I shut it off and will leave it alone until I'm able to replace the cable.
     
  8. CoastalOR macrumors 68000

    CoastalOR

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2015
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #8
    In case you have not checked ifixit, here is a link to a step-by-step instructions for replacing the hard drive cable:
    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2009+Hard+Drive+Cable+Replacement/1340
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #9
    Yeah... from what you have described here, it is definitely the internal cable. I would not use it any more on that cable as it may corrupt the data on the hard drive.
     
  10. leep thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    #10
    Update (short version): Putting a new hard drive ribbon cable inside fixed the problem!

    Longer version:

    - Received a new cable and carefully installed it. The hardest part was connecting the IR sensor part to the existing bracket. The internets is littered with comments from people frustrated by this step, which involves putting a tiny orange ribbon into a tiny clamp. It was as if I was working on a prop for a flea circus. Many of the videos and walkthroughs online gloss over this step. If one doesn't have patience for this type of stuff I'd recommend they spend $20 or so more for the cable replacement that also includes the ir sensor bracket.

    - Put in the old HD, booted up, and everything seemed mostly "normal". Woo. I did a Time Machine backup and then did some light use.

    - Using the SATA-USB cable I had gotten earlier, I finally successfully formatted the Crucial MX200 500GB SSD drive I also got last week ($159.99 via Amazon Prime Now, fwiw). I then cloned my 250GB HD to the SSD while I slept (took around 4 hours I think).

    - In the morning I successfully booted from the SSD (still external) and then soon thereafter I put it into my MPB. It booted! And, as somewhat expected, everything seemed snappier. Well, at least opening folders in the finder, etc. It's a cliche, but it's almost like a new machine.

    - I installed a fan app to see the changes in the fan rpm because I wasn't sure it was working correctly. With my old drive everything would get loud-ish at times, which I thought was 100% the fan, but now I'm thinking it possibly was also partially the drive(?). It was an old drive, I didn't have nearly enough free space on it, the cable apparently was starting to go bad, etc. In any case, after several days I have yet to hear the louder sounds I was hearing previously.

    During this whole drive/cable issue my MacBook Pro celebrated it's 6th birthday (I bought it on a Black Friday deal in 2009). While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of newer models, I have to say it's working pretty great for its age. Installing Mavericks two years ago definitely made it annoying slower in certain tasks, but this SSD has given it a little more life. At this point I don't think I will be putting El Capitan on it.

    Now I'm inspired to get some decent replacement legs...
     

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