Help! I think my PowerBook's hard drive is about to die!

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 20, 2005
2,548
2
New Jersey
First off, the specs are in my sig. Second off, this all started when I went to quit iPhoto and I got the beachball effect for a few minutes or so. Safari then wouldn't even load (more beachball) and then OS X's Menu Bar gave me the same thing when I rolled my mouse pointer over it. So I do a hard restart...

The left side of my PowerBook (aka where the hard drive is) is making a weird noise. It sounds like the drive is accessing data, but rubbing against something at the same time. It just sounds like that, so I don't know what the deal is. Anyway, I sit at boot-up screen with the Apple logo and spinning dial for a while (probably around 10 minutes or so). I restart again... same thing. I restart for the third time and finally make it to my login window. I get the beachball effect for a few minutes again. It finally goes away, so I click on my name to enter my password. It begins to hang again and that's where it is now. It's been at the login screen for probably at least 10 minutes now.

It definitely sounds like my hard drive is going. :( Besides backing some things up real quick (if I ever get into OS X), is there anything else you suggest I do? Please help... it's my only Mac and it's really beginning to scare me. I can't have this thing die on me.

Thanks so much!

Edit: By the way, I've had this thing for about 1.5 years if that helps. And no, it is not under warranty. :(
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 20, 2005
2,548
2
New Jersey
Update!!!

After waiting for a little while, I decided to give it another go. It successfully booted! :eek: One problem, however... I ran Disk Utility and did the 'Verify Disk' task and received the following report:

Checking HFS Plus volume.
Checking Extents Overflow file.
Checking Catalog file.
Checking multi-linked files.
Checking Catalog hierarchy.
%)
Checking Extended Attributes file.
Checking volume bitmap.
Checking volume information.
Volume Header needs minor repair
The volume needs to be repaired.

Error: The underlying task reported failure on exit


1 HFS volume checked
Volume needs repair

I would repair the volume, but that option is grayed out for me. It isn't grayed out on my iPod's and external USB 2.0 drive. Any ideas?

Thanks!
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,199
6
Adelaide, Australia
The greyed out repair button is normal because you can't repair the disk you've booted from. To get around this, either boot from the OSX discs and use the bundled Disk Utility to repair your disk, or alternatively run fsck. Unless you find the fsck process particularly intimidating (it's easier than it looks), then I'd go down this second route. :)
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 20, 2005
2,548
2
New Jersey
I ran Disk Utility in startup mode. It could only repair one fix of the two errors, but everything seems much better now. I've already rebooted successfully a couple times, so it seems to be fine. I still don't understand what noise I was hearing, though. It sounds more like a hardware issue rather than software, correct? More importantly, I've backed up the files that mean the most to me, so if something does happen I'll be covered.

So any ideas on what the noise could have been? Thanks again!
 

indigoflowAS

macrumors 6502
Oct 31, 2005
268
0
Columbus, OH
my old powerbook had the same exact symptoms...and I performed similar emergency procedures. It did correct itself...only to hear the noise return some days later. It's quite scary when it takes ages for OSX to boot like that. I ended up using SuperDuper to copy my HD and ran my powerbook off an external drive until I picked up another 2.5in drive. If it doesnt return, you are good to go...but it may rear its head again sometime...if it's anything like my problem.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,199
6
Adelaide, Australia
If it only repairs one of the errors then try running it again. Sometimes these things need to be done multiple times.

I'm glad it's all seeming good now though, irrespective. :)
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 20, 2005
2,548
2
New Jersey
It got really bad... like to the point my Mac wouldn't even boot. It would sit the white screen without the Apple logo for minutes upon minutes. I finally did a clean install of Tiger and everything seems much better now; and fast too! There is one major problem, though... I just checked out Disk Utility and I saw something I've never seen before. My S.M.A.R.T. status is Failing. :( Very sad sight indeed... so I was checked out NewEgg's prices on notebook drivers. A 100 GB 7200 RPM drive would cost me around $160 without shipping. I already have a few hundred saved towards a Mac mini so I think I'm just going to spring for one of those. Then after that purchase is complete, I'll replace my PowerBook's drive. I'm not looking very forward to running Photoshop CS under Rosetta, but it needs to be done. I should have the notebook drive afterwards in no time, however.

Okay, now I'm rambling... I just thought I'd share the news. Thanks for the help, everyone!
 
p0intblank said:
I ran Disk Utility in startup mode. It could only repair one fix of the two errors, but everything seems much better now. I've already rebooted successfully a couple times, so it seems to be fine. I still don't understand what noise I was hearing, though. It sounds more like a hardware issue rather than software, correct? More importantly, I've backed up the files that mean the most to me, so if something does happen I'll be covered.

So any ideas on what the noise could have been? Thanks again!

get diskwarrior!!!
 

jcboude

macrumors newbie
May 13, 2006
1
0
When you select your disk in the Disk Utility or in the System Profiler, you should hopefully see something like:
S.M.A.R.T. Status : Verified
My hard disk failed a couple of months ago with exactly the same symptoms. It started to be painfully slow to do anything, then I couldn't boot up at all. I went to the office, started the computer and everything was fine again.
I ran Disk Utility, and I had a couple of errors I could't fix.
However, in the Disk Utility I could see:
S.M.A.R.T. Status : Failing
The next day, the thing was completely dead.
Check the SMART status of the hard disk (it is a self-assessment made by the hard-disk itself). If it fails, backup everything and get yourself a new disk.
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 20, 2005
2,548
2
New Jersey
My S.M.A.R.T. status is definitely Failing; I just checked it again. :( I already have everything backed up on my external USB 2.0 drive. I just hope I get a few more days out of this drive... I'll hopefully be getting my Mac mini soon, so here's to hoping!

By the way, no matter what happens I'll defiitely be replacing this drive. Going from 4200 RPM to 7200 RPM shall be quite a treat. :)
 

disconap

macrumors 68000
Oct 29, 2005
1,800
2
Portland, OR
Back up IMMEDIATELY. It's probably a "5" error, which means that your drive is out of replacement space (sectors reserved for information transferred from bad blocks). You can google around and find some utilities that will read the SMART figures if you're interested, but essentially your drive is now a paperweight. (edit: this doesn't mean it definitely will fail immediately, but it is pretty likely to fail at some point in the very near future)

On the plus side, you can get a USB2.0 case for it for about $10 on ebay and make it a media drive. I have my ibook's old drive working as that. Just NEVER save anything to it you're not willing to lose; I copy media files onto it to take home and watch, so it's not a big deal if it fails...