Mac Pro having HDD trouble

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by nerdynerdynerdy, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. nerdynerdynerdy macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Hi everyone,

    I have a relatively new Mac Pro which hasn't seen much use but started exhibiting hard drive problems. The first symptom was that the system randomly would become extremely slow. I was encoding some video for iPod with qt pro, and my girlfriend's base macbook was doing it faster.

    I suspected hd trouble, so I ran Disk Utility which showed problems it couldn't fix. So I booted from the Install Disk and ran Disk Utility. This somehow broke something, and when I restarted, my HDD icon had disappeared. I couldn't get a finder window up, couldn't use spotlight etc, but oddly applications on the dock would start and I could use Safari. But anything that involved saving or loading or even looking for files did nothing.

    Spent a bit of time on the phone with Applecare, and ended up doing a complete reinstall. Now my HDD is back and seems to be working, however one small issue is that when installing applications, the install program takes forever to identify that there's a drive to install to. Disk Utility takes a while to recognise it's there too, but then checks it out fine.

    What do we reckon is going on?
  2. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    My guess is that the disk is in the process of failing. I've only had one experience with a failing hard drive, but the symptoms were similar. In my case, the problem started weeks before the drive actually failed: whenever I selected the text field of an iChat window, I would get 30 seconds of beach ball hanging. Later on, I would get beach balls and lag for no apparent reason, then one day the system pretty much locked up: I could move the mouse around but pretty much nothing would work. Disk Utility found some 'minor' errors and 'fixed' the drive... but just long enough for me to backup before the disk bit the dust later in the day.

    So my advice is to back up data *immediately* if you haven't already. Just because things seem OK now doesn't mean that the problems are gone. The fact that Disk Utility and installers have a hard time finding the disk make it all the more likely that the drive is teetering on the edge of failure. If, as you say, you have AppleCare and the drive came with the Mac, Apple should repair this free of charge. If not, generic SATA drives are pretty cheap, and at least with a Mac Pro the repair process is fairly simple (the drive I had fail was in a 12" PowerBook, which is a little tricker to take apart). Good luck and let us know if anything else comes up!
  3. nerdynerdynerdy thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2007
    Thanks for the quick reply. Applecare did actually offer to send me out a new hard drive straight away, which I thought was nice, but I've never attempted to open a computer up and do a swap myself. Would this be difficult? Would I need tools?

    Also, are there any other issues that might be more hardware related that could cause this? As I say, the computer has seen very little use (had it four months), and it hasn't been moved or dropped or anything, so it seems odd that the HDD would already die.

    I really don't fancy the idea of getting everything set up and have to constantly re install the os. I'm also running 10.4 so I don't have the convenience of time machine.

    Anyway, I'll call Applecare again tonight and see what they have to say.
  4. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    I'm pretty sure it's the hard drive, especially since Disk Utility already said it had problems before. Problems of that nature rarely go away by reinstalling the OS. It's actually not surprising that the hard drive died this early. Most hard drives either fail pretty quickly or last a long time. The drive manufacturers can't guarantee 100% against defects, so the few that do get problems usually bite the dust pretty quickly. But that's what warranties are for, after all :D.

    I would take Apple up on their offer to send you a drive. They will send you directions on how to replace it (they're also available on Apple's website). The Mac Pro has a pretty elegant design for storage... there are little caddies that let you slide the drives in and out, so you don't actually have to hook up the cables yourself. Even if you haven't replaced a hard drive before, it should be a piece of cake :).
  5. chipchen macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2002
    Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be the hard drive failing. It could be that the system or directory is corrupted. This can also cause the types of problems you're talking about. And while Disk Utility is good, it's not great. There's a program out there called DiskWarrior. It's as close to magic is can be when it comes to hard drives and corrupted directories.

    But, there's still that chance that it's the hard drive failing... (one way to tell for sure is to listen to the hard drive, does it make any crazy sounds) and well, if Apple is going to send you one, then might as well take it. It's easy to install:

    1. Shut down, unplug the computer.
    2. You literally open the door on the right side by pull the latch in back first.
    3. Remember, latch must still be undone, pull drive one out. It might need a bit of force.
    4. Pop new drive in and boot up.
    5. Hopefully you've backed up the data you need and you can copy it over.

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