Options for knocking, unrecognized HDD in PBG4?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jesspark, May 9, 2009.

  1. jesspark macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    #1
    Hi there!

    A little over a year ago, my poor aluminum 15" PowerBook G4 died. I was reading a webpage, the color wheel came up and wouldn't go away, I restarted the computer, and the dreaded Happy Mac/question mark flashed on my screen accompanied by a knocking sound coming from the hard drive. By some miracle of technology, I was able to get the PowerBook to boot up by placing it on its side (which caused the knocking to cease), but it kept running slower and slower as I frantically tried to transfer my files to my external hard drive, and eventually I had to power it down. It hasn't successfully booted up since.

    I replaced it with the MacBook I'm currently typing on, but I really miss my PowerBook, and lately I've been playing around with the idea of installing a new hard drive, something that I've never done before. Following the instructions on ifixit.com, I removed the old hard drive, and now I'm wondering if there's any way to recover the data (short of paying out the nose for a data recovery service; while there are some things I'd really like to get back, I managed to save most of my photos and other important files). I've given the drive up as lost with the possibility of recovering any files viewed as nothing but a wonderful bonus, so I'm open to trying pretty much anything.

    For instance, I'm currently giving the ol' "freeze the hard drive" trick a shot. I bagged the drive today and shoved it in the freezer for about four hours, but, even though that initially decreased the knocking sound when I hooked the drive back up to the PowerBook, I'm still getting the blinking Happy Mac/question mark folder o' death upon startup. I've tried booting from the PowerBook install CD, but it doesn't even recognize the hard drive (nor does the drive show up if I hold down "option" while powering up, for that matter), so there's no way to try repairing it. I'm also thinking of getting a FireWire cable (if they're cheap; I haven't looked yet at what I'd need), booting up the PowerBook in Target Disk Mode, and hooking up my PowerBook to my MacBook in the hopes that it can see the hard drive.

    I guess what I'm asking is... what else can I do? If the PowerBook doesn't recognize the hard drive even when the hard drive isn't making that cringe-inducing knocking sound, does that mean it's toast? I don't know very much about computers and I'd really appreciate any advice.

    Lastly, once I save up a little cash, would this be a good replacement hard drive for my PowerBook? I don't need a lot of space, and this is about as cheap as I could find. Since we're a little strapped for cash right now, I don't want to spend a lot of money on a hard drive, especially if there's a possibility that there's something wrong with the PowerBook itself that's caused the original hard drive to fry.

    Thanks in advance for your help and your time!
     
  2. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #2
    Putting the hard drive in the freezer has worked for me many times. I even had to run the hdd inside the freezer to recover the data, obviously it was enclosed in bags and tightly secured.

    I have also had to sit there for hours, slightly tapping the side of the drive to make sure the tapping doesn't start

    If you replaced the HDD in the powerbook, boot off the hdd in the powerbook and then plug in the drive in a external caddy if you have one. Just drag and drop.
     
  3. jesspark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    #3
    Thanks, toolbox! :) I don't have a spare external caddy/enclosure, but I may wind up buying one. Even if it didn't end up helping in this situation, it'd be a good thing to have around.

    I feel really silly for asking this, but, again, I know next to nothing about how a computer is set up and this is my first failed hard drive, so please bear with me: in order to leave the hard drive in the freezer while attempting to boot it up, could I just buy a really long hard drive cable? Although there's occasionally some knocking as soon as I take the drive out of the freezer and try to boot up the PowerBook, there's significantly less while it's still chilled compared to when it warms up, and I'd happily run it while in the freezer if that's what it takes to get it to work.

    Also, when you mentioned that tapping the side of the hard drive prevented knocking or other noises, is this something that you discovered through trial and error on a specific drive, or is it a common temporary fix for failing drives? If it's the latter, does it make a difference where you tap?
     
  4. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #4
    If your going to run it in the freezer then you will need to place it in a external caddy and you might have to get a longer cable.

    Just make sure that the drive is enclosed in something that will prevent it from getting any moisture on it.

    Yes it was trial and error basis tapping the drive. But do it gently.
     
  5. jesspark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    #5
    Thank you! I'm going to see if leaving the drive in the freezer overnight does anything to help (I haven't left it in there for more than a couple of hours so far); in the meantime, I'm going to look up external caddies. :)
     
  6. tm.chen macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    #6
    Have fun opening up your PBG4. Make sure you are gentle with the upper casing and change the screws if the condiiton of the screw is not good. It happened for mine when I tried to open the PB again and I had to pry it out with a plier, leaving a badly scarred powerbook. :(
     
  7. jesspark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    #7
    Aww, poor PowerBook!

    I actually opened my PowerBook a couple of days ago. Surprisingly, I didn't have any trouble opening it up, other than having to buy a T6 Torx screwdriver for the hex screws. I missed the "Difficult" rating at the beginning of the ifixit.com guide and didn't know it was supposed to be somewhat challenging, I guess. =)

    Of course, that doesn't do me a bit of good, considering the hard drive still hasn't been working. :(

    Even after the hard drive was frozen overnight, the PowerBook won't recognize it. Oddly, the knocking has decreased from a constant sound to half a dozen knocks while booting up, and then it purrs like a kitten... but, even when it's silent, I'm still getting the flashing Happy Mac/question mark folder. Why would the knocking decrease from constant to only at the beginning of the booting-up process?
     
  8. toolbox macrumors 68020

    toolbox

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2007
    Location:
    Australia (WA)
    #8
    I was nervous when i pulled my powerbook to bits the first time.

    You no what i can't explain why freezing the drive may have caused the clicking to slow down. Maybe some in there is getting hot ?? Worst case if you can't get anything i would suggest you seek professional recovery
     
  9. jesspark thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 9, 2009
    #9
    Mine's been a very expensive paperweight for over a year, so I figure any use I get out of it is a bonus. =) I'd love to be able to use it again, but I've been without it for so long that I can't get too nervous about messing with it.

    As much as I'd love to pull files from the old hard drive, I couldn't justify paying for professional recovery -- hence the reason I'm trying whatever I can think of here at home. :)
     

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