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October 22, 2003

PowerBook Dies (Hard Drive Failure)

Was in the middle of work this afternoon when my Macintosh 12" PowerBook got hosed. The disk started clicking wildly and most applications froze up. The dock stopped working and Apple-Option-Esc would not produce the application manager.

I attempted reboot, the hard drive was going wild and the machine would sit at a blank screen for minute after minute while the hard drive seemed to flounder.

I booted from the install/restore DVD, which came up fine but both the disk utility and the install utility couldn't find the hard drive. I then booted from the "Apple Hardware Test" cd (which took 15+ minutes) and ran the available tests. The tool checked a number of items, one of which was "Mass Storage" which checked out OK, not sure exactly what that meant, so I rebooted one more time before calling Apple to confirm that the hard drive wasn't working.

My call to Apple was fairly straightforward with one dissapointment. In order to use my One Year Limited Warrantee I was required to put up $49, in case the problem wasn't hardware. I guess since I'm not on the extended warrantee plan, the phone conversation to determine if it's a hardware problem is not covered. My question to the Apple representative:

What's the point of a warranty if you have to pay to figure out if you can use the warrantee?
Seem like the problem "discovery" should be a part of the warantee.

I was 99% sure it was my hard drive failing so I coughed up the CC to get the process moving. The Apple person went through several steps:

  1. Boot up the computer with option pressed to get into some startup mode, insert the CD

  2. Click on CD to boot

  3. Once machine has booted into installer open up Disk Utility and see if hard drive is in drive list (it wasn't)

  4. Shut down machine

  5. Remove battery and power supply

  6. Reset the Power Management Unit by pressing Shift-Control-Option-power for 5 seconds

  7. Put battery and power supply back

  8. Reset pram and nvram by pressing Command-Option-P-R keys while powering on, let the machine chime four times and then release keys and hold C to boot from DVD

  9. Once the machine is up check the Disk Utility for hard drive, still not there

  10. Process ticket for return of machine for replacement of hard drive

I put up another $50 for data transfer in the case they can save my data on the hard drive.

So if you're having to call Apple because you think your hard drive is failing, run through the above steps for some extra assurance that you've got it right.

One lingering question . . . what happens to all my iTunes purchased music? I'm hoping when I sync my iPod up with the new hard drive that the music will go down to the machine . . . I'm going to be ticked if the handful of albums I've purchased are gone (or require some series of phone calls).

Oh, and Apple Repair Center . . . please put Panther on the PowerBook while you've got it. Thanks.

Posted by mike at October 22, 2003 5:46 PM