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Old 04-03-2009, 06:40 AM   #1
iamback
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Default MacBook internal HD "disappeared"

I started up my MacBook this afternoon, planning to install a bunch of stuff to make it into a "real" development machine.

I immediately got message there were software updates, including a security update, which I thought was a good idea. Reality was a bit different.

I unchecked QuickTime and iTunes (neither of which I want anyway), and let it rip with the rest; when it got to the last step, installing the security update, it took ages... it showing "optimizing system performance" and basically never completed. Everything else I clicked got me a spinning beachball. In desperation, I closed the lid, hoping I'd shock it into waking up - the HD light remained on. I opened the lid again - no change. So I turned off the power: there was literally nothing else I could do!

Then I tried to reboot again, the disk light came on briefly and then went out. Start up sound ... then nothing for a long while ... then a blinking folder with a question mark inside instead of the grey apple. At that point I connected my external HD (which has a bootable clone, albeit an old one): its light came on immediately, there was disk activity ... and the machine booted from the clone. The three partitions of the external HD could be seen, the internal HD was nowhere. Disk Utility didn't show anything more, nor did /Volumes.

I also tried to boot from the install DVD - same result: no internal HD to be seen. It's as if it's dissolved into thin air.

Now what? I'm out of ideas.

   
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:33 AM   #2
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Sounds like you've badly mangled your directory. The "optimizing system performance" step is truly painful and can take upwards of an hour, IIRC, though Apple seems to have dispensed with this in the more recent versions of OSX (I used to see this with 10.3 or so, but I haven't seen it lately--which version of OSX are you running?). In any case, you have to be patient and let it run. As you've found out, doing otherwise is deadly. If this happened to me, I'd first try running Applejack, (freeware) which hopefully will fix this sort of damage. Make sure you read the directions carefully, and add "cross your fingers".

   
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:43 AM   #3
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In addition to what Howard suggests —

If you are lucky, you might fix this by resetting the System Management Controller, instructions here.

But I have a sick feeling about this, as it is a common problem. Big discussion on MacInTouch.

Also on Apple.com: Read this discussion. And this one.

   
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:53 AM   #4
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I'm running Tiger (10.4). There was absolutely no indication of any progress except the throbber which is of course nothing but an animated GIF and means nothing at all. The fact I got the "beach ball" on everything else suggested it was well and truly stuck - not actually doing anything.

   
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
In addition to what Howard suggests —

If you are lucky, you might fix this by resetting the System Management Controller, instructions here.

But I have a sick feeling about this, as it is a common problem. Big discussion on MacInTouch.

Also on Apple.com: Read this discussion. And this one.
I have a sick feeling too, but it's a gut feeling - I don't know this machine well enough yet to have a feel for what's recoverable, but I've had my share of HD failures nonetheless.

I'll investigate all suggestions after the weekend - I'm off to visit my parents - but it cheers me up to have at least a few more things to try... At least there's nothing really valuable on the HD, mostly it's some programs I installed. They can be reinstalled if needed.

Thanks both of you!

   
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:52 AM   #6
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Good luck. Is your MacBook still on warranty?

It has since occurred to me that the Applejack idea is unlikely to work, as it probably needs to be installed on the hard drive beforehand. By the look of those Apple forum posts, you may be shopping for a new hard drive. I just hope your machine is still on warranty.

   
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Good luck. Is your MacBook still on warranty?

It has since occurred to me that the Applejack idea is unlikely to work, as it probably needs to be installed on the hard drive beforehand. By the look of those Apple forum posts, you may be shopping for a new hard drive. I just hope your machine is still on warranty.
It's not still on warranty, though I haven't used the machine much - I had trouble deciding exactly how, and with what software, I wanted to use the machine. (Last Friday I finally had a plan and was ready to put it into practice...)

I've now read all these threads that seem indeed related to my problem, and had a think this weekend. Even if I can convince someone at Apple they should replace the drive for me, even if Dutch makes that possible, I foresee it would take a fight - and I just don't have much "spare" energy at the moment. And I may not succeed, at which point it would be wasted energy. If I go to Mac store and they offer to replace the drive for payment that's another bad option, because what they have in that store (I've been there) is priced much higher than market price - and if I decline to buy at that price, at that point I will just have wasted time.

So... given prices of hard drives these days, I think I'd be best off to 1) try the software solutions I haven't tried yet, and if they don't help, 2) just go and simply buy a new drive and put that in. That won't be a waste, I can always put it in an enclosure to use as an external drive. In fact, it might be possible to revive the current drive by putting it in an enclosure (small, but real chance from what I've read).

What do you guys/gals think? I didn't do anything about it today except think about it, but I'd like to hear your opinions as well.

   
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:02 AM   #8
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That is what I would do. Paying Apple prices for drives is silly, and it sounds as if you would strike a better bargain by preserving your time and energy.

And the drive may be fine, so not such a bad loss.

   
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Old 04-06-2009, 06:47 PM   #9
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Ditto. I would buy a new drive and--since the Macbook is off warranty--find out how to install it myself. From what I know of you, I suspect you're handy with a screwdriver Looks pretty easy; there are instructions here. (A few years ago I bought a second-hand LCD screen for my PowerBook from these guys, and followed their repair guide--worked like a charm. The LCD replacement was a lot more complex than this hard drive job.)

I sure wouldn't pay Apple prices for a hard drive. The external drive enclosure is a good idea, IMO.

   
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:08 AM   #10
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Ditto. I would buy a new drive and--since the Macbook is off warranty--find out how to install it myself. From what I know of you, I suspect you're handy with a screwdriver Looks pretty easy; there are instructions here.
A few years ago I even bought a small set of special electronics screwdrivers And the first HD I mounted was a SCSI drive - in 1991 (or so) - which was HARD because they initially gave me the wrong model. Thanks for that link though - those DIY guides are excellent. HD replacement looks like a doddle.

I just figured out I can get a 320G HD for EUR 55-60 (well, or more), and that's double the capacity of the original. Nothing local for that price though, so that will be internet, and added transportation (even then cheaper than buying a smaller drive in the local store). So I'm going for this Samsung Spinpoint (I have a few 3.5" Spinpoints already, they run cool and silent).

   
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