Well My MacBook Pro is Dead

Me and My Mac

Just dropped my MacBook Pro off at the Emeryville Apple store. I went by SF yesterday and they couldn’t get it to reboot. It just goes through a black screen with a bunch of white letters and never boots. The tech at the Apple store thought it was the hard drive. Said that they’d probably need to swap out the hard drive and replace it. The MacBook is still under warranty for another month or so, so I guess the timing wasn’t so bad.

I bought something called Disk Warrior for $110 to try and salvage what I could from the Mac’s hard drive. Disk Warrior boots by CD and then I was able to connect a USB external Seagate to the MacBook and copy some of my photos over. I only ever keep 4 or 5 days of unprocessed photos on my MacBook, so I may lose some of those — that I couldn’t recover. I also had 1,000 or so finished but unpublished JPGs for upload to Zooomr. I still have my original RAW files of these images to recreate, but I’m not sure which ones I lost and which ones I didn’t so effectively I may lose some there too. If it’s a really great shot though I can probably go back through my RAW archives (backed up on my Drobo) and reprocess those shots.

I’m most bummed though about the shots I had on there from our Photowalk Friday night. We went down to the train tracks in Oakland to shoot graffiti after watching the movie Piece by Piece at the Oakland Museum of California and I was pretty happy with some of the graffiti and train shots I got. We’ll see what I’m still able to salvage from that shoot when I get my MacBook back.

The tech in Emeryville said that they are going to look at my Mac and get back with me in the next 24 hours to reconfirm the diagnosis of the SF Apple store. He told me that Apple swaps out hard drives in the store, so hopefully it won’t be too long until I get my Mac back up and running.

Probably not as much blogging or photos from me until I get my MacBook back.

I still love Apple by the way and don’t fault them at all for this MacBook failure. Hard drives go out. It’s a fact of life. And for the 11 months that I’ve had the MacBook it’s been an amazing machine, the best computer I’ve ever owned with far fewer problems than I’ve ever had with my PCs.

I also got to see a pretty funny Apple commercial yesterday while waiting for the tech in SF. It was one of the I’m a Mac vs. I’m a PC commercials that I hadn’t seen before and had the Mac huge, round and bloated, as in shipped with a bunch of bloatware that PCs usually are. My brother just bought a Vista Media Center machine and was complaining about this very thing. The commercial was pretty funny.

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  1. chadvw says:

    I agree that apple doesn’t do the bloatware that the pc people do, but it rather pissed me off that when I bought my brand new macbook, over 10 gigs of the harddrive was filled with garageband sample tracks…..

    either way good luck, hope you didn’t loose many photos…and that reminds me that I need to do a backup soon….

  2. Karen says:

    Sorry to hear about your mac, Thomas. I’ll sure miss your shots going up at Zooomr.

  3. Anonymous says:


    A great program for getting a bad drive working again is a program I’ve used before called SprinRite from http://www.grc.com. It sells for $80 and if anything can savage a drive, SprintRite can. It only runs on a PC but if you can hook up the drive temporarily to a PC, it will do it’s magic (it doesn’t care about the file system on the driver since it works on the sector level).

    I’ve used it to recover two drives that wouldn’t boot in a PC and it worked well enough to allow me to boot up the system and transfer the files.


  4. Jeremy says:

    Sorry to hear that. Hard drive crashes really suck. Sounds like it will be a quick repair at least.

  5. Joost Schuur says:

    I use NetworkLocation from Centrix to trigger a ChronoSync job automatically that resyncs certain folders whenever I return to my home nework.

    If you just hadn’t gotten around to copying over those 4-5 days worth of images, you might want to look into that.

  6. Alberto says:


    Give SpinRite at http://www.grc.com/spinrite.htm a shot. It works great and took my butt out of the frying pan with an OLD HD packed with my mom’s data.

    It’s WELL WORTH the $80.00.

    I’m sure you would gladly pay much more than $80 to get your images back, so give you hosed HD a taste of SpinRite before calling it a day. You probably won’t be sorry.

  7. Dave Ward says:

    Remember when The Fonz would just whack the jukebox with his fist and it would come on? Yeah, well, try that.

    Seriously… ouch, sorry.

  8. JeffH says:

    Was wondering what type of backup software you use? I’m still using PC’s and use Acronis True Image to make a full drive image of all of my HD’s onto external USB drives. I run a full backup once a month and do incrementals weekly or more often if I work on a lot of photos or other data. All backups are automated. Sounds like you could benefit from setting your laptop up to do a full backup weekly and an incremental every night. My backup saved my butt at work last week. Our IT folks screwed my work PC up big time and I was able to restore the HD back to where it was before they wrecked it, from a full backup image I had made the night before.

  9. Henrik Paul says:

    As it happens, I work at a Apple retailer store (a Premium Reseller store, as it’s certified by Apple) in Finland, and I had a customer that had symptoms similar to yours (although it was a new iMac): Booting directly to single user mode. Especially, if your computer complains about not finding or unable to read some kind of file under /etc/ (can’t remember which one exactly) that’s an easy fix, that doesn’t cost you a penny (but takes an hour or two):

    Pop in your mac install disk 1, reboot your computer while keeping the C-key pressed, and keep it pressed until you are presented with the installer dialogue.

    Keep advancing, until you see a “Customize…” button, and choose “archive and install” (or something similar). After it has done the normal install routine, you should have a repaired Mac with everything intact.

    …But I give no guarantees, especially if your error messages differ.

  10. Brian Lewis says:

    I bet that the problems you had earlier this year with the MBP freezing up are linked to this failure.

  11. Steve Harris says:

    I don’t know why people worry about bloatware on new windows PCs, if you don’t want to use it don’t load it from the start menu and uninstall it if you really don’t want it.

    Use it or lose it.

    Bad luck on the hard disk by the way Thomas, hope you’re back up and running soon.

  12. Todd says:

    I think people complain about the bloatware because it takes a few hours to uninstall everything when you get that new Dell out of the box. Of course, naturally, it’s best just to reinstall, but the likes of DELL don’t even give you a OS disk anymore, so you further have to burn the i386 folder to a cd-rom, copy the drivers folder over, then reinstall the OS, then reinstall the specific drivers. It’s a minor pain-in-the-ass, but luckily only happens once. Is this a deal breaker? No. But it isn’t the best use of my time, either.

  13. Bryan Socha says:

    macs work great until they don’t work and then they are really broke.

  14. TranceMist says:

    Backups, backups, backups.

    Have a look at SuperDuper! which clones your hard drive to an external one and can do so incrementally.

    I use it (in conjunction with Aperture Vaults) to backup to an external 500GB disk. I have two, one at home and one off-site at the vault. I rotate them monthly.

    Sorry to hear about your MacBook, that sucks. But you should get used to backing up.