Wine + Laptop = No work
December 13, 2008 8:20 AM   Subscribe

How can I save my drunk macbook?

I had a few friends over last night and my MacBook was set up playing music in the living room, when suddenly my friend accidentally spilled wine all over the keyboard. The machine immediately shut down and now the next morning I am stilll unable to get it to start back up. Is there any chance of saving my machine? How likely is it that I'll at least be able to get my data off of it? Any advice you can give a worried Mac owner would be appreciated.
posted by fishmasta to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You shouldn't have turned it on so soon, so you may have issues there. Wine isn't super good, because as it dries, it's going to leave residue unlike water.

Right now you probably want to get the hard drive out of there (which is pretty easy on last-gen MacBooks: go here.. not sure about the unibody ones) and then let the machine dry out for several days.

If the hard drive didn't get wet, you most likely have a pretty good chance of getting information off of it. You could buy something like this to put the HDD into and connect that to another Mac. Keep in mind you want a 2.5 inch SATA enclosure, and not an IDE one.
posted by pete0r at 8:30 AM on December 13, 2008

spills are pretty bad. i was standing at our local apple authorized service center last month when a couple came in with their macbook, insisting that the wine didn't "spill" on the keyboard, it was more of "glance" or a "splash".

the answer is "it depends". your data is probably retrievable, but cleaning up spills is $$$. i believe the price quoted to the couple above started at $250, and that the machine had to go back to apple, where they would clean it up and get the machine back into condition.

i'd find a local place that would get your data off your machine, and then find out about getting a repair. even in warranty does not cover spills, and yes, they will know that you spilled something on it.

DO NOT keep trying to start it up. if you ever spill anything on anything electronic, the first thing you should do is rip the batteries out as quickly as possible or turn it off and don't touch it for at least 48 hours.
posted by micawber at 8:33 AM on December 13, 2008

London Drugs told me that my tea spill fried my logic board and would cost $1300 to replace. A couple days later, Apple Care told me to try hard rebooting (take the battery out, hold down the power button for fifteen seconds, put the battery back in, turn it on), and it turned on no problem. No damage done. Lesson being: give it time, and call Apple.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:50 AM on December 13, 2008

Let the fucker dry out. I mean really. Remove the battery. Unplug it. Hang it upside if you have to. Wipe it up. Let it sit in the sun or by a mild heat source. I had one Macbook die over a splash of Coke. I replaced it with another Macbook and splashed Coke on that one too (goddamnit I have to stop drinking coke in bed) but I let the second one rest for a long time and its still working to this day. This same advice applies to stereos by the way.
posted by phaedon at 8:58 AM on December 13, 2008

Just thought I'd take the chance to say that in the future an iSkin can help keep spills (and dust and grime) out of the computer.
posted by Dasein at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2008

You can also insert it (closed) into a bag of rice. The rice will help absorb any extra moisture. Might help, but give it a while.
posted by procrastination at 9:17 AM on December 13, 2008

Best answer: You can also insert it (closed) into a bag of rice. The rice will help absorb any extra moisture. Might help, but give it a while.

I also recommend using silica gel for this instead of rice - You can purchase huge containers of this at craft stores. People use it for drying flowers. Very useful for drowned cellphones, could maybe work on your poor MacBook as well.
posted by lizzicide at 11:00 AM on December 13, 2008

Remove the battery, turn it upside down, and let it dry out. I had a wine spill on my new macbook the other day and I did that overnight. It came on fine (though the keys stick a bit now).
posted by you zombitch at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2008

My PowerBook G4 recently survived a full glass of vodka directly into the keyboard while running. (And it was already five years old!)

Here's the checklist, but be warned: it may be too late already:

1. Turn it off immediately & unplug it immediately.
2. Tilt the machine so as much liquid as possible can flow out as possible. Set it on a towel in its tilted state while you set about making the rest of these preparations.
3. Store tilted MacBook in a warm, dry place with plenty of airflow. This may involve setting it a few feet from a fire and pointing a fan at it, for instance.
4. Wait around 72 hours. Even with heat and moving air, the innards are relatively well-shielded, and moisture is likely to linger for a long time.

After 72 hours I dared pressing the power button. There were problems, and it shut off randomly a couple of times, but I continued to use it and after another day or two it was completely fine, except the screen which was much brighter than before in some places. Over the course of several months, the screen developed a problem with getting very bright and whiting-out for several moments after it had been turned on or woken from a sleeping state. This may be unrelated, as the machine was quite old and had a few other minor problems with the screen already.

The important part is not to operate the machine while liquid could potentially be shorting a circuit. That leads to unpredictable behavior and possible damage, but that MacBook survived two previous water spills and all in all held up quite well for its years of service. They are well-made beyond any other machine I've bought from another vendor.

Good luck.
posted by MaxK at 5:01 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

There is a spill censor inside the macbook so even if you claim it didn't get spilled on, Apple will know. Let the thing dry for at least 2 days before trying to boot it up again. I spilled beer on mine, didn't think it got into the inside, and it kept working for like 30 minutes. It didn't boot back up so I punished it and had it sit in the corner for 2 days. 2 days later - worked like it always did.
posted by thebwit at 7:43 PM on December 13, 2008

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