Broken Macbook
March 26, 2007 7:12 AM   Subscribe

BrokenMacbookFilter: This morning I started up my macbook and all that comes up is a gray screen. Midterms are this week.

I need to fix this as soon as possible as I have tons of work due this week. My macbook (black) starts up to the gray screen with the accompanying sound, but that's it. There is no icon showing that it is loading. On one of the many occasions that I tried to restart it (taking out batter, etc.) a folder with a question mark popped up everytime I pressed a button.

Also, I think I hear some continuous clicking when it's gray.

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posted by jne1813 to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
Also, I think I hear some continuous clicking when it's gray.

i don't like the sound of that... have you tried booting up from the OS X install disc?

If that boots up try running the disk utility.
posted by twistedonion at 7:17 AM on March 26, 2007

Your hard drive died, and there's a fair chance its contents are irretrievable without a very expensive data recovery service. That clicking? It's your hard drive failing to work.

If it's still under warranty, you can have Apple replace the part, but it takes a few days even if you bring it in to a store. You can do it yourself in an hour or so but you'll have to pony up for a new hard drive.

Either way, I hope you have backups.
posted by majick at 7:18 AM on March 26, 2007

Response by poster: So more information: All parts are stock. There is nothing in the disc drive. And there is nothing connected via USB.
posted by jne1813 at 7:27 AM on March 26, 2007

So more information: All parts are stock. There is nothing in the disc drive. And there is nothing connected via USB.

Put your install disc into the drive as it's starting up. If it doesn't find it then force a restart with the disc in and hold down C to boot into the install disc. If this works then you havea problem with the hard drive. Try running the disc utility (which should be a menu option I think) and see if you can repair the disc.

If that fails I'm afraid majick is spot on (as I'd suspect also but I have been able to recover "clicking" drives simply by running discwarrior).
posted by twistedonion at 7:31 AM on March 26, 2007

Restart from the installation cd and run the disk utility from the installer menus. That's the very first thing you need to do.

It could be something much less catastrophic than you imagine and easy to fix that way. I've had the question mark folder show up before with that clicking sound and it was not a hard drive failure, it was some corruption in the data that was indeed repaired via disk utility.
posted by pleeker at 7:36 AM on March 26, 2007

If you're not on AppleCare, you can purchase an AppleCare plan within 1 year of purchase. You need to send the laptop in, I've found that calling AppleCare and shipping is frequently faster than sending it in for repair, but it depends on the current turnaround time for your Apple Store for this level of repair.

Also, if you have important data on the laptop, want to take a reasonably simple crack at saving your files, and you have a friend with another Mac (any recent Mac Pro, iMac, Mini, or Macbook/Macbook Pro will do), you can connect the two with a FireWire cable after trying a hard drive resurrection technique. Putting your Mac in the freezer shouldn't void your warranty.
posted by onalark at 7:40 AM on March 26, 2007

Response by poster: I have two install disks. Should I use one or two?
posted by jne1813 at 7:41 AM on March 26, 2007

Response by poster: I used disk one. I go to the utility and try and Verify Disk Permissions and I get an error: "No valid packages"

posted by jne1813 at 7:43 AM on March 26, 2007

Response by poster: Oh wait. I realized that the utility only recognized the install CD. The HD doesnt even come up! More thoughts?
posted by jne1813 at 7:46 AM on March 26, 2007

jne1813, go back and read my earlier answer.
posted by onalark at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2007

Note that running disk utility on a failing drive and permanently kill your data. (Nevertheless, that's exactly what Apple is going to tell you to do if you call them. Sometimes it does help. Sometimes it does not.) It is quite likely, based on the clicking sound, that the drive has had a hardware failure, and running it more will cause the heads to scratch the disk surface, destroying data. If the data is irreplaceable, then step away from the computer and call one of the (very expensive) data recovery services like DriveSavers.
posted by raf at 8:06 AM on March 26, 2007

Creepy. The exact same thing happened to me this past week. I believe my hard drive died - I checked with the Install disk as well as my back-up firewire drive, and there was no hard drive available. This is the page I used to diagnose my problem.
I called AppleCare & they had me sent my computer back to Apple.
If you no longer have AppleCare, you could take it back to the store, get a new hard drive installed by Apple (unless this is something you feel comfortable doing yourself), restore your backups onto it (you do have backups, right?) and go on your merry way, but probably out a couple hundred dollars. Otherwise, AppleCare told me it'd take ~7 working days to get my lil guy back.
posted by j at 8:27 AM on March 26, 2007

(Oh yea, and the last time this happened to me was the motivation I needed to actually start doing frequent, full backups. It's not that expensive: get an external hard drive and SuperDuper.)
posted by raf at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Are there documents on your hard drive (i.e. notes, papers) that you need for midterms?

If not, I would recommend the following: put away your macbook and don't think about it during midterms, instead using computer labs or the library to study and get your work done.

I had a computer failure during exam period last year, and spent A LOT of time trying to fix it that I could have instead spent studying. If you don't *need* your computer this week, you might want to try to forget about it for the week, and then try to fix it after the stress of midterms is behind you.
posted by stilly at 10:08 AM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had this problem in the past with my (white) MacBook, although without any noise attached to it. Although it may or may not help, resetting the computer's PRAM seemed to work.
posted by itchie at 1:23 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I got the clicking sound and the failure to boot quite recently. Yep. Dead disk.

Or what everybody else said.
posted by Wolof at 8:54 PM on March 26, 2007

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