Apple Panic
August 8, 2007 1:32 AM   Subscribe

My macbook panic: After going ahead and downloading an update for the OS X my macbook crashed and will not know restart. I'm in panic mode as I have pics of newborn daughter on there. Please help.

Last night I decided to look at the software updates available for my macbook. I downloaded the OSX update which was 304mb, it did this fine but whilst it was extracting it at the end my screen went black. The download took about 30 mins and I noticed the macbook was very hot though I understand this is not unusual. I tried switching it back on and off but it kept going it did not restart so I removed the battery and put it back in. Now everytime I restart I get a Kernel error as the OS X is trying to load up and it says I need to restart. I have 3 questions I would really appreciate an answer too.

a) I have photos on there not yet backed up of my newborn daughter and would be devestated if these were lost. Can someone put my mind at ease that an OS X software update error would in no way effect the data on the HD? I have the installation CD that came with the macbook but if I reinstall is there a risk of it overwriting existing date (ie my photos!)

b) Of course with my luck, my one year warranty ran out last month. Do you think I have any recourse given that I was downloading an official update as advised by Apple?

c) How can I best proceed to resolve this quickly and at least cost. Thanks all. I know it sounds silly but I'm really panicing and quite upset about this as I was just trying to do something simple and its all gone badly wrong.
posted by numberstation to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try to reset the system management controller (SMC).

If the SMC reset works, and if the operating system turns out to be corrupted from the update you tried to apply, you can do an "Archive and Install" of Mac OS X, which can leave your user folder (and all the photos within) untouched. You'll then be back to where you were before your updates.

If the SMC reset does not work, you may likely have a problem with the power supply or logic board, which will require repair work. Unfortunately, in my experience, without a current warranty, Apple will not assist you with a warranty call. In any case, the software update and hardware failure would have been unrelated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 AM on August 8, 2007

Try Safe Boot, Disk Utility or fsck, as described in this Apple document.
posted by jaimev at 2:00 AM on August 8, 2007

If you have access to another mac or computer with firewire you can try to boot your mac into target disc mode. Makes it work like an external firewire disc. You can make backups that way at least.
posted by uandt at 2:59 AM on August 8, 2007

First, calm down. It's likely everything is fine, and somehow the system install got borked.

Your original OSX installer can do (as mentioned above) an Archive and Install. This will keep all of your files, and just reinstall a new system (which you should update immediately).

The target mode methods mentioned above will help you immediately copy your pictures off. You might want to do this (if you have access to a second mac) before your do anything else.

Last, there are two types of people: those who backup and those who haven't lost everything (yet.) So, as soon as this is working, go spend $100 on a new hard drive, and get carbon copy cloner (or better yet pay for superduper) and start backing up your mac regularly.
posted by filmgeek at 4:21 AM on August 8, 2007

I've used Macs for some 16 years now, and I've never had a crash-on-startup I couldn't resolve myself (usually for free, unless the drive went bonk)

The steps are as follows :

1. Try resetting your PRAM. Hold Command ("Apple key"), Option, P, R while starting up. Continue to hold them until you've heard the system make the boot-up tone 3 times. Now, release those 4 keys and let it boot up

2. Follow that link jaimev gave you above, and try those.

3. If you're still unable to get it working (highly unlikely, btw) - then pull out your OS X install disc, and do an Archive and Install procedure.

I doubt you'll need to go past #2, honestly, cause I've had this happen to me a number of times after updating OS X.

The point is this : you didn't lose anything on the system. If, for whatever reason, you wanted to bring it into an Apple Store, I don't think they'd charge much and would probably have it back up and running within about 20 mins.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
posted by revmitcz at 5:03 AM on August 8, 2007

Just wanted to nth that you're probably fine.

I had a kernel panic last year which I easily solved by booting up in safe mode and uninstalling some Canon software.

The hard part was stopping myself panicking. Fixing the computer was easy!
posted by bluebird at 5:21 AM on August 8, 2007

Thanks all. I haven't had a chance to give the above a shot but will let you know.
posted by numberstation at 2:40 AM on August 9, 2007

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