Written: February 29, 2012

Unreliable Laptop Hard Drives

Last evening I returned from the office, setup the laptop at home and pushed the power button. Uh oh. My MacBook Pro screen just showed a startup but never progressed even after minutes of waiting:

No problem, I’ll just reboot again using Command+R and plugin my backup hard drive. Then I could see the utility screen:

In the Disk Utility I clicked Repair Disk however it returned this ominous error:

Invalid B-Tree node size

A Google search told me that this meant that my 500GB hard drive was damaged. Wow, that drive was less than two years old.

This morning I drove to Fry’s in Wilsonville because they open at 8AM, while I really preferred to shop at Best Buy in Tualatin because they were much closer to my office in Tualatin however they open later at 10AM.

The tech guy at Fry’s showed me the laptop hard drive choices available and when I told him that I had a MacBook Pro he said, “Well, I wouldn’t use the 7200 RPM drives in that because Apple didn’t design it to remove the heat fast enough, stick with the 5400 RPM drive instead.”

So, I bought a Seagate 500GB hard drive, the 5400 RPM version and went back to my office to replace the dead 500GB hard drive. Sure enough, my dead drive was the 7200 RPM version from Seagate. Lesson learned, don’t exceed Apple specs in your MacBook Pro.

Replacing the hard drive was straight forward, with my small screwdriver set I unscrewed the phillips screws on the bottom of the case. Remove two screws on the hard drive assembly, popped out my old drive, inserted the new drive, the powered up. Uh oh, the new drive had nothing on it, so the MacBook couldn’t boot.

I powered off, the powered on while holding the Command+R button and did a reboot from my backup drive. Back to the familiar Mac OS X Utilities menu. Under Disk Utility I had to first Partition the new drive, then choose Restore from Time Machine. Now it’s telling me that a restore will take 4 hours and 23 minutes, hmm. I’ll let you know how the story ends.

This is not the first time that my MacBook Pro has given me woes:

What Can Go Wrong With Mac OS X – Lion?

After Lunch Update

Just before I left for lunch the Restore dialog told me that I had less than 1 hour to complete, so I felt excited to finish lunch and come back to a restored laptop. Not so. After lunch I entered my office to find that the laptop display was off, so I clicked the mouse but it didn’t wake the display. Hmm. Next I clicked the power button but it only showed me the start screen and never booted to the desktop.

I re-powered and pressed the Command+R key to boot from my backup drive but now that wouldn’t work. I’m going backwards here.

Jump in the car, drive home and fetch the old Snow Leopard OS which came on DVD, unlike Lion which has no DVD and requires that your laptop be healthy enough to boot up. Now I am starting my second Restore from backup and the dialog says 5 hours and 43 minutes…

The only thing that allows me to do any work today is my backup HP laptop running Windows 7 and accessing my email accounts through webmail. Now, why did I leave HP in the first place?

No go, the second restore will not boot.

Apple Store
At the Apple store now and Tony thinks it is an OS issue so he is loading Lion on my new hard drive. Success, my MacBook Pro will now boot after the corrupt Lion OS was re-installed. Tony is a genius, many thanks you found the issue and got my laptop back to life again.

Apple Bridgeport Village

When I returned from the Apple store I still had to do a recovery from Time Machine to get back my user accounts, programs and documents.

Conclusion
My MacBook Pro would not boot because the OS was corrupted and the Time Machine backup doesn’t include the OS, so my attempts to restore from backup didn’t solve anything. I still don’t know exactly what caused the OS to become corrupt.

In three years of owning MacBook Pro laptops I can say that they are as unreliable as any PC that I’ve owned for the past 30 years. So much for the fabled superiority of Apple over PC when it comes to running a business because I don’t see Apple as being more reliable than PC (HP, Dell, Toshiba).

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One response to “Unreliable Laptop Hard Drives”

  1. Joline Johnstone says:

    Currently the only reason I have a cloud storage account is due to the unlimited music storage. Otherwise I really do not use it, as I am not going to waste all week recreating folders for my files. Also I am unhappy that the Kindle Fire really does not interact with the cloud store items as I have a few photos on there that it does not see.

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