Mac troubleshooting: dealing with hard drive woes
Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:16 AM
The old Black and white MacBooks are easy to open. The latest Macbook Pro's are easy also. Requires a small phillips screw driver. The latest Retina Macbook Pro and Macbook Air you'll need a tri-lobe driver which you can obtain from a great website macfixit.com which also can show you with instructions on how to replace that hard drive. Keep in mind that if you replace the drive yourself it won't be covered by Apple's warranty. If you are still in warranty, get it to an Apple store because they can replace it for free and your warranty won't be effected that way. If you're out of warranty then no problem, and you could upgrade the storage capacity or even put in an SSD drive.
Posted 20 March 2013 - 01:43 PM
Posted 20 March 2013 - 01:48 PM
There are any number of backup strategies. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Time Machine is the easiest to do - you just set it and forget it. But it is not as helpful in emergency situations as a cloned backup. The most thorough method is to keep a duplicate backup off site in case something drastic happens and your computer and local backups are compromised. The only thing you should absolutely not do is fail to backup altogether. Such a strategy is begging for trouble.
Backups can take from little or no time (with Time Machine) or somewhat longer for cloned backups. The amount of time it takes to recover from hard drive failure is in inverse proportion to the amount of time you spend backing up. You can take that to the bank.
Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:15 PM
Why? Because if you need to boot from that clone, you're down to one good copy of your data. And: one copy is not enough.
Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:21 AM
Which is why I use BOTH Time Machine AND Carbon Copy Cloner.
Posted 22 March 2013 - 01:32 AM
Personally, I don't think the advice to essentially dump the drive is particularly good. We use a product called Scannerz to test drives and it detected a really, really bad set of sectors on the tail end of a drive. We did a SMART analysis on it using smartmontools, and it essentially told us the drive was on it's last legs. What we did was partition about the last 3GB of the drive out, and the drive has been working well ever since. That, by the way, was over three years ago.
Would I trust it for anything of importance? No. We put it in what we call a "combat unit." These are essentially systems that are old and really good only used for stuff like e-mail, doing reports, etc. etc. They're too slow for todays use, but they're not useless.
Interestingly enough, the guys that make Scannerz recently started a blog (I guess it's a blog) with how-to articles. The topics?
1. How to clone your hard drive with disk utility
2. How to identify performance problems in Mountain Lion with Activity Monitor.
3. How to use Scannerz and Scannerz Lite.
Now you KNEW a company just had to put a plug in there for themselves (item 3). We use Scannerz for hardware testing and Disk Warrior for indexing problems. I find it interesting the companies making them seem to be the only two products on the market that apparently have full support for Core Storage. As an FYI, If we need SMART monitoring, smartmontools is the way to go, but it's not for novices.
Posted 22 March 2013 - 02:00 AM
If you make a USB flash drive copy of the OS to create an emergency disk, make sure you disable Spotlight indexing on it. I created one such beast, and there was space enough on it to allow me to also use it to transfer files to it other machines, so I did so. When I did so, I didn't disable Spotlight on it.
Guess what? A USB flash drive is NOT an SSD, and from what I can tell, Spotlight kicked on any time I plugged it into a system and indexed the H*ll out of it, eventually rendering it a read-only device. So much for 30 buck flash drive!
Just thought I'd throw that in as a precaution.