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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

Dead hard drive - any options left?

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Member Since: Jun 20, 2011
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I have an old Macbook, hard drive which died yesterday. It was working fine and I hadn't noticed anything really alarming recently (like slow load times or errors or anything). Then after watching a video and it closed, the screen half-froze (I don't know how else to describe it I could still move the mouse and click on the top bar but it wouldn't actually do anything, rest of the screen gave the rainbow wheel thing). It sat for a while like that so I powered it off by holding the power button.

Upon restart I got the flashing ? folder. Disconnected an external HD I had and tried restarting again, then it sat on the gray screen spinning screen (no folder) for forever, so I turned it off again. I tried various things I found online (entering from safe mode -- didn't work, resetting PRAM -- didn't make a difference) and all of them either gave me a gray screen or the flashing ? folder. It sounded like there were some faint clicks during the restarts. Then I tried booting from an install and opened disk utility, which couldn't find my hard drive. Someone else took it out and put it in an external enclosure (if that's the right term) and he said it just made clicking sounds and wouldn't do anything.

Is this hard drive basically completely, totally, 100% dead? I did have some backups, so while I'm a bit sad because I didn't have everything, it isn't catastrophic or anything. I'm was ready to say good-bye to it if there's no hope for it, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't jumping the gun. Thanks!
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Clicking sounds tends to mean something mechanical has, or is failing. There are ways to get data off the platters themselves but this type of data recovery is in the thousands of dollars range usually because of all the manual labor of trying to save the platters.

I did have a Mac Mini give me a ? Folder, and the OSX disk didn't work for me either. I did find that having a firewire cable and a second Mac - I was able to put the Mac Mini into target disk mode
How to use and troubleshoot FireWire target disk mode
Basically boot while holding down T - with a firewire cable connected.
Once I did that I was able to use the Second Mac's disk utility to fix the disk - and it booted again.

Again - if you are hearing clicking and you can't see it - the drive is probably toast.

Backup early, Backup often.
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Member Since: Jun 20, 2011
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Thank you for the reply. This was more my "play" computer so it isn't worth paying to recover. But in my quest to figure out what's wrong I've made myself paranoid with people all over the place saying you should wipe the HD before sending it out, so I wondered if it is absolutely dead.

I don't have another Mac to try the firewire thing, and I've never come across a "clicking" hard drive either, so I'm not positive if I'm describing it correctly. It's definitely a click-like sound though that I've never heard before when starting up. And then the guy who put it in the external enclosure said it was clicking and he couldn't get a read off of it.
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