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Old 04-10-2012, 08:50 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 49
hard disc damage/repair/imaging

Dear All,

hopefully someone can give me some answers/tips/advice.

here's my situation.
I have os x lion on a macbook laptop.
the screen suddenly went dark, although i could still hear the video i was watching. nothing would get the screen back on, so I held down the power button and it shut down. I waited a while, and started it up, and all was fine.

This happened again the next day. however, this time when it restarted, after the apple icon appeared, it dimmed to almost invisible (and from most angles it was invisible). It proceeded to login, also dimmed, but i couldn't see the mouse cursor at all to shut it down. At this point i was thinking something was wrong with the battery (it has been swollen for about 6 months). i powered it down again, and waited an hour and tried again. same thing. being an idiot, i did the same thing again. This time it started up, and stayed undimmed. But, a startup bar like thing appeared at the bottom and after about 5% movement, the thing shut itself down. This happened 3 or 4 more times. now I got on my phone and did a little searching and found that this seems to be a hard drive error. So, I shut it down over night and calmed down. In the morning I got out an external usb hard drive I had made bootable with os x snow leopard. when booting from it, it also found my internal drive, and a message popped up saying is was unrepairable, and i should back everything up asap (oh yeah, it was't backed up, cuz i'm an idiot, remember?). SO all the files were there, and i started backing them up. the thing then dimmed again, and this time i was patient trying to find the mouse cursor and everything. The screen saver (blank screen) eventually went on, and when i touched the touchpad to brig it out, the screen briefly lit up to normal levels and then dimmed down. So I played with the F1 and F2 buttons. If I dim all the way down on purpose and then hit F2, it will light up briefly and then dim again. if I dim all the way down and then light up only one level it remains slightly less dimmed so I can see what I'm doing as I type this.

my questions:
1) is the dimming due to a bad battery or what? I don't want to buy a new one and have that not be the problem
2) is there a way to fix my internal drive (make it bootable again) now that I messed it up by powering down the computer so many times?
3) can i make a bootable image of the drive, or will that just copy the errors that won't make it start
4) basically, there are things like application licenses and passwords that I want to get in addition to all the documents i'm copying over now. if i ca't fix it, can i at least copy out the keychain?
5) I have diskwarrior. Will doing a rebuild help? My directory and files all seem intact when I access the drive from the bootable usb. it just won't boot itself anymore
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:52 PM   #2
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Sound like your primary issue is a hardware problem, the hard drive problem (if there truly is one) is secondary. Trying to repair your hard drive while attached to an unreliable computer is likely to cause more damage than it might fix.

Get the computer to the shop to have the hardware issue resolved.
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Old 04-10-2012, 11:09 PM   #3
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Weird dimming behavior I have seen on my and other computers including macbooks. A flashlight can come in handy to see what going on when the back light is being flaky. Despite the displaying turned up f2 (brighter) all the way, sometimes the display is off the system gets confused. Sometimes a reboot helps or using the monitor control panel to control the brightness helps. You might have to do some resets.

You did not tell us which Macbook you have year, etc. About this mac can tell you its a 2,1 or 3,1 etc. You can always plug your computer into an external display (put system in mirror mode {make sure Display is set to appear in menu near airport symbol}). Most HD TVs can become a display. Not all make good displays but for your pusposes fine. You would need an adapter from monoprice.com or elsewhere. Monoprice is like $7. It would either be a mini display port to HDMI or mini dvi to HDMI.

Hard Drive. Back ups etc. OK yes if you care about your Data not backing up is foolish. Having multiple back ups. Different physical hard drives using Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper is crucial. Doing an off site back up to crashplan.com or similar is also good in addition.

*** If you care about your data you have to decide what to do next. Do you have access to another computer. Are you even mildly handy so you could take the drive out and put it in an external case that you could buy for $15 from Amazon or New Egg. You can boot of a DVD to examine the drive. Was it Disktools that said it was not repairable? The battery is not the likely cause but you can take it out and run on AC only. Macsales.com sells good replacements for around $90. No Name knock offs are also available from Amazon site for 1/2 that but can be spotty.

Diskwarrior can be amazing. Generally it lets you preview your repair.

Last edited by anthlover; 04-10-2012 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:02 AM   #4
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 49
thanks for the info.
Let me give the additional info.
This is a macbook 4.1, bought in about 2008.

If i understand correctly, the screen issue is due to a hardware problem, not the battery since if the adampter is in (which it is) the battery isn't used. I should have thought of that. So, with an external monitor, things should work. I should also have thought of that.

the real issue then is the data. I can copy everything in the damaged drive to an external drive. But i'm not sure how to deal with things like apps with licenses i no longer know.

when i boot the computer from an OS X snow leopard usb hard drive, after startup a message automatically appears saying the drive is damaged and can't be repaired, and to copy the files. if i run disk utility, it says the same thing.

I have not tried the rebuild using diskwarrior because i don't really know what will happen. can it make matters worse?

it seems like since all the files are there it should be able to be made bootable again.

will imaging the internal drive while booted from the external one create an image that will be equally nonbootable?

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Old 04-11-2012, 08:44 AM   #5
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If the hard drive image was good, Migration Assistant would move the files and applications intact. Apple's Application software is part of the OS install. Not sure what apps your trying to preserve beyond that. There are many great free office alternatives like Libre Office. There is also reasonable alternatives like Apples's office suite or Neo office.

Yes with a display adapter I mentioned earlier your system shipped with a Mini DVi Connector. So the adapter would be a Mini DVI to HDMI e.g. the one below is $ 5 plus shipping (usually a few dollars.). ** Assuming your plugging the computer into your HD TV. Monitors might use other connections like DVI though many have HDMI also.


Here is a Case for your drive (amazon has more choices but this will work well).

**If your going to use Diskwarrior you have to make sure your version works with Lion. You would have to make a bootable DVD or External Drive which is easier.

Other might disagree but I would concentrate on making your system serviceable/usable and then worry about data recovery after. Do you have any Data you care about? ?? Is it just Applications. You already have one external drive. You could buy another internal or external.

Generally the safest way to recover is to use a program that can make a bit by bit copy and try to recover that (most programs use a file by file method). I believe Carbon Copy Cloner offers that option.

Disk Warrior is unique in that it allows a preview of the repair and does so non destructively. ***** It has helped many people. Most people have switched to have multiple full image clones of their system using something like Carbon Copy Cloner. Some in this forum have reported issues with Disk Warrior having trouble with large drives.

At this point it may be your only option. That said your drive might actually have physical damage. Hard powering down repeatedly is definitely bad for your data.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:18 PM   #6
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The OP's remarks about his battery make me nervous. If the battery is physically misshapen, it should be considered bad and removed from your computer.

On another note you can blindly, but safely, shut down your computer by pressing the power button, then Return. The reason I say this is, it sounds like the disk corruption was due to the hard power-off that occurs when someone HOLDS down the power button for over 3-5 seconds.

If it doesn't work and you think a pop-up window is holding the process up (like a Save... prompt), blindly hitting Return would work through them. Lion very nicely auto-saves files for you, so this shouldn't be a problem. I tend not to shut down, so someone else will have to let us know if I'm incorrect on this.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:17 AM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2007
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thanks for all the advice.
I used disk warrior and carbon copy to fix the corruption and image my drive onto an eternal one. I could then use this to boot up another imac, so all my data is ok. The laptop monitor is still messed up, and I suppose it just got old and died on me. The battery didn't seem to be the issue since, as someone pointed out, if the adapter is plugged in, the battery can be removed anyway.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:58 AM   #8
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The battery is almost assuredly the issue if it is swollen and misshapen. That means it is pushing on things inside the computer that should not be pushed on. Don't use it any more. Replace it immediately. Don't hang on to the old battery--in worst-case scenarios, Lithium based batteries can cause really scary fires that don't go out using conventional methods.

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battery, boot drive, hard disc, image

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