11 Replies Latest reply: Aug 26, 2006 11:25 AM by bouldermacattack
bouldermacattack Level 1 Level 1
My father-in-law recently encouraged me to run Disk Utility and repair permissions on my PowerBook. Yesterday, when I attempted to do this, I encountered the following message:

"The drive has reported a fatal hardware error to Disk Utility. If the drive has not failed completely, back up as much data as you can and then replace it with a working drive." The S.M.A.R.T. status indicated "failing."

Fortunately, my PowerBook is covered by the Apple Protection Plan extended warantee. Also, I have now had the time to ensure that everything is backed up.

My QUESTION is this: Has anyone experienced this problem and returned their computer to Apple? If so, has Apple responded quickly, and was the repair done well?

I rely on my laptop quite a bit, and I certainly do not want to find that I am having a big problem again soon!


My specs:
PowerBook 12"
1.33 GHz PowerPC G4

PowerBook   Mac OS X (10.4.4)  
Reply by psavage on Feb 15, 2006 6:06 PM Helpful
Recently had the same problem-- unlike you I didn't have the extended warranty. But it was relatively straight forward to replace the hard-drive myself.

All replies

  • psavage Level 1 Level 1
    Recently had the same problem-- unlike you I didn't have the extended warranty. But it was relatively straight forward to replace the hard-drive myself.
  • bouldermacattack Level 1 Level 1
    Sorry to hear that you had to pay for the repair directly. I take it that your problem was solved and there have been no further issues? I have had my PB for just over a year. It would be disappointing to know that I would have to encounter this again . . . and maybe without warning next time.
  • EddieC Level 5 Level 5
    Hi Maxine

    First the good news. You have already done what many people fail to do - backup. For your reference, a cloned backup to an external FireWire hard drive will be the ideal form of backup in this kind of situation as it can enable you to startup another FW-equipped Mac and continue working. Furthermore, once your PowerBook is returned, you can just re-clone from the external FW drive back onto your PB then restart and you are ready to work again.

    This kind of hardware failure is covered by both Apple's standard warranty as well as the AppleCare Protection plan so your drive will be replaced with a new one.

    Now the bad news. Unfortunately hard drive failures (which is what you are experiencing) do occur and, seemingly, more frequently than in previous years. There is no guarantee that the same thing won't happen again - and it's not anything that Apple or, indeed, any computer manufacturer has control over. Therefore the main thing to do is ensure you ALWAYS have a backup.

    15 1.25G/12 1G PBs, Mac minis, iBooks G3/G4,   Mac OS X (10.4.3)   Cube, TAMs, iPods 2G/4G, iPs, AEBS, AX
  • Airbubble Level 1 Level 1
    I have the same error message. Psavage, how did you replace your own HD. Can you also tell me where I can find a HD for the 12 PB? I'll love to get my PB back up and running. I ordered the MacBook Pro, and the ship date has been pushed back to March.

    Thanks to anyone else who can help too.
  • EddieC Level 5 Level 5
    Hi Airbubble

    You can buy a suitable replacement hard drive from many online retailers. The type you should look out for is as follows:

    2.5" Ultra (aka Parallel) ATA
    8MB cache (instead of 2MB)
    5400RPM (slower 4200RPM or faster 7200RPM also available)
    80GB (capacities up to 160GB are available)

    Manufacturers include Hitachi, Seagate, Fujitsu, Western Digital, Samsung and Toshiba.

    Two examples of online retailers are transintl.com and OWC.

    Installation instructions can be found at ifixit.

    EDIT: I should warn you that the installation process is not really a task for a beginner - but it is 'do-able' if great care is taken. It only takes a small mistake and a lot of expensive damage can be caused.

  • Airbubble Level 1 Level 1
    Thanks EddieC, great info. I found a HD a MacMall with the exact same specs that you recommended for only $120. I also printed the steps from ifixit.com, excellent resource. Thank you so much again.

  • attiger3 Level 1 Level 1
    Disk Utility running from the Applications Utility folder is showing SMART status is failing. I called Applecare and they (the rep who answered my call) told me to ignore it because it doesn't represent an accurate description of the problem. ***?

    From what I'm reading on the discussion boards, this message indicates that my hard drive is about to fail.

    The person who answered the call had me do an Erase Disk and reinstall the OS X (10.3). After reinstalling and running the Software Update to 10.3.9, the system seems to be up and running but it will not mount any external drives (where my data is located). I told the rep this and she said the the drive not mounting doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with the system. I told her that it had mounted fine after the last 2 reinstalls I've had to do. (This was the 2nd call to Applecare in 3 days.)

    I'm at a loss what to do now. The second time I reinstalled the system, everything was up and running, then I try to log back in, get a error message telling me I couldn't log in because there were errors. Then it would log me in anyway to my desktop, however the battery was not showing and the network was not connecting (ethernet cable plugged in).
    I've run the Apple Hardware Test and it shows no problems.

    I'm really frustrated right now. Instead of instructing me to reinstall the system over and over, why won't Applecare or the people at the "genius" bar run any diagnostic to see if the hard drive is actually failing!
  • John5 Level 1 Level 1
    If it is a Toshiba HD (most are) go to their Web page and do a search for replacing hardrive. I sent mine to them as spelled out, and in a week I had a new drive. It was passed Apple warranty, but Toshiba has a 3 year one one their drives.

    Powerbook G4 1.33   Mac OS X (10.4.6)  
  • arquilab Level 1 Level 1
    I get my PB G4 12 1.33 in june 2004. I got 512 ram cause 256 was to low. Then 6 months later the disk fails making loud noises. The disk was replaced under warranty. Then a year later out of warranty, the disk fails again and also the modem and the memory were damaged. I ran for the changes and also got 1Gb ram. Big mistake.
    2 weeks ago it fails again.
    This is my third HDD
    My second RAM
    And my last Mac! I mean laptop cause I have Powermac G5 and It runs like the wind. But very bad look with laptops cause my old Ibook fails to (video issues).

    Sorry for my english its not my language.

    powerbook G4 1.33   Mac OS X (10.4.6)   1 Gb ram and the thrid HDD (80Gb)
  • Mark Graybill Level 1 Level 1
    I had my system report a "failing" status on the hard drive when I started up Disk Utility for a regular backup. At that point the drive had been causing some pauses in the system's operation, but was still reading and writing data OK. Before I finished the backup, however, it stopped transferring data completely. After restarting using the Tiger CD and running Disk Utility again, Disk Utility did not see the hard disk at all.

    Thanks to doing backups regularly I only lost a few days' work, which was a pain to redo, but not overly onerous. Restoring the system each time after I get it back from service has been a far larger burden.

    Afterward I ran TTD from the APP CD, and it reported failure on all hard disk tests, all other tests ran fine. At this point I called AppleCare and let them know what I had done, and the results. They immediately concurred that a SMART failure was a hard disk failure below the system level before I reported the other testing. I think whoever asked you to reinstall the system wasn't following their troubleshooting scripts properly--SMART failures don't involve the OS, it's the hard drive itself reporting a problem.

    In my case, I had had a prior hard disk failure similar to this one. When Apple said they'd replace the hard drive, I asked them to make sure there wasn't some other condition that was causing the hard drive failures. Well, so far as I can tell they did a hard drive swap then ran only the standard benchtop system tests (not that I can blame them for doing that, service costs have to be managed, but they had implied that they would do more, and that's where the problem is--they shouldn't say they're going to do what they won't.)

    About a week after the system came back the new hard drive failed (just long enough for me to get everything set back up the way it had been a week before the failure and get current updates installed.)

    As this was a third failure, they agreed to replace the system. I'm waiting for my replacement system now. Hopefully with yours it will only require a hard drive swap. In my case that was not enough. It seems that there is a general policy of waiting for the third failure before considering replacing a system with problems that don't succumb to simple troubleshooting. It's too bad, because the signs were there prior to the second repair and I'd be a lot happier if I hadn't had to wait for a third failure.

    The repairs were done very quickly each time. The turnaround was about a week including shipping times. The repairs were performed well both times, with no other damage to my PB. In fact, on the first repair they replaced my modem connector as well as my hard disk since that failed their testing. I had had a problem with it with one connector in my house beforehand, but figured I had an out-of-spec cable since the Mac worked with every other cable I attached it to (when it came back it even worked with that cable.) I hadn't reported any problems with the modem port, BTW.

    The only problem was that in my case the repairs were apparently only addressing a symptom, not the actual problem.

    -Mark G.
  • bouldermacattack Level 1 Level 1
    Thanks for all of the comments. Apple replaced the hard drive, and since that time there have been no problems.