11 Replies Latest reply: Mar 20, 2013 9:01 PM by John Galt
Tim.gen Level 1 Level 1

Hello all,


Let me start by saying I have a mid 2010 Macbook Pro, all origional hardware, running Mountain Lion. I've never had any problems with it before, but a few days ago the computer froze to the point I had to force shut down. When I restarted, the computer would not boot past the gray screen, and after a while the apple logo was replaced with a question mark.


Since then I have tried the following:


Restarted in safe mode (worked)


Reset PRAM


Reset SMC


Restarted from recovery partition (worked)


Ran Apple Hardware Test from install disc (Even with detailed check, reported all hardware functioning normally)


Attempted to resintall OS X from install disc (OS X Installer did not find Macintosh HD, only the recovery partition)


(From Disk Utility in safe mode, recovery partition, and from install disc)

Attempted to repair disk in Disk Utility (failed 3 times, with this error: Volume bitmap needs minor repair for orphaned blocks. Invalid volume free block count. It should be 18677490 instead of 18677489. The volume Macintosh HD could not be repaired.)


Attempted to erase disk in Disk Utility (failed, with these errors: Either Couldn't unmount disk or File system formatter failed.)


I do not have a clone or backup which I could revert to. I'm not worried about the loss of data, but I unfortunately don't have the option of just trying to revert back to previous settings.


I am writing because I honestly don't know what to make of the results from these tests. DU not being able to repair or even erase the drive, as well as the OS X installer not finding it, leades me to believe that I need a new hard drive. On the other hand, Apple Hardware Test is telling me I have no hardware problems, DU does find the hard drive, and I can boot the recovery partition.


Any ideas?

MacBook Pro, iOS 6.1.3
Reply by Linc Davis on Mar 20, 2013 8:29 PM Helpful
Is there a way to determine which components have failed other than what I have already done? Not with the means at your disposal. The likely points of failure (but not the only possible ones) are the drive, the SATA ribbon cable, and the logic board.

All replies

  • GeekBoy.from.Illinois Level 4 Level 4

    It sounds to me like your file system has become corrupted.  This means that the hardware is most likely fine, but the data stored on it is so currupted that the only solution is to boot to your recovery partition, run the Disk Utility to re-partition the drive & format it, then re-install your MacOS on it.  Once that is done, you can restore from your backups.


    Since this will be wiping the HD that has your recovery partition, you may lose that as well so if you can do so, I suggest that you make sure to download the Recovery Disk Maker from Apple and build yourself a bootable USB stick that will be able to act as your Recovery Partition in case it gets lost in the drive re-partitioning too.

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10

    The boot drive is failing, or you have some other hardware fault. Make a "Genius" appointment at an Apple Store to have the machine tested.

  • Tim.gen Level 1 Level 1

    I booted to recovery HD, ran disk utility, and attempted to erase the hard drive one more time as the guide I found for repartitioning said to do that first. It once again failed saying it could not unmount the disk, so I clicked the partition tab.


    Within the partition tab I selected 1 partition and gave it a name other than the old Macintosh HD. I chose format Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and left the size that was already there alone 250.06gb (This seems strange to me as I have a 250gb hard drive, meaning actual storage on the drive is probably less than 250gb). I also chose GUID under options.


    When I hit apply, I got Partition failed: Couldn't unmount disk. Almost immediately.


    What do you think?

  • Tim.gen Level 1 Level 1

    There is not an apple store within 100 miles of me and the only certified apple repair shop in town is going to charge me an arm and a leg to look at it. I'd really like to diagnose the problem myself, and if it is the hard drive, install a nice new SSD at what would still be a lower cost than taking it in for service and a new 250gb drive ($300)


    Is there a way to determine which components have failed other than what I have already done?

  • John Galt Level 8 Level 8

    Bad news: without a backup, some data is already gone. At best it is nothing that mattered to you. At worst, you may not be able to recover anything.


    Good news: as long as you updated your mid 2010 Macbook Pro with the EFI Firmware Update that was released about two years ago, you can use OS X Internet Recovery to download and install Mountain Lion. You need only a serviceable hard disk and the Apple ID used to purchase ML. Creating a standalone installer is not required.


    Computers that can be upgraded to use OS X Internet Recovery


    As far as the ability to recover your data though, you must find some way to mount the failed volume first. Data recovery utilities are available, but success is not guaranteed.

  • Tim.gen Level 1 Level 1

    I am not worried about recoving my data - as far as I am concerned at this point it is completely lost, and honestly I wouldn't mind starting with a clean slate after years of accumulating files. My really important data is still on other computers.


    The issue is that my computer simply won't boot normally. I would like to know if buying a new hard drive to replace this one, formatting it, and then clean installing OS X would fix my problem and get my computer working again, or if there is some other issue.

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10

    Is there a way to determine which components have failed other than what I have already done?


    Not with the means at your disposal. The likely points of failure (but not the only possible ones) are the drive, the SATA ribbon cable, and the logic board.

  • Tim.gen Level 1 Level 1

    How confident can I be at this point that it is actually a hardware issue? I was really expecting Apple Hardware Test to find something wrong with the drive, but even a detailed test came back with no trouble found.

  • John Galt Level 8 Level 8

    It is not possible to be completely assured the problem is isolated to the HD alone. It is the most obvious and common cause of what you describe, but a communication failure between the drive and logic board is possible. Your Apple Hardware Test results are encouraging, but only negative results from AHT can be considered totally reliable.


    It is possible to replace the HD yourself at a cost considerably less than $300; considerably less than $100 if you so choose. Purchase a replacement internal HD and tools (if required) from OWC. The site also has instructional videos so you can determine in advance if you want to perform the replacement yourself.


    OWC: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/2.5-Notebook/SATA


    Look for one of the "DIY Kits".


    If you ultimately determine the logic board is at fault, or some other cause uneconomical to repair, you can always use the HD you purchased as a backup for your other Macs, which they must have.



  • Tim.gen Level 1 Level 1

    To even diagnose the problem, the shop in my town charges $110 an hour with a 1 hour minimum. That being said, should I just go for a SSD purchase and hope the hard drive is the issue, or should I pay the fee? I'm a college student, so money is a bit of a priority.

  • John Galt Level 8 Level 8

    A SSD would certainly be desirable, but if money is a factor I would avoid it for now. Your 250 GB is so small that I recommend at least 320 GB. It costs about the same as a tank of gas.


    If that fixes the problem upgrade to the SSD when you can, and use the HD as its backup.


    When replacing a HD you should always purchase one with more capacity. A 250 GB SSD is roughly $250 and will convey no additional storage, only speed. When you eventually purchase an SSD get one twice as large as what you think you need.