8 Replies Latest reply: Apr 2, 2013 11:50 PM by Network 23
Rodolfsk8 Level 1 (0 points)

I got a replacement for a rather recent MacBook Pro 2012 model, which is the one that corresponds to the 15-inch screen, 2.3 Ghz Intel Core i7 processor. This new computer probably has around 3 weeks since I got it from the store. I have to clarify that I count only with the 1-year warranty, now.


My situation started after a couple of hours of getting it handed-over at the store where I got it from. We went through some really "sketchy" roads, before arriving home; firstly, roads covered with little rocks only, for about half an hour (it was a kind of middle-class suburb), and after that, we casually happen to visit roads one expects to encounter at a rustic town in Mexico. They aren't paved, but just land, with road bumps and potholes appearing quite oftenly. It's not a chaotic ride but not a very comfortable, pretty one either. So, one doesn't need to think excessively to get the picture of the car having been constantly shaking during that period of time (less than an hour), but on the other hand, the rest of the roads were of the normal-highway kind, smoother, before and after having visited those parts.


  • My worrying derives from the thoughts that refer to the possibilities of some kind of internal hardware damage or deadjustment, derived from all of that shaking part, to any of the movable components inside, particularly; not mattering how hidden or little, you know, if it could get me some problems eventually. It makes me wonder if the noises I hear all the time, coming from the hard drive, came from there, in comparison to the previous one I had and used; as if some component(s) could have deadjusted or something. Remember I said it was a replacement? Well, the previous one was much more silent when working, meaning, it didn't make those scratchy noises, but just the usual head-parking sounds as far as I perceived. It also means I now count with the 1-year warranty only, as I said before. For example, I can hear it in a "closed room" environment, which is silent enough to keep thinking about what is happening inside of the device you're using. I can also hear a kind of whirring or blowing sound, as from the HDD spinning (which is what I imagine, but I'm not sure of what it is exactly).
  • That's where the question comes in: Which HDD sounds are considered normal? How can I know them and differentiate them, in order to know if my laptop is O.K. or not? Could you describe the way you hear you MacBook working? Is there any program I can use to check it, beside the diagnostics mode included?


From all of this, I decided to run the AHT (Apple Hardware Test) more than once for my relief, but I'm not sure of its accuracy either. It showed no warnings. I need to know if it's enough with those tests to know if everything hardware-related is alright.

I don't want to get it checked from where I got it from, since it wasn't an exactly nice experience to get it changed and I can't be certain about wether the employees will help me good-heartedly. I haven't used the Apple Support phone number because I think the forums are a good option, so I trust your understanding. I look for more than "yes/no" answers, in other words, the "why", and a rather thorough response. I need to see you know what you're talking about, not just a guess. Thank you.

  • John Galt Level 8 (44,590 points)

    Was the MacBook in use while you drove over those bumpy roads? If not, there is no reason for concern. Remember your Mac and all its parts came all the way from the other side of the globe to reach you. Who knows what roads it traveled.


    Different drives make different noises. Some are more noisy than others. Some are nearly silent, but they don't last any longer than noisy ones. Apple uses several different manufacturers, so no absolute description is possible. The noise you hear may also be from the exhaust fan, which resembles rushing air rather than clicks or whines. A failing hard disk usually makes a repetitive, very regular clicking noise over a period of several seconds as it attempts to read the same damaged sector repeatedly. This is generally accompanied by the appearance of the "wait cursor" (beachball).


    Boot OS X Recovery - hold the and R keys simultaneously while starting your Mac (two fingers). Select Disk Utility. Repair the disk. Report any errors it finds. If it finds nothing wrong your disk is as good as can be determined.


    Having said that you must have a backup strategy, if you care at all about your data. Sometimes symptoms will precede a hard disk failure, sometimes they don't. Backup disks are cheap, and Time Machine is free. A backup makes the inevitable hard disk failure practically a non-event.

  • Rodolfsk8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Nice, but, I've seen the "beachball" icon sometimes, when opening a common program like Evernote or iTunes, but just for some seconds, more like intermittently than staid put. Is that normal? Sorry, but I'm just starting to get to know the system and all. Also, how accurate can the AHT be?

    And thank you for the quality in your response, it was what I had in mind.

  • John Galt Level 8 (44,590 points)

    Apple Hardware Test is comprehensive, but cursory. Only negative results can be considered definitive. It is unlikely to diagnose a damaged hard disk. Disk Utility can be relied upon.


    A repetitive and very regular clicking noise, like the ticking of a wristwatch, would be a bad sign. A "wait cursor" accompanying those symptoms would confirm a failing HD, but the wait cursor by itself is not necessarily cause for concern. It may indicate the need for more memory though.


    How much memory does the MBP have? To determine that, go to the Apple  menu and select About This Mac...


    Apple's default configuration for your 15.4 inch 2.3GHz i7 MBP was 4 GB. If you did not add more, that would almost certainly explain brief appearances of the "wait cursor" upon launching apps like iTunes and Evernote.

  • Rodolfsk8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Here's an update. I just did the Disk Utility tests, of basically all the elements that appear on the left of the window (3 available selections), including the Macintosh HD one. They all passed the verifying and repairing processes, no warnings or errors whatsoever. Yay. The point is, yesterday I was looking at my photos from the Finder. I wasn't doing anything at all, really, not even moving the cursor, when I suddenly heard the HDD making the working-noise without stopping, just that constant scratchy noise. This went for something like 7 seconds straight, and at the very next moment, it started making a consecutive and tempoed stream of this same sound, but a little bit less intense, with interlapses of about a sec. This continued for about a whole minute. I'd like to know if things are really fine.


    As I previously described, the guys at iShop almost don't want me there anymore, or at least that's what their distanced attitudes get my into thinking. I visited the place some days ago, to look at the new iPod Touch pretty quickly, and I clearly felt that the guards were watching me closely, you know, with a hostile mannerism, the kind of stance that you use, with arms folded, to look kind of intimidating. I really didn't do anything to deserve that paranoic and ridiculous behavior. What happened was, a bit hottened discusion with the manager, when I was telling him I needed a replacement, and he really wasn't giving me an empathetic and understanding attitude.

    If a call to Apple Support is required soon, and my computer needs to be repaired or the HDD replaced, they'll most likely send me there, since it's the most prominent place of recommendation. Sincerely speaking, they do seem like the most prepared personel, and they aren't great per se. If that is so, I really, really hope that the hard drive is the only part or detail that needs some technical considering, and deserves my stress.


    Thanks for your consideration, so far so good.

  • Rodolfsk8 Level 1 (0 points)

    Please, I need an answer. I didn't understand the meaning of "cursory" and "comprehensive" in your last response, regarding the AHT.

  • Courcoul Level 6 (12,725 points)

    AHT only tests Apple's hardware + the RAM. The drive is not made by Apple. Only predictive HDD failure tool we regular users have is a S.M.A.R.T. readout, either thru Disk Utility or some other program. Start DU, click on the HDD device (not the Macintosh HD  volume) and look at the bottom part of the window. If S.M.A.R.T. is anything but Verified, the drive is circling the drain. S.M.A.R.T info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.M.A.R.T.


    As for the jerks at iShop, tough on them. If they advertise as a Service Center, they're obligated to fulfill their role. Else call Apple Support and get the company to make them squirm. Note also that they are not the only service provider around. See here: https://locate.apple.com/country


    • Be sure to get this issue taken care of before your base warranty runs out.
    • Consider purchasing AppleCare if you expect to keep the portable for more years.
    • Apart from muted hum and click sounds from a drive, most any noise is usually Bad News.
  • Rodolfsk8 Level 1 (0 points)

    The S.M.A.R.T. status is "Verified". What now?

  • Network 23 Level 6 (11,890 points)

    Rodolfsk8 wrote:


    Which HDD sounds are considered normal? How can I know them and differentiate them, in order to know if my laptop is O.K. or not? Could you describe the way you hear you MacBook working? Is there any program I can use to check it, beside the diagnostics mode included?

    The good news is that hard drives are not made by Apple, Apple just orders them from established companies. That means there is a great deal of industry experience with the hard drives. Here is a page where you can listen to hard drive sounds that indicate serious problems. If any of these sound like your drive, you may have one of those problems.

    Sounds of failing hard drives (requires Flash)


    In general I don't worry about laptop durability in a car.

    • If the laptop is running, the Sudden Motion Sensor (standard for several years) should react to withdraw the heads when a road bump is particularly severe.
    • If the laptop is sleeping or shut down, the hard drive heads should be parked and not in a position to scratch the heads.
    • As the other guy said, just getting hard drives to the customer means having them ride in delivery trucks and other vehicles over any type of road for long periods of time.


    If your drive is having a serious problem it may not be related to the road. Hard drives have a Mean Time Between Failure. Remember what Mean means. If a drive is rated for 4 years and some guy got 8 years out of it, that means somebody else got less than 1 year out of theirs...