MacBook owners report continued freezes with hard drives, workarounds offered

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 04:49
Category: hard drive, MacBook

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For a while now, assorted MacBook owners have noticed an intermittent 30-second freeze on their notebooks. Per CNET, this has usually been accompanied by a small clicking sound, indicating a problem with the hard drive. Apple addressed this issue by releasing a hard drive firmware update, but it appears similar problems are persisting.

Over on the Apple Discussion Board, a number of users are still complaining of random freezing in their MacBooks. Unfortunately there does not seem to be much of a unifying theme to the freezes. Previously, the problem would happen for a 30-second interval and then unfreeze; however, currently some systems are not unfreezing, and others are showing more erratic pauses.

While another firmware fix may be in order, the following tips have been offered regarding the issue:

“Boot into Safe Mode:
Doing this will prevent any third-party extensions or applications (i.e., hardware or network monitoring utilities) from launching at bootup, which may be contributing to the problem, especially if they’re not fully compatible with the most recent OS update.

Troubleshoot applications and user settings:
Along with Safe Mode (especially if Safe Mode shows promising results), you can test your software setup by quitting or removing various applications you have installed. A number of people have had issues with various programs, including those that synchronize with network resources (i.e., Mail managing a corrupt RSS feed, or the third-party TextExpander tool having problems with MobileMe).

Application-specific problems may be from problems with your user account, so try creating a new one, logging in with it, and testing the various programs you use. If the problem continues then your account’s settings are not to blame, and it’s likely a reinstallation of the application will help. Specific applications to look for include those that run in the menu bar (called “Menu Extras”) and system or application add-ons such as Internet plug-ins, audio-units, and system “haxies”.

Run a SMART checker:
Apple’s Disk Utility will check the SMART status of internal drives (seen at the bottom of the window with the drive device selected); however, I recommend you use another utility as well. The SMART measurements that each utility reads can vary, so using another one may help. Ones that can at regularly or continuously check the SMART stats such as SMARTReporter or SMART Utility may be particularly beneficial for monitoring changes when the hangs occur.

Run general maintenance:
Clearing system caches and running maintenance scripts may help these situations, so try using a cleaning application such as OnyX, Yasu, Cocktail, or [Snow] Leopard Cache Cleaner (among others) to run these routines. Additionally, you may consider reapplying the latest “Combo” updater for your OS version, which can be searched for and downloaded from Apple’s support site. Run these maintenance routines and the combo installer after booting into Safe Mode to ensure minimal interference when they are running.

Along with clearing caches, perform both a PRAM reset and SMC reset to ensure hardware controllers are using proper settings.

Downgrade or reinstall:
Some users have had success either by downgrading to a previous version of OS X, or by reinstalling the system altogether. First make sure you have a full backup of your system (cloning, or with Time Machine), and then boot off the installation DVD. Try a standard installation to perform a default “Archive and Install”, and if that does not work, first run Disk Utility to fully partition and reformat the hard drive before running the installer. Then use Migration Assistant to restore your files and settings from the backup. With a fresh copy of OS X installed, run the latest “Combo” system updater for the desired version of OS X.

If these do not help either fix or indicate the root of the problem, you can further test your hardware setup in the following ways:

Remove all peripheral devices:
Either conflicts between devices, or the inability to power all devices connected to your system may be a reason for pauses and slow-downs. To troubleshoot, just disconnect them all (printers and USB hubs included) and reboot your system. If this shows improvement, try reconnecting them one at a time to test each, and then try alternate ways of connecting them to your system (use as little daisy-chaining as possible).

Boot off an external drive:
If you have an external hard drive handy, try installing your OS to it and booting off of it. It would be preferable to use a system cloning utility such as Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper and do a block-level clone since this will preserve your current OS installation and software setup as much as possible. Boot to the drive (hold the “Option” key at startup to get to the boot menu) and see if that shows similar pausing behaviors. When doing this, use Disk Utility to fully unmount the internal drive so the system does not interact with it. If the pauses do not persist, then your internal drive may be faulty, or there may be incompatibilities between it and the system’s firmware.

Change the internal drive:
Pending the results of testing your drive by booting off an external one, you may have to replace your internal drive. While Apple updated the hard drive firmware for the initial freezing problem with MacBook computers, there is no telling whether Apple will do this again. Your best bet in the event of a hardware malfunction or incompatibility would probably be to make a clone of your drive (make two for extra precaution) and then replace the drive and clone your data back.”

If you’ve seen this issue on your end or found your own fix or workaround, please let us know.

Toshiba rolls out 750GB, 1TB notebook hard drives

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, March 25th, 2010, 05:26
Category: hard drive, Hardware

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Electronics manufacturer Toshiba announced the release of its MK7559GSXP (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) notebook drive Wednesday night. Per Electronista, the 2.5″ notebook drive is the first to hold 750GB but reach the same 9.5mm height as most slimmer notebook hard drives. As such, it can provide the capacity expected of a desktop hard drive but fit into thin-and-light notebooks like the MacBook Pro as well as all-in-one desktops and digital media hubs.

Despite featuring about 17% more capacity, the new SATA II drive consumes about 14% less power than the 640GB predecessor it’s set to replace and could extend the theoretical battery life. The units spins at just 5,400RPM, but its very high density, two-platter design may compensate for the perceived drop in access speed.

In tandem with the thin drive, Toshiba is rolling out the MKxx59GSM line, which brings 750GB and 1TB drives but in a taller three-platter, 12.5mm profile more suited to desktop replacement notebooks and other computers where thinness isn’t an absolute priority. Either rotates at the same speed but is slightly less energy-efficient.

All three of the disks are due to start sampling for system builders in April and should enter mass production soon afterwards.

Apple Offers Extended Warranty Program for MacBook Hard Drives

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2010, 04:15
Category: hard drive, MacBook, News

If the hard drive on your older MacBook Pro was starting to go south, Apple may have something for you.

Per CNET, Apple is now offering the MacBook Repair Extension Program for hard-drive issues on machines purchased roughly between May 2006 and December 2007. Customers experiencing hard-drive issues should take their machines to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Reseller to have it diagnosed.

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The primary sign of hard drive troubles on your MacBook is the flashing question mark when starting up. Should your machine fall into the eligible model range, you will be given a replacement drive, free of charge.

Apple has published a knowledge base article relating to the program and listed the following models as affected units:

- 13-inch black and white MacBook models with the following processor speeds and hard-drive capacities:
- Processor speed – 1.83GHz, 2GHz, or 2.16GHz
- Hard drive capacity – 60GB, 80GB, 100GB, 120GB, or 160GB

If you’ve already paid for an out-of-warranty repair, Apple also offered the following:

“Some customers may have paid for out-of-warranty repairs that qualify under this program. Apple will contact affected customers (where contact information is available) with details on the reimbursement process. If you believe that you paid for a repair covered by this program and you have not been contacted, you may contact Apple Technical Support.

This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the MacBook but covers affected MacBook models for 3 years from their original date of purchase or until August 15th, 2010, whichever provides longer coverage. Apple will continue to evaluate the repair data and will provide further repair extensions if needed.”

As always, hurl in your two cents and let’s see how Apple handles this.

MWSF: Synology Introducts Two-Bay DiskStation NAS Units

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, February 11th, 2010, 15:51
Category: hard drive, Macworld Expo, News

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NAS units may be technical and slightly dorky, but you’ve got to admit: they come in handy.

Synology America announced the released of the company’s two-bay DiskStation line. The DS710+, is a scalable 2-bay NAS server that grows from 2 bays to 7 bays to offer a total of 14TB of storage. The unit includes built-in file sharing, automatic backup, remote access, web hosting, email hosting and media streaming with read speeds of 110+ MB/sec and write speeds of 100+ MB/sec under a RAID 1 configuration in a Windows environment.

The Synology DS710+ is equipped with the new Intel Atom D410 CPU, one Gigabit LAN ports, 3 USB ports and 1 GB DDRII RAM. Green features include lower power consumption, wake on LAN, scheduled power off and hard drive hibernation to ensure optimal energy conservation.

The DS710+ comes with Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) 2.2 with robust features and applications for business use and sports such bells and whistles as Volume Manager, Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) which optimizes the use of disk capacity with data protection when using hard drives of different sizes are used, share level encryption and backup to the cloud with Amazon S3 service.

Seagate Releases 7 Millimeter Notebook Hard Drive

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 8th, 2009, 07:18
Category: hard drive, News

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If you can fit more data onto a notebook hard drive, more power to you. Per PC World, hard drive manufacturer Seagate seems ready to launch a 7 millimeter high notebook drive as part of its Momentus lineup this January at CES.

Although Seagate has yet to release specifics, it’s thought that the drive will be spinning a single platter. Given that dual-platter 2.5″ disks currently max out at 640GB (or 320GB per platter), Seagate is expected to at least match this or even demonstrate an improvement in the amount of data that can be placed on each platter.

It’s anyone’s guess, but it’s cool stuff and we’ll be following this up until its release.

How-To: Add a Second Hard Drive to Your Unibody MacBook Pro

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 24th, 2009, 08:22
Category: Hack, hard drive, MacBook Pro

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Ok, you love your unibody MacBook Pro notebook, aren’t terribly attached the optical drive and the warranty isn’t that important…odds are you’re ready to hack in a second hard drive. Per this hack, a user faced the dilemma of getting the faster SSD hard drive or the larger capacity rotational drive. Instead of settling on either of those options, he removed his DVD drive, hacked together an adapter to interface with the proprietary Apple connector, and installed a second hard drive. The result is a “best of both worlds” scenario for him complete with a faster boot time and responsiveness, and plenty of space available for movies and music.

The user, who has yet to fully identify himself, posted full step by step instructions over on his blog, complete with pictures and a plug to provide the service to anyone who may want it.

Be warned, some of the language isn’t safe for work, but if you’re up for a second hard drive in your MacBook Pro at all costs, take a gander and let us know how it goes!

Apple Working on Fix for Hard Drive Noise Issue in MacBook Pro Notebooks

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 10th, 2009, 04:32
Category: hard drive, MacBook Pro

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Apple may be working on a fix for a MacBook Pro issue in which owners have complained of annoying hard drive beeps and clicks from their notebooks.

According to AppleInsider, an Apple Discussions Board thread containing hundreds of posts features users complaining that their 7,200RPM hard drives will randomly click and beep, and some have experienced slower access times. The issue appears to have grown since it was first reported in January.

In recent days, numerous users have posted in the thread on the Apple Support forums, stating they were told on the phone by AppleCare representatives that the company is working on a fix. On Friday, user jgcamil wrote that he was told by Level 2 support that Apple is “highly” aware of the issue and it is one of the company’s “highest priorities.” But, he was also told he would have to “live with” the issue until an update is made available.

One AppleInsider reader whose MacBook Pro beeps occasionally said he’s frustrated that Apple has remained quiet on his costly investment. He said after researching the problem, he believes it’s caused by the original firmware for the hard drive.

“The crazy thing is that you can read comments about AppleCare Engineers stance on this issue: ‘Its normal behavior,’ (and) ‘AppleĀ“s Working on a fix,’” he told AppleInsider. “Also, some of them are recommending doing a complete reinstall, when this issue is factory related.”

Users have also uploaded videos documenting the issue, including the one below:



If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know.

Some MacBook Pro Owners Reporting Strange Noises, Errors with 7200 RPM Hard Drives

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, July 9th, 2009, 03:33
Category: hard drive, MacBook Pro

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Some owners of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros with faster 7200RPM hard drives are reporting strange clicking and beeping noises along with performance issues. According to MacNN, though the cause of the problem is unclear, an Apple Support forum thread has many users suggesting that it is caused by an incompatibility between the Seagate hard drive’s G-Force protection system and MacBook hardware. Some users have called Apple Support or taken their computers to an Apple Genius Bar both of which have tried fixing the problem by running a “capture” or resetting the computer’s “PRAM” during start up — neither of these solutions seem to have resolved the issue fully according to users in Apple’s support forum.

The issue could possibly affect users editing video, or those whose computer use requires sequential reading and writing. Users are also disputing where the sound is coming from within the computer with each user suggesting the sound comes from opposite sides of the computer, thereby making the rumor all the more uncertain.

The problem seems to only affect users with 7200RPM drives as users with 5400RPM drives are not reporting any similar problems.

Apple has yet to acknowledge any factory defects and has not made any comment regarding the sound and performance issues.

Other World Computing Releases Mercury On-The-Go Pro 500GB Portable Hard Drive

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009, 12:29
Category: Accessory, hard drive

Other World Computing announced the release of the OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro, the company’s 500GB, 7,200RPM pocket-sized drive for the Mac or PC. The unit features FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 interfaces for data transfer speeds up to 100MB/s and measures 3.5″ x 5.5″ x 1″ in size.


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In addition to these specs, the drive is also bus-powered, doesn’t require a power outlet and retails in the following configurations:

  • OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro “Triple Interface” FireWire 800/400 + USB 2.0: US$239.99 Features Oxford 934 chipset, two FireWire 800 ports, USB 2.0 Mini-B port, FireWire 800/FireWire 800 to 400 and USB 2.0 connecting cables, carrying case, US$200 retail value disk utility bundle, and a three year warranty.
  • OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro “Combo Interface” FireWire 400 + USB 2.0: US$219.99
    Features Oxford 934 chipset, FireWire 400 port, USB 2.0 Mini-B port, FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 connecting cables, carrying case, US$200 retail value disk utility bundle, and a three year warranty.
  • OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro USB 2.0: US$189.99 Features JMicron 20339 chipset, USB 2.0 Mini-B port, USB 2.0 Mini-B connecting cable, carrying case, US$200 retail value disk utility bundle, and a three year warranty.
  • The three new OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro 500GB 7200RPM models are compatible with Apple OS 8.6 to 9.2.2, OS X 10.0.x, and 10.2.8 or later.

    TechRestore Now Offering 500GB, 7200 RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade

    Posted by:
    Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 09:50
    Category: hard drive, MacBook, MacBook Pro

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    Concord-based TechRestore announced on Tuesday that the company has begun offering the first 500 gigabyte, 7200 RPM overnight drive upgrade. The offer includes data transfer and free shipping wherein MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook users can have a new hard drive installed with cloned data and returned via free shipping.
    Clients also have the option of having their old hard drive installed into an external enclosure for an additional US$39 and nationwide door-to-door pickup service is available for the upgrade as well as local pickup from one of over 2000 TechRestore local pickup centers throughout the United States.
    The Overnight 500GB 7200RPM Overnight Drive Upgrade for MacBook and MacBook Pro retails for US$299.
    Note: TechRestore is an official PowerPage sponsor.