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Archive for the ‘Hard Drive Retirement’ tag

Once Again, MacMedics To The Data Recovery Rescue

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A new client in our Washington DC office, brought us a MacBook that had a dying hard drive. He needed the data, so Mike H, one of the talented MacMedics in Lanham was able to recover it all.

Folks, this would be so much easier if everyone had data back ups. I promise you that even without countless “Data Recovery” cases coming in every day, we’ll still be able to stay in business. If you don’t have a tested, working, and automatic backup working for, it’s TIME to get one. We can help if you need guidance.

If you have a back up, then test it, and please consider a clone back up and an off-site back up to boot. You can never have TOO MANY back ups.

Our client in Washington DC sent this:

“Dear Mr Stibolt

I want to let you know that I received excellent service from Mike at your DC location near Bowie, Maryland. My MacBook was very ‘sick’ and Mike helped repair it, and save my data

I will surely recommend MacMedics to friends and family…

Best regards,

Steven S.”

We Fix Macs! MacMedics Can Fix Or Service Any Macintosh Ever Made

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We Fix Macs! MacMedics Can Fix Or Service Any Macintosh Ever Made.

MacMedics can fix Macs. Of course all of the recent Macs are no problem, even the last few generations are no problem for us. If the Apple Store or anyone else has turned you away because they say your Mac is too old to work on, then come see us!

This week we worked on two pretty old Macintosh systems.

Case #1: Replacing the hard drive in a Titanium PowerBook G4. Some people really love old Macs, we sure do. The old Ti-Book had been serving it’s owner’s needs since 2001, but the hard drive died. He saw no reason to retire the machine, so he asked us to replace the hard drive.

No problem. Even though PATA hard drives in the 2.5” form factor are getting harder and harder to find, we still have them. Old hard drive comes out, new hard drive goes in, and we transfer all of the data over to the new hard drive.

See this image large size here.

Case #2: Macintosh Classic (from 1990) that is dead, but it’s owners want the data off it. This one is still a work on progress. We’ve worked on this form factor Mac countless times, but in this case one of the case screws is fused in place, so thus far, we’ve not been able to get the Mac Classic apart. We will drill out the screw on Monday to get to the hard drive. This unit has a SCSI hard drive, something that MacMedics is familiar with. We have to pull data off old SCSI drives on a regular basis, so we’ll hook it up to one of our custom rigs to grab the data.

MacMedics Frequently Asked Macintosh Service Questions: How Safe Is My Time Machine Back Up?

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We had a new MacMedics client call us on the phone and then come by the office with their sick iMac. The complaint was the unit was super slow. Right away I’m thinking a bad hard drive. The client tended to agree with me. The iMac fits our profile for hard drive “retirement” anyways since it’s right at the three years old mark. This is a fine time to “upgrade” and “retire” a desktop hard drive. (MacMedics recommends desktop hard drives be retired after 3 years and 2 years in laptops)

In this case the client was in a hurry, so in trying to find the fastest solution we looked for the “sniper shot” hard drive fix to see if we could put her back in shape without replacing her hard drive. She had a presentation to work on tonight, and she felt most comfortable with the idea of getting her unit back on-line. We offered a low cost rental, since she had her Time Machine data, but she really wanted her iMac back.

We felt comfortable trying some “fixes” on her hard drive, because she had an up-to-date Time Machine back up. Well, when it really came down to it, those fixes and even a new install of her operating system failed to solve the problem. This told us that it was in fact the hard drive that was the cause of the problem.

The client opted for a new hard drive, AND an upgrade to a 1 TB hard drive (from a 500 MB. Read more about iMac hard drive service and upgrades here.), since her hard drive was dying. Because of what we had learned about her drive being super slow, we decided to multi-task and run utilities on her Western Digital TIme Machine volume while the new OS was also installing. As we started looking at it carefully, we learned that the Time Machine drive was also failing.

We’re not big fans of this brand of hard drive, and when we told the client it was failing, she was shocked to hear it. We learned that the drive was less than a year old (don’t forget hard drives can die at anytime. See our website for more info.) When I told her that Western Digital was not my first choice for storing data, she was again shocked as she bought it from the Apple Store.

Here’s the facts folks. Any hard drive can die at any time, and just because it was purchased at the Apple Store does not give you an extra layer of protection. The other thing to remember is that the process of TIme Machine running every hour is rough on hard drives. The other item everybody needs to know, is there’s no such thing as set-and-forget-it the world of hard drive back ups.

All hard drive back up systems need to be tested and monitored on a regular basis. Time Machine is no exception. It does a great job of providing extremely easy to use back ups, but it should not be the only back up you trust your data with. (See my previous post about Time Machine here.) We recommend a double back up. TIme Machine for your first layer of back up, and a “clone” back up for your second layer of protection. Ideally, you should also have some sort of off-site back up as well.

As we store more and more of our digital identity and life on hard drives, it’s akin to more “eggs in one basket”. When you have more data stored in one place, you increase your risk, if that single hard drive fails, you could stand to lose all of the data stored on it. The other thing to keep in mind is as the amount of data you have active and live on your computer grows and grows, TIme Machine loses some if it’s ability to keep a longer record of you past data. The larger your Time Machine hard drive volume is in ratio to your main hard drive, the longer Time Machine will keep you data backed up. Of course having any back up is better than no back up, but Time Machine’s real advantage is in it’s ability to to keep months and months (even a year) of data for you to look back on if you should need a file that you accidentally erased 6 months ago (or longer).

As was the case today with our new client, she came very close to losing her data as, both her primary and her TIme Machine back-up drives were both failing in different ways. That could have proved disastrous.

What can you do to prevent this? Make a clone of your drive. For as little as $99 you can by a portable USB hard drive and either clone your whole hard drive, or just copy your user folder to it. You can also start burning some of your data to DVDs or CDs and storing that data off site.

No matter what you need in terms of a back up, MacMedics can help. Call any of our offices, and we’ll be glad to help you add your first, second, or third layer of back up. It’s important, so don’t delay.

Tip: If you bought a Time Machine drive when you purchased your new Macintosh, it needs to be installed in order to protect you. Don’t start generating data you care about AND can’t stand to lose if you’re NOT backed up. If you’re reading this, and you need help checking you back up or getting it configured, call us we can help. It does not matter if you’re local to MacMedics here in Baltimore, Washington DC, or Philadelphia. We can come on-site, or we can visit your computer via our Desktop Support Software. A back up coaching session over the phone can be set up and running in about 15 minutes. PLEASE, don’t wait!

You can read some of my other posts on Time Machine here:

Congratulations your hard drive made it through another Friday the 13th!

Back up and secure your data! (Then test your back up system!)

Do you use Time Machine as your only back up? Double it!

Installing a second hard drive into a MacBook Pro = Very Cool. Having a mobile bootable backup anywhere = PRICELESS.

Leopard’s Time Machine might not be a powerful enough back up for you.

MacMedics Frequently Asked Macintosh Service Questions: Is The Power Mac G5 Still Suitable For Designers?

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The Power Mac G5 is really pretty much over in terms of being powerful enough for someone who is doing professional design work. We have very few clients left still doing professional design work on G5’s. Some of the more recent Power Mac G5’s are “okay” for some use, but at this point, it’s really time to move on. In some cases, even the Mac Mini is a better machine in certain situations. If someone comes to us with a Power Mac G5 that needs, more RAM, a new hard drive, AND wants to also upgrade to Leopard, it’s pretty much not even worth it. Leopard (10.5) is the last OS that will run on the G5 and is no longer available for sale from Apple. With a Mac Mini you get a new OS (10.6) and iLife ’09 for free. A new Mini is only $599. Same holds true for a unit that needs a major repair, in almost all cases a repair is not worth pursuing.

If you “retire” a Power Mac G5 you can reuse your keyboard and mouse, and in most cases your monitor too with the new Mac Mini.

Now that the new iMacs can support up to 8 GBs of RAM, even the low end one is pretty nice for a designer (it now is 21.5″ and has a great display), but the high end iMacs are even better for design work with better video performance and a 27″ display. You can get one with a Quad-Core processor for $2000.

Some of the G5’s are now on Apple’s “Vintage” list and we’ll start having issues finding parts here pretty soon. Also, Apple’s newest OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) won’t run on the Power PC platform.

If you have a G5 and you’re still using it, the hard drive is really beyond it’s life expectancy, so if you plan on continuing to use it, the hard drive should be replaced at some point. I have a whole website about hard drive retirement. And, as always make sure you have your data backed up as hard drives seem to have way of dying at the worst possible time.

See my web page about why you should consider “retiring” your hard drive before it fails at:

For more facts on why retiring a Power Mac G4 or G5 is a good idea, take a look at this previous MacMedics Blog post from earlier this year.

If you’re thinking about a new Macintosh system for Graphic Design (or anything else!), please give your closest MacMedics office a call. We would be delighted to help you pick out a new model.

MacMedics Frequently Asked Macintosh Service Questions: iMac Hard Drive Upgrades

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MacMedics Frequently Asked Macintosh Service Questions

What is the cost for upgrading an iMac hard drive through an Apple Authorized Service Provider?

In most cases if your current drive is healthy enough for a large data transfer, and your data is backed up, MacMedics can perform this popular service for $150 plus the cost of a hard drive. A new “top-quality” 1 Terabyte hard drive can be provided with a full three-year manufactures warranty for about $130 making the total procedure with a new 7200 RMP hard drive about $280. MacMedics offers a full 1-year “no-hassle” parts and labor warranty on hard drives that are purchased and installed by us.

Also, if your iMac is still covered by AppleCare, installing a new third party hard drive won’t void your warranty (if performed by MacMedics). Your extended warranty will still be in effect, but will NOT cover the new non-Apple hard drive.

Another scenario that comes up quite often at MacMedics is where an iMac that is under warranty and it’s hard drive has failed. We can still replace your hard drive under warranty AND also offer a new larger, faster third party hard drive. We just charge you for the hard drive upgrade, and the replacement hard drive supplied by Apple is given to you to keep.

Your old hard drive will be placed in a static bag and returned to you (if out of warranty). The old hard drive can serve as a rudimentary “snapshot in time” back up that can be given to friends or a family member to serve as an “off-site back up”.

Obviously if your current hard drive is sick, or your data is in jeopardy, labor costs can be higher. For situations where your data is NOT backed up and the health and security of the data is unknown, MacMedics can remove your hard drive without testing the machine, and perform our Tier-1 data recovery where we make a cold clone of your drive (if possible). Data recovery can be tricky and each case is different, so it’s not always possible to spell out all of the details and possibilities in advance. If the $99 data recovery fee is successful we will copy that data without further inspection or review to any computer or external hard drive if you’re NOT having your computer repaired. See our data recovery “Frequently Asked Questions” at this link for more details.

Don’t forget that if your iMac hard drive (or other Mac desktop) is more than three-years old, then MacMedics recommends a proactive hard drive retirement. See our website for more info.

Not near a MacMedics office? We do accept mail-in repairs! Just put your iMac in it’s original shipping box, and either send it via the carrier of your choice, or call/e-mail us and we’ll arrange to send you a pre-paid shipping label.

The Apple Store does not perform hard drive upgrades, they also can’t rescue data that may be at risk. Folks from all over the world send us their Macs need repairs. If your local Apple Authorized service options are limited, let us help you out. Just fill out this form, and send your iMac in!

Protected: Top Ten Reason Not To Wait In Line At The Apple Store. Come Visit MacMedics Instead!

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MacMedics Case File: Seagate 7.01 Firmware Hard Drive Failure Video

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Update 2/1/11: We’ve noticed (and others on the Internets) that Seagate drives that have the firmware version of 3.CAE are in the same category as the Seagate 7.01 firmware drive that are prone to catastrophic and sudden failure. MacMedics STRONGLY recommends that both the Seagate 7.01 AND 3.CAE hard drives should be replaced no matter where they are installed or how old they are. Having an effective back-up is great protection, but if you’ve got a ticking time bomb in your computer it could blow up at anytime, and you could still lose data. Also, no time is a good time to have your hard drive blow up. It could happen before a big trip or project and the computer would be unusable until the drive was replaced, and the data that you HAVE backed up can be restored. In some cases that could take an entire day as Time machine often take several hours to fully restore. Also, MacMedics recommends having a clone of your hard drive in addition to your Time Machine back up. Read all about Time Machine warnings here.

Update 2/16/10 Apple announces repair extension program for MacBook Seagate 7.01 hard drives. Get details from If you have an affected MacBook, call MacMedics and we can arrange to have hard drive replaced.

Certain 2.5” Seagate SATA hard drives most commonly found in MacBooks from 2 to 3 years ago (Also found in some MacBook Pros and Mac Minis, check yours if if you’ve ever had your hard drive replaced as some of these units also ended up as service parts.) I’ve seen various sizes fail as well, mostly 60 and 80 GB.

We’ve just filmed a short video that demonstrates the classic sound of a failing Seagate 7.01 drive. Nothing too surprising here, as it sounds pretty much like any other failing hard drive. Here at MacMedics we’ve been warning folks about this issue for several years, yet we still see them come into the shop all the time (both working and still in service and ones that have died). The video also shows what a damaged Seagate 7.01 firmware drive looks like on the inside once the drive crashes.

Our original Blog post that has been updated many times can be found here. We’ll also post the video there.

Other MacMedics Blog posts that mention the Seagate 7.01 firmware issue can be found here.

If you’re into stuff like this why not follow our Twitter feed? That way, you’ll always be the first to know when we post new information such as this.

Congratulations your hard drive made it through another Friday the 13th!

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Time Machine is an excellent way to back up your files! Its only cool and powerful if you actually turn it on and USE it!

Time Machine is an excellent way to back up your files! It's only cool and powerful if you actually turn it on and USE it!

Friday the 13th can be an un-lucky day, but you CAN take control of your back up and ensure your data is always protected by following a few simple steps.

The important thing is to PLAN AHEAD. Your back up is not complete if it’s not:

1. Automatic (Use Time Machine and this point is covered)

2. Redundant (Double your back up with a clone of your data or use an off-site back up and this point is covered)

3. Off-Site (Take your double back up off-site or get Mozy or CrashPlan Pro and this point is covered)

If you’d like to sign up for Mozy or CrashPlan Pro, we have links to those services, including the hard to find free 2GB Mozy account. We also strongly recommend LoJack for Laptops. (Use code “BESTOFMONTH″ for 10% off paid service)

We’ve been over this before, but here on the front lines of data loss we see this just about everyday. It’s senseless the number of pictures, school papers, financial and business documents, and music get lost when a back up system can be had for as little as $129!

You need to make your back up system automatic, or use a program like Time Machine. That’s the first step. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY can keep up with a “manual” drag-n-drop back up! To boot, quite a bit of the data loss we see here at MacMedics happens when someone copies over important data during a drag-n-drop Finder copy. Sometime, folks think they have the data copied, but something goes wrong and they just end up with an alias, then they go and delete the original data, because they think they just copied it.

The second step is to regularly test that back up to ensure your files are there and you’re able to grab them anytime you need them. There’s no such thing as a “Set-It-And-Forget-It” back up system. You can check you Time Machine back up by holding “OPTION” when you click on Time Machine menu icon. This will “VERIFY” your current back up to ensure it does not have a problem that is detectable by the built-in check.

Also, don’t forget that Time Machine hard drives, AND Time Capsules live a hot and hard life. The Time Machine process is tough on hard drives, so after three or four years of loyal service, you should retire your Time Machine hard drive and turn that drive into a backup of your backup.

If you need help getting your back up set up, our advice is free, and we have external portable and desktop hard drives in stock!

If you have data you care about it needs to be backed up! Just because your computer is new or you just replaced the hard drive offers you very little protection. Hard drives can die at any time, and in fact there’s an increased risk of that occurring in the first 30 to 60 days of a hard drives’ life.

See our website for more info on “retiring” older drives and ensuring you have a safe back up.

The pictures we take are the most cherished and valuable items on most computers. Make sure the pictures you take this year make it onto your back up system as soon as you import them onto your computer. Also, as an added tip: Don’t have iPhoto delete your pictures off you camera. Leave them in two places, in iPhoto AND on your camera until you have them BACKED UP. You ALWAYS want to have your valuable data in TWO PLACES at all times.

Be sure to read the Blog clipping we link to titles “The 9 things we wish we did before our house burned down” You can find that here.

Before installing Snow Leopard be sure to read our Apple upgrade warning page first.

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Update 10/23/13 See our Mac OX X 10.9 (Mavericks) upgrade warnings page here:

Update 1/27/10: This topic was mentioned on the Apple forums. See the link here.

Apple released Snow Leopard to the public on August 28. This new version of OS X leaves behind support for the Power PC and it will only run on Intel based Macintosh computers. It’s faster, smaller in size, and much cheaper then previous Apple operating systems. At $29 it’s a good value and well worth the investment. It’s $29 for the single user, $49 for a 5 user family pack, and Tiger users can upgrade via the Mac Box Set which includes iLife ’09 and iWork ’09 as well as Snow Leopard.

Update 9/12/08: MacMedics has both Snow Leopard and Snow Leopard Family Packs in stock in both Lanham and Millersville locations.

Our initial reaction to Snow Leopard has been good, and most of the MacMedics are running it now and have been using it and testing it for some time. While we are excited for it, we have not yet begun to install it for clients just yet.

Before you take the leap to Snow Leopard (or any other update to Apple’s OS) be sure to read our software upgrade warnings page first. It can be found here, but to get the word our we’ve copied the text of the page to this Blog post.

As noted below, MacMedics also strongly recommends you have a tested and fully functional back up in place BEFORE you install any Apple system software update. Something could go wrong, and you could have a major problem on your hands. Whenever Apple releases a major update to OS X we usually see 4 or 5 clients’ hard drives die that first day. If your hard drive is dying or already unhealthy, the extra hard drive activity needed to install a major update is often all it takes to kill a hard drive. Please see our web page on the subject of hard drive failures.

For more detailed information on installing Apple system updates, please see details below.

Upgrading to Snow Leopard and/or installing any Apple OS X software update

Running a software update from Apple (or elsewhere) as soon as it pops up is not always the best plan. In our travels we very frequently see clients who have run a software update without planning ahead for it, and as a result end up with annoying issues, sudden incompatibilities, and even data loss. One thing to consider is how healthy your hard drive is overall before running an update. Never try to solve an issue such as system lock ups or crashing by installing the latest update, as symptoms like those can be exasperated by applying a software update.

Here’s our safety checklist for running software updates or installing a system upgrade.

1. Back up your data, and double check your back up before installing any update. [Don’t forget to unplug that back-up before installing an update]

2. Repair permissions – It’s not going to hurt anything, so a quick permission repair is always a good idea.

3. Disconnect any USB or FireWire hard drives, devices, or hubs.

4. Make sure you have enough free space on your hard drive – A safe bet is to have 10% of your total hard drive free.

5. Quit all applications while running software updates. The updates should be the only process running.

6. Consider the possibility that major applications and/or features might be affected by an Apple software update or system upgrade.

Don’t run a software update on a production machine while on a deadline. You want to be certain that the update will not cause more problems than it was designed to fix. If your machine is working, let it continue working as is, and plan to install the update after you know it’s not going to cause any issues for you. We install the updates on our test machines here at MacMedics as soon as they are released to Apple Developers, and again when they are released to the public.

Can your hard drive handle Snow Leopard?

Installing a new OS is like taking your hard drive to the gym. It can be quite a workout for an older hard drive, and whenever a new OS comes out, we always see a few dead hard drives as a result. No matter what you do, make sure you have a back up of your data before you begin! Also, don’t forget (or skip over) the important task of TESTING your back up. Time Machine is what many clients are running, and while it works most of the time, it can suffer from issues. It’s very hard to test that a Time Machine back up is totally working, and we often find ones that don’t work. Just keep that in mind when you plan your upgrade.

Prices have dropped significantly on hard drives over the last year or so. MacMedics now recommends retiring hard drives after three years in desktops, and two years in laptops. Be sure to check out new web page to find out why you should retire your older hard drive and to learn about our 5 rules of data protection and preservation. Why take a chance with your data when faster, larger, and generally more reliable drives are available. Moving to Snow Leopard is a great opportunity to get a new drive, while at the same time insuring your data is safe.

More Macintosh service accolades for MacMedics. This time from Johns Hopkins University.

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When you love what you do and do what you love, in MacMedics’ case fixing Macintosh computers, you’re bound to win some raving fans. Hard drive replacements, upgrades, and retirements are a very common repair we do at least a few of them every day (See our special web page at for more info on retiring your hard drive). When a client’s computer is out of service for ANY reason, our Apple certified technicians are all over it until the unit is successfully repaired and tested and back on our client’s desk.

A client from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine checked their laptop into the MacMedics Mac Clinic we jumped right on it. Also, because of our long history and connection to Johns Hopkins, MacMedics offers all Johns Hopkins students, faculty, and staff a 10% discount on all Macintosh service (parts and labor). If you’re from JHU, just flash your ID badge or show your business card to claim your discount.

It’s always a nice reaffirmation to get some positive feedback for your repair work, so we had a pleasant note waiting for us in today’s e-mail. Here’s what our client had to say about his recent experience with our in-lab service team:

My 2008 MacBook Pro came with a 120Gb hard drive. Needless to say that, if you are into digital photography, you have to upgrade quite fast to a bigger capacity hard drive. MacMedics’ service is simply unbeatable. They are fast, friendly, reliable, and affordable. I turned in my Macbook in the afternoon, I got it back the day after, with a brand new hard drive and a fresh copy of Mac OS X installed. I particularly appreciated MacMedics’ frequent email updates, that kept me informed of every step in the process. Moreover, my impression was that I was treated with the same professionalism and competence as a big business account would have been. This fact only makes a big difference. Best of all? A substantial discount for Johns Hopkins employees. You can’t go wrong with MacMedics!

Sebastien Morisot, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University 
School of Medicine