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Archive for the ‘Hard Drives’ tag

MacMedics Bring Your Own Hard Drive Installation Service $150

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So you have an Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro that needs a larger hard drive. Not an uncommon problem.

Maybe someone in your family decided to give you the gift of a bare hard drive, or maybe you have another 2.5” drive that is kicking around. In either case you decide that you don’t have the time, knowledge, or tools to install the drive into your Mac computer. Also, if your Apple laptop is under warranty, the hard drive is NOT a user installable part, so if you install it yourself, you’ll void your Apple warranty. Thankfully, MacMedics is an Apple Authorized Service Provider who employs Apple Certified Technicians.

MacMedics to the rescue! We’ve installed thousands of hard drives in Apple laptops, so we can install yours as well. For $150 we’ll install your new hard drive and perform a bit-by-bit clone of your data from your old drive to your new hard drive. As long as your old drive is healthy enough to copy, $150 is all you pay. In most cases this service can be performed same day, if you bring in your Apple laptop in the morning.

Don’t have your own hard drive and you don’t trust Best Buy to sell you the right speed, brand, or size of hard drive? Don’t worry as both MacMedics service locations in Millersville and Lanham, Maryland stock all sizes, speeds, and types of drives.

So from 160 GB all the way up to 1 TB (depending on your model of laptop), we can help!

MacMedics Case File: iBook G4 Hard Drive Data Recovery Job Sounds LIke A Chicken

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This iBook hard drive came into the MacMedics Lab for data recovery. The hard drive came out of an iBook G4. Sadly the client did not have their data backed up. This hard drive has a serious problem and it now sounds like a chicken!

Please ensure you have an automated, functional, and fully tested back up system in place. Hard drives can die at any time. See our website for more information.

Written by Dana Stibolt

July 22nd, 2010 at 8:19 am

Snowed In Today? This Would Be An Excellent Time To Check Your Time Machine Or Other Macintosh Backup System

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Are You Snowed In Baltimore Or Washington DC Today? This Would Be An Excellent Time To Check Your Time Machine Or Other Macintosh Backup System.

Are you snowed in the Baltimore-Washington area? A snow day is an excellent time to review your Mac’s back up plan, add an extra layer of protection, or test the back up you already have running! Don’t forget, there’s no such thing a set-it-and-forget it backup plan! (This post has links to all my other posts on this topic. Read, learn, and protect your data.)

We also see a rise in data loss that can be attributed to folks moving data or computers around during bad weather. If you are moving your data, switching back ups, or upgrading to a new computer, or doing ANY type of data housekeeping, please read this Blog post first.

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.

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

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This Blog post is from Kory Barrett from MacMedics Washington:

Even the employees here at MacMedics are not immune to Macintosh troubles. No matter how closely we follow our own advice, computers being the mortal devices that they are, we too experience problems.

So it wasn’t a real shock when my MacBook Pro recently failed. But in the process I became a huge fan of a new backup solution.

It all started at home, when I opened up my unit to check email before turning in for the night. However, I immediately sensed a problem. Though the power light on my latch release button was a solid white as normal, my screen stayed completely dark. No matter what I attempted I couldn’t generate video. Thinking it was stuck in a “sleep” state I tried several methods to wake it up. When that didn’t work I shut down the unit and restarted it. I tried several different startup tricks (zapping the PRAM, Option-boot, etc.), all to no avail.

Realizing that I had a real problem, I decided to hold off until the following morning when I’d be returning to our lab. The question of the integrity of my data didn’t really enter my mind at this point, as the symptoms did not suggest a hard drive failure. There were no unusual sounds that I could detect (grinding, screeching that we often hear when drives fail), and besides, I back my data up on a nightly basis using Time Machine to an Apple Time Capsule that I have at home.

Upon arriving in the office the next day, we methodically diagnosed the problem. When we concluded there was an internal hardware failure and began to disassemble the unit, I did finally start to get anxious about my data. What if my backup wasn’t reliable? I do perform sample tests from time to time, but I’d never done a full restore from it, and actually we’ve seen at least a small number of failures when trying to restore from a Time Machine backup. And even if it were successful, A) I’d still have lost all the work I’d completed since my last backup ran (a full day’s worth), and B) my backup was at home, meaning I’d have to leave work and spend a good part of the day going through the restore process, meaning more lost time.

So, it got to a point where I couldn’t wait to get the drive out of my MacBook Pro and attach it to our lab equipment to verify that my data was OK. Thankfully, it was, and the cause of my problem was a bad logic board. We replaced the board and I was back up and running. My worst fears were never realized.

But while the outcome was positive, it did get me thinking. If my drive had failed, how reliable was my backup? How much important data would I have lost in the day of work since my backup last executed? And had I really considered the time it would have taken me to head home and go through a full restore? Looking at it this way I was not satisfied with my backup plan, which obviously needed improvement.

It’s now about a week later, and I feel really good about what I’m doing. A colleague recommended a product to me that I am now using. It runs separately from my nightly Time Machine backup at home, meaning my data is in three places. But, while my nightly backup has its benefits, my additional new backup has others. What I did was install a 2nd, internal hard drive in my MacBook Pro. Using Intego’s Personal Backup software, I “clone” my hard drive to this 2nd internal backup drive several times a day. It runs quickly and does not slow down my machine in the process. Now, if my primary drive ever fails, I can easily reboot my machine to my cloned backup and get back up and running right away.

So now I’m really covered. If my drive fails, I have an updated internal backup. If my laptop gets stolen, I have a separate backup at home. I feel very comfortable that my data is well protected, and shouldn’t we all be?

But there’s the obvious question – “How did I fit a 2nd hard drive inside my MacBook Pro”? To do so, I sacrificed my internal SuperDrive. In its place I purchased a “sled” that holds the 2nd hard drive, designed to fit right where the SuperDrive was. I had asked myself “How often do I really need my SuperDrive anyway?”, and realized it wasn’t too often. For those rare occasions I also purchased an external SuperDrive. It’s small and very portable, and fits nicely in my laptop bag. So whenever I do need to install from a disk or burn a CD or DVD, I can still do so.

Cost-wise, including the internal drive sled, the hard drive itself, backup software, and the external SuperDrive, this solution was only about $100 more than a typical external hard drive backup. For me, it was well worth it.

If you are interested in learning more, please let us know, as we’d be happy to set this up for you. You really can’t be too careful with your data, and remember, it’s not a matter of if a drive will fail, it’s a matter of when.

More reading on hard drive failure and backups can be found at Also be sure to read our post about Time Machine here.

Current and new subscribers to the MacMedics newsletter can request our free Time Machine white paper.

Written by Dana Stibolt

April 29th, 2009 at 9:03 am

New or old – Hard drives can die at anytime!

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New or old, hard drives can die at any time. This hard drive from a 2 month old MacBook Pro Unibody has failed without warning resulting in data loss. Always have a back up, and be sure that back up is tested and working before you start generating new data. See our website at

Written by Dana Stibolt

February 23rd, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Get your hard drive erased & recycled for free

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The MacMedics office in Millersville, MD will securely erase your hard drive and responsibly recycle it for you free of charge. Drop off your hard drive, sign a data destruction waiver, and we’ll take of the rest. If you drop off your hard drive, iPod, or older Macintosh computer for data destruction, we’ll give you a coupon for $10 off an iPod repair, or $25 off the price of a new Mac.

James Wiebe of Wiebetech recently gave us Drive eRazer that we are using to perform this service. This little device will erase drives to Department of Defense security standards.

Drive eRazer

Drive eRazer

Written by Dana Stibolt

August 31st, 2008 at 12:25 pm

MacBook hard drives fail more often than others

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Here at MacMedics we see more in-warranty MacBook hard drives fail than any other type of Apple hard drive (laptop or desktop). This may be due to an issue with a certain type of failure in some MacBook hard drives where the assembly’s read/write head detaches (ouch), making recovery impossible. As a result, we recommend that our client’s MacBook hard drives be “retired” after 1 year of use. If you have a MacBook computer used for mission critical needs (or you’re just really concerned about your data or spend lots of time traveling), then it might be wise to simply install a more robust hard drive as soon as you can. The MacBook’s factory hard drive could be installed into an external case to make a handy back up drive. You could also carry your original drive with you as a “spare-in-the-air” back up loaded with a fresh OS and all of your applications in case your drive fails (thus rendering your MacBook useless in most cases) during a photo shoot or at a client presentation. The MacBook hard drive can be replaced in the field in case of an emergency, so having a spare drive with you at all times makes pretty good sense. We think that it’s worth the $100 to have a laptop that you know you can could on when the chips are down.

Written by Dana Stibolt

January 13th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Hard drives die!

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We wanted to let you know about some of MacMedics’ 2008 New Year’s resolutions a little early.

Almost every day we learn about folks with varying degrees of data loss. We hate hearing about this topic, as there’s always a sad story involved. We’re pledging to educate our clients even more about the risks of hard drive failure.

There are four main points we want to address:

 1. Always have your data in two places.

 2. Use an automatic back-up program & test your back-up regularly.

 3.  Proactively retire hard drives before they start to fade away or fail outright.

 4. If you ever hear your hard drive make a funny noise (popping, clicking, or grinding), turn off the computer and give us a call right away for advice.

Buying a new hard drive to replace your current drive is smart, especially if it will allow you to end up with an automatic back-up system. Having new drive installed before 2007 ends might also make sense so you can book some additional business expenses in the current year. The Maryland sales tax rate will increase to 6% on 1/3/08, making all hardware purchases more expensive.

Another great reason is if you’re planning an upgrade to Leopard, Apple’s new version of OS X. If your machine is a few years old, you should be looking at retiring your hard drive anyways, but upgrading to Leopard with a new, larger, and faster hard drive is wise. In most cases, your old hard drive can be incorporated into a new, automatic back up system as well.

Hard drives are really inexpensive (please visit our website to get our latest price sheet, or send us an e-mail), so much so, that installing a new drive as part of service call can be more cost effective that trying to erase, test, and re-use an older hard drive for Leopard.

Want more details? Please visit our new website with more information on this topic at:

USB flash drives & data loss

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Memory installed in computers in general is a pretty common failure. Flash drives and all memory products are a good case of you get what you pay for. In the case of Flash/Thumb drives they should not be your only data back up. While there are no moving parts, the memory can be worn out over time. They do have a rating, and if you buy a cheap, no name device, chances are it’s going to have a lower rating than a brand name device. For folks that are always writing to and changing the files on a flash drive, that drive will wear out at some point. Flash drives do offer unlimited read access. There is also a chance of the device becoming damaged. Most commonly, the flash drive can get broken while in use (in the computer) by the device getting knocked into or out of the USB port. I see USB flash drive data loss fairly often, and if you do a search on Google for “Flash Drive data recovery” over 200,000 results come back, so somebody is losing data. With all storage devices, you should always have your data in two places. Flash drives are well suited for transporting data from home to work, but in my honest opinion they don’t make a good place to store your data, if it’s not already stored someplace else.

Written by Dana Stibolt

November 10th, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Data Recovery

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