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Hard Drive Issues on a Mac – A Rarity, but a Pain Nonetheless Earlier this week I received a call from a local business client who was having problems publishing a self-maintained website for their store. Although my service call began with troubleshooting a problematic website, the situation promptly escalated to showing symptoms of a serious hardware issue.
At first it seemed like the Macbook Pro owner’s issues were purely related to iWeb and needing to be properly configured for their web hosting account. It wasn’t long before I discovered that her Mac was having issues accessing files from its hard drive.
And that’s when it happened Upon a system restart, the Mac would not boot past the initial gray screen with Apple logo, spinning wheel and frozen progress bar. It was quite obvious the computer was not successfully accessing its operating system files but it was too early yet to be sure whether it was due to mechanical issues with the hard drive or motherboard, missing or corrupted files stored on the hard drive. I was going to have to narrow it down before making a diagnosis that could cost the client unnecessary data loss, expenses for hardware or labor. I would suggest the following steps that I tried prior to assuming a hard drive failure: 1. Attempt to repair your system drive using Disk Utility. Obviously if you are stuck at the gray screen of agony, booting past it isn’t an option. But you can boot from your system disc labeled Mac OS Install DVD.
To do so, pop it into your optical drive and hold the Alt/Option key while you power up the computer. Keep holding it til you see your boot drive options and then click the Mac OS Install DVD to boot from it. Once past the language selection, you can access utilities from the top menu.
Disk Utility is the one you want. When it opens, click on your hard drive in the left column sidebar and the click Verify Disk followed by Repair Disk under First Aid. If your computer completes its process, then it might just be your lucky day. You should now initiate a normal restart to see if your problem has been resolved. But if your situation is like mine, you might get failures indicating the hard drive is unreadable. Pass go, but do not collect $200.
If you DON’T have a Mac OS install DVD OR you DO have access to another Mac and a firewire cable, try booting in Target Disk Mode. This is when you boot your afflicted machine as though it was an external drive to a healthy Mac. To do so, first turn on your sick Mac while holding down the T key and you will see a gray screen with a large occasionally moving Firewire logo. You can now connect the two computers via firewire cable and boot the healthy computer while holding the Alt/Option key as described above. Your sickly computer’s hard drive in target disk mode should appear as a boot option on your healthy computer. Choose it and proceed.
If you are able to boot to it successfully, you can try again to run Disk Utility from Applications-Utilities and to verify/repair the hard drive. If this works without a hitch, again try and reboot your computer normally to see if your problem has been solved.
If not, keep reading. This option is the one that surprisingly worked for me: Boot into Mac Safe Mode while showing its progress in a command line UI. Your Mac will automatically attempt some more gloves-come-off disk repair measures when you boot into safe mode. To start up into standard Safe Mode (to Safe Boot), do this:. Be sure your Mac is shut down.
Press the power button. Immediately after you hear the startup tone, hold the Shift key.
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The Shift key should be held as soon as possible after the startup tone, but not before the tone. Release the Shift key when you see the gray Apple icon and the progress indicator (looks like a spinning gear).
To start up into Safe Mode with display of the progress in a command line UI, do the same as above EXCEPT hold the Command and V keys along with Shift. In my case this process worked and I was able to boot into safe mode with the affected computer. You can now restart the computer as normal and you will likely be able to boot now, possibly after a brief progress bar display during bootup. If this works for you, you should still be concerned! Even though your computer is working seemingly normally, you should consider yourself blessed (I don’t do luck).
If you’ve found my advice helpful so far, heed my next directive: use your extra life to immediately make an entire Time Machine backup onto a reliable clean external hard drive. You will need this if/when your hard drive crashes if you want to recover your documents and/or applications. If none of the above worked for you, it may be time to bring out the big guns if you really need to save your data. Try an advanced data recovery software such as DiskWarrior or Disk Drill. Short of sending your hard drive to an expensive data recovery specialist, this might be your last resort for a DIY fix. These solutions may require you to remove your hard drive, use a live boot cd or target disk mode. You should refer to their respective developer’s website for a thorough outline of the process.
In Conclusion and in Summary In any case, there is a reason your hard drive is having these issues. Replacing your hard drive very soon should be your plan especially if you have a hard drive more than 3 years old and you don’t have a strong hunch that you caused your own issue in any way.
My Recommended Hard Drive Purchase to Fix or Upgrade Your Macbook I recommend Seagate Momentus 7200 RPM hard drives and I use them in my own and client’s machines. Replacing my original Hitachi hard drive (which had incidentally NOT failed, but was critically full at only 160GB) truly breathed new life into my Macbook Pro. Not only did it provide tons more storage space for me, but the 7200RPM performance and larger 16MB cache has greater responsiveness and performance. (The one that I chose for my 2007 Macbook Pro). Did this article help you?
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In today’s era of multi-terabyte hard drives, many of us don’t keep as close an eye on our disk usage as we used to. Still, even the largest drives fill up eventually. If you don’t know how to check your disk space use on OS X, here’s where to look. Options 1 and 2: From the Finder The Finder gives you a couple ways to see how much free disk space you have.
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These are the easiest ways. Preview your storage device. In macOS, if you select and item in the Finder and press the spacebar on your keyboard, you get a preview of the item. For example, if you select a text document and then press the spacebar, you can see what’s in the document without actually opening it. IDG You can use preview to check your storage device’s capacity. Select the storage device on the Desktop. (To make your storage device appear on your Desktop, go to the Finder and select Finder Preferences, click on General, and modify the setting for Show these items on the Desktop.) Or open a Finder window, look in the left column, under the Devices heading, and select the storage device.
Press the spacebar. You should see a window open that shows the capacity of your storage device and the available space. To close the window, press spacebar again, or press Command-W, or click on the close-window icon (the circle X) in the upper left. Finder window status bar. If you would like to have an overview of your free disk space at all times from the Finder, you can turn on the Finder’s status bar.
Open a Finder window if you don’t have one open already (click the Finder’s Dock icon or go to File New Finder Window). Open the View menu and select Show status bar. This will show you how many items are in the current folder, and if you’re viewing a folder on your hard drive (such as your Applications or Documents folder), you’ll also get a readout of your hard drive’s free space. IDG Want an always-visible overview of your disk usage? Go to the View menu and select Show Status Bar.
Options 3: Get Info IDG The Get Info box is an easy way to check your disk’s capacity and used space. Find your hard drive in the Finder and select it. If it appears in the Finder window sidebar or on the Desktop (it doesn’t by default—go to Finder Preferences to change that), click your hard drive’s icon in either of those spots. If your hard drive icon doesn’t appear there, go to Go Computer, then click the hard drive icon under Devices.
Click the File menu, and select Get Info, or press Comand-I on your keyboard. The Info window shows the capacity, available space, and used space, as well as other information. Option 4: About This Mac In recent versions of macOS (Yosemite or later), you can easily check your disk usage from the About box.
Open the Apple menu, then select About This Mac. Click the Storage tab in the toolbar to see how much disk space you have available. (On OS X Mountain Lion or Mavericks, click the More info button, then click Storage.) You also get a simplified overview of what sort of files are eating up your storage space. IDG The Mac's About box is the easiest way to see your hard drive’s free space. (macOS High Sierra shown above.) Option 5: From Disk Utility You can also view your free disk space from your Mac’s Disk Utility app.
Open Spotlight by clicking the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of the screen, then type Disk Utility in the search box that appears. Once Disk Utility comes up in the list and is highlighted, press the Enter key. Disk Utility is also found in Applications Utilities.
Once Disk Utility opens, select your hard drive’s name from the list. You can see your drive’s capacity, its available space, its used space, and other info. You can also check the free space for any drive you have connected to your Mac from this window, be it a USB flash drive or external hard drive. IDG Disk Utility provides basic information about your hard drive and other disks. It also lets you repair or reformat your disks.