After nearly 4 years of faithful service, our G4 PowerBook has crashed. This machine has been rock-solid through 2 OS upgrades, a RAM upgrade, and a battery recall. On Sunday, the hard disk finally gave out.

We only lost a few recent files. I had a chance to grab them on Saturday, but unfortunately I misread the signs and thought it was a software problem. Hey, you install a bunch of stuff including a system update, and the machine freezes, you figure it’s a software problem. Until it happens again, and this time it won’t come back up. 😡

After doing all the diagnostics & resets I could possibly come up with, I set up an appointment at the local Apple Store’s “Genius Bar” during my lunch break today. They confirmed it was the drive, and since it’s long out of warranty, they pointed me to a local repair shop. (They were willing to do the job, but can only order parts directly from Apple, so it would’ve been insanely expensive just for the drive.)

Fortunately, as far as laptop hardware failures go, a hardware drive is relatively easy to fix. If the case were simpler, I’d be willing to do it myself, but as the Apple tech joked, “It takes 36 screws just to get the case open.” At least, I think he was joking.

So instead of having to replace the entire computer, or send it in and wait several weeks, we’re looking at ~$200 and 3–5 days. And while I was at it, I sprang for double the capacity.

I can live with that.

Update: It turned out to be the RAM upgrade, not the disk, which makes it considerably simpler to resolve. Finally got it back the following Monday.

7 thoughts on “Powerless

  1. This seems to be the weekend for crashes. I was just thinking about posting about my gf’s parents’ tech issues. While we were on our way to help fix their desktop computer, their laptop died.

    I don’t remember if you said you got yours back yet or not, but I hope it worked/works out well.

  2. No kidding! I’m not even going to go into some of the stuff I’ve been dealing with at work the last few days. It’s been…well, I’m not sure interesting is the right word.

    I just dropped the laptop off yesterday, so best case is probably Thursday to get it back.

    Good luck with your gf’s parents’ computers. It’s always frustrating when 2 machines go at once.

  3. Not yet. I called this afternoon for an update, but they hadn’t started with it. They said they’d call me back before 7:00 tonight, so they’ve got about an hour left.

    Even if it is ready today, at this point I’m not going to be able to get there before closing in rush hour traffic. Probably just as well. I don’t really want to spend tonight reinstalling software anyway!

  4. Finally got an update. They did call yesterday, but all they could tell me was that they were having problems getting the diagnostics to run!

    Anyway, the good news is that the drive seems to be physically okay, and I’ve asked them to grab a backup of the data (or at least the home directories). They booted it up while I was on the phone, logged into my account, saw my wallpaper, etc. Then it froze again, but hey, that’s farther than I’d gotten, and at least they’ve seen the problem in action.

    The inability to start seems to have been a bootloader issue where it was trying (and failing) to load the Linux partition that I haven’t used in years. Long enough, in fact, that I’d forgotten how much of the drive it takes up. Apparently it’s ~20 GB of a 60 GB drive, not ~5 GB of a 40 GB drive.

    They’re currently looking at the RAM upgrade as the culprit. This was the one thing I wanted to test on Sunday, but couldn’t, because one of the screws holding on the panel had been stripped (the head, not the threads).

  5. They confirmed that it’s the RAM. Which is actually better than it being the drive, because it’s easier to replace and it went recently enough that there shouldn’t be any actual loss of data.

    We should have it back today or Monday!

    On the minus side, if it weren’t for that stripped screw, I probably would’ve been able to test the machine without it, and gone down to Fry’s that afternoon for replacement memory. For want of a nail…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.