Suspected Mac hard drive fail

From Lindy J. in Mississippi via Facebook:

Think my hard drive is going bad in my Mac. Your opinion of signs and symptoms and is apple store repair your recommendation? [My husband] says ask you the savvy computer guy! Thanks in advance!!


Depending on the age of the Mac…

  1. If it’s a mechanical drive (a traditional spinning hard drive) if it’s going bad there a few things that would indicate. A ‘hard click’ noise is usually a red flag.
    If you are opening files, etc and you hear it ‘grinding’ that’s not a sign of it going bad, it has just become heavily fragmented.
  2. If it’s a newer model Mac, it could possibly have a solid-state drive (no moving parts) and could be a different set of issues.
  3. Another issue that would make you think it was the hard drive would be if the connection on the main board in the Mac was going bad.

A failing hard drive is usually something you can recover from pretty easily.

The Apple Store should charge you a flat-rate to fix it. The kids out front are just handlers, but the guys in the back know what they are doing. They should be able to back it up, replace drive and have you going again in a couple of days for less than $200 in labor (diagnosis and repair) plus parts (possibly a new drive).

If your Mac has AppleCare, you should be able to get away from there for a $99 deductible.

Afterwards, if you don’t already have a backup solution, I suggest you get one. You can use an online solution like BackBlaze (around $4/mo) or buy yourself an external drive (inexpensive also). Mac OS X has a built in backup solution for using external hard drives called Time Machine. It is very easy to use.

If you have a catastrophic crash, you at least have your data in the cloud (BackBlaze, etc.) or you have it there on your desk on the external drive. Or do both. There isn’t anything wrong with having more than one backup. Trust me on this one. If you have a house fire and need to get out and you have valuable stuff on your Mac you could grab the Mac and the external hard drive on the way out the door. Or if your data is in the cloud, you could just get yourself and your family out (leave the cat), let insurance replace the computer, but you can still get your data back because it’s out there in the cloud waiting for you to connect a possible new Mac to it.