5.24.2012

HOW TO SAVE YOUR POOR, WATERLOGGED MACBOOK HARD DRIVE


back in january, my macbook pro hooked up with half of an unscrewed bottle of diet pepsi and made broken laptop babies. it was terribly romantic for them i am sure, but i felt like such a boob. 

after they called time-of-death on my laptop at the genius bar, i was referred to a company that specializes in hard drive recovery. their initial estimate was something like $750. um, ouch. i figured someone could probably recover my hard drive for much cheaper, but nothing much came of my search. 

and then one random tuesday, a nice employee at the best buy let it slip that all i really needed was a cable and a little DIY spirit. he gave me the run down, and $35 later i was ready to take me apart some hard drive, autopsy style. i felt a little like dana scully hovering over an alien with a scalpel.

should you find yourself in a similar situation where your computer hath kicked the bucket and your hard drive might be salvageable but you're not at all sure, here is what you do. (now that i've done it it seems incredibly obvious, but for five whole months i was clueless--maybe you are too?)

step one: find a teeny tiny screw driver, and unscrew the million teeny tiny screws along the bottom of your laptop.


step two: pull off the backing and take a peek.
your hard drive will be in the bottom left corner, right there. 
(i had already pulled mine out when i took this photo and was way too nervous to put it back in for a photo.)


step three: plug in yo cable.
this is what the hard drive end of your cable looks like. i found an old ipod sleeve and slipped my hard drive inside. from what i've read, you don't want too much exposure on these guys. probably i should buy a real enclosure one of these days.


step four: plug the cable into your usb port. 
step four point five: pray anything comes up.


with any luck, your new computer will recognize your old hard drive just like it recognizes any external hard drive, including all of the data inside. the happy ending for me was, it worked! all my old photos, all my old music... i could have cried tears of joy. (maybe i did.) 

the best $750 $220 $35 i ever spent! 

good luck and happy hard drive recovering!

40 comments :

  1. Very impressive. I feel like you should pay yourself the $750 (minus 35?) for recovering the hard drive. Shopping spreeeeeeee!

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  2. Aw, nice people are nice.

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  3. This is great. Thank you! I'm wondering if this method works after your hard drive kicked the bucket on its own (you receive the screen of death). We've owned Macs for years and we've found our hard drives always seem to crash anytime after a short 18 months (what gives, Apple?!)...so we've been thru plenty a HD recovery (ooouuuch). Seems we'll give this method a try first from now on.

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  4. ahhh about a year and half ago my hard drive crashed and i went to the genius bar and they wanted me to pay like $300 for the smallest hard drive ever. instead i went online and found one for $45 that was 500GB. my husband and i replaced it, way better than spending $300. i definitely feel like you can do it yourself as long as you have the worlds smallest screw driver. haha.

    K

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  5. Wow. Thank you for sharing! I am SO happy for you that you got all that stuff back! Seriously, just reading about people losing all their photos makes me want to cry. It's one of my biggest fears and it's so upsetting. Yay for fixing it on your own for just $35! :)

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  6. AnonymousMay 24, 2012

    that's awesome! made me squeal out loud for you.

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  7. Congratulations for your good job!
    Kisses

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  8. hey! that's $715 you can spend on a reward for yourself for making it through your first autopsy, and for being thrifty! haha.

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  9. Yay for saving SO much money! I used to work with computers at my high school, taking them apart and putting them back together, but it was always with PC's. I don't know if I would be daring enough to do it with a Mac!

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  10. Hooray! Glad you got it and glad you shared the info. My mac JUST had a nasty run in with a faulty glass of water. The hard drive was dry and the rest of the insides were seemingly dry, but she wouldn't come back on. :( I'm just glad I still have my drive. There's 4.5 years and 3 kids' worth of photos on there!

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  11. Oh, awesome sauce. I desperately need to recover my hard drive, but it's a Dell, not a Mac. wah-waaah. Still, I bet some variation on this would totally work. Thanks!! (Seriously. I have all of my son's photos from birth to two years old on that old dead thing. Ugh.)

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  12. This is the best DIY ever!!!! I was just thinking about how I needed to do this!

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  13. I need to do this for my dearly departed macbook pro circa 2006. what was the type of cable you bought?

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  14. I wish I knew this 3 years ago when my husband's imac kicked the bucket. Good to know now.

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  15. There is no better feeling than this! My insides wrenched for you when your computer crashed--and now you have Huck's little life in photos back!

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  16. I love it! When someone helps you save money and doesn't take advantage. That is such a blessing. So is the recovery of your pics and music. :)

    http://hamershappenings.blogspot.com

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  17. you are pretty freakin'-deakin' amazing. glad to see the hard drive was resurrected and such! and the bonus is that you now have a tiny screwdriver! who wouldn't want one of those?

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  18. Oh my gosh, I love you. I mean really, I LOVE YOU. I have an old ibook g4 whose lovely screen pooped out on me and I never knew how I was going to access all my files and music and pictures. And now I do. YESSSS!

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  19. oh wow!! I'm so happy that it worked for you and THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing!!

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  20. Wow!!! Thank you thank you - we have two computers - one macbook pro that needs some data recovered. We'll definitely be trying this trick to see if anything comes up.

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  21. wow, that crazy! good job!

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  22. How good is this blog lately? This blog is so good lately!

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  23. hooray for you! and good to know!

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  24. Nice work - very impressed! We have now had a Macbook + liquid run-in 3 times now... don't ask, all my husband's doing. Last time it was really bad (a green smoothie), we turned it off immediately and then ran to Tekserve (in NY) to do a clean of it. They will try and salvage the entire computer for about $200 - and it worked! It was worth the money, so we didn't just run to replacing the =$2000 laptop.

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  25. This is really REALLY good to know. Thanks, Nat.

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  26. Twice now I've had this panic and the first time I had to pay $250 to the Sony guys to recover my stuff. This is the best information EVER!

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  27. This is really great,but make sure to not leave your harddrive in that ipode holder, if it over heats(there are fans on the hardrive in your laptop.) You will fry your harddrive, but I am also assuming you just wanted to get your stuff off of it and called it done.

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  28. am i an idiot and missing a link to where to buy the cable?

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  29. AnonymousMay 24, 2012

    I hope I never have to use this advice but I'm sure glad you shared this trick... just in case!

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  30. hurrah! personally, I ask my own personal geek squad (husband or brother or other brother) to do these things for me. But just think! now you ARE the geek squad!

    "I'm on the brute squad."
    "You ARE the brute squad."

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  31. GIRL POWER! I love this post. This is the brilliance of DIY. I am SO glad you didn't pay 750 bucks for that! Highway robbery, I tell ya. Kudos to you for being clever.

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  32. Awesome...now that you have saved your info...pony up the $5 a month to an automated online back-up service like backblaze or carbonite...best monthly investment you can make

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  33. awesome! I would be devastated if I lost everything. I am so terrible about backing up. I hope to get better when I get my new laptop. (fingers crossed a mac!)

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  34. Thank you! Thank you! You are a godsend for this. My macbook died 3 weeks ago after 5 wonderful years of service. Thank you!!

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  35. AnonymousMay 31, 2012

    omg thank you so much for this post ....hope my wedding photos are still in my hard drive crossing fingers

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  36. Could be saving my daughter's life. Dead macbook all music on dead computer. hoping it is the motherboard and the hard drive is still intact. Can I transfer mac data to pc hardrive?

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  38. What kind of cable did you use? I need to buy one to hook up my old hard drive, but I can't for the life of me find any useful links to tell me what type to get!

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  39. What kind of cable did you use? I need to buy one to hook up my old hard drive, but I can't for the life of me find any useful links to tell me what type to get!

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