The continuing PowerBook saga

It’s been over a month since I wrote anything about the boot failure issues on my PowerBook. It hasn’t been for lack of material; rather, no single issue has warranted a post of its own. But looking back, I now have a month of experiences (mostly bad) to relate.

DiskWarrior wasn’t able to recover my disk. I tried DataRescue, and it seemed to work. (More details below.) I was hoping to wait until I verified DataRescue’s performance before I wrote about it, but I haven’t been able to restore my data yet. Why? Well…

We purchased 3-year warranties when we bought our PowerBooks. Some time during the first year, you have to fill out the AppleCare warranty registration. I did this, but I made a mistake on the paperwork. They claim to have notified me of this, and I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. (My desk is buried under about 3 feet of crap, which could easily be hiding the notification letter.) So now, since my PowerBook died after the first year, I had to jump through several hoops to get my additional two-year warranty activated. This took about 1.5 weeks to get straightened out.

While I was waiting for my AppleCare warranty paperwork, I stopped by my local Apple store. I wanted to find out if I could keep my busted disk drive for a few days after they gave me a replacement drive, in order to attempt recovery of the drive’s data. The person I spoke with at the retail counter assured that this was possible. When I finally got my warranty authorization, I took my laptop to the GeniusBar. They ran some diagnostics to verify the disk failure and began filling out a work authorization when I asked about keeping my old disk. Now I was told that there was no way I could keep my old disk. Grrrr! So I took my baby home for one final data recovery session. (Lesson learned: Never ask warranty questions at the retail counter! Always head to the Genius Bar for this sort of thing.)

By now, it’s early December. My PowerBook G4 has been dead for over two months! I had received the copy of DataRescue II that I ordered, so I hooked up a FireWire drive and booted DR2. (The DiskWarrior CD was still in the drive. In order to eject the CD-ROM, I had to hold down the mouse button while powering up the laptop.) DR2 seemed to work great. It took several hours to examine the disk, but it beat the pants off DiskWarrior! Since I was going to permanently lose the disk, I ran several recovery passes using nearly every trick that DR2 provided, saving both the file/directory structure as well as “content-based recovery” which is able to recognize JPEG, MP3, PNG, et cetera, files based on their content. When the AppleStore opened the next morning, I was able to make an appointment at the GeniusBar using the Concierge service. (Requires Flash.) They didn’t have a replacement disk available at the store, so they suggested sending it in for “depot repair” since it would probably take a day or two longer for them to order a replacement disk and perform the repair at the store.

On December 4, I finally got my laptop in for repair. That was a Sunday, so it should have been shipped out on Monday. The “repair” is merely replacing the hard drive, which ought to take under an hour. Then the unit was going to be shipped back to me. This should have been finished in about a week, right? Wrong! Problem number 1: some chowderhead at the depot accused me (via a customer service person) of installing a non-Apple hard drive, so my warranty was void. I assured the CS rep that I hadn’t opened the case, so she asked the repair tech to send her photos of the “unauthorized” drive. A day later, I got another call from the CS rep telling me that the Apple sticker was clearly visible in the photo so she graciously reinstated my warranty and authorized the repair. (There went at least two days.) I was told to expect my system back early the following week (12-14 December). Well, it didn’t arrive last Monday, and I was meeting with a vendor all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday morning, (16 Dec 2005), I still hadn’t seen my baby so I called Apple. It turns out that they had been sitting on my repair because they didn’t have the exact same part in stock, and they won’t do anything (beyond ordering the part) until two weeks have passed! I guess last Friday was close enough to the 2-week limit that they initiated a “thorough inventory check” to see if there are any identical hard drives stashed away somewhere. They will supposedly wait two business days for a response on this, before they allow substitution by an upgraded part. So my PowerBook should be repaired tomorrow and shipped back to me, but the PowerBook G4 Support page still shows “On hold – Part on order” as the current status.

Once I actually receive my laptop, I’ll finally get to see how well Data Rescue performed. More to come…

About Jim Vanderveen

I'm a bit of a Renaissance man, with far too many hobbies for my free time! But more important than any hobby is my family. My proudest accomplishment has been raising some great kids! And somehow convincing my wife to put up with me since 1988. ;)
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One Response to The continuing PowerBook saga

  1. NB says:

    Hi,

    A colleague with a PowerBook G4 just ran into the same issue, albeit not with the filesystem on the hard disk but with his FileVault home folder

    It was fixed by booting normally, logging in as root (any other user would have done too), attaching the sparseimage with hdiutil and running fsck_hfs with the -r option (to force a rebuild of the catalog).

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