Preventing a MacBook crash

In September 2013, a beautiful, 13 inch, 2.96 lb. MacBook Pro was bought into existence. I took care of it in its infancy as a proud Apple owner should — I shut off apps that weren’t in use, I used the power button to put it to sleep instead of simply closing it, I even traveled with it in a padded case.  All efforts were proven to be for naught, however, when my 7 month old hard-drive crashed a week before finals.

It wasn’t until the crash that I realized how immensely dependent I am on my computer. When you lose all your documents, photos, and music, it feels like you’ve lost a lot more than files. Here’s how you can prevent losing everything, including your sanity, when you see this screen.


never good news


Cautionary tips: Some things to consider prior to the crash.

1. Back up everything, twice. If you’re like me and have an external hard-drive that you’re semi-faithful about backing up to, consider that external hard-drives can be more fragile than the drives in your computer. They’re a great thing to have, but ultimate safety is in the cloud. Get to know Dropbox and GoogleDrive really well.

2. Get Apple Care. The ability to call an Apple representative without additional costs should be incentive enough, but if it isn’t, consider how much money you will save on inevitable repairs. Apple Care costs between $79 and $99, whereas the cost of labor on a one-time repair is typically $95 at a minimum. That doesn’t include the cost of new hardware, which is also covered by Apple Care.

3.  The type of computer makes a difference. MacBook Pros (sans Retina display) are far more prone to crashing due to their mechanical hard-drive, as opposed to MacBook Airs, which use Flash Storage. Flash Storage, first used on iPhones, has no moving parts, which means less breaking down.


Probably what’s occurring


Preventing the crash: You threw caution to the wind and got a MacBook Pro ’cause you love the CD drive. Here’s how you prevent the crash.

1. Mind the Blinking Light. On the front-left of any MacBook Pro (without Retina Display) is a small white light. This light is off when the computer is in use. When the computer goes to sleep, this light turns on, and after a few moments, it starts to pulse. The purpose of this light is to inform you of the status of your hard-drive. When the light is solidly on, the hard-drive is still active and the computer should not be moved. When the light starts to pulse, you can safely move your computer as your drive as gone to sleep as well.


2. Avoid excess movement while your computer is in use. Your hard-drive can have up to 7200 rotations per minute. While it’s chugging along, its susceptible to damage if the computer itself is moving or rotating. Try to keep your computer steady as she goes.

3. Aim for flat surfaces and minimal pressure. For similar reasons as No. 2, try to type on flat surfaces and avoid applying excess pressure to the left side of your track pad, especially from the bottom (which is where your drive resides).


Apple store woes: Post crash, here’s what you can expect.

1. They don’t care. Apple store workers essentially only ever see problems. No one books a Genius appointment to chat about how functional their iPad is. In fact, Geniuses see hundreds of Macs a day, all with issues, many that have crashed. Unfortunately, they’re going not be that sympathetic.


“It’s not a question of ‘if’ your hard-drive will crash, it’s a question of ‘when.”

2. Whatever needs to be done is going to take hours. If they are booked for appointments and you need to get seen, get to the store promptly at opening or right before 2 p.m. Apple Stores use 2 p.m. as a reset time wherein they catch up or get ahead on appointments. Better to get there as early as possible though. They operate on a “first in, first out” schedule, meaning your MacBook will end up in a long queue of MacBooks that need work done.

3. You are being filmed, at many angles. Apple stores are hyper vigilant. Most stores have enough cameras to film every interaction an employee has. If you file a claim that your computer wasn’t taken care of properly, this footage will be reviewed and scrutinized. This can be used to your advantage or detriment — either way its definitely creepy.

4. They claim no responsibility over your data. Even though the crash isn’t your fault, they will take no responsibility for it either, and thus can only suggest you go to an outside service to recover your data. They may try to discourage you from doing this.  They will remind you of the possibility of unsuccessful recovery and how long it will take. You should weigh the options for yourself and recognize that Apple representatives would prefer to keep and refurbish your hard-drive as opposed to giving it back to you for restoration. Check your local options for data recovery.

Crashes are an unfortunately inevitable part depending on a computer. But don’t stress, you can always ask for an extension.

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