Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Technology Question: Reviving a broken laptop

So I recently bought a brand new Macbook and it works great and I love it. This post/question is for my boyfriend, who has a 4-5 year old Macbook Pro that has been pretty abused being hauled across the country. The keyboard no longer works (he plugs in a normal keyboard to work off of) and recently he tore the battery clean out as it stopped working and only uses it when plugged into a power source. Anyway... despite all that it was still usable up until a few days ago. Now when you turn it on, it gets stuck starting up (it never makes it past the grey screen with the apple logo and a loading wheel). Is there no hope for getting it to turn on completely?

If it is completely broken, is there a way to turn it's hard drive into an external hard drive? Or is there a way to get what he needs off of the hard drive?



  1. Most likely - the hard drive is dead. Hard drives rarely last more than 3-4 years, and often less in laptops. Find the original OSX install/recovery disk that came with it, then do the following as a quick test. Don't try to use the OSX from a newer machine - they are specific to the newer models.

    Turn the machine on
    Insert the disc
    Hold power until it turns back off
    Hold the "c" key
    Turn it on
    Keep holding C until you see a menu bar or the Mac OS X install screen

    If you can get that far - most likely the hard drive is dead and the rest of the laptop is ok. That's a $50 part and about an hour or two of labor to fix. will have links to parts and videos on how to do the repair.

    If that fails - then more could be wrong. It could be that both the CD & hard drive are bad, but it could be that the mainboard is bad ($500+)

    For more detailed testing, you'll need to do one of the following:
    - Go to an Apple store. If you're lucky, their tech can run their tools to see if the HD is bad, but they won't do more extensive testing without a fee.

    - Send it to - they're a reputable repair facility with good prices. They will figure out what's wrong for free, then send you a quote. If you don't want it repaired, they will offer to buy the broken laptop from you and use it for parts.

    - Go to a non-Apple repair facility recommended locally
    - Buy Tech Tool Pro ( for a more detailed test on your own. I don't recommend buying it unless you're doing your own repairs regularly


Thank for the help!