Saturday, 7 July 2007

iBook died: retrieving the data

Can you imagine what's the worst things that can happen when you are at the end of semester, polishing your last assignments in order to achieve the highest marks... Can you imagine loosing all that data just a few days before the due date? Well, that's just what happened to me!

I usually work at home on my PC, but occasionally I used to copy the data to my iBook to work at the uni in case I had some free time in between the lectures. Yeah, I used to, because my iBook is now dead, without a single spark of life in it. Well, what happened is: my break was just going to finish and I routinely stretched my arm towards my bag pocket to search for the USB key. I always do that, you know, just in case anything goes bad, I copy the last files I worked on before putting the laptop to sleep.

Well, to my surprise I somehow forgot the usb key at home, but I thought 'That's ok, its not like something is going to happen exactly today, right'. So I close the iBook and wait for that cute white 'sleep led' to light up.... but nothing happens. I lift the screen back up - black... I drag over the touchpad, press space a few times.... nothing.

Actually, it was not the first time such a thing happened - it looks like the laptop is somehow bugged and stops somewhere in between the 'sleep' and 'awake' state. As I always do, I detached the battery to turn iBook off and restart it again. There's no restart button on that laptop anyway. But this time it wouldn't turn on. The only thing I heard was the short 'scratching' of the disk as it turned on and that was it. I tried to turn it on a few more times later at home but to no avail.

I took the laptop to the nearest Apple store and they told me they want 70$ AUD just to 'have a look at it' and 150$ more to retrieve the data. I thought no way, I am not paying that money for something I can do myself. Fortunately, I have some really cool friends that use a Mac as well, and one of them provided me with an e-book with the pictures of the whole process of disassembling an iBook which came very much handy! If you want to do it too, I suggest you google for 'ibook repair book' ;)

So I went to nearest Dick Smith to buy all the necessary tools like tiny hex screwdrivers etc. The disassembling itself went quite smooth, the largest struggle being sorting out all the screws so I could properly place them back when assembling the laptop again. What I did was, I just placed them on a sheet of paper, writing aside where the screws go, but I suggest buying a toolbox with those small compartments for screws, because it's very easy to accidentally move the paper and mix all the screws lying on it.

After 'tearing' apart the laptop's case and protective shields, removing the memory card and airport card and all the other necessary things, the flashy iBook's internals showed up. You can see how smartly and precisely its architecture was designed to keep it as slim as possible. Everything just fits nicely together. However, this super slim architecture makes it hard to replace one single thing, so you have to really open both sides of the laptop (upper and lower) to be able to get the hard drive out. Well, a few more screwdriver turns and the hard drive was finally lying in front of me. My eyes were almost slightly aroused as I held it in my hand, knowing my precious data is somewhere there, among those ones and zeros! :)

I forgot one thing, though: the hard drive inside a laptop of course doesn't use the 3.5 inch IDE connector that PC's do. So I had to buy this 3.5 to 2.5 inch IDE adapter. Unfortunately, I also had no place to fix the tiny hard drive with screws inside the PC case, so I just used a CD case cover. Remember that you shouldn't block the openings through which the disk is cooling or it might overheat. The final copying of the data was trivial. Use linux, mount the mac's HFS+ filesystem and there you go!

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