Two and a half years ago I bought a 15″ Apple MacBook Pro. It was the first model released with an LED backlit display. I’ve had very good results with the notebook until recently. About 2 weeks ago it began locking up after being used for a while. At first I thought it might be just overheating so I started using a laptop cooler with fans. But just a few days later it failed again and would not work properly since.
In this failed state the Apple logo shown during bootup appears much larger than usual, as does the rotating gear, as if it did not know the resolution of the display. Once the MacBook Pro reaches the point in the bootup process where the splash screen with the login dialog box should appear the display goes dark and stays that way. Connecting an external display brings no joy, as it never displays anything. Resetting the PRAM did not help, nothing seemed to help. Booting from the Snow Leopard DVD did not help. Booting from a bootable external backup drive created with SuperDuper did not help.
Fortunately for me I did buy the AppleCare Extended Warranty when I bought this MacBook Pro, and it is still in effect until June of this year. The Apple Support rep quickly agreed with my conclusion that there is a problem with the video hardware, and a ship it back to us box is on its way here to my remote desert physical location.
I had a concern, though, about all of the personal and business data stored on the machine. While no doubt Apple hires trustworthy people with no criminal intentions, there was data on that computer that could be used, for instance, to log in to this server as root (I own this server). And there was source code for some of my ~130 websites too, some of which had secret key information for certain APIs that I use. I’m a stickler for security so this was a troubling issue for me. However, because Macs Are Great it was easy to resolve these concerns. Here is what I did.
I connected the MacBook Pro via Firewire to my Mac Pro, and booted the MacBook Pro into Target Disk Mode, and used SuperDuper to completely back up the hard drive to yet another external drive connected to my Mac Pro. Then I started Disk Utility and used it to zero out the entire hard drive in the MacBook Pro. Next I used my Snow Leopard DVD to install Snow Leopard on the MacBook Pro while it was still in Target Disk Mode (you can do this and it does work) rendering it very much like a brand new out of the box unit – except for the being broken part.
I’ll be pleased when I get my MacBook Pro back, in the meantime I still have my cute little MacBook, and tomorrow I’ll be ordering my iPad.
UPDATE: Less than 48 hours after I dropped off my MacBook Pro at FedEx I had it back, repaired, with a new mother board to correct the video problems. I’m quite pleased!