A few months ago I had problems with my PowerBook when I was organizing all the pictures I took in my last trip to Colombia. While working on iPhoto, the PB froze and I had to hold the power button for a few seconds to shut it down. When I turned the PB back on, it showed me a screen with a flashing folder and a question mark, which means that the PB cannot find the OS. I tried to boot with the OS X DVD to run Disk Utility and this tool failed to recognize the Volume and I was afraid that I had lost all my data. I didn’t have a backup of my data and I was really frustrated. Finally I got a copy of Disk Warrior and this amazing application recovered all my data. To prevent this from happening again, I bought a 300 GB external Seagate FW hard disk and backed up all my information.
Although the data was recovered, my PowerBook wasn’t behaving very well, so I decided to wipe out the OS, reformat the hard drive and install everything again. This worked fine for a while but then I started noticing that during a session eventually my PB would refuse writing to disk, until it was rebooted. This started getting very annoying until one day when I tried to reboot again the evil screen with a flashing folder and a question mark came back again. I used Disk Warrior again to fix the problem. But a few days later the same situation happened and this time, after running Disk Warrior, the OS was all messed up: there wasn’t a menu bar on the top and I was unable to launch ‘System Preferences’. That’s was when I decided to call AppleCare. I told them pretty much everything I’m telling here, and they asked me to run Disk Utilities to verify the disk. The disk verification returned that everything was fine, so the support person told me to reinstall the OS keeping the ‘User and Network preferences’ which is an option the installation gives you. I told him that I didn’t wanted to install the OS back, but instead I wanted a final real solution for my problem, but since this was the first time they heard from me, and since the disk verification went fine, that was all they could do at the time. I had no other option than to follow their instructions. The laptop worked fine until I had to reboot it and got the flashing folder and a question mark again. This time I went and reformated the hard disk and reinstalled the OS X. At this point all I wanted was the PB to go back into a bad state, so I could call AppleCare again, and it happen a week after: the PB refused to start and this time, not even the flashing folder showed up. I called AppleCare and they didn’t ask many questions. Very quickly they told me that they were going to send me a box for me to ship the PB to their repair center. I was happy to finally be able to send them the PB but I’m worried that all they are going to do is verify the disk (which probably will succeed) and reinstall the OS, and a few weeks later I’m going to be calling them again.
I shipped my PB yesterday and today I looked at Apple’s website and it says that they already got it and FIXED it. That makes me think that they might have done very little on it. But I’ll wait and see what happens once I get it back.
[Update – April 27th, 2006]
It only took AppleCare a few hours to repair my PowerBook. They got it yesterday morning, repaired it and shipped it back to me that afternoon. I got an email notification this morning with the tracking number and picked up my laptop from a DHL location this afternoon. They finally replaced my hard disk, so I hope that will finally fix the problem. Kuddos to AppleCare for the super fast service.
I highly recommend paying the extra couple of hundreds to get the AppleCare extended warranty, specially for laptops.