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Pat, Mac Enthusiast
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 171
Experience:  10 years of systems administration experience in mixed Mac and Windows environments
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A previous answer suggested a problem with the Mac OS X star

Customer Question

A previous answer suggested a problem with the Mac OS X startup volume and to reboot using the installation disk to perform a disk repair and a permissions repair.

I have booted from the Snow Leopard installation disk but am stopped at a screen that reads "The contents of this disk can't be changed."

What now?

[The earlier question involved my asking why the startup screen or logo and spinning symbol also had a progress bar which would go about 1/4 of the way, pause and start at the beginning and then shut down. It was then that JustAnswer suggested booting from the installation disk. I have also tried to boot in Safe Mode and get the same problem I initially had.]]
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Do you have the data on this drive backed up in another location?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Its hard to make a diagnosis remotely, but if you cannot run disk utility on the drive from the OS X install disc, then there is either a hard drive problem, or a severe problem with the motherboard. What kind of Mac is this? Do you have another Mac and a firewire cable?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have an iMac

Can get a firewire cable
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Ok, great. Let's put the Macbook in target disk mode and connect it to the iMac. Hopefully this Macbook is equipped with a firewire port.

Target Disk Mode:
1. Shut the Macbook down, the iMac can be running
2. Turn on the Macbook and hold the letter "t" down until you see this:

3. Connect the firewire cable to your Macbook and then to the iMac
4. The Macbook hard drive will mount on the iMac

Now you can try to use "Disk Utility" on your iMac to verify and repair the Macbook hard drive. If it fails, you can copy your user data off of the Macbook hard drive onto the iMac. Your user data is located in Macintosh HD/Users/

After you back up your data, we are going to try to format the drive on the Macbook and reinstall OS X. Let me know if you get that far and if you need my assistance to do so.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Have to get the cable, will get this far and will get back to you.
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
I understand. I'm normally online until 10:00 Pacific Time but I'll keep checking in as late as midnight if I don't hear from you.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
So, the Macbook turns out not to have a firewire slot. I assume that means I'm fried.

I want to click on "Accept" for this much but I don't want to lose contact with you in case there's another solution. Also, how to contact you when I get a new Macbook and want to transfer data.
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Yes, those of us in the IT industry criticized Apple for removing the firewire port for this very reason. If I were working on this machine, I would remove the hard drive from the Macbook at this point. It is very easy to do, here is a Youtube video that shows you how: (Note that you don't need a Torx T-8 screwdriver unless you are going to install a new drive, that tool is only required to remove the mounting hardware. You'll be able to back this one up without removing the Torx screws)

Once you have it out, you just need a SATA to USB adapter. You can purchase one at Fry's Electronics, or any other large computer store. This will allow you to connect your drive to your iMac via USB and back up your data. We will also be able to test the drive to see if it needs to be replaced. You might not need to buy a new Macbook as you may just need a new hard drive, or you might just need to reformat this drive. If this is all starting to sound too complicated, you can probably find a local computer store who does work on Macs who can do the work for a nominal fee. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can suggest one, otherwise I'll be happy to help you out as much as you'd like proceeding forward.

You can "accept" the answer at any time. It won't lock the thread so you'll still be able to keep asking me questions and I will respond. You can either accept now, or later, that is your choice, I will provide the same service no matter which one you decide.
Pat and 3 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks, Pat. I'll let you know what happens.....
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Hi Pat,

I have the drive out of the Macbook and attached to the iMac via the SATA Usb cable. The red light is on for the USB but the Sata light is not on and the drive doesn't appear on the Finder. I hope I'm ready to back up and the data and test the drive
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Use "Disk Utility" on the iMac and see if it can repair the disk. Do you know how to launch disk utility?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The drive doesn't appear on the disk utility list

There is power to the Macbook drive and USB is on.
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
That's odd, disk utility shows 2 entries, one for the disk mechanism (shown below as 500.11 GB...), and one for logical disks (Shown below as "Macbook HD"). You don't see either?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I've got the 250 GB HD
320 GB External Media (Backup)
Matshita DVD
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Either the USB to SATA adapter you bought isn't working, isn't hooked up correctly, or the hard drive is completely dead.

Can you check the instructions for the sata adapter to make sure its hooked up correctly? Sometimes you need to use an external power adapter with them.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I'm trying to be less of a moron than I really am.....

There IS another cable that I haven't connected. I have a jpeg of it. Can I attach it somehow to this note?

It is similar to the power cable but with only two pins and and only red and black wires (no yellow)but I don't see any place to put it.

The directions don't help. No diagram. It does say set the jumper setting to "Master" but I can't find that.
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Jumper settings have to do with IDE hard drives. You can attach pictures to me by clicking on that tree icon that looks like this: graphic
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Would you believe there is no tree icon. I just wrote to tech support. Do you know another place to upload it where you can access it?

I figured out the extra cable. It attaches to the power supply and directly to the black connecting box into which both the disk and the USB are plugged. Still no SATA light nor recognized byDisk Utility.
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
That's very frustrating. Its possible that the drive is actually dead and that may be why your macbook wasn't working. Drives are cheap to replace (less than $65 for something in the 250-320 GB range). Still, I would want to try that drive with a different SATA adapter since this one seems so glitchy. Are there any power switches anywhere on the adapter?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
OK. I got a hard drive enclosure. Ran repair and it can't be repaired. Disk Utilities says I can back up files and then will have to reformat and restore.

Now we're on....
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
That's good. Back up the files then see if it can be reformatted. If it works, you can pop it back into the Macbook, boot the computer from the Install Disk (by holding c at bootup) and run the installer. If you haven't upgraded the Macbook to Snow Leopard yet, this is the perfect time.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
OK. I'm copying files/folders from the laptop hard drive to an external hard drive.

When that's done do I reformat using disk utilities? It says I have to "partition" the disk?

Let's call this session done when you answer this and I'll accept. Will get back to you tomorrow with further questions. What time are you on tomorrow PST?

Do I back up and restore the folder "Damaged Files"?
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
Yes you reformat with disk utilities. Open it, click on the drive and you'll see a tab labeled "Partition". Click that tab, then you'll see a pulldown menu, pull it down and choose "1 partition". Then click on options and make sure "GUID Partition Table" is selected. Then clikc apply and it will format the disc. Then put the disc back in your Macbook, put a snow leopard install disc in the drive and boot it up holding the "c" key.

The time I come online varies on Fridays. I'll check it throughout the day starting at 10 AM PST.
Pat and 3 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
What about backing up the "Damaged Files" folder?

Then, good night......
Expert:  Pat replied 7 years ago.
You can try to copy it. I'm not sure what the damaged files are or where they came from. If it will let you copy them, there's no reason not to back it up. Make sure you get all the contents of the /Users folder as this is where all your personal information should be stored.

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