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Can This MacBook Be Saved?


Ouch. Josh Rogosin/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Josh Rogosin/NPR

NPR engineer Josh Rogosin sends this:

My friend Maurice lost everything recently when his apartment burned down — including this brand new MacBook. And no, Applecare wouldn't cover its replacement. Any suggestions for repairs or spare-part potential would be greatly appreciated.



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Can I assume Maurice didn't have renter's insurance? The two most expensive bits, the screen and the motherboard, are surely toast. If there was any important information on the hard drive he might be able to get it back. Hard drives are pretty tough. Any repair shop with mac equipment should be able to pull the drive ad pop it into a spare macbook and see if it boots. If this doesn't check out there are data recovery services, but they are not cheap and they don't guarantee results.

Tell Maurice I'm sorry for his loss.

Sent by Dave Wiley | 3:15 PM | 3-14-2008

Thx, Dave. No renter's insurance was sadly the correct assumption...

Sent by Josh Rogosin | 3:26 PM | 3-14-2008

Two words: Renter's Insurance.
Two more words: It's Cheap.

I think my renter's insurance (for about $50k in protection) has never gone above $15/month.

Sent by ses | 3:33 PM | 3-14-2008

This breaks my apple-lovin' heart. xx( (no emoticon for sad-mac)
Best of luck, Maurice!

Sent by Summer | 3:41 PM | 3-14-2008

Drive Savers specializes in cases like this. Not a cheap alternative but a great one if you really, really need the data.

Sent by Mike | 4:18 PM | 3-14-2008

(ok, by no means endorsing any particular thing here... just passing along info)

sad news for your friend... fixing the old one will definitely be more expensive than buying a new one (think 500 for a new top and bottom case, and 500ish for new lcd panel and that doesn't even count new motherboard etc).

but the hard drive might be able to be saved.. from your pic above i think it is on the less melty side of the computer.

this link will tell him where to find the hard drive and how to get it out...
(he can obviously skip straight to page two)

first thing he can do is try the hard drive in something else. If you don't have a spare macbook around try something like this (one of the reviews is someone with a mac hard drive):

if it doesn't work, tell him to cross his fingers and send the drive out for professional help. When my husband had a drive go bad in college mid-semester (yeah lost assignments and the works) he sent it here:
he loved them and they got it back up and running while keeping great communication. they were also less expensive. but yeah, their site does kind of look cheap.

anyway, best of luck. hope all goes well.

Sent by eli | 8:55 PM | 3-14-2008

Are there any parts that are undamaged? I'm assuming that the screen and the external panels are smoked (no pun intended), but internal components may not be. Things like logic boards sell for quite a bit on eBay.

The hard drive may very well still be ok, and the data might be recoverable (buying an external USB 2.5 inch hard drive enclosure would probably be the easiest way to check the potential for data recovery, if the drive physically looks ok). The MacBooks are easy to work on, with the proper guide from iFixit:

If it were my laptop, I would completely strip it down and see what could be salvaged for parts. Fixing it would definitely not be cost effective, but some reasonable part of the cost of replacement might be found in selling individual compoentns.

Sent by Jacob | 11:39 PM | 3-17-2008