How to Fix Your Broken-Ass Old MacBook


As you may know (at this point I’m just making fun of myself because I’ve told you this 100 times) the hard drive on my MacBook died.

I have a 13-inch, late 2008 aluminum MacBook, running Lion (not Mountain Lion). It’s not even an Air or a Pro or anything, just a MacBook. Now that I think about it, that’s kind of old in computer terms, but it does what I need it to do (download and listen to music, occasionally sharpen and enhance my shitty pictures in iPhoto, talk shit on the internet). Plus I like it and although I happily spend wads of cash on shit like chicken coop supplies and a goddamn Vitamix blender (this ridiculousness is not sponsored but holy sweet Jesus and Mary Chain that thing has changed my life and I don’t know that I could even attempt veganism without it), I am pretty stubborn about not replacing things — especially $$$ things like computers and cars — until it’s absolutely positively necessary.

So when my hard drive died, I ordered a new one (this one, no affiliate link). And waited for it to arrive. Then it arrived and Ben was going to put it in for me because he has replaced hard drives and I haven’t . . . and one of the tiny little screws that you have to take out to release the old hard drive was in so tightly we needed a new screwdriver to get it out because we didn’t have the right one. So then we got a new screwdriver.

And then Ben did a bunch of shit to fix my computer and then this thing I’d never heard of happened. It’s called a kernel panic and apparently is very bad. You turn on your computer and hope it’ll work what with your fancy new hard drive and all, and you get this:

KERNEL PANIC
KERNEL PANIC
KERNEL PANIC

That’s some Lost shit right there. Next a polar bear will run through my house and the whole thing will implode in fiery magnetized chaos.

Then Ben did some more shit Wednesday night when I was out having someone poke my skin with needles, which was far more pleasant than being home worrying about my computer. (The good news is my tattoo is finally finished, pix soon.) He reinstalled Lion and tried to restore from Time Machine. He did some other stuff. It was all kernel panic all the time in here. I started to worry that I was going to need a new hard drive or, worse yet, a new computer. Or that I’d have to go to the Genius Bar, which I’m sure is incredibly expensive.

So then I did some shit. I installed, in order, every operating system the computer had ever known: Leopard, then Snow Leopard, then Lion. This took hours. (Also, if you ever purchase on OS from the App Store on your computer, be sure to burn a copy. I tried to get Lion from the App Store, which is how I originally got it, and apparently it’s no longer available in the U.S. store.)

Then Ben and I had a festive argument regarding whether I should restore my computer from my last backup on Time Machine (I backup sporadically on an external hard drive) or do Migration Assistant. I wanted to do Time Machine, because after all this shit, I just wanted my computer to be what it was (in January, when I last backed up) and Ben said he’d do Migration Assistant, because there was less chance of fucking something up and it would be more “clean.” So I did Migration Assistant and went to bed.

The next morning, I awoke to . . . a bunch of shit. Migration Assistant is an asshole. What it did was transfer over a lot of crap, like Photoshop and other Adobe shit I haven’t been able to use since I upgraded to Lion. (I decided long ago never to pay for Photoshop again because I just don’t use it and find it incredibly tedious.) It didn’t transfer things I actually use, such as Firefox, or any of my shit. I opened iPhoto and it was empty. There were no documents. There was no kernel panic, which was awesome, but there was nothing else, either. It was like all the power went out and I was going to have to make fire and wear cobbled-together leather clothes and learn to use a sword while unexplainably always having very clean and shiny hair.

So Thursday morning I said fuck it all I’m restoring from my Time Machine backup. That took about two hours.

And you know what? It worked. It was like it was January again. All 19,999 of my photos were back! My random “stuff” folder, filled with shit I’ll probably never look at again except for the picture of the sugar skull Chihuahua that might serve as inspiration for my next tattoo, was back!

What wasn’t back was all my music, but that’s a pretty easy fix. To get music back after your hard drive crashes, do two things. First, if you bought anything from iTunes, you can download it again. For all the shit you got elsewhere and have on your iPhone but not your computer, you can use Senuti (itunes spelled backward). (Just make sure before you do this, you go into iTunes and turn off automatic synching.)

And there you have a super-annoying but effective $63 fix for your broken-ass old MacBook and all is good and right in the world and from now on you will back up your shit more often.