Mini Meltdown Scorches Next Maccast

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Follow-up, Podcast

Well gang, sometimes with great pleasure also comes great pain. I was all excited this evening to get home and upgrade my Apple TV and I actully did just that. And much rejoicing ensued. The upgrade went smoothly and I was getting ready to view some content streamed off my Mac Mini (the one I use to produce the Maccast) when I noticed a problem. The Mac Mini wasn’t responding. I went downstairs to check on it and discovered a frozen Mac with the spinning beachball of death staring me dead in the face. Strange, but no big worry, right? I powered down and booted back up. On boot there was a long delay on the grey screen with the Apple logo and then mysteriously the Mac Mini just powered off. Hmmm. Try again. Same result. Uh oh! Ok, restart and boot into single user mode. Run fsck. Now freak out.

The scan results in a kernel[0]: disk0s2: 0xe0030005 (UNDEFINED). staring back at me. A quick Google gives a mixed prognosis. Everything from needing to simply to a fresh reinstall o OS X to a possible total hard disk failure. However you look at it, not good. My gut reaction is that I am a victim of the dreaded Seagate 2.5″ 7.01 firmware defective drive syndrome I told you about on a past Maccast (read here if you need to jog your memory). I had confirmed my Mac Mini drive was one of those models, so it seems likely. Tonight I am out my production system and it will have a date with the Apple Geniuses in the morning.

So now I have bad news for me and bad news for you. First the bad news for me. While I do have a full TimeMachine backup to restore from when the Mini returns from Apple, at the time the Mac Mini broke down I had been in the process of re-creating a new SuperDuper backup with the new Leopard compatible version. Trouble is, it had failed earlier in the day (I actually ran out of drive space) and so I don’t have a full Super Duper clone. Not a huge deal, but I can’t do a quit boot from external to get back up and running again quickly. Now my bad news becomes your bad news because I was hoping to get a show out today going over all the new Apple TV goodness among other things. So sorry, but there is going to be another delay in getting out the next episode. I’ll know more tomorrow when Apple tells me how they are going to fix the Mini. So hang in there and I will hopefully be back up and podcasting again soon. Keep the faith.

There are 15 comments on Mini Meltdown Scorches Next Maccast:

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  1. Himanshu | Feb 13 2008 - 02:56

    Hey Adam, What a disaster with your Mac Mini hard drive. Truly hope it works out well and real soon for you. As for us MacCast fans – there is always another day and as an ardent fan of the maccast and you – it does not worry me at all that there is a delay in you getting the podcast out.

    Great podcast Adam. All the best.

  2. Rene | Feb 13 2008 - 02:26

    First you get the common cold, a few weeks after MacWorld, then the Apple TV upgrade is stalled, and now you Mac mini’s drive died? What is going on there? All bad things come in trios, we sometime say here in the Netherlands. I surely hope you get your problems solved, Adam.

  3. Eric | Feb 13 2008 - 07:29

    Hey Adam, I hope you’ll get things back painlessly. I’ll patiently wait until every thing’s fixed, but can’t wait to hear about this new Apple TV!
    Eric, Nantes,France. Listening to the Maccast for 2.5 years.

  4. Greg | Feb 13 2008 - 07:19

    Hey Adam, take your time, fix your Mac. All of us fans still have your blog!

    Personally, I’d take this setback as a sign that you need a new Mac… :)


  5. Bruce | Feb 13 2008 - 08:48

    What a run of bad luck you’re having these days! At least things can only get better from here right? Don’t worry about us, we’ll still be here when you get everything straightened out. Thanks for keeping us informed!

  6. Stephen | Feb 13 2008 - 10:47


    The exact same thing happened to me Monday!. I just got done upgrading all my computers to 10.5.2 EXCEPT my mini I was in the process of using superduper – time machine finished about 20 minutes earlier so I had two backups. Before installing the update I restarted my mini cause I was having terrible issues with the beach ball.

    I restarted with the grey folder it would not recognize my drive. I tried to boot from CD but Disk Utility would not see the drive. I took it down to the Apple Store Fashion Valley and go the royal run around because AppleCare was not present on this machine (odd cause I ALWAYS purchase AppleCare – long story) anyway I came back home with it cause I could not get any service with out paying. I decided to zap PRAM and restarted it several times I was able to finally SEE the drive I was then able to run first aid. But it had an “ERROR” I don’t remember which. But I did reformat the drive. And attempt to use TimeMachine to restore it – which took 3 hours – and then FAILED.

    Back to square one. Except I could see the drive and format it. But would FAIL on disk verify. I gave up and ran to Fry’s to get an another internal HD TimeMachine restored in just over 2 hours, and now back in business.

    My Mini is the 1.66 2006 Intel Version. The Hard Drive that died is Seagate Momentus 5400.2 120GB SATA 2.5″ (120GB MER2S – 1280A *JY60800ZBU17A* Model: ST9120821AS
    PN: 9W3184-040) FW: 7.01 And has a date of 06344. If you see any similarities.

    Irony is that my mini is leased – which expires in 2 months. :/

    Now your saying there is an issue? Is there a RECALL ON THESE drives?

  7. Stephen | Feb 13 2008 - 11:52


    Just a followup. Just got off the phone with a Supervisor at AppleCare after explaining my issue and citing the links you posted above – in addition to a few links on Apple’s discussion forum. He was going to give me an extension to fix this issue.

    After calculating what my time is worth and all the travel time to Fry’s AppleStore or CryWolf, plus being without a machine for a few days; it didn’t make sense to go thru the hassle of opening the mini again swap the in the dead drive and return my new one.

    I encouraged them consider an official statement and launch a extension program for this issue. Since it wasn’t going to be worth it for me I asked him to pay it forward, to the next guy or gal who gets hit with this issue.

    He did tell me to keep an eye on the boards sometime, Apple may reimburse people who like me paid for a fix and later Apple comes out with a warranty extension program.

  8. Ezra | Feb 13 2008 - 01:18


    Sorry to hear that your mac mini drive crashed, I hope you get back up ad running soon. Plus now, If you been waiting for an excuse to buy a new mac; you’ve got one.

  9. Cole | Feb 13 2008 - 01:28

    In terms of your AppleTV review show, this is a good thing because there’s enough of these “reviews” out there where a guy uses the device for an hour and suddenly determines it’s the greatest thing in the world. I’m more interested in your opinion after a few days use because while the movie stuff is nice, the new interface is really un-apple with that big square box and the changes of library management.

  10. Mark | Feb 13 2008 - 04:03

    Don’t worry Adam it happens to the best of us. We appreciate the help you give to the community, but sometimes you have to look after your own problems.

  11. Rick C | Feb 13 2008 - 07:33

    Hi Adam,

    Bummer about your Mac Mini. I just had a similiar problem with a Macbook. My 10.5.1 was getting really wacky and would not take 10.5.2 so I opted to do an archive and install of 10.5.0. The archive and install went great but when I ran the combo update for 10.5.2 my computer never came back. The install completed normally but on restart came up on the grey screen, hung there for a while then just shut down. I tried everything to get it back. When I ran Disk Utility from the Leopard DVD it would only let me Verify Disk and the verify failed. No option to repair it. So I tried and erase and install, no luck, it wouldn’t let me erase the disk. I ended up going back into Disk Utility to erase the disk they did a clean install of Leopard. What a nightmare. Hopefully your works out…..

  12. Mark | Feb 16 2008 - 09:10


    I have a very similar experience for myself on my new alu 24″ iMac with a 750GB HD.

    After upgrading to 10.5.2 I found that I was constantly finding a “recovered files” folder in my trash. I could could not empty the trash. The Finder would report “unable to empty the trash file ‘cbea04cabe5’ is in use”. The file name appeared to be corrupted or a a temp file. The filename was different each time I tried to empty the trash.

    I repaired the drive from Disk Utility. This appeared not to find any errors and ran without issue.

    The trash could still not be emptied. So I booted into single user mode. I ran fsck, but this aborted with a strange error. So I ran fsck again, again it aborted with a different message which I cant remember, but the exit code was 8.

    I quit single user mode and restarted. The iMac powered down during the grey “cog” boot up screen.

    I re-booted into target disk mode, but my Macbook Pro could not see the drive. I then booted from the Leopard DVD and ran Disk Utility from there. This also aborted with “Invalid node structure”.

    I called AppleCare but they had no useful suggestions.

    However I am in a worse position than yourself. I do not run TimeMachine, I am not a strong believer in TimeMachine because it does not provide off-site backup. In fact I have criticized it several times on my own web site for this very failing. Of course this is not Apple’s fault I just wanted to point out to people that a *complete* backup solution includes the ability to secure your data away from your PC. The pros and cons of TM can be argued endlessly. (In my own defense I did order a Time Capsule the day they were announced, as its built in router offers me some advantages. Of course that is not due to arrive for a couple more weeks)

    My last full (located off-site) backup was some seven weeks ago!

    A few final points:
    I use CronoSync to copy data to and from my MacBook Pro, so my data is almost up to date on my other Mac. Phew!
    Some recent digital images are still on the memory cards – again phew!
    I am not sure what to do next – buy Disk Warrior? I am really not sure that would work
    Alternatively spend a lot of money (>£250) on a disc recovery service? I am not sure how much data I am really missing.
    If the drive has failed I will get AppleCare to replace it.
    I guess I am a converted believer in TimeMachine!

    I do wonder if this is caused by 10.5.2?

    Bizarrely I was listening to the MacCast *just* before I restarted my iMac. Also my day job is to look after the backup of some 18,500 PCs are my firm – I really should know better. :-(


  13. Sara | Feb 16 2008 - 07:14

    Adam, I listened to your story with great interest because I just had a horrible issue with my mac mini last week. It degraded very quickly and failed disk utility repairs. Then it wouldn’t boot and then I couldn’t even see it with Disk Utility or DiskWarrior. Eventually, I was able to see it but only to reformat. (I did a low-level one.)

    All of my media is on external drives and my iTunes database was backed up. But it was still highly annoying because I didn’t have a clone. (I did one once but I had issues trying to boot and log in off of the clone.) I had to download and reinstall all kinds of apps, plug-ins, and codecs. And reset all my settings once I figured out that things weren’t working the same way anymore. It’s a long, slow process.

    But, I was still having trouble with the drive, even though DiskWarrior swears it’s okay. After several hours of use I would get mucho spinning beachballs while attempting to do pretty much ANYthing. It’s hard to click and hold on menu for 10-20 seconds. Very annoying. My boot-from-a-clone problem had disappeared, though, so I was able to clone-and-boot from an external with no issues at all.

    After hearing your story I checked out my drive and saw that it is indeed an ST9x, firmware 7.01. Hmmmmm.

    Now I’ve got a brand new Fujitsu from Fry’s in there. We’ll see how that goes. Sure wish the stock drive had lasted more than two years, though.

  14. custom dvdr | Apr 29 2008 - 10:31

    i’ve had same problem with my mac mini.

  15. John | Feb 25 2009 - 04:39

    I had the same thing happen this past weekend to my mac mini. Was updating to 10.5 and crashed right at after selecting location to install. Had the exact same drive as: Stephen | Feb 13 2008 – 10:47. Same numbers just different date. Lost everything.