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#1 2022-05-19 08:07:01

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

[resolved] Laptop woes

I woke up to find my old MBP dead. It was having battery problems, would not keep a charge. Now it won’t even take one, I guess.

The real problem: it’s been a couple months since my last external drive backup and I have critical files in my user directory. My local development is also all there with many new changes since yesterday. The entire Almanossary site work is nowhere else but my laptop. And some critical personal files in the user directory. Etc.

Anyway, what are the odds of a new battery getting me back in the door?

Or worse case, getting my data off the drive from a support center?

Hope my old iPhone doesn’t die too. That’s all I have here.

Last edited by Destry (2022-06-07 15:13:23)

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#2 2022-05-19 08:22:07

Bloke
Developer
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 10,753
Website GitHub

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

A new battery should fix things just fine, if that’s all it is. If you can’t get anything out of the current battery at all, I guess a NVRAM reset won’t be possible.

The thing that’s slightly concerning is that – even if the battery is dead – plugging it into the mains should allow you to use the machine. So if that isn’t the case, then it might be something else.

The good news is that your data is likely to be okay so, worst case scenario, turn the machine over, unscrew the surrounding teeny weeny screws on the baseplate (some of which are longer than others so keep a note of where each came from) and the hard drive is fairly easily accessible in the lower corner under a few other screws, strips of retaining plastic and a ribbon connector. The battery in pre-Air machines is also simple to remove. A few screws – annoyingly, triangle ones which require a specialist bit – and a flat connector that you can prise up with a plastic spudger attaches it to the motherboard logic board, in Mac speak.

I’m curious if you’re able to operate the machine with the battery disconnected and the mains plugged in. I suspect the connector between the battery and board performs some sensing and will refuse to operate without the battery (which might be why it won’t work with mains + battery if the battery is dead). Might be worth disconnecting the battery and seeing if you can bypass it with mains only as a temporary measure.

If not, while you’re inside the machine, if you’re careful and can extract the hard drive, plug it into a SATA-to-USB caddy and connect it up to a functioning Mac environment to copy off the data.

A side note word of warning: on older MBPs like mine (mid-2012) there’s a fault with the ribbon cable beneath the hard drive. It’s made of super-duper thin material (cost cutting, heh) and, over time, tiny movements of the HDD against the ribbon cable and the less-machined surface of the inner case wears it down. This manifests in completely weird system behaviour like refusing to see the drive, refusing to boot up, and random freezes/kernel panics in use.

So if you have the drive out and can get beneath the ribbon cable that lies flat under it, do yourself a favour and put a strip of electrician’s tape under the ribbon cable as a cushion. Just stick the tape to the chassis and lay the cable on top of it. Pete kindly diagnosed this for me a few years back (despite my initial pig-headed ignorance that it couldn’t possibly be something so daft) and I had to replace the ribbon cable. As a precautionary measure I added tape under the new cable when I put it back together. But if your ribbon cable is worn (it’s not visible to the naked eye if it is) then no amount of tape will help and you’ll need to replace the cable. Not expensive, though.

Last edited by Bloke (2022-05-19 08:31:41)


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#3 2022-05-19 08:51:10

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Thank you! That’s at least hopeful feedback.

I have been using the main cord lately because the battery would not hold a charge for more than 10 minutes. But today there’s nothing.

I’m questioning my ability to poke around inside without making it worse, but taking the battery out might be wise? As you say, see if main power works in that case.

I’ll have to see if I even have the tools.

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#4 2022-05-19 09:01:03

Bloke
Developer
From: Leeds, UK
Registered: 2006-01-29
Posts: 10,753
Website GitHub

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Destry wrote #333382:

I’ll have to see if I even have the tools.

Yeah, Apple are a pain for this. Why use one type of screw head when 7 different varieties of cross, flat, hex, star, triangle, etc will do?!

I got myself two little screwdriver sets of interchangeable heads plus spudger, tweezers and so forth. Couldn’t find a single set at the time that had all the flavours I needed, but between them I pretty much have most electronic devices covered nowadays to satisfy my tinkering/mending needs.

Last edited by Bloke (2022-05-19 09:02:56)


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#5 2022-05-19 09:29:01

Destry
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From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

I had the kit. And the back plate is off. A little dusty but not as bad as I thought it would be.

Btw this is a late 2011 13” model.

The battery has a black warning sticker that says ‘Do not remove the battery.’

There are two hard plastic tabs on it with screws holding it down. And there is a clear, flexible piece of plastic; maybe for lifting?

So the idea here is to lift out the battery, screw the backplate back on and try pluging in?

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#6 2022-05-19 10:12:33

jakob
Admin
From: Germany
Registered: 2005-01-20
Posts: 4,374
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

See also IFIXIT’s excellent step-by-step instructions, for example for a Macbook Pro (there are several 2011 variants, e.g. this is the late 2011) or in a MacBook Air Mid-2011.

All Bloke’s tips are good. NVRAM / PRAM reset may help, otherwise putting the drive in another container (or getting a local shop to read off the data) can help.


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#7 2022-05-19 10:34:14

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Thanks, guys. All is not lost then, that is the important thing.

From that Ifix thread on replacing a battery。

would it be dangerous to use the macbook without a battery in the meantime? 724 F – Mar 20, 2021 Reply

It’s not dangerous (assuming you have put the back cover back on), though the computer will run slower. The charging assembly cannot supply as much amperage as the battery, so the processor will be throttled. S. O. – Mar 26, 2021

So I guess I’ll try that now.

Last edited by Destry (2022-05-19 10:35:01)

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#8 2022-05-19 10:49:07

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Crap. I don’t have the right screwdriver for the battery screws.

It’s like a philips but with three tangs on the head instead of four.

Last edited by Destry (2022-05-19 10:51:30)

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#9 2022-05-19 10:56:03

gaekwad
Server grease monkey
From: People's Republic of Cornwall
Registered: 2005-11-19
Posts: 3,920
GitHub

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Destry wrote #333379:

Anyway, what are the odds of a new battery getting me back in the door?

If it’s not working from a known-good charger, your options are limited. It should boot from a charger without a battery, and if that’s not happening then you’re looking at either a dead logic board or fried charging circuit. Pop the back panel off, attach the charger, see if the fans spin or not. If you don’t get fan spin, that’s needing repair or replacement beyond the scope of a battery.

Or worse case, getting my data off the drive from a support center?

It’ll be a 2.5” SATA hard drive – pop the back off, Pozi or Philips screwdriver to remove the screws, attach to any SATA to USB interface, find another Mac, get your files back via Finder.

And when you’re more settled, look into Backblaze for your future sanity slash disaster recovery.

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#10 2022-05-19 11:14:03

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Thanks, Pete. Nice input.

I couldn’t remove the battery, but I did disconnect it for the test. Fans took of immediately and the damn machine even tried to start up.

So, looks like a new battery is in order, and some more mini screwdrivers, and that spudger thing, and …

In other news. I hear the Lenovo Thinkpads are the sturdiest and most affordable (refurbished) laptops for a full Linux machine. It’s time to get that going, too.

Last edited by Destry (2022-05-19 11:28:32)

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#11 2022-05-19 11:34:24

Destry
Member
From: Haut-Rhin
Registered: 2004-08-04
Posts: 4,851
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

Seems I need a battery model A1278, and, wow, there are a lot of battery makers out there. I’m betting some are pretty dodgy. Anyone have reccos on a brand.

I didn’t even think to check if apple will sell one for this model.

Last edited by Destry (2022-05-19 11:35:02)

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#12 2022-05-19 11:47:45

jakob
Admin
From: Germany
Registered: 2005-01-20
Posts: 4,374
Website

Re: [resolved] Laptop woes

My experience of using no-name battery makers has been fine provided you don’t expect anything like the lifetime of the apple ones. They are so much cheaper, though. I think we worked out we could replace my wife’s computer’s battery three times for the cost of one apple battery. Before then, I’d replaced my own laptop’s battery with one from fixit which also came with the requisite tools (it needed de-gluing from the shell). It cost more but also lasted longer.


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