Ask Max: Cat Spilled Liquid on my Laptop
I bought my laptop in 2005 directly from Apple so I hope you don't mind me taking time to ask your opinion. I've always liked doing business with you and would like to see what you have to say.
My PowerBook was working fine until July of 2012 when my girlfriend's cat spilled part of a drink on it. It hasn't worked since then -- all it will do is power up, make the "happy Mac" sound, and then blink between a Mac face logo and a question mark.
I have rebooted it from a system disk but I cannot access the hard drive. I assume it's a hard drive problem then, right?
There is a lot of information on that hard disk that I would really love to have: old photos, personal documents, music, etc, etc. Where do I go from here? Should I send it in to Apple (or you) to see what they say or is there another route I should consider?
Liquid contact is pretty much a computer’s most difficult scenarios. It tosses just about any semblance of reliability out. The machine may work fine once dried out, but then it might fail terribly in a month or a few months. This aside, the issue you’re seeing now appears to be a complete drive failure (doesn’t show up in Disk Utility, or via target disk mode). It could be that the drive’s interface board shorted from the liquid contact. However, that’s merely speculation without having an opportunity to bench test the unit. Typically, when there is a failure such as this, and the data needs extraction. A service like Drive Savers can do this. The expense of recovery varies, depending on what level of heroics are required, and the quantity of data to be retrieved.
Moving forward, set up Time Machine. It's a simple set up, and then you will always have a backup of your data. After this set up, your computer backs up your system every hour, so you will always have a recent backup. Contact one of our Mac Experts to get an external hard drive for use with Time Machine, if you don't already have one, like this one from LaCie