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Ask Max: My PowerBook is struggling to load the OS - what can I do?

Asked on 07/09/2009:


I am having a problem with my 12" / 867mhz Powerbook that I am hoping you could help me figure out.

The powerbook is having a hard time loading the OS. What happens is that when I boot the cd and the installer comes up it works fine until I get to the "pick a destination" screen. At that point there is no harddrive to select. So, I open disk utility up and it lists the harddrive, but it will not let me erase or format the HD, it will give me a error message. So, my assumption was that the hard drive is bad (this was the orginal HD), so I open it up and replace the HD with a different one - then boot it up and the same thing happens. So, I have been going crazy with this. I have pulled them several times to see if they are in there wrong, but I have not noticed anything. I have put the HD's in an enclosure and I then checked them on another machine, they check out fine that way. So, I don't think it is the hard drive.

I have also tried diffrent OS disks and it is always the same. Is there some hardware issue that would cause this? Any help you can give me would be appreciated.


- Todd Layton


Other than making sure you are using a retail copy of the Mac OS released after the PowerBook was produced, 10.3 or higher, it would probably be a hardware issue. The problem is most likely with the cable or logic board. A replacement PowerBook hard drive cable will be cheap enough for you to test with it. I think this is the right cable for your computer but double check.

If that fails to work for you, then it probably is a logic board issue and you will need to weigh the cost of the repair against just upgrading your Mac.

Please let me know what the outcome is.

- Jacob

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