Apple admits hard-disks are falling asleep mid-operation

Recently, reports have been surfacing of Macbook Pro laptops repetitively temporarily freezing for short amounts of time. Today, Apple announced that this problem is widespread and they have promised to provide a bug fix.

The issue only seems to affect MacBook Pros with 7200rpm 500GB hard drives and is thought to be due to code that's causing the drive to sleep during use. The hard disks in question fall asleep during operation, and freeze the computer temporarily until it spins up again - after an indeterminate amount of time - usually a maximum of 10 seconds. They also beep loudly and click during the process.

"We are aware of the issue and are working on a software update" said Apple representative Bill Evans. The problem seems to be completely random, according to Apple support forum users and is not reproducible easily, it just occurs intermittently.

Apple is on the brink of the release of Snow Leopard, their latest major release of the Apple Operating System. Rumored to be launched during September 2009, Snow Leopard adds support for 64-bit as well as offering Exchange 2007 support and Multi-core support.

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17 Comments

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The only quote from Apple in that whole article involved calling it an 'update', not a 'fix'.

Clearly, nothing was actually broken.

/was actually curious what euphemism they'd pick today

Strange.. well, anyway, this kind of thing always happens with 'external drives', especially Western Digital. It's so damn annoying!! Since everytime they spin up, they freeze the computer for a second or 2. I have no idea why they can't disable this, since it seems they constantly turn off and spin up for no reason. So I can imagine how annoying it would be if it's your main drive on your laptop!!

HEY!

i had this on my Macbook Pro 15 inch, 320gb... i thought my harddrive was broken, but after a complete reinstall it never happened again.

M.

Ouch. :S

I thought laptop hard drives shouldn't fall asleep at all. Since there's only one hard drive, there's bound to be a background task requiring some disk reads that will cause the drive to spin back up.

rm20010 said,
Ouch. :S

I thought laptop hard drives shouldn't fall asleep at all. Since there's only one hard drive, there's bound to be a background task requiring some disk reads that will cause the drive to spin back up.

What kind of background task always needs to poll the hard drive?

I don't think so, the whole idea of the drive spinning down is to power save. It shouldn't need to read the disc, especially where the manufacturer has presumably optimised the hardware and software to get as much power saving as possible.

Isn't the Macbook Pro aluminum cased? If it is, I think I can see what the drive sleeping problem might be. I sometimes fall asleep at the computer myself, and often when I wake up there are beer tins all around me. Beer tins are made of aluminum. Now I'm not saying that this is definitely the problem, but I think the fact that aluminum is involved in both cases is very suspicious.

Logizomechanophobic said,
Isn't the Macbook Pro aluminum cased? If it is, I think I can see what the drive sleeping problem might be. I sometimes fall asleep at the computer myself, and often when I wake up there are beer tins all around me. Beer tins are made of aluminum. Now I'm not saying that this is definitely the problem, but I think the fact that aluminum is involved in both cases is very suspicious.

Cute.