AppleCare Takes A Bite Out Of Customer's Data-Recovery Dreams

While our pal Carey had a great time with AppleCare, David isn’t smiling after helping his girlfriend fix her Macbook through the service.

David’s GF wants to recover data off her old, broken hard drive, but AppleCare won’t let her keep the old hard drive, forcing her into a tough position.

David writes:

I’ve recently had to deal with the headache of a failed hard drive in my girlfriend’s Apple Macbook. The good news: its still covered under the AppleCare warranty program. The bad news: she wants to go through some data recovery.

Going through the subsequent AppleCare process has shown me what I consider to be a flaw in their policy; if I want the drive replaced under AppleCare at no charge, I can’t keep the bad hard drive to attempt data recovery through a third-party. They are requiring me to return the faulty drive or else buy a new one and pay for the install service. This is so that they can “refurbish all replaced parts”. Let me ask you, would you ever consider buying a refurbished hard drive???
Seriously? Would you?

*A brief note: I’m aware that you should back up your data frequently. This is not one of those stories, so yes, that’s our bad. But I feel that Apple shares some blame for the problems I’m facing.*

A history of the problem can be summed up as follows:

1) Macbook starts to run really buggy. I call Applecare, they suggest an archive and install of the OS, preserving the old user info in a “previous users” directory.

2) This fails, the “previous users” directory is empty although the hard drive seems to think a large amount of data is still being used.

3) Through white-knuckled efforts utilizing disk utilities like omni-disk sweeper, I’m able to recover this data and back it up.

4) At Apple’s suggestion, I bring the computer to a retail location where a “Genius” gives it a cursory check, proclaims the hardware to be ok.

5) One month later, drive fails. Cataclysmically. Its dead.

I now have the option of:

1) Replacing the drive under warranty, lose the data forever.

2) Replace the hard drive at retail cost (at least $300) keep the old drive for future recovery.

3) Conduct data recovery via Apple (at increased cost) and replace drive via AppleCare.

What I want to do is replace the drive and keep the old one so I can do data recovery in a couple months when I have the budget. This is not possible because Apple requires the drive back so they can refurbish and resell (which I doubt they could/should do). This seems like a bureaucratic reason to prevent me from having an opportunity to fix the issue — An issue that could have been avoided if they had replaced the drive when the problem first arose.

I’d get an estimate of AppleCare’s data recovery price for the laptop, because 3 would be the most convenient option, and hopefully the cheapest. What would you do?

(Photo: Dabbledoo)