Laptop Repair

In my previous article I described the troubleshooting process for the Folder Question Mark on my friends Late 2011 MacBook Pro 13″ laptop. I ended up ordering the Hard Drive Cable so lets do the install and see if my educated guesswork is on the money.


I use the excellent take apart procedures at iFixit for most of my repair work. They do an impecable job of cataloging how to do Mac Repairs. The first thing you need to do, of course, is take off the Bottom Case. Here is my setup:

I have my tools, my ice cube tray for screws and parts, my iPad to follow the iFixit instructions and the new Hard Drive Cable. On most Mac laptops it takes a 00 (double zero) Phillips head screwdriver to remove the bottom case. I place the very tiny screws in the ice cube trays as I remove them.

Once the Bottom Case is off the first thing you need to do is remove any source of electricty to the machine. It is already unplugged so you just need to unplug the battery:

You use a “Spudger” (also known as a “Black Stick”) to pry the battery connector upward. Now there is no power to the machine and it is safe to work on, safe for you and safe for the Mac.

This is the cable we are going to replace, it connects to the Logic Board, runs under the HD and connects to that far bracket at the bottom of your screen:

You start by removing the screws from the bracket holding the HD in place. These are usually, but not always, captured screws, they stay in the bracket after removal. Once that is done then gently lift the HD up far enough to disconnect the HD from the SATA cable on the left hand side there. Once the drive is disconnected, lift it out and set it aside, being careful not to touch the circuit board on the bottom of the drive.

Once the drive is removed things look like this:

That cable in the HD bay is the Hard Drive Cable which we are replacing. To remove it start with the two tiny screws connecting the cable at the upper edge of the HD bay. They are very tiny, I used a 000 (triple zero Phillips screwdriver). Place those screws in the ice cube tray. Now, remove the two larger bracket screws at the bottom of your screen with a larger Phillips screwdriver. Then disconnect the cable from the Logic Board, it pulls straight up. I use the “Black Stick” for this. Now, the cable has some adhesive on it, so gently pull it up from the bottom of the HD bay. Then, just lift it out of the computer.

Installing the new cable is just doing everything we have covered in reverse. Here is the new cable that I got from iFixit:

Take it out of the package and install the bracket at the bottom edge of the HD bay and then work backwards from there. Once the new cable is installed, connect the HD and the bracket that holds it in place.

Now, this is what I usually do. Instead of screwing the “Bottom Case” back on, I just set it on the machine without the screws. I then hold it in place while I turn the laptop over. Then, I test the laptop to see if the repair worked. In this case, it worked!! Made a nice troubleshooting analysis, at least this time anyway. I cannot tell you how many times I have just gone ahead and screwed the “Bottom Case” on only to have to remove it because something was not right. A word to the wise.

Here is what you should see if your repair works properly:

The MacBook Pro booted up nicely. It is very gratifying to diagnose and repair a Mac successfully. Plus, I probably saved my friend around $100 for diagnosis and install labor costs at a Mac Specialist.

The bottom line is, hardware repairs on today’s Macs are not for the faint of heart, but some of them can be performed by a reasonably skilled person using the good instructions at the iFixit website.