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MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program (apple.com)
97 points by ValentineC on Oct 18, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

As a PSA, if you can get the model number, the following SSDs are checked for in the update package:

    TS064E - Revisions TPSABBF0 and TPVABBF0
    TS128E - Revisions TPSABBF0 and TPVABBF0
That is all.

A quick way to apparently find hardware model/revision information (OSX 10.8.5):

Select "About this Mac" from the apple menu, and click on "More info..."

Click on "System Report" and select the SATA/SATAExpress page. Model and revision numbers for each installed hard drive appear to be reported here.

(edit: presumably drives connected via USB are similarly described in the appropriate page of the diagnostics/report)

Prior to updating firmware to 1.1 mine SSD was listed as: TS128E - TPVABBF0 But after updating the firmware now it is listed as: TS128E - TQAABBF0 But i am not redirected to apple website after installation and reboot. Am i suppose to take it to the store?

As I mentioned in the comment, those are the models and revisions that are checked for in the package. It may be the case that those are the models that are eligible to receive the firmware update, rather than that all of them are in the failing set.

Thanks for the clarification.

I had mine replaced under warranty 3 weeks ago and looks like they replaced it with one of those being recalled. I can't reboot right now for the firmware update, but the system report tells me I have a TS128E TPVABBF0.

I'm surprised they didn't know 3 weeks ago that this was a defective disk. My local Apple store didn't have it in stock so they had to order it from Apple, it's not like it was an old disk they used to replace mine.

  We also recommend backing up your data on a regular basis until you receive a replacement drive.
Why stop there? With tools and services like Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner and Crashplan, there's no excuse not to maintain a backup. As evidenced by this page, shit happens.

I keep two backups, one onsite through Time Machine, one offsite using BackBlaze. After initial set up the maintenance time on them is about 2 minutes a month to check they've been running properly, total cost is a cheap external drive and $5 a month.

Not backing up in 2013 is just irresponsible.

Well, be extremely careful with Backblaze. I got bit on the ass by them. It turns out their dashboard is just caching it's results, and there are instances where the dashboards will say they have data when they really don't.

I learned this the hard way when we brought my girlfriend's computer in for repair. We gave them permission to replace the drive, went to restore the data from Backblaze, and got a nasty surprise when it errored out and their support team let us know the data wasn't there. As far as I'm concerned using Backblaze is not the same as actually having off site backups, unfortunately.

I'll just leave this right here:


All accounts guaranteed to have no dashboard or gui of any kind.

That's not a real solution though, it's half of a solution at best. All you're providing is a place to dump files, with none of the services that a backup solution would actually provide.

This may be fantastic for technical users, but it would be a nightmare if I used this to manage the backups of friends and family.

Ultimately I switched to CrashPlan, as that not only gave me offsite backups (for far cheaper than you, sorry) but using the same technology also offers me on site backups and the ability to back up to any server I control and choose. This allows me to have my friends backup to the CrashPlan service, to their own local drive, and to a computer I setup just in case both of those fail. Best part is I'm not stuck doing a bunch of work.

As a final note, your service is extremely expensive compared to just about everything else.

I would be paying $50/month to just back up my photo & video collection at that rate unfortunately.

Could you go into a little more detail?

Is this if I log into backblaze.com there may be files it says it has which it does not, or if the UI on my Mac says it's backed up it may not be? (Or both?)

Just as heads up:

- Time machine: is not reliable for network backups (yes, really)

- CCC: needs a USB connected drive for a MBA

- Crashplan: recurring payment service based in the US

All of the above solution are useful, but none are reasonable and no brainer backup solutions for everyone, especially for MBA owners.

As for now, bittorent sync with a mirror on the same network feels like the best solution IMO.

Could you elaborate on why Time Machine isn't reliable for network backups? That's my setup at the moment.

(My 2012 MBA's SSD failed, but thankfully much of my data was automatically backed up to my NAS the previous night. The backup restored fine, too.)

All you need to do is run a "dumb"[1] rsync to a backup provider running on ZFS, and the remote will have its own set of day/week/month snapshots - exactly like time machine[2].

Now if only there were such a provider ... standards based rsync over ssh ? Remote ZFS filesystem ? 12+ years of history providing that service ? Progressive stance on govt. monitoring ?[3] No, it would be too good to be true.

[1] Dumb, as in, just a straight 1:1 mirror.

[2] But independent - no relation to TM on your own system

[3] http://www.rsync.net/resources/notices/canary.txt

One important difference between Time Machine and using rsync.net in the way you describe is that Time Machine doesn't require trusting anyone with your data[0].

Of course, it's possible to have encrypted snapshots on rsync.net with duplicity[1], the method I use. That being said, I have no particular reason to distrust rsync.net, and I have liked the service they have provided. If anything, I trust rsync.net more than other backup providers and certainly more than Apple.

[0]: Assuming Apple hasn't set up Time Machine to secretly send files back to Apple. But if you run Mac OS X, you're already trusting them not to do something like that.

[1]: http://www.rsync.net/resources/howto/duplicity.html

Have you seen this:


Encrypted dropbox replacement ... and he even wrote rsync.net specific instructions :)

Time Machine will regularly (as in once a month or two for my household of Macs, sometimes in as little as a week) complain "Time Machine completed a verification of your backups. To improve reliability, Time Machine must create a new backup for you." Apple says don't backup to a NAS. Plenty of folks have reported problems.

Thankfully it's easy to fix: http://www.garth.org/archives/2011,08,27,169,fix-time-machin...

"Easy to fix" for a pretty small segment of their customers. This is about as far from the "Apple experience" as you can get.

Anybody have any idea about if this is any better in Mavericks?

Getting it set up in the first place [0] keeps the selection of customers significantly smaller than those that are better off just buying a Time Capsule, or even sticking a USB drive onto an Airport Extreme (which I recall seemed to work fine). And Apple did say it's not supported. I wish they'd just fix it. IIRC, it worked reliably pre-Lion. EDIT: or for that matter, why not just bundle up the page I referenced into a nice app bundle with a pretty icon?

A more significant problem is that Synology (which is what I use) is out there saying, "Time Machine: works great with a Synology NAS!". And it does work great...until it doesn't, and last I checked Synology has no docs on how to fix it.

As for Mavericks, I'm pretty sure I've seen the problem on the one machine I have running the dev preview. Or maybe not, maybe it was before I put Mavericks on (I realize that's not terribly helpful information). The problem with saying whether it's better or not is that on my machines it may be a month or more before it rears its head. So it would take me six months or so before I could personally say that it's better for me.

[0] http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2007102817364274...

Buy a Time Capsule if you want the Apple experience. It will cost you, but then it's Apple's solution.

Apple Time Machine has never been friendly to NAS other than Time Capsule. You have to do some hackery to get it setup, so the above fix steps are suitable for that crowd.

There was a technical discussion of the protocol used for networked time machine backups on the apple support pages but I can't find it back. Basicaly TM was designed to be local first, and adapted to also work over ethernet afterwards, but doesn't properly recover when you have failures (i.e. corrupted data or lost connection) at the wrong timing during the backups. From memory the network protocol changed one or two years ago to be more reliable, but the fundamental assumptions seem to have remained.

That's why it's advised you do at least your first backup with a wired connection for instance.

A description of one of the issues you could face: http://pondini.org/TM/C13.html

A 2010 support thread with the horror stories https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3684176?start=0&tstart=...

A more recent one: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3684176?start=0&tstart=...

CrashPlan doesn't require that you use their service. The client software (which is free) is also server software, and you can backup to your own server(s).

Thanks for the info, looking at it there's even a synology package for the headless server. Nice.

CrashPlan's java based software just basically died on me after a while, so I switched to backblaze, which had much better performance. But people are now talking about bad experiences when they actually try to restore from backblaze. You can't win with these things it seems.

Currently I do Laptop + Time Machine HDD at work & a backup file server at home which syncs with my laptop with bittorrent sync and the file server is backed up by backblaze.

CrashPlan process in linux occasionally eats up most of the cpu. As a result of this I haven't been able to complete a single full upload after trying it for the last 4 months for a few hundred GBs. I have paid for a full year but I don't think it makes sense to renew. CrashPlan sync is just too slow and CPU heavy for a laptop that is used for dev work at the same time.

Time machine needs a HFS+ file system on your disk.

On a network volume it makes a disk image formatted in HFS+ into which it backs up.

Do not rely completely on Time Machine backups. I learnt the lesson in a painful way. My MBP crashed a few years back, and Apple decided to replace the motherboard. Unfortunately, Time Machine detected this as a new laptop, and won't let me restore from the backups.

These days, i backup only user data and i don't worry about the base OS. In fact, i prefer this over TimeMachine style backups. Photos go to Google Drive, work related documents to Dropbox, all code goes to BitBucket/Github, and thats about it. Videos and other personal stuff get backed to an external disk.

You can absolutely use time machine backups with a different Mac, the process is slightly different but still works.

Migrating a Time Machine backup to a new Mac

When you buy a new Mac, you can transfer all of your applications, files, settings, and other information from a Time Machine backup you've already made.

You will be asked if you want to transfer files when you start up your new Mac for the first time. Or, you can use the Migration Assistant (located in Applications/Utilities).

After Migration Assistant completes the transfer and you select your existing Time Machine backup drive, you will be prompted with "Inherit Backup History". Once selected you will be able to continue to use your existing Time Machine backup on your new Mac.


Sorry, you did something wrong. One of Time Machine's core functions is to migrate old laptops to newer laptops. It absolutely does not refuse to let you restore across new hardware.

Do not rely completely on Time Machine backups. I learnt the lesson in a painful way. My MBP crashed a few years back, and Apple decided to replace the motherboard. Unfortunately, Time Machine detected this as a new laptop, and won't let me restore from the backups.

But Time Machine backups are just a folder with (yet another) folder per backup timestamp. It doesn't use deltas or anything fancy, unchanged files are just hard linked.

In other words, you can browse a Time Machine backup like any other filesystem. For instance, you could just use cp or rsync to restore an exact copy.

On a Time Capsule or Airport Extreme with external hard disk, the files live in some disk image IIRC, but even there it is generally not hard to restore files.

Huh? I restored the same TimeMachine backup to multiple different machines, including a hackintosh.

Just weird.

But yea, I have dropbox, timemachine, a drobo with 16tb for photos/videos.

You can exclude the OS and applications from your Time Machine backups if you want. It's a great way to save space, since you can probably reinstall those from other sources.

Time Machine does not back up the operating system.

Exactly my thought when reading this. From my experience as an Ops guy I can say that in my opinion all storage media is perishable.

And also that most friends know that they should back-up as when shit hits the platter the first thing they say is: "I know I should have backed up and my latest is from September last year, can you help me?"

At least with OSX, backups are made very easy for you via Time Machine and even better a Time Capsule.

And where is it implying that you can stop backing up after the replacement? Are you so dense or literal-minded that you need everything spelling out for you? "do not dry your pets in this microwave".

  until you receive a replacement drive
Uh, there? Basic reading comprehension is not literal-mindedness.

How about the part where it says:

>> until you receive a replacement drive

The fact that they are not helping people move their data is very un-apple of them. Apple used to be a customer focused company but they seem to have lost that in the last few years.

Telling my mother in law to "back up her computer" and then giving her a new, blank drive that she has to install her own OS on and then restore from backup is completely useless -- she'd have no clue where to even begin.

So now Apple has told her "you're going to lose all your data and we can't help you". Not cool.

Not sure where you're getting that from the Apple page. They say that a backup should be done before migration, but nowhere does it say that Apple won't assist those who have no clue of what a backup is.

"You will be able to reinstall the operating system version that shipped with your product by going to the Mac App Store. Any other applications or other data should be restored from the back up that you made before the replacement."

Maybe they worded it poorly, but that to me sounds like you're on your own.

How you got from that statement to:

>> So now Apple has told her "you're going to lose all your data and we can't help you". Not cool.

boggles my mind. Perhaps skip the extra serving of hyperbole?

I got their by reading the entire page.

First, they warn people to back up their data regularly because there is a high chance of failure. Then they tell you that if you come and get a new drive you have to restore it on your own.

Perhaps you've never had to support someone who isn't technologically savvy, but basically if I show this to her she will be very scared that her sacred pictures of her grandson will be gone forever. She won't understand this page beyond "my data will go away and Apple won't help me".

Whether that is their intention or not I don't know.

The only saving grace here is that I set up backups for her a long time ago, but she's probably forgotten.

Hey mate, I can attest to having this issue and at least give an account. I went in last month reporting failure of my HDD, the genius assumed that "Oh the partition somehow got corrupt, this happens" and somehow got a new installation on there after telling me they were not responsible for any data loss. So for some cases, some people would've already lost all their data if they didn't have a backup.

It failed again minutes after leaving the store so I arranged another visit with a genius. This genius was more helpful and understanding and swapped the drive out. Unfortunately the new replacement drive matches these model numbers. Not exactly happy about having to visit a far away store for a third time.

Can someone tell me how I can determine if my machine is affected if I don't have an OS X install?

I've only got Debian available.

I'd keep a (small) OS X partition around for firmware updates. Unfortunately, it has to be on the internal drive. I haven't had much luck using an external drive to install firmware updates†, even when set as the startup disk.

† Other OS X software updates install fine on an external.

I'm pretty sure sometime shortly after buying this machine I was able to install a "firmware update" from a USB-booted OS X install, but don't quote me on that :)

I'm somewhat unfamiliar with Apple's software generally (I have always just run Debian) - do they release firmware updates often? What kind of things do they fix?

I repairs Macs at work, so I boot a lot of machines via external drives. I think some firmware updates will work via external drive and some won't.

I remember trying to get an iMac to install one, hoping it would fix an issue, and the internal drive was encrypted. I had to erase/reinstall on the internal drive to get the update to install. (Note to university computer lab admins: if your Thunderbolt isn't working, try installing the "Thunderbolt Firmware Update" that Software Update prompts you to install before requesting a new logic board ;-)

Firmware updates aren't uncommon, when a machine or architecture is new. I can remember firmware updates for EFI (added internet recovery when Lion came out), Thunderbolt, Magsafe/power, SSDs, and Wifi across all types of Macs.

It seems this is a hardware problem so, there is a risk of you being affected, if you bought your MBA "between June 2012 through June 2013".

Do you have OS X available? It says there is a software upgrade that checks for broken SSD's.

Maybe try: lspci -v

OK, so I've got a "TS064C".

Now where do I find a useful list of which models are actually broken?

I was curious as to the model number. Is yours a 2010/2011 MacBook Air?

This is only for the SSDs in the 2012 MacBook Air:

> Apple has determined that certain 64GB and 128GB flash storage drives used in the previous generation of MacBook Air systems may fail. These systems were sold between June 2012 through June 2013.

It looks like I just squeezed in - I bought this machine in July 2012, but it's the older model without USB 3.

Thanks! I'll have to take the original poster's word for it I guess :)

That's not one of them.

Silly question probably, but why would the 256GB model (mine) be exempt?

Could be a completely different company and model of storage.

The drives that have been failing are the 64GB and 128GB Toshiba SSDs (TS064E and TS128E).

I've never been happy with a Toshiba product in my entire life. Seems like everything they make is garbage.

Have you tried Toshiba hard disks? I replaced my laptop hard disk several years ago with a Toshiba that was fast, quiet, inexpensive, and reliable.

More recently, after my network-storage USB Western Digital issued an error once or twice, I replaced it with a USB 3.0 Toshiba Canvio. It's also fast, quiet, and inexpensive -- plus it has 3x the warranty; WD only gives 1 year.

When I got my MacBook Air this Spring, I picked up a second one for some extra space. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to setting it up for backups before my SSD failed; but I've learned my lesson, my backups are now entirely automated.

Yeah I have the 256. That page says that if you flash the firmware update utility and run it you'll be "redirected back to this page" if there is an issue.

I've run that firmware updater without any warnings or anything... so looks like we're good?!

In other news, my 15-month-old Macbook Air is an absolute champ. I've dropped it multiple times, one time while sliding face first on some ice in the middle of Sweden... Macbook was in my hands without a case and got some gnarly scratches. This thing has taken all my abuse and continues to boot up every day! #crossesfingers

All the 256Gb drives were Samsung I believe.

I have one of those 128G MacBook Airs, and the SSD failed on me literally a few days after the warranty expired. I took it to the Apple store to see if they would repair it under warranty (Apple used to be lax about warranty dates), but they told me no. I ended up ordering 256G SSD from OWC and repairing it myself (which was cheaper and faster then what Apple store clerk quoted me for a new 128G SSD).

Called them today about a refund - they told me I might not be eligible because I did the repair myself and not through an authorized repair center, but they will try to get it approved. We'll see how it works :)

I noticed that recently Apple stores are managed independently.

Many actions / decisions being made really depend on the store. Personally, I needed an iphone replaced and one local apple store decided NOT to even look at the iphone. Another apple store was very upfront: they looked at the damaged iphone, and offered an exchange for $200.

I think this may have happened to my MacBook Air 62 GB (Summer 2012). One day I booted up and nothing happened, just had a blank screen that never went away. I tried to use the internet restore and it couldn't find a drive. I then USB booted to Ubuntu and looked for the drive, but no drives were there.

Does this sound like the drive failure they're talking about? It happened a month ago and I haven't touched it since. I obviously can't run the firmware test they suggest, because my drive has already seemingly failed.

Sounds like it. I'd be taking it in anyway, even if you're slightly out of warranty, most Apple Stores are happy to waive the cost if you have had any specific suffering due to it.

Same thing happened to me around the same time. I went in reporting failures and not being able to boot into it or find it with liveboot. Genius recommended a reformat which somehow installed (but didn't really work, console all also reported failures).

Second visit ended up replacing the hdd with a new one. Just did this update and my Mac isn't doing so well. user land can't load. Beware.

EDIT: Eventually it came to life, my model is TS064E which is apparently one of the effected models, so it looks like a third Genius appointment for me.

Happened to me a couple of months ago. MacBook Air Summer 2012. One day, it would no longer turn on. Took it to Apple Store and was unable to find the disk. They replaced the drive and put the OS on it for me.

Same thing happened to me in September. Fortunately I had backups so no data was lost but I was out a computer for a week and had to shell out $300 for the repair.

I spoke to Apple this morning and they issued a full refund.

There were reports about failing toshiba ssds in macbook airs before. My SSD too died. Got it replaced in 1 day (EU 2 year warranty) by an apple reseller

Anyone know of a way to check the model/version data of a drive in an OWC USB 3.0 enclosure?

I bought a 2012 MBA with the 128GB drive on release and in early July this year the drive completely spazed out. After a round with Apple's Genius Bar the options for my 3 weeks past warranty drive were ~$700 to replace it in store or ~$300 to send it away losing my laptop for a week. I just ordered a new drive from OWC and had it overnighted.

So what happened? I'd guess buggy firmware, as that seems to be the achilles heel on SSDs, but that is purely uninformed guess.

But they could update firmware. Must be more serious.

Unless the buggy firmware mismanaged writes and made the SSD bits worn out.

I personally had my Macbook Air that I bought in August 2012 have its 128GB SSD fail on me this past August. The data was not recoverable and I had to get the SSD replaced by an Apple technician for free as my Air was still under warranty.

Fortunately, I was mostly backed up, but it is definitely aggravating to see a < 12 month old SSD fail.

Sorry, but SSDs have never had a good history of being reliable. I've been lucky, but I hear too many horror stories. Backup is essential.

No medium is reliable, and it's good you were backed up recently.

Great, My drive suffered a catastrophic crash 2 weeks ago and was replaced by Apple with one week left under warranty. After following these instructions and installing new firmware Chrome reopened to the Replacement Program page which I already had open prior to update! How can determine if If my new drive is affected?

It says the update will check to see if you're affected (need a replacement) and just update the firmware if not. Mine seemed to update the firmware without issue...

Good job I was planning on replacing it with a 3rd party bigger drive as soon as I can save up (turns out 128GB was never going to be enough...)

Yeah.. too late for my bro. Lost all his data.. ssd reported as 33kb

Maybe you can still run a tiny operating system on it.

Hmm it seems my SSD is affected. I have not had any issues though. I wonder if I can can get an upgrade when I give it in? Good thing I did a time machine backup a few weeks ago.

Last time i updated my MBA, It got crashed. I am not sure I want to update, just to check if my MBA requires an update.

How long would it take to replace if you take it to a local Apple store?

I had an SSD replacement in July. Once they got the part in stock, it took about 20 minutes+reimaging time (Saturday at noon). Ordering the part took about two days (it actually arrived the next day, but only 10 minutes before closing).

15 months have passed to figure out and I already had a disk failure.

SSD's are not there yet, if you ask me. I've been running on a custom SSD on my Mac mini, with restarts required once daily after crashing (mostly due to chrome). A dozen friends of mine also had a buggy experience with SSDs. They are super fast, I mean. But not so reliable at this point in time.

Will I go back to a HDD? Probably not. HDD is really good for backing up stuff, but for speed, SSD's are unmatched. There's no icon-bouncing each time I click on an app in the bottom menu of my mac. Even a restart a day is totally worth it for me :D (Just kidding, don't fucking downvote me)

SSD's are not there yet, if you ask me. I've been running on a custom SSD on my Mac mini, with restarts required once daily after crashing (mostly due to chrome). A dozen friends of mine also had a buggy experience with SSDs. They are super fast, I mean. But not so reliable at this point in time.

There are some ugly SSDs out there with firmware problems (e.g. some people have reported problems with OCZ). I have been using different SSDs for three years (Apple branded, Samsung, and Intel) and I never had any problem or bugs. In fact, since Apple uses Samsung themselves, I have also used Trim Enabler without problems.

You are talking based on your own experience. I am talking based on mine and 12 others I know of. No offence, but you get the point, right? :)

That's the whole point of my comment. It's anecdotical evidence and you'll find as many people having the opposite experience (ie. me).

If you look at the actual failure rate, it's well known that the failure rates of SSDs are well below those of HDDs:


(With the notable exception of the aforementioned brand.)

The thing about personal experience is that you can't really quantify it. His 3 anecdotes (3 SSDs over 3 years) are just as valid as your 13 anecdotes.

I was under the impression that OSX already supported trim. Is that not the case, or is it only for certain models?

Trim is only enabled by OS X on Apple-branded SSDs.

I wouldn't say that. I've been using SSDs since 2009, and I've never had an issue with them. Every MacBook I've owned since then has had a hybrid of SSD + HDD for speed and capacity, and it seriously works a treat. The only issue I have ever encountered with them was an issue between a very specific combination of drives, once that was nutted out it's been solid as a rock. I would never go back.

I run an SSD for the system and a HDD (in the optical drive bay) for storage in my (aged) MBP. Any advice to get the HDD to wind down when not in use? This setup is fantastic when plugged in, but battery life suffers with the HDD in the aftermarket location unable to go to sleep...

If I'm going portable and need every last minute of battery life I'll transfer files I need over to my SSH (or to a 64GB SD card if they're very large files) and unmount the platter drive in my MBP

I've never had an issue with getting a HDD in the optical bay to sleep. Just checked the option in the settings and used a tool (CHUB? CHUD?) to set the minimum spindown time to be lower than normal.

Yes... swap the two drives. The optical bay cannot properly put the HDD to sleep. I am running a similar setup, but with the HDD in the original bay, and the SSD in the optical bay and have no issues.

Ah, yes. I think with my machine being a very old model (MBP 4,1) there was some issue for why I didn't do this. Perhaps the maximum speed of the optical bay? I'll have to look up the specs again to see if it wouldn't be worth the trade off, as it would be great to make the old goat more portable. Thanks for the tip!

My original SSD setup didn't actually have any problems in the 2007 model MacBook Pro, so I can't imagine you would either. The speedup is absolutely incredible, even with a cheap Chinese SSD.

"restarts required once daily"? Do you mean restarting the crashed application (Chrome), or an actual daily reboot of the OS?

I suppose it depends on the drive, controller and firmware. I slapped an OCZ SSD into my Early 2011 Macbook Pro on day one, and it's been running flawlessly ever since.

Have you really be able to track crashes back to your SSD? This could be an issue with so many things.

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