Blog — Tips and Tricks from the Mac Zen Team

Spooky Stories of Mac Disaster

Gather round, my friends. Fall has come, and with it, the month of ghostly spectres and terrifying tales. Hold your iPhone tight and read on if you dare.

The Priceless Paperweight

It was a blustery October afternoon. Outside, the wind blew crooked branches towards Fred's office window with a creaking, cracking noise. Reeek. Reeek. Shaking off an eerie feeling, Fred picked up his iPhone. Sensing his movement, the phone awoke. Lo and behold, a new version of iOS was available for his iPhone with hundreds of new emojis! He couldn’t wait to text his friends all about the new kundalini class on Saturday — the new yoga emoji would be perfect. Maybe he’d finally get around to trying out that iCloud thing.

Fred swiped right on the update notification and tapped install, setting his phone down and getting back to work. The phone had a worn-out battery, but the update would be fine so long as it was plugged into the wall. Downloading the new OS should only take a few minutes on the office’s fast Wifi, he thought to himself. He’d be texting Sun Salutations to Jeremy in Accounting by lunchtime.

The minutes dragged on, but Fred resisted the urge to check his phone. Suddenly, a thundercrack echoed outside. He got up to look out the window, and in that instant, the lights flickered and went dark. Damn that old James Bay wiring! He turned to his office door, intending to head down to the basement and flip the breakers.

Fred reached over to slip the phone in his pocket, and noticed a strange icon on the screen; a lighting cable pointing to the iTunes logo. Fred pressed the home button to clear it, but nothing happened. “A restart’ll fix this,” he thought. He held down the power and home buttons for 10 seconds, but the phone booted right back to the same screen. He tried tapping around, even testing the volume keys in his panic — but it was too late. 

With the sudden power loss, Fred’s phone had died in the middle of the software install. With only his work PC and no backup of his phone nearby, there was no way to restore it until he got home. Fred slumped back into his chair, broken. Jeremy would never hear about Saturday’s class in time. He’d be on his mat alone that weekend, surrounded by yogis whose backs never gave out during cobra pose. Fred held his bricked iPhone in his shaking hands and wept.

The Lost Family Treasure

It had been such a wonderful trip, thought Rebecca. Getting home to rain and wind had been a little tough, considering. But they’d made such great memories; making tacos together in the AirBnb, swimming with the dolphins, Grandpa Rick bouncing the kids on his knee. Rebecca couldn’t wait to download all the photos from her camera. Her iMac was a few years old now and running slower than it used to, but she loved all the editing options in iPhoto.

Outside, the wind howled. Rebecca shivered at the sound and adjusted the shoulders of her wool sweater. She sat down at the desk and plugged in her camera. As the scrolled through the tiny previews of her vacation photos, the screen started moving jerkily, in fits and starts. Some of the previews took longer to load, or just didn’t load at all. The empty grey boxes worried her, but she was sure it would work itself out; the old iMac always did. She clicked the Import button and switched over to the Library to see last year's vacation snaps.

The old house creaked and shifted with the wind. They should probably get a seismic inspection, she thought idly. The Photos Library sure was taking a long time to load. Maybe she could Google around for a good contractor while she waited.

Rebecca hit Command-Tab to switch to Safari, and went to type a search into the address bar. Nothing happened. She looked up at the screen and the app switcher was still there, frozen over the iPhoto screen.

This had been happening a fair bit lately. She swore under her breath and hit Command-Option-Escape to Force Quit whatever had hung up... but nothing happened. She tried moving the mouse, but the cursor stayed stuck. Concerned, Rebecca held down the power button and rebooted the old iMac.

It sometimes took the Mac up to 10 minutes  for a full reboot lately, so she got up to get some tea. The wind picked up outside again, and in that same moment, the iMac's screen lit once again. But instead of the friendly startup chime and Apple logo, there was simply a folder icon with an ominous question mark.

Panicking now, Rebecca power cycled the machine again and again, but the folder icon was relentless. It wasn't until she took it to the local repair shop that she learned the truth.

After years of faithful service, the moving parts in the iMac's hard drive had worn down. Over the past few weeks and months, it had been failing to finish writing data to the disc, and each frozen screen and forced restart had created more and more corrupt files. Importing the vacation photos had been the last straw, and the computer could no longer read its own operating system. "Did you bring your backup drive?" The computer tech asked. With mounting horror, Rebecca could only shake her head. The photos on her camera might still be safe - but without a backup, and even with costly data recovery, decades of her family's memories might well be gone forever. 

The tech's face fell and turned ashen. "I'm so sorry," he said. Rebecca swallowed the lump in her throat and handed over her Visa.

This brings us to the end; this year’s instalment of terrifying tales is over. Sleep tight - but if these stories of suffering keep you up at night, don’t hesitate. Email us... before it’s too late.