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Apple Replacing Faulty MacBook Air Storage Drives

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If you purchased a 64 GB or 128 GB MacBook Air (mid-2012) between June 2012 and June 2013, your flash storage drive might be defective, in which case Apple will replace it for free.


To determine if your MacBook Air has a faulty flash drive, open the App Store app on your MacBook Air, click Updates, and download the MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.1. Presumably, if the update doesn’t appear, your MacBook Air is not among those that might suffer from this problem. (TidBITS publisher Adam Engst has a mid-2012 MacBook Air, didn’t see the update in the App Store app, and when he downloaded it and ran it manually, the installer reported “This computer does not need this update.”)

Once downloaded, the update will test your drive and install new firmware to resolve the problem in most cases. If the drive is faulty, the update directs you to the relevant Apple support document for further instructions about how to get a free replacement. If the update completes without any additional comments about the drive’s health, we believe that means the firmware update has fixed the problem, based on Apple’s statement:

Apple has discovered that a small percentage of flash storage drives in these MacBook Air models have an issue that may result in data loss. This update tests your drive and, in the majority of cases, installs new firmware to resolve the issue.

If your drive is bad, Apple strongly recommends that you don’t install new applications or operating system updates until the drive has been replaced. You should also be sure to perform a backup as soon as possible. In fact, you should do that even if your drive is good! If you’re not backing up regularly, be sure to check out Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac, Second Edition,” which tells you everything you need to get started.

 

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Comments about Apple Replacing Faulty MacBook Air Storage Drives

Michael Grant  2013-10-19 13:35
I have a BTO 2011 MacBook Pro with SSD. I have zero symptoms, but SMARTreporter has been telling me my drive is failing with a steadily declining "erase count". Googling has yielded only the vaguest notion of what that actually means. I'm reluctant to lay out a lot of money when I can't tell that anything's actually wrong, but of course I don't want to wake up one morning to a bricked computer either. I wonder if my drive could be suffering the same defect as the storage in these Airs...?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-20 10:19
Entirely unknown, since Apple hasn't said what's wrong with the MacBook Air drives. In your case, if you're not seeing any symptoms, I wouldn't throw money at it (it's not clear to me that SMART utilities are reliable sources). What I would do is be sure that you have constant backups taking place - Time Machine and daily bootable duplicates - so you can recover quickly if the drive does go south. Plus, make sure you know what you're going to do if and when it does - it's probably not worth getting another SSD to have on hand, but it's absolutely worth knowing what drive you'll boot from or replace the SSD with (can't remember if you can get into that model easily).
William Porter  2013-10-20 10:03
Thanks for the article. App Store displayed the update and told me my MBA needed it. So I clicked "Update" and restarted my MBA. Saw a progress bar (presumably the download). And when it was done, I had to use power key to restart. Is that it? I did not get a follow-up alert saying either "Your drive's sick" or "Your drive's healthy." Does that mean it's healthy?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-20 10:20
I'm guessing that means that the firmware update has resolved the problem. We haven't seen any of these drives to confirm, but here's what Apple says on the update's page:

"Apple has discovered that a small percentage of flash storage drives in these MacBook Air models have an issue that may result in data loss. This update tests your drive and, in the majority of cases, installs new firmware to resolve the issue. If your drive cannot be updated, Apple will replace it, free of charge."
William Porter  2013-10-21 15:45
Thanks Adam. It would have been nice if the updater itself had provided this reassurance!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-22 08:21
I agree - that's poor communication on Apple's part in a stressful situation.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-28 13:20
We're hearing that it may be as much as a 4-week wait for parts if your MacBook Air needs a new drive. :-(