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Diagnosing common issues with your Mac

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Mac users tend to pride themselves based on their chosen platform. While there is a lot to be said about the different versions of macOS, it’s still susceptible to disk corruption, battery failure and a number of other issues. Not only can such issues result in lost data, but, in extreme cases, they might even affect the usability of your Mac altogether.

Does Your Mac Refuse to Boot?
The first step is determining the reason for a boot failure. With modern Mac computers, this usually comes down to one of three things: your screen, your power supply or your hard drive.

You can begin to narrow down the options by checking for the presence of the Caps Lock key light or the iconic chime noise when you first hit your computer’s Power button. If you notice any of these things, or if your backlit keyboard is lit up, the problem is likely with the screen.

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However, if you can only get your macOS to boot when it’s plugged in, the problem is likely with your power supply, the charger or the battery itself.

Is Your Screen Working?
Your system’s screen, or monitor, might be the culprit. If possible, try plugging in a different monitor to your system. On a MacBook, this is possible by connecting an external screen via the Thunderbolt or HDMI port on the side of your laptop.

Does your system work when plugged into the second monitor? If so, it’s very likely that you have a defective screen. This is especially common with laptops, and, unfortunately, will require professional assistance to repair.

Is Your Power Supply Working?
Once you’ve eliminated your screen from the list of potential issues, it’s time to check out your power supply. In this case, there are two different parts to examine: the charger itself (sometimes known as a MagSafe charger) and the battery.

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Does your system work when it’s plugged into the charger and into the wall socket? If so, you can eliminate the charger itself from your list of potential issues. In this case, the problem is clearly your battery.

However, if your system doesn’t work at all, even when it’s plugged in, you might have a serious issue with the battery or power supply. A replacement battery might do the trick, might you’ll need an expert to properly diagnose the issue from here.

Is Your Hard Drive Working?
The final piece of hardware to check is your system’s hard drive. In some cases, especially with hard disk drives, you might hear a slight hum or feel a light vibration when the drive is active. With solid-state drives, however, this is much more difficult to detect.

If possible, try to remove your hard drive from the system and plug it into a secondary computer. From here, see if you can view and access the files within. If they’re still not accessible, you likely have a corrupt or failed hard drive. From here, your only real choice is to replace it with a new one and recover your data from a prior backup.

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