Ouch, one more dead disk!
My TiBook's disk died on me this weekend. :(
OK, things aren't eternal and it had to happen at some point. But this disk was replaced only height months ago!
The problems started very suddenly: one minute everything was fine and the next one I was getting the Spinning Cursor Of Death all around. But the applications weren't completely unresponsive like when they're hung and I could still switch between most of them. But I couldn't launch any app or do anything that involves disc accesses. I couldn't even log out or restart. I forced the machine to shut down and rebooted in verbose mode. And then, I saw the following being reported repeatedly: IOATAController device blocking bus.
My first reaction was "Uh-oh! That's not good!". The second was to Google that sentence from my other machine, and everything I read confirmed my first impression. I kept the TiBook shut down for the night, rebooted it from an external drive, and checked the internal one. DiskUtility detected and fixed some minor errors on my system partition, but the S.M.A.R.T. status was still "verified", at this point (the fact that the disk had got all its time to cool down definitely helped). I immediately ran a full backup of my users partition to a disk image on the external drive, thanks to SuperDuper!, and it succeeded. But it wasn't too smooth: I kept checking the disk activity from ActivityMonitor and noticed that it frequently stopped for some time. So I did something I figured out the last time its disk failed: instead of keeping it flat, I put the TiBook down on its left side. And again that helped a lot for some time. But I couldn't clone my system partition as well (which would have saved me a complete reinstall). The disk stopped responding completely (when the copy was about 98% done, of course) and the last time I checked, its S.M.A.R.T. status read "failing". By now, AppleCare has confirmed that it must be replaced.
Thankfully nothing is lost except time (I had a fairly recent backup anyway), but I hate when that happens. Since it's my main machine, it always breaks completely my workflow. For example I planned to release DesktopSweeper 1.2b2 to beta testers this weekend, and because of that I couldn't. :(
Enfin, c'est la vie...
Update: Somehow I've been lucky that the disk died when it did: the TiBook's AppleCare protection plan ends in three days. Being lucky from time to time doesn't hurt, does it? ;)