Thermal Event Destroys an Apple Notebook

By Emily Vannoy – Apple Specialist – The Computing Center

 A Cornell student had their 2013 15” MacBook Pro battery rupture in mid-June. It was in a backpack that started to “smoke” during a class. Fire personnel and Police were called in and fortunately, the laptop did not catch fire; only one battery cell was involved.

Laptop and phone batteries (or any lithium ion battery), under some very unusual circumstances, can begin to swell. Swelling can cause a rupture which leads to what Apple refers to as a “thermal event”. Batteries expand when gas builds up inside of the battery cell. Over charging from a faulty charger, extreme heat, and a manufacturer fault in the battery can cause swelling to occur. In this case, one battery cell expanded to the point of rupture causing smoking and extreme heat. In some cases, this can cause a fire. This is one of the first such situations we’ve seen at The Computing Center. 

Once we got the machine into our shop, we were able to determine that only one of the six battery cells in this model had ruptured. The remaining cells were, thankfully, unharmed and stable. In a stroke of luck, we were able to recover most of the data contained on the Solid State Drive (SSD). At the bottom of this article is some of the details regarding this event.

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The Key to iPhone Data Recovery

Hundreds of broken, damaged and malfunctioning iPhones are sent to DriveSavers every month for data recovery. Despite having the best smartphone success rate in the industry, we aren’t able to recover all of them. Many factors are involved, some of which we’ll go into here.

To obtain the best results in recovering an iPhone, DriveSavers engineers must carefully coax it into a semi-functional state, at least briefly, in order to extract the important data.

Every single phone that comes in the door may require hours of inspection and testing to locate the point or points of failure. In many cases, hardware engineers will have to micro solder multiple jumpers and leads in addition to cleaning corrosion and other forms of damage to get a device to power up.

When we do get an iPhone to work again, we don’t know how long it will remain viable, so we have to move quickly at that point to rescue the important data.

Most of the iPhones we receive are protected by passcodes, which we highly recommend as just one measure to protect sensitive personal information. You can learn other security measures from our article, 7 Ways to Secure Your Smartphone.

Passcode protection may still be active, even if the phone is unusable. iPhone encryption and security is very robust—increasingly so with each new version. If our engineers don’t have a working passcode, iPhone data recovery may not be possible.

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Apple IOS and OS X Security Issue & Fix

As many of us know, Apple Computer does a pretty good job of controlling the security features of their two main operating systems, Apple IOS for iPhones and iPads, and Apple OS X for most Mac computers..  They do such a good job that most people don't have any special security software installed on their machines and devices.  But, they are NOT perfect.  

Recently, what's turned out to be a major security hole has occurred in both Apple operating systems.  I'll let others discuss the details of the security flaw, what the potential issues are, and whether the NSA had anything to do with it.  (You gotta love all the speculation in the media!)  Here is what to do:

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Which "Pad" to buy?

What a difference 30 months make!  In May 2010, I wrote about my initial experiences with the first Apple iPad. I was really excited about what it could do and how content could be read or consumed nearly anywhere.  There had been a few “pads” built prior, but nothing like the iPad.  All the big pieces came together with a very readable color screen, highly accurate touch technology, a fast processor, plenty of storage, and thousands of available “apps”.  Access to information happened  over WiFi or a cellular connection.  Most everyone raved about the iPad and it validated what has become known as BYOD (bring your own device) to the corporate world. 

So, here we are 30 months later.  There are now over two dozen different choices in tablets from virtually every major computer and consumer hardware manufacturer.  Even Google and Microsoft have entered the fray.  Apple has two different iPads out there and the iPad mini.  Google, Samsung, Kindle, Nook, and many others have competing models.  Not surprisingly, the choice of what to buy isn’t so obvious any more.

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Apple announces iPhone 5

Editors note - It's been all over the news and Apple has already pre-sold millions of units.  Here is Apple's news release on the major features of the new iPhone 5.

 

Thinnest, Lightest iPhone Ever Features All-New Aluminum Design, Stunning 4-Inch Retina Display, A6 Chip & Ultrafast Wireless
 

SAN FRANCISCO—September 12, 2012—Apple® today announced iPhone® 5, the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever, completely redesigned to feature a stunning new 4-inch Retina™ display; an Apple-designed A6 chip for blazing fast performance; and ultrafast wireless technology*—all while delivering even better battery life.** iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 200 new features including: the all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography and turn-by-turn navigation; Facebook integration; Passbook® organization; and even more Siri® features and languages.

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