Keys out of order on MacBook, DiskWarrior to the rescue

My white MacBook is from the first run of 1.83GHz machines from May of 2006. I don’t depend on it for anything more than couch surfing and on-the-go computing. It has been back to Apple several times early on for issues, but once those were resolved the machine has been pretty reliable.

Until now.


Installing Leopard on the MacBook has been a mixed bag. While I appreciate the user improvements of Leopard, especially Spaces, my MacBook has been far less stable on Leopard. I’ve had many, many kernel panics under Leopard. Under Tiger my MacBook was very stable. In contrast, my main computer, a dual 1.8 GHz G5, has been rock solid for its entire life running Panther, Tiger and Leopard, with freezes and kernel panics being very rare.

It’s likely those kernel panics on the MacBook finally caught up with me. AppleMail has been flaky on my MacBook for a long time. Mail finally refused to load and quit responding. Several force quits later I decided to restart the MacBook. It would try to load and reboot automatically. It was caught in this loop.

A boot into single user mode was my next step, hoping that an fsck on the file system would fix the problem. fsck could not repair the problem. I had read that three times in a row did the trick for others, but not for me. The message “keys out of order” was the glaring error message.

Disk Utility was of no help either.

I did have a fairly recent Carbon Copy Clone of the system but I thought it was worth trying to copy off some recent stuff first using target disk mode in case I had to reformat the disk. I got a warning message when trying to mount this volume, but it did mount. Next I tried to run fsck from the desktop. That failed too.

Carbon Copy Cloner also failed several times on this volume.

Time to bite the bullet and download DiskWarrior. I somehow eluded needing this program up until now. A few weeks earlier my work PowerBook could only be brought back to life with the help of DiskWarrior. It was a $100 gamble but seemingly worth the risk.

With the MacBook in target disk mode on my G5 I ran DiskWarrior. It found a bunch of errors and corrected them. My MacBook booted just fine after that.

Happy endings!

It will be interesting to see if the MacBook continues to have kernel panics now I have my filesystem in good working order.

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