Safe Sleep and the ‘White Screen of Death’

Derik DeLong
11 May, 2009
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Going hand in hand with my earlier observations about the MacBook’s sleep battery usage, I gave myself quite a scare by leaving my MacBook asleep unplugged for an extended amount of time. I plugged in my mouse and wireless headset USB receivers. However, as the sleep light was absent, I assumed it ran out of power and shut down.

I pressed the power button to rouse it and got greeted by a blank white screen. No Apple symbol or spinning wheel appeared to reassure me. My companion stared back at me with a cold, blank expression. I waited. Nothing happened. I turned it off and tried turning it on again. No matter what I did, the result was the same.

Safe SleepSome quick research into the white screen symptom for MacBooks yielded a common answer—the hard drive was fried. Every person who experienced what I seemed to be going through ended up replacing the hard drive. While I’m well within the warranty period, I was more upset that I would have to postpone my computing plans.

Out of desperation, I took out both receivers and tried it again. After a short blank screen greeting, I was treated to a translucent version of what I was doing when I put my to sleep computer originally. Safe Sleep had apparently captured what I was doing and started restoring it before my eyes.

The next time you leave your MacBook asleep for a long time, be wary about plugging in USB devices before trying to wake it.

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