Apple details MacBook Air Flash Storage Drive Replacement Program

Apple has determined that certain 64GB and 128GB flash storage drives used in the previous generation of MacBook Air systems may fail. These systems were sold between June 2012 through June 2013.

Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will replace affected flash storage drives, free of charge.

To see if your drive may be affected, go to the Mac App Store, click on Updates and choose the MacBook Air Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.1. The firmware update will test your drive to see if it is affected. You will be directed back to this page for next steps if needed.

IMPORTANT: If your drive is affected, we strongly recommend that you do not install any operating system updates or new applications. We also recommend backing up your data on a regular basis until you receive a replacement drive. Learn more about backup options

Replacement Process
If your MacBook Air has an affected flash drive, please contact one of the Apple service providers below to schedule an appointment to get your drive replaced:

• Apple Retail Store – Set up an appointment with a Genius.
• Apple Authorized Service Provider – Find one here.
• Apple Technical Support – Contact us for local service options.

Before you bring your MacBook Air in for service, please back up your data. Learn more about backup options.

Additional Information
You will be able to reinstall the operating system version that shipped with your product by going to the Mac App Store. Any other applications or other data should be restored from the back up that you made before the replacement.

If you believe you have paid for a repair or replacement due to this issue, contact Apple regarding a refund.

This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the MacBook Air.

The program covers affected MacBook Air for three years after the first retail sale of the unit. Apple will continue to evaluate service data and will provide further updates to this program as needed.

Source: Apple Inc.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Atery” for the heads up.]

25 Comments

    1. In very simple terms, they degrade a tiny tiny bit every time they perform a read/write cycle. The drives have software that tracks the history of witch sectors have been written to and how often. So the drives are designed to evenly distribute read/writes over the entire drive. That’s why you’ll see a 256 GB drive like OWC’s Mercury SSD’s only stores 240 GB’s. It needs 16 GB’s of memory just to process and track the distribution of data accross the SSD’s chip array.

      SSD’s are getting better as far as how many read/write cycles can be performed before failure. Through materials research, eventually, they’ll get to the point where they’ll last long enough to exceed the life of the computer or device they’re used in. Their just about there already.

      1. SSDs are actually oversized to phase in spare capacity as areas begin to fail, thus maintaining the specified amount of storage over an extended period of time. But heavy I/O use, such as databases or scratch files or the like will age an SSD faster.

  1. I think its the Sandforce controllers that are at fault.

    As much as I hate to admit it, Samsung currently makes the best SSDs out there. But since I’m stubborn, I sacrificed a bit of performance and bought an SSD from Crucial instead.

  2. I got hit by this last month. One morning I fired up my 11″ MBA (64Gb) and only got the flashing question mark folder error. I took it to the Geniuses and it took them almost 3 weeks to replace the flash drive – they kept saying the drive was on back order. Unbelievably, replacement flash drives were available on Amazon though …

    That wasn’t the best service I’d ever received for a computer, but I did get an apology phone call from someone in Cupertino – that kind of made my day when the home phone caller ID read “Apple Inc.”

    1. Apple’s website clearly states that if the firmware update does not resolve the problem then Apple will reads the SSR free of charge. So why are you paying for the fix?

      1. The SSD in iFan’s MBA failed prior to the announcement of Apple’s replacement program.

        As stated in the article:
        “If you believe you have paid for a repair or replacement due to this issue, contact Apple regarding a refund.”

        1. Just for clarification purposes –

          My MBA SSD was replaced free of charge by Apple – it just took them 3 weeks (instead the the quoted 2 – 3 days) to get it replaced.

          The heartache over the 3 weeks wasn’t because this was my one and only computer. I also have a desktop iMac – and all 4 Macs in my house are backed up via Time Machine to an Airport Time Capsule. So I was able to setup a “Work” user on my iMac, then drop the backup from Time Capsule to that user so I could work while in my home office.

          The problem was, I spend less than 15% of my work week in my home office. The MBA is my “on the road work computer” which I connect back to the Company’s servers via a MiFi jetpack while in the field. I explained to the Geniuses that the MBA was a work computer and needed to be back asap – they put a priority on it, and originally said 2-3 days because of the priority status.

          They had never seen one of these failures in the local store until they’d seen mine. Apparently the issue was bigger than they, or I, thought and that’s probably the cause for the back order / delay. They were as embarrassed, as I was irritated, by the (at the time) unexplained delay. They must have kicked the issue up to Cupertino, which lead to the apology phone call. I didn’t escalated, so they must have.

        1. “No mood” … Oh please, grow up. Why do you think they should’ve fixed it for free when they weren’t even aware at that time that there was a larger issue? Those smug shits can’t replace your drive for free until Apple investigates the problem and confirms there is a manufacturing defect. It takes time to collect data and faulty drives, go back to the manufacturer and try to determine if the problem is widespread or not. (Probably why your computer was gone so long.)

          Sorry you had to go through that, but that’s the way it works.

  3. I just ran the test and bingo, it couldn’t update the firmware and said to contact Apple for a free replacement. Genius bar appointment book for this evening…

  4. Listen…you guys sound like idiots. I’m sorry that some of you lost your SSD and that you had to experience down-time. But your back up plan or lack thereof is not Apple’s business. Apple makes no guarantee at the point of sale about how long a repair will take or if their stock/global supply of service parts will be limited at the time your particular machine needs to get fixed. Your lack of a back up plan when your one and only computer needs service is not their concern. So read the following closely:
    1-if you paid for the repair because at the time of failure your machine was out of warranty (which means your already an idiot for not buying AppleCare) then this program CLEARLY states you will be reimbursed. No “fighting” with Apple is necessary. You’re blowing it out of proportion. Call the store and ask if they will reverse the charge there or call 1-800-MY-APPLE and ask them how to go about it.
    2-NOT ALL 2012 MACBOOK AIRS APPLY! You still may have paid for a repair, had a similar scenario but your machine still won’t be covered because it wasn’t from the time-frame outlined of the production cycle. Don’t assume you should just get a free repair or your money back. You may have even bought your Air in August 2012 which would seem to meet the criteria but it could have actually been produced in April or May which would mean it may not be affected.
    3-Apple parts are not marked up for the sake of doing so. At the time the Airs were redesigned in 2010 initially, Apple chose Toshiba, Samsung, and Sandisk to make the design-specific SSD’s for the Air’s. The SSD’s in your Air are not the same, nor connect, behave or function the same as anything you will “FIND ON AMAZON” so stop whining and understand you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.
    4-being that the form factor and type if connection, etc is unique it is totally normally that these parts were back-ordered from suppliers as Apple tried to identify which ones were problematic. A couple of weeks is unusual but understand this type of issue is also not anticipated.
    5-going forward I wouldn’t anticipate repairs needed taking that long at a local Apple Store. Apple only publishes these things and makes them public when they have gotten behind the support and supply chain to handle potentially 10’s of thousands of people affected globally.

    I’ve been a certified Apple repair service provider (amongst other things) for a decade. I know the ins and out of how this works and know how Apple Stores operate (worked as a genius even for a few years). So everyone relax. Make a back up and then run the firmware test. If you need a repair then make an appointment. It’s not the end of the world

    1. “3-Apple parts are not marked up for the sake of doing so. At the time the Airs were redesigned in 2010 initially, Apple chose Toshiba, Samsung, and Sandisk to make the design-specific SSD’s for the Air’s. The SSD’s in your Air are not the same, nor connect, behave or function the same as anything you will “FIND ON AMAZON” so stop whining and understand you have NO IDEA what you are talking about.”

      When you get our ‘estimate’ for the repairs, they outline the Part #s for your Machine. You can then go on a site like http://www.powerbookmedic.com and find the real price, or place an order yourself.

      Doing this I determined, using some pretty zany 3rd grade arithmetic, that Apple was marking up my replacement parts by 80%. Having the Genius Bar trying to make those kind of profits off the backs of customers is so shady, and as loyal Apple customer since the early 90s, super depressing.

      1. That’s fine if you want to trust a lame, unreliable, 3rd party site like the one you mentioned. That’s what paranoid morons do because they think every company that makes a product is out to get them. You really think the Genius Bar is sneakily trying to take in cash off the backs of its customers? If you do then please stop buying Apple products because you give all of us a bad name. Again, you have no idea what you are talking about but I’m glad you can do 3rd grade arithmetic. So go ahead and buy an SSD from that site. It’s not the same as what Apple uses in the slightest. But I forgot you’re the engineer/IT specialist, right?

        1. “You really think the Genius Bar is sneakily trying to take in cash off the backs of its customers? ”

          It’s pretty obvious that’s what they’re doing. It’s not sneaky, it’s douchey. It’s not paranoia when the numbers are staring you in the face. Besides, Apple has been doing this for years. It’s a punchline at this point. Ever bought more RAM on a new Mac? Exactly.

          Yes, that site is obviously made for Macs, searchable by part #. It’s the exact same part. And I don’t think you want to thump your chest about the quality of Apple’s (or is it Samsung’s?) parts, as laptops around the world are sizzling.

    2. Agreed on the mark-up comment.

      I bought an SSD for a first gen MBA from Amazon that was highly rated only to find out that the connector was a bit loose after a few months after installation. Amazon sells a lot of cheap junk made in China.

      Also, the Apple store makes surprisingly quick and affordable repairs even to much older equipment.

      1. Again, the first gen MB Air is not the same in the slightest bit to the current ones. Yes you could buy both HD’s and SSD’s for the first gen Air aftermarket. They used common 1.8″ based hard disks for SSD’s and HD’s with a ZIF-PATA connection to the MLB. It’s the same style HD in “classic” iPods. Again, not the same as the SSD’s used now. Guess how many aftermarket 1st & 2nd Gen Air, 3rd party HD’s failed that I upgraded for a Fortune 500 company over the course of 2008-2010 as a consultant? Over P!! We used 3 different types from 2 different on line vendors. Any money we thought we saved by not paying through Apple for the upgrades at the original time of purchase was totally lost when those drives died (work downtime, repair time, 3rd party warranty channels, etc). Again that is real world hands on experience and analytics. So keep buying after market upgrades for your Mac’s. I’m not saying they will definitely fail though the rate is extremely higher. But if/when they do you’ll hate the experience of dealing with it compared to Apple’s support channels

      1. I always tell my clients to get an AppleCare policy when they get a Mac system. I’ve seen too many Mac’s turned into door stops when the client finds out the repair is only a few hundred dollars less than just getting a new machine. Especially with laptops, which take a lot more abuse than a desktop machine. Don’t be a penny wise, and a pound foolish. It only takes one incident to more than make up the cost. I’ve even seen Apple replace iMac’s with a newer model because they couldn’t repair the faulty unit. I’ve had that happen at least two times with clients.

      2. Personally, I’ve never bought AppleCare, but then again I’ve always been able to fix my computers.

        Having said that… it doesn’t matter who makes the computer, mass manufactured electronic components will never be perfectly reliable, some defects will always occur.

        Simply buying an Apple product DOES NOT remove any possibility that something may go wrong. Apple has a reputation for making higher quality products – much lower failure rate than the industry standard – but don’t ever assume that YOUR machine is one of the better ones.

        If you’re not comfortable replacing parts yourself and rely on your computer for many things, then you should always get an extended warranty and always back up your data.

    3. It’d be nice if I could do the repair myself and get refunded. I can call OWC right now and have a new one by tomorrow. Plus, what I can get through them is better than what Apple uses. Aura Pro Envoy. I’ve never had an OWC SSD fail, and I’ve installed at least 30 of them into client systems.

  5. I’ve been to

    a) Come into the Apple Store – Genius Bar

    b) Upon arriving at the Apple Store, was told there was nothing they could do, that it was an AppleCare issue, told to call AC,

    c)Spent a good 30-45 minutes on the phone with AppleCare, and have now been told that my ‘case’ is being submitted for review that maybe, just maybe, I can get a refund. Fucking twats. I knew it. It’s just like the US Medical System. They have a vested interest in denying you coverage, and are paying some Grade-A douchebags to do research (?! wtf) to try and deny coverage.

    If I’m lucky I can get some money in 4-6 weeks.

    So yeah, not exactly like being handed a free iPhone because your old one is ‘acting up’, and bear in mind, my 1 year warranty had expired only about 1 or 2 weeks before this all happened.

    You know what I keep thinking, while all this idiocy is playing out?

    “140 billion dollars in the bank.”

    They literally have no idea what to do with that money, and yet they put their loyal customers through this utter bullshit. Here’s what they should have done: noticed my warranty ran out about 2 weeks earlier, made an executive decision to replace the battery free of charge, knowing that, obviously it wasn’t my doing, and there had been a bunch of similar ‘faulty’ drives coming into Genius Bars throughout the Retail network.

    No, I didn’t mention to them that the parts were being marked up 80%. They’re in the catbird seat, so I’m not about to pick a fight in the store~~~

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