Black screen on retina MacBook Pro and restore TimeMachine from NAS

In retrospect I should have seen it coming. I have an external monitor at work plugged in via displayport, the other port connected to my thunderbolt ethernet connection. Once while accidentally jiggling the ethernet adapter my screens went black for a second (looked like the resolutions needed to refresh or something, screens went black, then came back a few seconds later). Freaked me out, but the displays came back. Anyway, as I said, I should have taken that as a sign that something wicked this way was a comin'.

Fast-forward a month or so. Before work, morning coffee in hand, open the lid, login prompt appears. I get an SMS on my phone, so my attention diverts. Read the SMS, reply, etc. A few minutes later I go back to my Mac, the screen black as usual, as it has powered down since I didn’t log in for a few minutes. Or so I thought. No amount of key presses, opening-and-closing of the lid got the screen back to life. The keyboard backlight was on, I knew the Mac was on. Close lid, wait a few minutes, open lid. No screen. Ok, power off and reboot. No screen. At all. Ok crap. Starting to stress now as I will be late for work if I don’t leave soon. Scramble in the cabinets, looking for any monitor cables. Found an HDMI cable. Plugged the Mac into the TV. No video anywhere, black on both screens. Ok, reset PRAM (command-option-P-R at boot). Nope. Reset PRAM a dozen times. Nope. Reset SMC (left shift-control-option-power). Nope. Reset SMC a half-dozen times. Nope. Still black screen.

Googling on my phone reveals others who have had similar fates: black screen, no video whatsoever displaying on screen (even if trying to shine a flashlight through the lid from the apple on the back). I message our awesome IT staff at work as ask for help: maybe they have a loaner Mac I could use for work today, and we’ll just send the Mac in for diagnosis. I’m told that the week before another retina MacBook Pro at work died similarly (the boss’s, of all people!). The two of us have (had) the first generation 15" retina MacBook Pros, so maybe this is a common failure. Anyway, now I have a loaner retina MacBook Pro–my Mac is in the shop, probably getting all of its guts replaced. My money is on a fried GPU.

Now for the fun part: restore my data from TimeMachine. Unfortunately it wasn’t a simple plug-n-play since my TimeMachine backup is on my NAS, but after a few strokes of commandline magic the restore occurred without a hitch!

Basically, the restore process was simple, except for the tricky part of typing in my password with the wrong keyboard layout! A few hours later I was up and running, and then running off to work!