A “small percentage” of MacBook owners whose hard drives fail will be eligible for a free replacement under a warranty extension announced by Apple this week.
The laptops in questions are both black and white MacBooks models bought between May 2006 and December 2007; according to a page on the company's support site, the hard drive failures can be diagnosed through a simple, yet despair-inducing method: your computer simply stops working and, upon boot, displays a folder icon with a superimposed question mark.
Apple encourages customers who are experiencing these symptoms and whose machines were purchased within the eligibility period to visit their local Apple Store or contact its customer support department for a drive replacement. According to Apple's Website, users who have already paid for out-of-warranty repairs may be eligible for a refund.
Naturally, a drive replacement is unlikely to bring your data back—which is why Apple, somewhat tersely, “recommends that you back up your data.” Eligibility extends to either three years from the date of purchase or August 15, 2010 (whichever is longer), so you've got about six months for your hard drive to crash. No, that is not a challenge.