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It is a well known issue for all notebook computers, but thanks to the limitations of the technology, power adapters for them are more prone to fraying and overheating issues. The Mac Mini also has a non-standard power cord which may also have similar issues. This guide will be updated as time avails, and if you have further suggestions to add to this guide, please e- mail me.
Careful. Magsafe 2 is NOT the same as Magsafe original. The voltages may be the same, but the port size is different. Check with Apple support before buying new adapters!
Apple has acknowledged now to some extent how to prevent the problem. There is an article on the knowledgebase How To 1630 (link to article) which covers the basic steps for preventing issues. Additional solutions are posted on: Apple Troubleshooting article 1713. If you find after following the steps below and above you still have a problem, Call AppleCare. If you are out of warranty check the Exchange and Repair programs to see if Apple has one for your Mac model (a link that helps identify your Mac model) that is available out of warranty.
One of the most common power issues which may look like an issue with the power brick is actually one with the MacBook Pro, MacBook, iBook, or Powerbook batteries.
Sometimes if you purchase the power adapter with a credit card the credit card company may have insurance or a warranty that covers accidents with computer power adapters, or your home owners insurance might as well, but be careful, as applying to either such program may limit, increase your insurance costs, or eliminate your insurance, so ask if using such a plan does or not for such small claims before actually requesting a claim be processed. If there isn't any insurance, warranty coverage, or extended repair plan available, and you are having an issue out of warranty, please send Apple Feedback so they know it is an issue that these tips can't resolve and consider an extended repair plan. In addition, for those issues that Apple will not cover because their warranty doesn't cover user inflicted damage most of the time, getting notebook insurance such as Safeware is wise. Apple has a tip article that can be helpful: Troubleshooting iBook, PowerBook G3 & G4 and MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air power adapters. (which should only be cleaned when the power adapter is not connected to anything):
I've written some tips that should help prevent such issues from happening for most people. However, there is no guarantee that this will help everyone:
1. Never let the power cable bend more than 10 degrees at any of the joints. This 10 degree "rule" is bendable, only in as much the cable has a natural tendency to bend when loose. Any more bending than that by anything stronger the metal wire that thin inside the plastic casing could potentially cause fraying. It is not the bending of the plastic which determines if it is bent too much, but how much it is bent within the plastic.
2. Never use the L shaped ends that pull out of the brick to wrap the cable around.
3. Make sure to store the cable in a plastic bag that is clean and impossible to penetrate if taking it with you outside the house. Debris that gets into laptop bags can get into the connector and cause it to short.
4. Use the 3rd prong adapter cable to plug it in a grounded outlet with three holes. Do not defeat the purpose of electrical ground.
5. When moving across a room, especially with wet shoes, touch the desk before touching the computer so that you are electrically grounded and don't shock the computer.
6. Note the clear plastic shrinkwrap wrapper that comes on some of the bricks, and remove this if it is there. That may affect the brick's performance.
7. Never detach by pulling the cable, and only detach it by pulling it at the end nobs.
8. Remove the cable before moving the computer! This goes without saying, but many try to move their computer before unplugging it!
9. Do not leave the cable in the path where anyone could trip over it, including pets and little kids.
10. As mentioned on my WiFi guide, USB cables and ports are as fragile as power cables on notebooks. Essentially, as with the power cables, you don't want to pull or push the cable at an angle to the port other than a direct in and out, or let anything trip over the cable to do so. Otherwise you are left with a logic board repair on most Macs, unless you have a Mac with Thunderbolt, PCI, PCMCIA, or Express/34 USB connector, or connect to a USB hub the adapter that allows additional ports for the computer.
Some issues with power supplies which affect the ability of the power adapter to be seen are detectable by Apple Hardware Test. This test is found on Intel Macs on their restore discs, and PowerPC Macs on their restore disc or a stand alone hardware test CD, except certain Macs that are G3 and older. If you know which Macs don't have the hardware test CD or restore hardwre test volume, please e- mail me. If you should choose to replace the power adapter with a third party power adpater, read Apple's Intel-Based Apple Portables: Identifying the right power adapter and power cord--US, PowerPC-Based Apple Portables: Identifying the right power adapter and power cord--US and use my article to Identify your Mac as a guide to be sure you get the correct power adapter. These third party vendors typically have cheaper power adapters: Otherworld Computing which sells a variety of third party adapters, iFixit has power adapters and a variety of parts for repair of Macs, Macwizards, Fastmac MCE Products.