Dead HDD, Or . . . ?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by CartoonChess, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. CartoonChess macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2006
    Hello all,

    I've got a mid-2008 24" iMac with no warranty on it. I installed Snow Leopard back in April or so, and immediately afterward hit a problem of major freezing. The system would hang for 30 seconds at a time, and, left long enough, for 15+ minutes.

    What I found was that this behaviour was reset between reboots. That is, sometimes the problem was gone; other times, I would have to restart repeatedly, hoping for a "good boot."

    In July I found a good boot was hard to find. I was out of town for a month after that. When I returned, there were only bad boots. I tried to update Safari, but "an unexpected error occurred." The next day, the machine chimed on boot, showed the grey Apple plus a progress bar (which never got very far), and turned off. That's all it does now.

    I ran Apple Hardware Test, which found nothing wrong in the quick scan, but gave this error in a full scan:

    Previously I had wondered if the hard drive might've been going, and this seemed to confirm. Daunted by the DIY HD installation instructions (I'm completely hopeless), I called a local authorized Apple repair place, and they said they'd replace the drive with one I purchased.

    I was all set to fork over my money, but I decided to try the machine one more time tonight. I booted from the Leopard DVD and, via Terminal, successfully copied some files from the internal HD to an external via FireWire. The read times were slow, but all of the files made it over. Well, except one--which had an input/output error.

    Uncertain, I ran Disk Utility from the DVD. I tried to repair the HD:

    Then I tried something else: I booted into Windows 7. And guess what? I'm typing this from Windows right now. Everything feels fine on this end. I can launch applications and open and save files from the NTFS partition. I even just watched a video saved to my Mac (HFS+ partition) desktop. I tried opening my Mac user's iTunes Music folder, and Explorer froze for a solid minute and a half. But that folder opened in time, too, and I can listen to the music.

    Bottom line: reaching out for opinions. Is the HD really dying? Are there just some bad sectors that would mend with a proper format? Is OS X just in need of a fresh install--the move to SL being an upgrade--i.e., the system folder is corrupt? Could it be something else, like a dying logic board?

    Any help you can give, short of open-it-up or shoulda-bought-Apple-Care, is highly appreciated.
  2. UpQuark macrumors member


    Jan 8, 2002
    Zushi, Japan

    Since your machine works fine (so far via bootcamp) I think the hard drive partition for the mac 'side' is corrupt. What you will need to do is to is boot from your system DVD and run the Disk Utilities to repair your boot disk.

    If this doesn't work, you will have to erase and reinstall OS X. This will not affect your windows partition...

    Good luck!
  3. CartoonChess thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2006
    Thanks, UpQuark. I also posted at Apple Discussions and a user suggested that the AHT report was enough to suggest a physical hard drive failure somewhere. So I am going to try a completely fresh install of Snow/Leopard, but, failing that, I'll replace the HD.
  4. chrmjenkins macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    If you're booting, your HDD isn't dead. If the drive were truly dead, you'd get a boot showing a question mark (or it may be an exclamation point, memory fails me) in a yellow triangle over an image of a hard drive.
  5. CartoonChess thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2006
    Hmm. Well, OS X's audiovisual boot here is basically chime, grey, Apple, spinner, hapless grey progress bar, and then the iMac turns itself off. But no, you're right, there's no question mark or exclamation point or sad Mac for that matter.

    Ran Disk Utility, this time from the SL DVD:

    And the SMART status is reported as verified, actually.

    I googled that last error message and found more or less one universal story, which was that an erase+install fixes the problem, but often only temporarily. Is it possible that this is a filesystem issue that is indicative of total hardware failure to come? Going to track down a copy of DiskWarrior.

    UPDATE: DiskWarrior couldn't even graph the disk. Boo.

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