G4 Powerbook failing hard drive?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by mustangsally82, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. mustangsally82 macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2006
    I'm new to the Mac Forums so forgive me if this is a dumb question. :eek:

    I've done some searches and couldn't find an answer to my question so here goes: I have an aluminum G4 1GHz Powerbook I got in March of 2004. I love it and it's been great. But I'm having a problem lately and from the limited internet research I've done I think my hard drive is failing.

    The computer will just give me the spinning beachball and I've waited ten minutes in Safari for a page to load, and it hasn't. It also makes a high-pitched spinning or whining noise that sounds like it's coming from the upper left side of the keyboard, and I don't have a CD in the disc drive. I've repaired my permissions countless times, my S.M.A.R.T. status is verified, and I ran the hardware test and everything checked out okay. I did get two errors that said:

    "Surface scan failed-error -4" and
    "Volume structure failed-error -92"

    I have backed up all my information and I was going to wipe the hard drive and reinstall everything, but I can't find my second software disc. I have never lost anything like this before, and I can't imagine why the first disc was somewhere apart from the second disc. So I didn't do a clean install because I don't have the second disc.

    The closest Apple Store is 2.5 hours away and this is the second time my computer is going in this year. I'm using my G3 iBook right now (2002) but it's not compatible with a lot of websites and it's just slower. What are my options? I saw something on another thread about calling Apple and talking with a specialist and shipping the computer myself. I'm a college student and going to the Apple Store on the weekends is just a madhouse (I'm in school weekdays).

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2006
    Clovis, California
    I was going to recommend wiping the drive with zeros, but like you said, you don't have the second disc. You can still wipe the drive with the first disc, but you're gonna need that second disc for the install.

    Whenever I have any software trouble, and the disc utility doesn't fix it, I just wipe the drive. Some people will say that's overkill, but I don't have the patients to go hunting around for stuff. :)
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Do you have extended Applecare for it? (Coz it's looong out of warranty)

    Surface Scan failure generally means your hard drive is fatally ill and will progressively fail.

    If you do not have AppleCare coverage, then you don't need Apple. Buy a new hard drive (IDE, 2.5" drive. I like the Seagate Momentus series, 5400 RPM or 7200 RPM), and a 2.5 " external Firewire case (Not USB, coz you want to be able to boot from it). I like the MacAlly Aluminum cases. Put the new drive in the case, hook it up and format it HFS+ (Mac Extended) with Disk Utility. Then use SuperDuper or CarbonCopyCloner to clone your existing drive to the external. This will save your applications, your User info, data AND OSX.

    Once this is all done, you can (or you can hire a tech) swap the internal and external drive mechaisms, so the new drive is your internal.

    If it is under warranty, I would still advise buying a drive and an external FW case for backup, and preferably before you send it in -- it will usually come back from service minus all of your data.

    Also ask Apple how to get Disk 2 of the OS replaced.
  4. Hockeypuck macrumors regular

    Sep 29, 2006
    What size is your PowerBook? If it's a 15 or 17 inch the replacement is quite easy. If it's a 12 inch, it is quite difficult.

    Of course, this only applies if your computer is out of warranty and you do the job yourself.
  5. mustangsally82 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2006
    I have a 12" computer. I do have AppleCare and it runs through March of 2007. I thought about looking on eBay for the disc, but I haven't done it yet. And I did back up all my data on my iPod, so it wouldn't be a problem if they switched out the hard drive.
  6. Hockeypuck macrumors regular

    Sep 29, 2006
    Just take it to an Apple repair shop to get it repaired. There should be no charge to you, they'll put in a new HDD most likely of the same size from Apple. It doesn't need to be an Apple store.


    Opening yours on your own will likely void your warranty! Mildly dangerous because it includes pulling off the F1, F2, F11 and F12 keys to get to the screws holding down the keyboard.
  7. TDM21 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2004
    If you have the first restore disc (assuming they are DVDs, mine were for my 12"PB purchased in June 04) then you should be able to install OS X without having to use the second. I did this last night when I was wanting to test some thing in Panther. Boot from the restore disc click through the installer until you get to where you choose the drive to install on. Click customize and uncheck everything (I left the BSD subsystem check just to be safe). If Customize is not in that window then its the next one. The installer should run fine and never ask for the second disc.

    I went through a hard drive last year, but mine was much more sudden. I go to class the system is working, I come back and system sounds like it got a new fan; a really loud fan. After managing to get the drive to work again (carry around in a backpack for 10 minutes) I backed up all my data and called Apple. As soon as the tech heard the error message Hardware Test was giving me, one of the errors you are getting, a box to send my PB in for repair was shipped. Total time the system was out of my hands was two days.

Share This Page