Hard drive constantly "crashes"

Discussion in 'iMac' started by rshire, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. rshire macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2009
    I have a two-year-old iMac (operating system OS X 10.4) that has given me no end of trouble since I've had it. (Unfortunately I do NOT have the extended warranty.)

    The hard drive crashed for good about half a year ago, and I had it replaced by Apple. However, over the past two months or so, it "crashes" every few days. I get the flashing empty file icon, and even though it takes me a good 20 minutes of forced reboots, safeboots, unplugging, holding in the power button, waiting overnight, etc. etc. it does still restart eventually.

    Common triggers of the crashing: switching users, updating software, waking up from the screensaver or sleep mode (*especially* with a password lock).

    I have noticed a sort of low "wheezing" noise whenever it does crash. It also runs extremely slow as a general rule and has to "think" (spinning pinwheel) every few minutes.

    I took it in to the Apple store, but the only thing they could suggest was to reinstall the operating software. Yet when I try to start up from the original cds, it doesn't acknowledge the cd. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!
  2. TEG macrumors 604


    Jan 21, 2002
    Langley, Washington
    What does the SMART Status say about the Drive in Disk Utility? If it is bad, then the Hard Drive has gone bad, and needs to be replaced. It is also possible that when they replaced the HD, they may have dislodged the cables or not set them properly. I would take it into them to diagnose, and if it is a loose cable, demand they fix it for free. If not, get them to replace the HD, and see if they can reinstall the HD.

    Also, you are confusing Crash with Freeze or Kernel Panic. A Crash is a point at which the Hard Drive stops functioning, period/full stop. If the computer freezes, that is just a freeze, but because you have problems restarting, it is likely a hardware issue.

  3. combat macrumors member


    Dec 13, 2009
    Dallas, Texas
    Yikes, that seems like a big problem... I suggest taking it in and showing apple that the OS cds aren't recognized and I bet they will replace it... When your hard drive is doing stuff like that, you can't fix it without pros.
  4. rshire thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2009
    I just checked the SMART status, and it says verified . . . I also repaired disk permissions for the heck of it, since there were a lot of discrepancies.

    I was calling it a "crash" since it was showing the exact same symptoms as the real thing half a year ago (flashing file icon with the question mark). But that's good to know!

    So yeah, if no other solutions present themselves my next step would definitely be to take it back in and have Apple reinstall the software. They had offered when I was last there, but suggested I back up the rest of my stuff beforehand.
  5. drtech macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    While the drive may say "verified" by SMART, there is much more to SMART than that. You see, the hard drive manufacturers set "thresholds" for each SMART parameter. If the value of the parameter is not beyond the threshold, then technically the drive is verified.

    However, what's interesting about that is that many have found that the thresholds may be set a bit too leniently. It is a bit silly that if the reallocated sectors are set with a threshold of 100, then 99 reports as a perfectly verified drive and 100 reports as a failing drive. We like to think of it more as shades of grey instead of black-and-white.

    You need to look at the SMART values and do your own analysis. You can check your hard drive with a S.M.A.R.T. analysis tool, like http://www.volitans-software.com/smart_utility.php (not affiliated). This tool gives you 5 free uses before you need to pay for it. This utility gives you much more than just "verified" or "failing."

    You are looking for the "Bad Sectors" parameters.


    You want to see all zeros across the board (like my drive). Any reallocated sectors "may" be a sign of a failing drive. (I'm pretty religious about changing drives if I think it may fail... given my job.) Google did a large study on SMART parameters and impending failure and did find reallocated sectors are at least a partial predictor (if not the most important predictor) of a failing hard drive: http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/18/massive-google-hard-drive-survey-turns-up-very-interesting-thing/.

  6. rshire thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2009
    Thanks for your help!! I installed SMART utility and ran it. I got back all zeros except for in the last section, where it said:

    Test Count: 21
    Test Status: Aborted by host

    The temperature was also up at 48 degrees (which is not unusual and actually rather low, since my computer tends to get extremely hot - mainly in the upper left-hand corner). I've wondered if that might have been influential in the previous HD failure . . . but I have no idea.
  7. drtech macrumors newbie

    Dec 7, 2009
    The jury is still out on whether temperature is a major contributing factor on hard drive life. The Google study found that, with the exception of real extremes, no, temperature does not predict failure accurately. In fact, they found a slight tendency to shorter life for drives that ran colder rather than slightly warmer than the norm.

    It seems like the SMART values are basically where they should be. As I have said, that does not definitively rule out a future failure or possible physical issue with the drive, but it is most certainly a lot better than seeing "bad" numbers in the SMART values. This may point the troubleshooting to other areas such as corruption on the drive, SATA bus issues, cables, mother board, etc.

    Have you run the hardware tests contained on the installation disks? That is a good starting point for troubleshooting possible hardware issues.


Share This Page