Having issues with iMac 2008 model not booting properly

Discussion in 'iMac' started by FLKat, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. FLKat macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2008
    Boca Raton
    Hello All,

    Please forgive my very long post, but I want to provide you with as much information as possible in the hopes that someone can help me. Many thanks to those of you who take the time to read this and try to offer your advice.

    First, I have a mid-2008 Aluminum iMac, Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.4 Ghz, 2GB Ram, running OS X 10.5.6.

    So two days ago, it started hanging on me. Prior to this I have never had any problems with it. I had mail open, a browser window and a chat window. Started getting the spinning beach ball of death. It finally totally locked up on me and I have to force it to shut down.

    However, upon reboot, it would not get past the white screen with the apple logo and the spinning gray gear icon. I'm talking like 10-15 minutes. I forced it to shut down (probably not a good idea) and this time on reboot I got the folder icon with the question mark as if firmware could not locate the booter file. I loaded the install DVD that came with the mac and ran Disk Utilities.

    I repaired permissions and then tried to repair the disk. But it gave me an error of "invalid leaf count". Not quite sure what that is...lol. Anyway, I thought it might just be a corrupt system file so I would just restore the hard drive from one of my time machine backups. I have my backups on an external drive, so I restored a few days back just in case. It took a while, but everything seem to be running fine after that, but only for a few hours.

    It started hanging again, spinning beach ball, etc. A friend suggested doing an archive and install instead. So I shut it down properly, and booted from the DVD and ran an Apple Hardware Test just to be safe, which came out fine. It said there were no errors. Rebooted once more from the DVD and tried again to run Disk Utilities, but this time I got an error that said "invalid index key" and the repair failed.

    When I rebooted, it's still taking like 10 minutes for it to get past the white screen. It appears to be getting stuck between the booter process and the kernel process but I'm not sure.

    Finally decided to just reinstall Leopard, however... when I boot from the DVD, the mac's hard drive does not even show up as an option to install it! So how can I reinstall if I can't select the drive?

    I'm so upset! Oh yes, and of course... it's a month out of the warranty period so I can't even take it in without them charging me a small fortune to fix it. :-(

    If anyone out there has some ideas or suggestions I would REALLY appreciate it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of this. :)

    Kat =^..^=
  2. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Sorry to hear about your problems, Kat.

    I would have to guess that you've got a hard disk hardware failure. To be sure you could plug in a Firewire external hard disk and install OS X there and see if it runs smoothly.

    At any rate, if I were you I'd be hoping that if it is a hardware issue it is just the hard disk and not something even more expensive like the logic board.

    I had a 2006 20" iMac that had a logic board failure 6 weeks out of the one year warranty. I bought Applecare for my current early-2007 iMac straight away.

    If it turns out that you have a failed hard disk there are several options. You could send it in to Apple for replacement which would be the most expensive route out of warranty. You could replace the hard disk yourself which would be the most difficult choice since the aluminum iMacs (and the white Intel iMacs that preceded them) are incredibly difficult to disassemble and assemble. The other choice would be to get a nice Firewire hard disk and install OS X to it and just use that.

    All of the above are assuming of course that the hardware failure is just in the hard disk.

    For my 20" iMac I ended up paying Apple $500 to replace the logic board.

    The first thing I'd do is get an external as I mentioned above and see if the problem is indeed limited to your hard disk.
  3. FLKat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2008
    Boca Raton
    Thank you so much for your reply. I do already have 2 external firewire drives, so I followed you advise and put leopard on one of them, set it as the start up drive, and am currently running off of that. It's slower but it works for now.

    A couple more questions though if you can:

    When the the system boots up now (with the firewire as the start up drive) I get a warning on my computer screen that says " The HD disk was not repairable by this computer. Back up all of your data and reformat the disk as soon as possible."

    So does that mean there is a way to fix the mac's hard rive? Can it simply be reformatted? Disk Utility will not recognize the HD when I boot from the DVD. Is there something else out there that can do the trick? I read some place else about a program called Disk Warrior. Would that solve my problem or does this sound like the drive is beyond repair?

    And finally, how long can I run the machine with the firewire as the start up drive? Can I use it normally until I can find a solution for this?

    Thanks again. :)
  4. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Surely, if I know the answers. :p

    Boot to the Firewire install of Leopard and run Disk Utility. See if your damaged internal HD appears in the list of drives on the system and if so try to repair it. You will have no problems doing so if you are running OS X off the Firewire drive and no longer need to go to the hassle of booting to the Leopard DVD. You will probably get the same invalid index key message which I believe is a VERY good indication of bad hardware.

    Disk Warrior might be an option if it was just an issue of Disk Utility attempting to repair it and then failing but it is $99 and mostly for data recovery. It does not repair failed hardware. Have you tried erasing the contents of the internal hard disk completely in Disk Utility and creating a new partition?

    I found this link on macosxhints for repairing a similar error to yours and you might want to give their fix a try as well. Remember, you don't have to boot to the Leopard DVD if you are running from your Firewire OS X installation so you can skip that first step. Actually, once you determine what the disk number of your damaged internal is you can skip all of steps 1 through 4 and go straight to step 5.

    You can run OS X off the external drive for as long as you like. It can be a permanent option if you have no other choices left and a good quality Firewire 800 enclosure with a fast SATA HDD should help with the slower speeds you're perceiving.

    I just bought an Icy Dock MB559UEB1-S FW800 enclosure and put in a Seagate 1.5TB Barracuda HD and am using it for storage but it is FAST and quiet.

    My pleasure, and do let me know how everything works out.

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