Help! Is my iMac HD failing?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by msw123307, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. msw123307 macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2007
    I started having issues ever since I upgraded to SL. But now the computer is almost unusable. It's a 24" with 4 GB, 2.4.

    I had been having issues with Safari locking up originally. I would get beach balls pretty often, and simple tasks like opening a new tab would take a long time. One day last week I noticed it took like 30 minutes to index in spotlight..just random weird things like that.

    Yesterday, I got home and the computer had the little loading icon on the middle of my desktop and was completely locked up. The computer wasnt doing anything other than running normal processes.

    So I turned it off and back on, and when it rebooted it just flashed a folder icon with an exclamation point. I thought this was maybe a problem with the startup disk, and I do have an external connected for TM, but the main drive is selected in system preferences.

    Now, every time I try to use it it's only a matter of minutes before it locks up in some way. I try to boot up Firefox (safari is completely unusable now) and it may run for a couple minutes before everything freezes (i can move the mouse, but select nothing). At one point all my firefox bookmarks disappeared. Typing this post (which i hope will submit) is lagging seriously bad and i even got a beachball at one point.

    I have run repair permissions numerous times and don't seem to be getting anything out of the ordinary. Any ideas?!!! This is driving me crazy...wish I had never upgraded to SL :(
  2. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    could be the HD, hope you have a backup.

    Otherwise simply creating a new user should see if it is a user issue.

    Since it is random beachballs, freezes, and flashing ?'s ... that usually is HD dying.

    A frozen screen can be a bad kernel panic, a frozen screen with a stopped clock and only the mouse moving is usually the HD.


    Note a bit but, is with Time Machine, if you have it connected via FW or a MyBook that could be a issue also.
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Try repairing the disk with Disk Utility (next to permissions). Also here is my guide what to do
  4. msw123307 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2007
    Well the good news is I do have Applecare. I have an authorized repair person I can take it to, i just wanted to check here first before lugging it somewhere. I'm going to try the repair disk.

    What is the applecare protocol on machines typically? Will they replace the HD? Or, maybe they will give me a 27! :D

    Right now it's actually running faster than it has in awhile. I turned off the external hard drive when I turned the computer on. It was still super slow to start and I had beachballs in Firefox but once it got going it seems to be going faster. But this still doesn't solve the end problem..

    Something else I have had happen is expose lagging when I'm trying to organize my windows.
  5. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    The stuff I noted plus the HD being noisier, is usually the only signs of a dying drive.

    Very rare will it start creating errors or show up bad in SMART.

    Think of SMART like the idiot light on a car and how rarely it actually goes off well in advance of the car simply failing to start.
  6. msw123307 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2007
    I know I have noticed before the clock either being stopped or lagging. I haven't noticed any sounds from the HD. The external HD is connected via firewire.

    Now when it locks up, I can move the mouse but not select anything on the screen.

    I guess I need to do one last time machine backup. That should take care of everything in itunes, iphoto...anything else i need do grab before I take it in?
  7. Mike Macintosh macrumors regular

    Mike Macintosh

    Sep 20, 2009
    Washington State
    Usually they will try to repair and replace your HD, but if its something more serious and is not repairable, they will either replace it with a iMac of equal value almost.
  8. ewilson6 macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2006
    download smartreporter and install it it is free and will tell you if your hard drive is failing.

    also check in the user accounts to see what is starting up when you log in.


    This program is simple to use and you don't need a guide or a technician to tell you if your hard drive is failing.
  9. killerrobot macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    Run the Apple hardware test and see what error it gives you.

    My 2.4 20" imac started doing the same thing about a month ago. Replaced the HD and it still happens. After further research it looks like my HD fan is busted, not the HD.

    If the error you get is 4MOT... then it's a fan. Either way, take it in for Applecare if you got it. They´ll run the same test and most likely just replace what needs fixing -probably no upgrade to the 27 unless this is the fourth or fifth major repair.
  10. D ROCK macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2007
    Download superduper and do a backup. you can create a bootable backup drive with it so EVERYTHING on your external is exactly where it was on the original disk. very handy in case your drive fails.
    its also free by the way. (also has an upgraded paid option)
  11. msw123307 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2007
    It's almost to the point now where I can't use it at all. So I'm going to have to take it in. I've got everything done except I need to do my last time machine backup. Problem is - the machine doesn't finish the backup before it locks up again. Any ideas? I have my snow leopard install disk..and am using my macbook to type this.

    If I can keep it running long enough - I'm going to try and download the smartreporter, it sounds like the tool I need to perhaps diagnose it.

    I did the verify disk - and it said something like "the HD appears to be fine." Definitely not!
  12. msw123307 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2007
    well i ran the apple hardware program and it said it looked ok as well. it clearly isn''s strange it didn't notice anything.
  13. pilotkid macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2006
    Chandler, AZ/Chicago, IL
    My iMac just came back from the Apple Store because the HD failed in it. My iMac started freezing and then would freeze at start up every time. I would also get the beach ball and have to do a hard reset. I ran all of the disk utility tests, Apple ran tests while I was in the store and they all came back saying nothing was wrong, so they sent me home. I came home and set my iMac back up on my desk and it froze during a time machine restore. I went back to Apple the same day and got my hard drive replaced and worked better than new ever sense. My point is just because the Disk Utility tests come back saying nothing is wrong, that doesn't mean nothing is wrong. If your iMac is truly F'ed up then its going to say its all good when its not. Thats what I think anyways. Get Apple to replace the HD, a little persistence and you'll have a new HD in no time!
  14. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    NO it isn't strange.

    I gave you a list of symptoms, those are the symptoms of dying drives.

    Smart or Disk Utility are very rarely symptoms of failing drives, if it is going to actually say the drive is having problems, it'll likely show up when you have a flashing ? mark on the screen.


    I've told you, disk utility and smart is a lot like the idiot light on the car -- rarely shows up "before" something is wrong.

    Ask the thousands that have lost a HD, and likely you will have to keep searching for the 1 that showed a smart status as failing ...

    But you'll have a lot of idiots that lost data because they thought their drive was OK because disk utility said so.
  15. msw123307 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2007
    Thought I would update you guys.

    I took my iMac into my Apple technicians Monday. They replaced the Hard Drive and Screen (Burn-in) and gave it back to me yesterday. I booted it up, the fans started going on full blast it seemed and didn't stop.

    I can't remember the exact calculations on my iStat widget, but the 3 fans were around 5000 rpm, 4000 rpm, and 3000 rpm.

    I tried rebooting and used a different power source. Same result, and when I booted this time it stuck on the blue screen forever before finally showing my desktop (I think it actually flashed my screensaver too before showing the desktop).

    Then it seemed to be acting weird with the screensaver in general as well - not activating and just going to black screen (i have it set to screensaver after 3 mins, turn off after 5). And at one point it came out of the black screen for no apparent reason (I was across the room).

    So I took it back last night. The tech heard the sound I was describing immediately, and rebooted the computer numerous times to reset the PRAM. I thought there was a different process to reset it, but whatever. The fans never stopped.

    So I don't know what's going to happen now - it seems to be one thing after another. They are looking at it today. Gotta admit, I wouldn't mind if they just gave me a 27" :eek: I've got applecare for another 10 months, and it seems like it's just one thing after another right now. Who knows - maybe it's something minor.

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