Hit a Brick Wall

Discussion in 'iMac' started by galaxy7, May 29, 2019.

  1. galaxy7 macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2014
    uugggg...so my iMac, for reasons I cannot explain, hit a brick wall a couple weeks ago. Every. Single. Click. Of. The. Mouse. Is a test in futility and an exercise in patience. I can’t explain it. It was working fine and then bam, parking brakes on! And it’s not even internet, it’s literally molasses trying to do ANYTHING on this machine.

    I have to force quit almost everything daily, restarts do nothing. I have no idea what happened.

    She’s an old girl thought. Circa 2009 iMac currently running Sierra 10.12.6.

    What can I do to save it? Don’t want a new one cause she’s been a trooper, but I do understand it’s almost unsupportable. Thanks everyone.
  2. Starfia macrumors 6502a


    Apr 11, 2011
    Gosh, who knows – I've used one old iMac recently that acted similarly. Maybe the (ten-year-old!) hard drive has essentially failed, and "every click" requires it to load something. Or maybe the memory can't be read or written. I'm not sure how you'd even start to narrow that down if you can barely use it anymore, but I'd love to read technical experts' answers.

    (Quick update: I suppose you could ask it during bootup to look for an external drive with an installed version of macOS on it – something that wouldn't require dependency on the internal drive, just to see whether that made any difference.)
  3. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    Hard drive, NV RAM battery or both. The screen has to come off. Install a nice, fast SSD in there. Without that spinning heat pump, a CR2032 battery is fine—no need for the high-heat BR2032 that Apple used but it's $8 on Amazon if you insist.

    Parts for a 2TB SSD including thermal sensor, bracket, tools and tape kit run under $300. It's an easy DIY if you're handy. Techs around here in the Silicon Valley charge $75 and don't want you looking to see how fast it is.
  4. NoBoMac macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2014

    While machine is running, might want to dig into systems logs, crash logs. Might point out hw issues. If lucky, might just must be disk failure: can replace that.

    While all is working, if have not been doing so, start backing stuff up, should the disk need replacement.

    I'd do a hardware test.

  5. Fishrrman, May 30, 2019
    Last edited: May 30, 2019

    Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    My guess is the old HDD inside is slowing down, nearing failure and getting ready to bite the dust.
    If I were you, I'd start looking around for a new (or Apple refurbished) iMac.

    Also -- you need to create a bootable cloned backup RIGHT NOW.
    Not just "a backup" (as with, say, Time Machine).
    But a BOOTABLE cloned backup made using either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

    WHY bootable?
    Because if the old drive suddenly gives up its ghost, you'll have an unusable iMac.
    BUT... you can plug in your bootable cloned backup, boot from it, and you'll be back up-and-running once more, just like before. Everything will be "there" -- just like it was on the failed internal drive.

    One other thing to check and report back on:
    What size is the internal drive?
    How much free space is left on it?
  6. galaxy7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2014
    I have everything backed up to timemachine (external hard drive) and everything I care about is on the cloud except photos. Trying to get back to it to get photos on the cloud. Then I think I’d be good, no?
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP -

    I explained in reply 5 why a TM backup is inadequate for you.
    If the internal drive fails, you'll be left with a non-running Mac and you'll have "a backup", but no place to restore it to.

    If you have a CLONED & BOOTABLE backup, if the internal drive fails, just plug in the cloned backup and boot back up -- the clone will look and run EXACTLY as the internal drive did (but... it's external).
  8. galaxy7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2014
    Aaahhh...gotcha. So this method works on my current computer?

    This is not an argument or disagreement, but then what good is iCloud or TM? I mean let’s say I just go get a new computer; I still have everything important, right? I haven’t lost a single thing, correct?
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Time Machine is just fine for backup and can completely restore your Mac if say you have a failed hard drive. The difference is with CCC you can boot to the CCC drive and use the computer off that drive. Where with TM, you would need to replace the bad drive, then option key boot to the TM drive and format the new drive and restore from the TM backup.
  10. gian8989 macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2015
    Download Drivedx and check the health of the hdd.
  11. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    Wrong. It can only run a lot slower since the only external option is over USB 2 on a 2009.

    Get an SSD installed inside where it belongs and then restore from the TimeMachine drive.

    Get that HDD out of there. It takes a tech about 15 minutes to do the installation in a late 2009—the screen does not have to be removed and it's an easy DIY. It takes 25 minutes to replace the NV RAM battery and the drive the same time since the battery is on the back of the motherboard on a 2009-2010. It's past time for the battery and there's the possibility that it may be the real cause of the problem. Apple used a high-heat BR2032 ($8 on Amazon). With the HDD out of there, a common CR2032 is more than fine.

    I'll assume it's a late 2009 since Sierra does not run on an early 2009. 20 minutes is about right on the early 2009 for an SSD and battery.
  12. tehoro macrumors newbie


    Jun 1, 2019
    It’s a long shot, but you could be suffering from overheating so the CPU is throttled, if there is a temperature sensor problem. Try downloading Macs Fan Control and setting fans to max, and see if that helps.
  13. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    That the drive is overheating causing it to look like this is the normal culprit. These are typical screen shots out of the hundreds I've pulled from these during a school district contract. Most passed SMART. Not one was good. These were all between 3–5 years old. The one in that iMac is 11.




    The cause of the heat problems is the HDD. These run extremely hot in the late 2009–2012.
  14. galaxy7 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2014
    Well, I don’t know if this helps you guys troubleshoot, but I think I’m officially done. While trying to turn it on today, instead of that plain screen with the Apple and the loading new bar during start, I’m getting that plain screen, but with a flashing folder with a question mark on the folder. It won’t go any farther than this.
  15. mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Oct 14, 2018
    The Sillie Con Valley
    There wasn't anything to diagnose. Your drive failed—Fisherman and I may have disagreed about what course of action to take but we both knew the problem.

    BTW, there was no way in hell that the CPU was overheating, ok? I really have done hundreds of these.

    Once the ? appears on startup, I know that 11 year old battery is not the culprit but, if not replaced, it will cause other problems. Not may—will.

    You have two choices:

    (a) put another drive in it or boot from an external. One way is a lot slower than the other—even if HDD based, the cheapest way with one of these.

    (b) leave it alone and send that iMac to recycling. This can be anything from e-waste to selling it for parts on Craigslist.

    The problem with anything older than 2012 is that it's difficult to justify putting any money into it. Kind of too bad because these are so easy to repair.

    1TB SSD — $90 or 1TB HDD — $45
    Bracket — $10 (optional but worth it)
    Battery — $3.50
    Sensor $5–$10 for a used optical sensor you can stick to the SSD; $40 for the OWC 2009–10 sensor or do what Apple did in the 2010 SSD version: Short circuit the sensor lead (yes, really, they did) which costs a piece of electrical tape.

    Required:Magnetized Torx T6, T8, Phillips #1, bent paperclip, toothpick for the battery.
    Recommended: pair of suction cups to remove the glass but a wad of masking tape works, too. Streak free glass cleaner and microfiber cloth.

    Following the iFixiT directions for the battery will take most who are handy with tools an hour or two the first time. Tip: there are a number of inline connectors when pulling the motherboard—painting one side on the wires with a drop of white-out before disassembly will save a lot of time on those tiny connectors.


    Labor (in the Silicon Valley) $75 to replace the battery. Replacing the drive at the same time adds 2–5 minutes to the job.
  16. gian8989 macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2015
    If you haven't saved the files of the HDD you can try to remove it from inside and connect it to an external HDD enclosure. In the past my HDD failed and after few years I tried to put it inside an enclosure out of curiosity; I was able to get some photos and files that i thought I lost forever. It was disconnecting randomly and It needed to stay disconnect for a bit but I was still able to get my files back.
  17. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    If you had taken my advice, and had created a bootable cloned backup, the iMac would be up-and-running right now -- from the cloned backup.

    What you can do now:
    You need a way to boot the computer EXTERNALLY, since the internal drive has failed or is very near failure.

    Important questions:
    Do you have access to another Mac?
    If so, what Mac and what year was it made?
    Which version of the OS is it running?

    WHY I'm asking these questions:
    You can use the other Mac to create a bootable, external USB drive which you can then take to your problem iMac and boot it.
    From that point, you can figure out what to do next.

    But you need to get it booted first!

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16 May 29, 2019