How can I tell a Software vs. Hardware issue with my iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mikebike125, Oct 27, 2015.

  1. Mikebike125, Oct 27, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015

    Mikebike125 macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #1
    I have a late 2007 7,1 iMac with Mavericks on it that is having issues. It will not come out of sleep mode and when rebooted hangs on the apple logo when booting up with no spinning wheel thing (not the beach ball, the other thing). In February 8 months ago, I replaced the stock hard drive for space purposes and to hopefully speed up the computer. I put in a Seagate 2TB hybrid drive that I got from OWC and it has sped up the computer a bunch. About last week the mouse pointer started to move a little slower across the screen like it was hanging a little. As of yesterday I started having the no wake up from sleep and the other problem, hanging on the apple logo.

    I got on the phone with the OWC people and they had me hold the option key and select the "Recovery 10.9.4" icon and then check disk utility. There I have it check permissions and I find about 25 or so items and then I repair them (the OWC lady said this was normal). I then have it verify the disk and it states that the disk "appears to be OK" so there is nothing to repair. I can then restart the computer and it works fine. I have ONYX on my system and had it check everything and it repaired some more permissions and also said everything was OK but if I let it sleep the problems come back.

    How do I know if this is my HD failing or a software issue? What should I do?
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    Just in general, the rule is if you did not install any new software at all and this problem just started on its own, it is a hardware issue. What you are describing sounds like a failing drive to me.
     
  3. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #3
    No new software has been installed. I was thinking the HD also. I may be bring it into Apple.
     
  4. rigormortis, Oct 31, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015

    rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #4
    all you can do is 4 things

    1) reset the smc controller. this clears the area of ram that is always on that is used to retain settings. as long as the computer is connected to some kind of power supply, and it is turned off, power is still being fed to the smc controller. the only way to clear the smc controller is to unplug the computer from power and drain any residual energy being stored in the power supply. there is also a keypress for laptops that does the same thing
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201295

    2) reset the pram, this clears the area of NVRAM or Flash Memory that is used to retain settings. no matter if the computer is turned off and unplugged, the contents of the pram are safe
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063

    3) run apple hardware test. this may require the original disks that came with your mac. you do an extended test. it does not test for hard disk issues, it only looks to make sure the drive is present. if there is an error , you will be given a code
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257
    if you do not have the disk that came with it, you can get a copy of AHT from https://github.com/upekkha/AppleHardwareTest
    if you have a newer mac that did not come with an optical drive, you can run apple hardware test over the net

    4) boot into os x, and see what the smart sensor says. the smart sensor is a fuse. once the disk drives error correction mechanisms have failed and the hard disk has run out of spare sectors to replace the bad sectors that were there when you bought it, it will trip this sensor. a failed sensor means the hard disk needs to be replaced. you can find out the current condition of the smart sensor by going to about this mac, system report, and clicking in storage. it used to be in disk utilities

    if those 4 things show no problems, then it is time to reset permissions , check the disk with disk utility, and reinstall os x and look for software issues.


    if all this fails and you go to a genius, he will be as stumped as you are. from what i understand if your computer passes AHT then all of the genius programs are going to pass too.
     
  5. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #5
    Well, I brought it into the Apple store and the Apple guy did pretty much everything you stated and all showed green and good to go. He reset the PRAM and probably some other items and said everything looks OK. I brought it home and it worked fine for a day and now it won't boot up again. It just hangs on the Apple logo. I hit the option key and did the fix permissions thing under the recovery icon but now when I go to reboot it, it just sticks on the Apple logo. I don't know what to do. I was thinking that if I could get it started up to download El Capitan and get that installed and that might fix my problem, assuming that it is a software issue because all he hardware is supposed to be OK. Any other ideas???? I really need this computer to work.
     
  6. Statelymwhite macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    #6
    I just had a similar issue. It turned out to be the video card. I'm surprised, though, that the test at the Apple store didn't detect anything. They have some sort of in-house test that can spot problems that us mortals can't.
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #7
    My money is still on the drive being bad. You can have drives pass all sorts of tests and still be bad. It is frustrating.

    What do you have in the way of backups or bootable USB keys and such we can try to test with?
     
  8. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #8
    I have a Carbon Copy Cloner backup and a Time Machine backup. The computer will boot with the CCC drive but really slowly. I think that is because of the interface.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #9
    Yeah... you are still on USB2 there, so I would expect a clone boot to be slow... but it otherwise works okay?

    If it works okay booted to this external, to me... that points to the internal drive being bad.
     
  10. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #10
    I think you are right. I'll check it booting up off the CCC when I get home and I'll tell you how it goes.
     
  11. rigormortis macrumors 68000

    rigormortis

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #11
    if you feel a drive is going bad, the best things you can do is

    1) check the smart sensor to see if its normal

    2) hold it to your ear for any unusual noises, like clicking , beeping, etc

    3) do a secure erase of 3 to 7 or 35 passes. each pass that completes without an error proves that the drive is good if the drive was going bad, you would get an error or have issues during the wipe.
    what your doing when you do a secure wipe is looking and testing for bad sectors or weak bits


    4) if you have a SSD then you really can't do a secure wipe

    5) when it doubt, get the hard drive company's free disk tester, seagate, wd, they all have diagnostics that are free of charge.
     
  12. iemcj macrumors 6502

    iemcj

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    #12
    Whens the last time you did a full wipe of your harddrive and a clean install? Your computer is almost a decade old, that's a LONG time for errors in software to build up and cause problems, for tons of clutter and little things that will add up. My computers are for business and I do a clean wipe at least every two years and there is ALWAYS a noticeable improvement in everything once it's done. If you just did a carbon copy of the old drive then any software problems or improperly written sectors would transfer over.

    Back up your crucial stuff onto an external drive, then do a clean install my friend.
     
  13. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #13
    The drive that is in the computer is new as of February. It was running well until two weeks ago and then I started noticing some programs locking up and the mouse actually started moving across the screen oddly. It finally quit on Tuesday and we brought it into Apple for the second time. They couldn't get it to boot up and suggested a wipe and start over. I used my time capsule and did a full restore from just before the problems started. That took 14-16 hours and the only difference is that at the Apple screen, it now showed the spinning wheel and that's as far as it got. I then tried booting up off of my Carbon Copy Cloner drive and that worked just fine. This tells me that it is the Hard drive.

    I am quite disappointed in this drive because the original drive that Apple put in lasted 8 years and it STILL works (I just ran out of space). This Seagate 2TB Hybrid drive died in 8 months. It is much faster than a regular drive but to only last 8 months is really bad. I called Seagate and they are sending me a new drive that should be here in a few days.
     
  14. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #14
    Well, things get stranger. While waiting on the replacement Hard drive to come I tried booting again with the CCC drive and for some reason it did not work. I then went into time machine and asked it to restore my entire computer and although it supposedly did, the iMac still had start up problems. I then went and had it just reload OSX. I wasn't sure if it would wipe the HD clan and give me the computer with just preloaded Apple programs or leave what I have on there and just reload OSX. Well, it just reloaded OSX and now the computer starts up fine. I did notice that about 5 or 6 of the most recent events are missing from iPhoto. I don't know if these were on a bad portion of the HD or somehow they got corrupted. I think I am going to change the HD when it comes anyway because no one at Apple can say whether the HD is totally fine or is going bad. They say that it may be going bad so I guess I will replace it for good measure.

    After doing the OSX re-install the CCC external drive will boot the computer now so I am completely baffled. I think I will install the new drive and then use CCC to restore what I have. Then I can see if the iMac exhibits the same issues as before. If it does, then it should be a software issue. In that case I will re-install OSX and try using time machine to replace the missing photo events.
     
  15. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    #15
    I believe those iMac's have a battery backup that retains info for starting up. If that's failing then you may need to frequently do stuff like reset the SMC and NVRAM. I had a similar problem with a PowerBook a long time ago. If I did the resets and left it on, it would be OK. If I powered it off for anything longer than say 15 minutes I'd need to power it up, do the resets, and then it would work again. Probably worth looking into.
     
  16. Mikebike125 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mikebike125

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
    #16
    So is it like one of those disk type batteries like a CR2032?
     
  17. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    #17
    Something like that. But make sure your system has the problem and it has a battery (I'm pretty sure it does). The tell tale sign will be loss of NVRAM and other settings when the system is off for a while. iFixit.com may have instructions on it or at least indicate where it is.
     
  18. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2014
    #18
    0. chech system log for error, you may know what's causing the problem
    1. wipe the hard drive and re-install the system, DO NOT restore data from backup, install apps from MAS, download data from dropbox, etc.
    if the problem's still there, most likely hardware, otherwise software
    2. find another 'similar' computer, the more alike the better, mirror the data from old to new, if problem's still there, most likely software, otherwise hardware

    if you combine 1&2, you can get a pretty confident result.
     
  19. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #19
    Perhaps it's time to start shopping for a replacement Mac...
     

Share This Page