I think my aluminum iMac is dead (HDD?) - advice?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by JamSandwich, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. JamSandwich macrumors regular

    May 19, 2006
    So here's my situation...

    Short version: in disc utility I'm only seeing my Windows partition after repairing disc and repairing permissions. I've also reset NVRAM. Held down power button before start up. I think my HDD is dead. Any point in trying to reinstall from an older backup?

    BTW, can anyone tell me whether Time Machine backups -- whether from my account or my wife's, will back up the whole drive? I'm worried we might lose some of her stuff because she rarely uses this computer (also rarely long enough to have it auto-backup while logged into her account)

    EDIT: Which leads me to my question about Mac support. There's no Apple store within even four or five hours of my city. Some dealers, etc. The system is still well under warranty, but outside the three months of "free phone support." So how do I go about getting warranty service? In the end, this is pretty much forcing my hand into an AppleCare purchase 'cause I don't want this hassle again, but until such time as I've got that AppleCare box in front of me, do I want to call Apple? Do I want to call their authorized service people?

    Starting up my computer this morning, I was met with a grey screen that didn't seem to go anywhere. So I turned the computer off and restarted. All was great.

    Came back from work tonight, got the same issue. My wife tells me she had it today too (she almost never uses the iMac -- laptop all the way for her). Try restarting, no luck. Try again, and OSX starts up. Check something online for her and then go into the dashb...o......a.......... the computer is totally locked up. Restart, do a little bit in Firefox and then go to dashboard again and it dies once more.

    After the second dashboard crash, it wouldn't fully log in to the point where I had any control. So I restart, try a variety of the "fixes" listed above... and I realize that every time I try to boot the computer, I'm making less forward progress. Figured disk utility would help, and now I don't even see my "Macintosh HD". I see the drive, but only the XP partition listed along with it.

    At this stage I'm at a loss for what to do.. and possibly also at a loss for getting the OSX install disc out of the drive.

    Very frustrating times for me lately with Mac hardware. The MacBook's got a bum battery -- turned into a 2/3 battery (i.e: shuts down unannounced at 37% and is out of warranty and beyond the battery replacement program window) shortly after my hard drive cratered in it. I guess the positive is that that crash convinced me to buy a big external drive for Time Machine...

    I wonder if it's a heat thing in this case. This comes suspicously soon after a handful (two or three) marathon sessions of Spore.
  2. johto macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2008
    Check the temperatures. Download Istat Pro http://www.islayer.com
    If your HDD were totally failed, your OSX wouldnt load at all, you would get question mark symbol on the gray screen before the apple logo. You might have corrupted HDD data (reinstall would fix it), or it might be going bad slowly(hardware failures, bad blocks) ..you should run the verify stuff using disk utility. Also your RAM / logic board might be going bad or its the heat ...psu,gpu,logic board,ram ..you name it :eek: :p

    Anyhow, best bet is to check the temperatures first and run some hdd tests. Maybe swap the RAM on / off too ...you can only diagnose it by eliminating possible causes...good luck :)
  3. JamSandwich thread starter macrumors regular

    May 19, 2006
    Just to be clear, I can't actually get into OSX now. I get the Apple on startup and the little "processing" wheelie thing. And as I mentioned, if I use my install CD, I wind up with only my Windows partition showing.

    (Also still curious about my Time Machine question. I'd hate to lose my wife's data)
  4. smurfjammer macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2004
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Try booting off the system disc that came with the iMac and run the first aid in the disc utility and see if that helps...
  5. msheldrick macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2008
    I had the exact same problem with my MacBook, it turned out to be a dead hdd.
  6. johto macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2008
    Have you tried pressing "s" for single mode during startup?
  7. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    From my experience getting warranty experience in past; if you actually have a dead HD, or something else covered by the warranty, then you wont pay for the call even after the "free telephone support" period is over......of course if it's not something covered by the warranty, then they'll charge you. They may insist on getting your credit card info before they talk to you but once it's decided that you're dealing with something that's covered, you wont be charged or they'll refund any charges.

    And if you decide to buy Applecare, you can do it over the telephone with the store and they'll activate it right away while you're on the phone
  8. JamSandwich thread starter macrumors regular

    May 19, 2006
    Sort of interesting situation -- I called support, explained the problem and they said "this sounds like a software problem," and asked me if I wanted to pay for Applecare so we could continue.... I'd planned to, anyhow, so I did even though I was fairly certain it wasn't a software issue.

    So they walked me through the steps I had gone through, and then they said "sounds like it's a hardware problem." So the iMac is now in a local authorized dealer's shop getting probed and prodded. Called them yesterday and it sounds like they've ordered a part, so maybe it's a logic board issue or something (couldn't see them having to order a new hard drive). The store here is good, but I am looking forward to the Apple Store's eventual arrival, because my assumption is that service will be a bit faster.

    Anyhow, I asked after the fact what would have happened if I didn't want to pay for Applecare, and it sounds like they would have charged or authorized an amount on my credit card for the phone support, and if the resolution proved to be a hardware fix, they'd have refunded or released the money.

    All things considered, having heard some negative impressions of Apple support here and just widely on the web, I was as pleased as I could be given the fact that I ended up paying $100+ on a warranty extension and the unrelated question about my borked MacBook battery didn't get resolved as I'd have liked (no new battery for me).

    I'll update this thread later when I know what the problem was, just for the record... it's always nice having a record of people's computer problems for those inevitable "my computer is broken" Google searches.
  9. JamSandwich thread starter macrumors regular

    May 19, 2006
    Well, according to the Apple dealer here, the problem was a defective hard drive. I'm a little unsure of that diagnosis, though, as they also wound up replacing a power supply/logic board component, as a capacitor was burnt out.

    I wonder if that might have been the root cause.

    Curious, as well, regarding data recovery -- whether Apple Stores charge to do it on a dead hard drive if it's easy to accomplish. I have my drive backed up, but I was a touch taken aback by the offer to do it for $100 at my local dealer... I'd rather have tried myself, to be honest if they were willing to give me the dead drive.

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