iMac G4 spinning wheel - dead hard drive?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Sepultura, Jun 7, 2015.

  1. Sepultura macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2013
    Hi all! I haven't been to the forum in a while. I got to say I am not a fan of this new layout...

    I acquired an iMac G4 running Tiger, but it will not boot. It goes to the grey Apple logo screen and then the wheel spins forever. I left it for 5 hours and it went nowhere.

    Booting to startup manager does show the hard drive - which is a 320gb Seagate - but like I said, I can't get it past the grey screen.

    I ran DiskWarrior 3.0.2 and tried to use graph to check for errors. 5 seconds after pressing 'graph', it said something like 'unknown error occured.' Then I pressed 'rebuild', 5 seconds later, it fails.

    iMac cannot be rebuilt. The original directory is too severely damaged. This disk was not modified.

    What is strange is that under the manual diagnostics it says... 'this hard drive's built in SMART diagnostics indicate the drive functioning normally.'

    I then tried another version of DiskWarrior - verison 3.0.3 rev 39. Again, the graph came up with some unknown error. This time however, it looked like 'rebuild' was going to work. It started going and then it said 'speed inhibited by disk malfunction.' I left it running for 21 hours and just checked it again. The bar hadn't moved at all since it started. It wasn't frozen, because i just cancelled it.

    Next up I tried Target disk mode with my PowerBook G4. I couldn't even see the hard drive.

    Then I took the iMac G4 apart and put the hard drive in a Windows machine. Right away the drive was detected when I went to disk managment and it asked me to format it. Instead, I used HFS explorer to see if I could view the contents, which I could. I then ran CrystalDiskInfo to check the SMART status again. It warned caution with the current pending sectors and uncorrectable sectors highlighted.

    So I am 99% sure the hard drive is dying. Sometimes however, you can rewrite the drive with zeros and it can fix problematic sectors.

    I find it strange that DiskWarrior, a reliable program, notes the SMART status as functioning normally, but then the rebuild fails.

    I want to backup the contents and get a new drive, what are your suggestions?

    Seeing how Target disk mode doesn't work, I guess I am left with copying everything to a Windows machine.

    Anyone with a HD suggestion? SSD with an adapter definitely seems the way to go. It will last years and should boot faster even on a PATA interface.

  2. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    You could slip the drive into an enclosure and then clone it to the new drive.

    But I agree. The drive is failing.

    As to DW, I wouldn't fault it for not detecing bad SMART status. I have two programs on my Macs for that and one shows failure while the other does not. Not so sure it's an exact thing.
  3. for this macrumors 6502

    Nov 18, 2014
    The SMART status was from the SMART in the HDD, DiskWarrior just relayed the message.
    SMART is helpful but it's not that accurate. I have seen SMART give bad sectors, that made
    the mac hang, a pass.

    I would choose an SSD over a HDD for faster booting. Although I think
    it's just like other storage devices, no one knows how long it will last.
  4. Sepultura thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2013
    I'm afraid I don't have an IDE enclosure. So I will just do a fresh install and then copy the important stuff back with a USB-IDE adapter.

    CrystalDiskInfo has always been reliable for me. It warned me 'CAUTION' about my 2 year old laptop hard drive. I was able to boot with it before and now no computer will recognize it as it has completely failed.

    This particular drive in the iMac had over 23000 hours of use, just over 2.7 years total. It has been in the computer about 8 years.

    I know that SSD's are very reliable now. When they came out, not so much. Many tests have been done to see how many writes a drive can take before it goes. Many of those SSD's exceed the total writes listed by the manufacturer - like 600+ terabytes of writes. I won't be doing that on this old iMac anyway.

    What IDE-SATA adapter can you guys suggestion? I'll probably need a drive bracket too, otherwise the SSD will be flopping around. I could use electrical tape though to hold it down.
  5. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
  6. Sepultura thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2013
    Good suggestion. I was looking at a few of those on Amazon the other night. I suppose I don't need to velcro or tape it down since I won't be moving it.

    How are you liking the SSD in the G4?
  7. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
    Every little bit's not blazing fast (it's a G4 running Leopard - can't expect miracles), but you can "feel" the difference over the spinning drive.

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