iMac hard drive - Dead, dying or just missing? - some advice please

Discussion in 'iMac' started by CraigBklyn, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. CraigBklyn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    #1
    Hi, Looking for some advice if possible. I'm hoping its helpful to give as many details as I can:
    I have (or perhaps had...) an iMac - 4.5 years old aluminum, upgraded to 4GB RAM which I bought from OWC. Running on Leopard.
    It has a 500GB internal hard drive that has been filling up all the way to 496GB.

    So on Saturday I bought a LaCie 2TB quadra external drive (5400rpm version) and exported all 300GB of my photos onto it.
    It seemed to be functioning fine and was quieter and faster since I reduced the files on the internal hard drive back down to 200GB.
    However last night I was watching a video clip when the iMac froze up. That didn't seem unusual so I started to force quit Firefox and clicked on Spaces to look at another window while Firefox reloaded. At that point I got a message that Spaces "could not be launched - 36", and nothing was moving. So I held the button at the back to shut everything down. When I turned the computer back on I got a blinking folder symbol on a white screen with a question mark. (The external drive also seemed to come to life around the time of the freeze).

    I did some googling (on my ipod) and followed a few steps to try to get the system to refind the hard-drive (I think). I inserted the operating system disk, went into the disk utilities section and tried to repair the disk. However there is no sign of the disk in the list on the left. The 5GB OS disk is there, plus one called 'media' ('0 bytes'). When I reconnected the LaCie external drive it recognized it, but no sign at all of the 200GB internal drive on the Mac. Currently I've got a blinking grey globe on the white background. I left that alone for a while this morning and when I came back it showed a black screen with a flashing horizontal dash in the top left corner (obviously as if its waiting for a command).

    Obviously, at 4.5 years old this computer is out of warranty, and I really wasn't prepared to pay Apple $49 to speak to someone just before 9ET last night. I suspect that the hard drive may have died, but I don't want to go ahead with replacing it or trying to reload the OS until I hear from someone with better knowledge than I do. I do have almost everything backed up via Time Machine but have never had to resort to using it on a virgin hard drive. For example I don't know if I would need to reinstall all my software like Lightroom, SPSS etc

    Thanks for reading this tale of woe - any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Cold beer land
    #2
    Sorry for your tale of woe!

    It sounds like your hard drive failed.
    Great that you have a backup.

    I recommend taking the iMac to Apple to find the problem. Its either the hard drive or the logic board. If its the hard drive, have Apple install a new one and continue. If its the logic board, ... buy a new iMac.

    Or buy another harddrive with FW800. Install OS & what ever else (from TM backup) and run the machine from the external HD.
     
  3. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000

    rkaufmann87

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Location:
    Folsom, CA
    #3
    I agree it may be the HD. Before carting it off to Apple run Apple Hardware Test. You can find instructions in your original manual, if you no longer have that then navigate to support/apple.com/manuals and locate the manual for your model. Run AHT in Extended Mode at least 2-3x if no errors come up after the first pass. Each pass will take 30-60 minutes. If you get errors then Google them or you can just take the machine in for repair.
     
  4. CraigBklyn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    #4
    Thanks. At first I thought there was some kind of complication caused by the addition of the external LaCie drive, but it does seem more serious. :eek:

    Interesting to consider running the whole thing off the external drive - not sure I have the technical abaily to even do that though. I've always used TM as a piece of mind kind of thing but looks like I'll need to find out some more...

    ----------

    'Apple Hardware Test' you say? Ok, thanks - that's this evenings entertainment taken care of!...
     
  5. Dpock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    #5
    I just tried that with my 2007 iMac (internal HD failed) and it didn't work (couldn't boot from the external HD) whether I used the Firewire or USB connection. Someone else here confirmed it wouldn't work.
     
  6. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Cold beer land
    #6
    Was external disk made bootable?

    I boot from external occasionally.

    I backup to TM & monthly (try to) create a HD image with SuperDuper. After its complete, I reboot from the external drive to ensure it worked.
     
  7. Dpock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    #7
    If I recall it didn't give me that option selecting a start up HD--maybe I missed something. I'm not very tech savvy.
     
  8. jetlife2 macrumors regular

    jetlife2

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Oh
    #8
    It will work if your external is bootable

    You absolutely can boot off your external FW drive, if it was properly made bootable. Boot the imac while holding down the option key and you will get a row of icons, one per bootable drive.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2699
    http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1948
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1310

    If it was not properly made bootable you can boot off your system CD/DVD and install the OS again to your external.

    Finally, it is cheap and easy to swap out the internal drive for a new one. After swapping the internal drive, boot from the external, partition and format the new drive. Then reinstall the OS to the internal, for a fresh install. Run the migration assistant if you like or reinstall all your apps one by one. Opinions vary as to whether migration assistant is fully reliable. In my experience it has been fine.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Cold beer land
    #9
    I agree with everything except the easy part.
    I've replaced the hard drive in my iMac. I wouldn't recommend doing it unless "tech savvy".
     
  10. jetlife2 macrumors regular

    jetlife2

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2004
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Oh
    #10
    :)

    OK that's fair, the OP said they were not.

    But the older imacs were very simple. Face down on a blanket, a few Philips screws and the back comes off, the hard drive is right there, unplug and replug. Current ones are tougher from the pics I have seen.
     
  11. CraigBklyn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    #11
    Thanks for these further replies guys. I'm sort of tempted to try and replace the internal drive myself - have seen a couple of youtube videos on that in the past, I mean what's the worst that could happen? :eek::D

    Running the apple hardware test today and I'll take it from there.
     
  12. artwaserver macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2012
    Location:
    London
    #12
    Sorry but I had to laugh at this: "'Apple Hardware Test' you say? Ok, thanks - that's this evenings entertainment taken care of!" hahahaha lovely! :')
     
  13. MacScott macrumors regular

    MacScott

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2012
    Location:
    Indiana
    #13
    I would give it a whirl on replacing the HD if it is bad. What do you have to lose?
     
  14. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Location:
    Ontario
    #14
    Backups made with Time Machine are, unfortunately, not bootable. I use Superduper for a weekly backup for that very reason, as Superduper (or Carbon Cloner) does allow the creation of bootable external drives. The one time I tried replacing an Intel iMac hard drive, it did not go well. You can probably get it done in a repair shop for ca. $100 + the cost of the replacement drive. I had one done a couple of years back, and that's about what they charged.
     
  15. CraigBklyn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    #15
    I think the answer to that might be "my mind" :D

    Will probably stick with the same idea as Mike.

    Just ran an extended hardware test and got the old....

    4HDD/11/40000004:SATA(0,0)

    I do hope I'm not spending money on it when something else could give up the ghost in a year or so.
     

Share This Page