Resolved iMac not starting, disk not repairing

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by plinyharris, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. plinyharris, Dec 13, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014

    plinyharris macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi. I got my iMac in April '08. 2GB RAM, 250GB storage. That's all I really know and can access.

    It's been good, very fast until about 20 months ago, slowed down further this year and has continued to gradually slow. Recently it's taken 10 minutes to get going and after a few hours' use started slowing to a standstill. To install new software I also recently installed Yosemite on it, which worked but only slowed down the thing more. Anyway I used it briefly this morning and it was having a good day. Turned it off, came back tonight, and the Apple icon shows as it's turned on minus the loading bar beneath, then after two minutes a "prohibited" sign comes up.

    I've googled these problems, also searching here and on Apple Support, and learnt how to start the computer with Disk Utility. Verify Macintosh HD, repair Macintosh HD. "Error: Dik Utility can't repair this disk....disk, and restore your backed-up files." I'll do this if I can find someone willing to lend me an external hard drive as I desperately need what I've got on here (over six years of photos, work, software, general life). But I was also wondering if beyond that, whether my iMac is now doomed and has breathed its last. Besides being unable to afford any replacement I have a pressing deadline due tomorrow night, all of whose files are bumping around on a computer I cannot start up. Is there anywhere further I can go with this so I can get back to work?


    Thanks in advance, it's a great job you do on here.
     
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #2
  3. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Thanks, shouldn't I be able to back up my files onto an external hard drive via the "Restore" tab on Disk Utilities? I presume there's no guarantee as to what can be saved on there, but I imagine most of it should survive, and hopefully more than zero? I'd guess that wise before spending a tidy sum on these programmes when I'm not sure whether they'll even work on a Mac that no longer has the wherewithal to start up. The article's helpful though and I imagine it fits the bill with what my Mac's currently going through.

    Seems like I'm about to go on a late night quest for a backup drive that I can plug into a borrowed laptop. Maybe it's pigheaded that I've ignored the warning signs but I've never had the money to consider buying a backup computer.
     
  4. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    There isn't much to lose at this point by trying. If you can plug the drive in as a secondary drive on another computer, and if it still functions at all, you may be able to get some of the files off of it.
     
  5. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    This technophobe doffs his hat to you. Thanks. A quick Facebook appeal has found me a friend a fair distance away with an external hard drive I can immediately use (mine's a tad smaller than the Mac's). I'll nip over and report back here in 2-3 hours. You clearing this up has helped some. I'll report back as is right, needless to ask don't stay up for me.:)
     
  6. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    Good luck, I hope you can retrieve your files. Once you're through this ordeal, I strongly recommend implementing a backup solution. :)
     
  7. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Right, the plot thickens.

    I've added this new external hard drive and partitioned it, only to receive error 22 (invalid argument) while restoring Macintosh HD's components onto it. Selecting Macintosh HD's parent drive gives error 254 instead. Is this a dead end?

    Still adamant I'll rescue cherished photographs from the burning building yet.

    And you're absolutely right with backing things up. It's something you hear all the time but don't necessarily follow through on. Bad, bad planning.
     
  8. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    Well, what I would try is to remove the hard drive from the iMac, put it into an enclosure or, at least, get the proper cables, and connect it to another Mac as a secondary drive and attempt to browse the files and copy them off.

    If you need help opening up the iMac, www.ifixit.com has fantastic tutorials with instructions and clear photos to guide you.
     
  9. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    I have a horrid feeling this is the end of the line now.

    Trying to copy Macintosh HD's files to their new destination comes up with "input/output" error after a few minutes of loading (beforehand it says below the progress bar that the eta is 1 day 2 hours...).

    Shall I attempt to hand my Mac over to a specialist for data recovery?

    Ah, just seen this! Will get on it.
     
  10. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    Data recovery specialists tend to be very pricey and is never a sure thing. But, yes, it does sound like there is little hope left.

    At this point, take it as a lesson learned, start fresh and buy an external hard drive and use it for Time Machine so you will always have a backup.
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    OP wrote above:
    [[ I'll do this if I can find someone willing to lend me an external hard drive as I desperately need what I've got on here (over six years of photos, work, software, general life). But I was also wondering if beyond that, whether my iMac is now doomed and has breathed its last. ]]

    You need an external drive with a working system so you can boot the Mac.

    Sounds like you already have the external drive, but your followup posts above are not clear.
    Do you have a bootable OS on the external?

    If so, you had better resolve to use that as your "booter" for now. It will be fine as a boot drive, just a little slower to boot from. But once up-and-running should be ok.

    Regarding the condition of the internal drive:
    It sounds like it's failing, of course.
    You should know up front that data recovery by professional firms is VERY expensive. Be prepared to pay into the thousands to get that data back. Is it worth that much to you?

    If I were in your position, I'd be shopping for a new Mac.

    Regarding copying stuff from the damaged internal drive:
    Once booted up from the external, get a pencil and paper.
    Assuming the internal drive still mounts on the desktop, open it.
    Browse around, slowly.
    Take your time.
    Try copying one folder at a time.
    KEEP NOTES REGARDING WHAT YOU COPY.
    If the whole folder won't copy, open it.
    Are there sub-folders inside?
    If so, try copying them.
    A little at a time.
    You're trying to circumvent the "bad areas" on the drive.
    You may be able to get things from "here and there".
    Perhaps not everything, but more than you would expect.

    Again, you need a external boot source which will become "your main drive" for now.

    Get that up and going first.

    Oh, one more thing:
    On your NEXT Mac, learn something about the concept of "backing up".
    That will ensure that you do not again end up where you are now!
     
  12. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Thanks a lot for a considered post. I might be able to put a bootable OS on the external HDD but it doesn't have one on. I've borrowed this external HDD from a friend who's emptied it for me so nothing would have been overwritten if it could have restored on Disk Utilities.

    Expert data recovery does sound a lot, but for most people photographs etc are near enough priceless. I couldn't get that treatment now, but if I removed the Mac's HDD and stored it safely then I'd at least have that option to recover my stuff one day in the future, however improbable.

    To make this clear, do I stick an OS on my external HDD, if one's available, and then might the Mac itself run on that OS automatically, as in turn on successfully, log in, and show any surviving files as normal? Sorry if these questions are facile.
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

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    Install a copy of the Mac OS onto the external drive.

    Do you have the original DVD's that came with the iMac?

    Does the friend who lent you the hard drive have any?
     
  14. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    OK. With taking the HD out I can't entirely trust myself so for now I have a specialist coming tomorrow morning. I've written out this whole sorry odyssey for him and will fetch my old OS CD and the external HDD and give them him. I've included your suggestions of course so he can have a more sincere go at them. But thanks for now and if you're ever in Halifax/Manchester, England then you can have one on me.

    Thanks both for doing all you can. I'll bump this thread depending on whether the issue resolves (who knows?), if nothing can be saved, or anything in between...
     
  15. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    Good luck and do let us know how it turns out. I sure hope he can help you recover your files.
     
  16. plinyharris thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Well, I'm back. I handed in the computer on Monday morning and got it back Weds evening. Yep, got it back. He replaced the hard drive with a new one that effectively gave me a blank Mac OS Leopard to work with. He then took my dead hard drive and as Fishrrman suggested, he booted it up and circumvented the files. A long bit of work, but I've ended up with my documents, my pictures and my music back. The only corrupt files were folders J–M in my Music folder which I'd obviously take any day over losing three months of pictures/work. Absolutely class, and I'm very lucky indeed. My computer's back with everything vital on it. I've spent today backing up the lot on time machine and downloading Yosemite, generally returning to action.

    Thanks a lot on your help for a tedious/avoidable subject. I raise my glass to you both. Wish I could reciprocate the gesture with my own specialist knowledge but I'm guessing you don't need any help on vector calculus homework, haha.

    Again, cheers and issue resolved.
     

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