Is my drive failing or something else going on?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by cheeserandyburg, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. cheeserandyburg, Apr 7, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013

    cheeserandyburg macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2011
    Specs: Late 2009 24" iMac. 3.06 GHz. 2GB ram. Disk is 435GB capacity. (500 by apple "buyer specs")
    Currently occupied at 156GB full. S.M.A.R.T = Verified. Hard drive is NOT making any noises.

    Here's whats going on.

    iMac has been working fine up until April 2013.....but as of late March/Early April it started slowing down (Early April). We're talking about hang ups, freezes, beach ballin' out of control. During simple "opening" of folders.

    Firefox (my main browser) starts to refuse to open, instead it bounces when I click the "dock" icon. Safari as well. Other icons present in dock = same outcome. This isn't happening 100% of the time, but more randomly whenever it chooses too.

    With each day its getting,

    I've run "verify disk" in disk utility.. it comes back with "missing thread" notifications. :eek:

    I end up repairing the disk, it finds quite a few missing threads, patches them up and responds with a green notice saying "... appears to be fine a-ok"

    So, I restart and....

    Problems do not go away, they only get worse now. Major hang ups, computer refuses to boot to desktop now, instead stays at grey screen with "prohibited sign" showing. Such as:

    So I wait... yet it refuses to come out of prohibited sign. Forceful shutdowns are the only way to turn it off. Nothing else works.

    Next, I try "target disk mode". It connects, and I end up seeing my iMac folders and files on another computer. Only one major problem.....I can't back up some files I'd like to back up. The reason being: Finder keeps freezing on "Copying files" or "preparing files". Manually selecting each one always doesn't work most of the time. Always prompting a error message that has the "error code -36" showing.

    This copying failure is random, yet frequent. I can copy a 200mb file, yet i can't copy 5 tiny jpegs onto the external.. and then vice versa. The jpegs go through, yet the 200mb file won't and causes a major freeze up. Ram at this point is wide open, never had an issue like this.

    I try several work arounds:

    #1 Using an external usb stick = to no avail. (same outcome as with "target disk mode"
    #2 I try an external drive = to no avail.
    #3) I try the target disk mode..which comes back with nothing.

    I simply cannot manually copy and paste files onto my externals. It'll get half way past and then "LOCK UP", "Beachball", etc.

    Finally, as a last resort I did a archive and install.... hasn't helped one bit.

    Any idea of whats going on and is there "ANY" way to back up these files?

    I can click them, access them, yet copying results in "locking up", "freezing" etc...

    Never had this happen before

    Thanks :(

    Edit: In addition, I've booted up in "safe mode" and tried to access files like that. Same problem, cannot transfer them onto the external drive. I've only managed to get lucky with a few. I have another 60gigs to transfer...

    Ran another disk utility work up and it reported with a green notice saying "its ok"... I'm having doubts about that.
  2. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    Likely failing drive with bad blocks. I've had three drives fail in the last year with very similar symptoms. Apples disk utility misses bad blocks. Back up what you can, because every time you can "see" that disk is a bonus and won't last. Any data written to a bad block area won't be able to be copied. Disk warrior or other disk utilities may help yo to mount the disk and run it a few more times. But, you need to replace that HDD.
  3. cheeserandyburg thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2011
    Here's something I didn't mention.

    I tried to copy something and it froze up half way. Then the second or third time around it copied onto the external. Strange behavior no? I would suspect that once its "corrupt" or has "bad sectors" one wouldn't be able to move it around or copy it... but in this case it does.

    Also, I can click and play/view/watch the files on the "broken computer" imac.. and even steam them via another one.. yet i can't copy them in full? what gives? :confused:
  4. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    Disk Utility is limited in what it can mend and in what it can assess.

    Failure to copy is highly indicative of a failing drive.

    Archive and install is entirely the wrong thing. It will increase the wear and load on your fragile disk. Reinstalling is rarely the correct solution to a problem.

    Make sure you have a good backup (and it's possible that recent backup will contain corrupted data), and get a new drive.
  5. OLDCODGER macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2011
    Lucky Country
    I notice that you did not Repair Disk Permissions, only Repair Disk.

    Try repairing permissions before going further.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd like to add that if you have a Mac with [what you believe to be] a failing internal drive, you want your backup to be BOOTABLE.

    In this case, if the internal _does_ fail completely, you still have an "alternative boot source" and can keep the Mac running. At this point you can either replace the internal (and then "re-clone" from the backup back to the internal), or just use your external drive as your "booter".

    You can't do this with a Time Machine backup.

    You need a "cloned backup" created with either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper. CCC is free to use for 30 days, and I believe SD will still do a "full clone" for free (for incremental backups, you need to register).
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I also think it's a failing HDD.... try not to use it if possible until you have a good backup. Put that backup away somewhere. If the drive is also corrupting data, you may need to install from the backup. If you already have an old backup, don't overwrite it ... any backup done now may be corrupt.... and you may need to go back to that old backup. Don't bother Repairing Permissions. You are only pushing HDD closer to complete failure.

    Good Luck.
  8. cheeserandyburg thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2011
    Alright thanks guys.

    One thing to add,

    I'm not using the computer right now, its off until I get a game plan.

    But in case of cloning. Wouldn't cloning pretty much be impossible to do at this point due to the fact that files on the "failing" drive aren't copying properly onto any externals as of lately?

    If i get another drive, install Leopard on it, and CarbonCopy... then attempt to clone everything from the failing drive onto there as a clone, would it work? or do cloning back ups process information differently?

    Basically as of last night, copying files that I really wanted to keep just resulted in lock ups, freezes and beach balls on the imac. I really thought Target Disk Mode would be helpful but that just ended up in the same lock ups.

    Also, in addition to all this. How about "burning" onto DVD/CD as a back up? Even if some of the data is corrupt, would it still burn properly?

    Would cloning be any different?

  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Make sure you have a Time Machine backup. Then replace your hard drive.
  10. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    Cloning wouldn't be any different. The cloning will likely start, but fail when reaching a non-readable block. It was my routine cloning that I was doing on my drives (at different times) that basically notified me of the failing drives. The verification in Disk Utilities usually showed "OK" (except once). But, Tech Tools Pro showed the disks with many bad blocks.

    BTW, whatever is copied during the cloning process prior to it's stopping will be usable except for the file where it failed the cloning process. If you get through most of the disk before clone failure, that would save much of your data.
  11. Jexta macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2011
    It does sound like your disk is failing. I would recommend a program called Disk Warrior, it may be able to rebuild the data to a bootable/readable state so that you can back up, then replace the disk.

    I'm a little bias, but have you thought about taking it to your local Apple Authorised Service Provider?
  12. Nyy8 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2011
    New England
    Or take it to a apple store? If you have the extended warranty it may still be there?
  13. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    As mentioned in this thread, try DiskWarrior to fix your disk directory.
  14. cheeserandyburg thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 3, 2011
    Got partially lucky.

    Stuck in a DVD-R and backed up a portion of stuff onto it. I didn't think it'd work, but somehow it all transferred.

    After that, I felt confident enough to try to back up onto the external usb drive.. but that didn't go as planned. Basically, the only way to copy files is 2-3 at most at a time. Anything more and it "locks up" and "freezes" and displays:

    Copying song by song is quite time consuming seeing that there's about 60GB worth of music sitting here. I suppose I could burn some, but thats many, many, MANY DVDs...

    Thanks again guys.
  15. 64Mario64 macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2013
    Try checking if it is included in any recalls. I don't know which models, but some iMacs were recalled for hard drive problems, including my friend's (and he was lucky enough for me to notice and check it online).

    It might just be corrupted, not failing. I forget how, but it happened to me on my MacBook. A reformatting fixed it perfectly. Just wipe it once you get everything off if you can't find evidence that it's failing.
  16. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "If i get another drive, install Leopard on it, and CarbonCopy... then attempt to clone everything from the failing drive onto there as a clone, would it work?"

    This sounds like a good plan.

    Get a working OS on the "emergency drive", then perhaps you can use Migration Assistant to copy over your accounts and data (but not the OS).

    Even if the internal drive has become damaged to the point where Migration Assistant can't do the job -- you will still have a "boot source" for the Mac. In this case, you can "manually copy" files and folders. The idea is "get as much as you can" from the failing internal drive.

    At this point, you can decide to either -
    - replace the internal drive (then you can "copy stuff back" the new internal)
    - choose to leave the internal drive "dead", and boot and run from the external drive (a very workable solution).

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