Ok something is definitely wrong with my iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Ytsephill, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. Ytsephill macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    Hey guys,

    I own an iMac 7,1 - 2.4GHZ Intel Core 2 duo.
    OSX 10.6.7

    I'll try and make it as short as possible.

    I run bootcamp and mainly just used windows 7 on it (due to work issues). I have been doing so for well over a year without any problems.

    Recently windows started getting very slow, and had some issues on start up. It got to a point where I said screw it and deleted the windows drive. So I started using OSX thinking the problem was with Windows.

    Well the problem didn't disapear. I'm having the same issues with OSX.
    When I start it up it's fine, but when I do something like play a video while I open a web page everything just slows down to a point its basically blocked.

    So I manually shut it down, and when I start it up again, it goes at least 2 or 3 times to that grey screen with a folder and a question mark on it.

    When it finally starts up again, its fine for a few minutes and it starts all over again.

    I'm scared that this is a hardware issue.
    Any help would be appreciated

    Thank you
  2. I AM THE MAN macrumors 6502

    Apr 10, 2011
    I've honestly never had this problem, but it sounds serious. The First thing I would do is begin backing up ALL YOUR data and then try to do a fresh-install of the OS (whether its Snow Leopard or Leopard) and see if that fixes the problem.

    The second alternative could be to call up Apple ASAP. Explain the problem to them and they will most likely have a solution.

    Regardless of what you do-whether re-install a fresh copy of the OS or call Apple, I would still begin back-ing up all your files just in case.

    Good Luck!
  3. Ytsephill thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    I thought of reinstalling Leopard but I don't have the original CD.
    This used to belong to my father, so I don't have anything that came with it.

    I'll try and call Apple.
    In the mean time, would appreciate more suggestions.
  4. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Sounds like a dying hard drive, especially with the folder and question mark. I'd do a backup and first reinstall (you can buy a snow leopard disk for $30), and if that doesn't fix it, you'll need to replace the hard drive.
  5. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    I have the exact same iMac 7,1 and yes, it is a dying hard drive. Definitely back up your stuff OP!!!

    Your options for getting a new HDD installed from Apple is to have them put in another 320gb stock drive for about $250 + labor. It is an absolute rip-off that even the Genius I talked to agreed with.

    It's time to get yourself a 1-2 Tb HDD replacement and get ready to learn how to take apart your iMac and replace the drive yourself. I can honestly say the idea is more intimidating than the task. It really isn't that hard, but I have a few tips that can really really make the task successful mainly, have a second person on hand to help you!
  6. Ytsephill thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    Just the news I was afraid of.

    I'll try and reinstall leopard first, doubt that'll do the trick.

    Stupid question: I already have an external 1TB HD drive. Is there any way to disable the one in the imac and use the external one?
  7. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    You can easily boot OSX off an external drive, though it will be slower - very noticeably on a USB drive, though firewire 800 might be acceptable. Still, could be good enough to test on - you can even transfer over your existing internal drive with something like SuperDuper.

    Windows 7 I'm not even sure if its possible to run off an external drive, much less easy. I had been trying to figure out how to get win7 to run off firewire so I could install on my SSD, and finally gave up, opened the machine, and swapped out the optical drive.

    Have you checked the SMART status of the drive? Disk utility should show it, and if you don't see "Verified" at the bottom, it means the drive itself thinks there's a problem. Though you could have drive issues that SMART won't detect or necessarily flag as a problem.
  8. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    Backup to the external HD using SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner, this makes the EHD a bootable clone. Then when you restart the computer hold down the Option key, choose the EHD and you will be up and running.

    BTW you can get replacement Install DVDs from Apple for a nominal charge.
  9. Warbitrary macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2009
    Montréal, Canada
    AFAIK, yes. If you install your system on the external you can use it as your primary drive. Either (1) clone your internal to your external, (2) restore your Time Machine backup to your external, (3) install OS X on the external using the Install DVD and transfer your data.

    Make sure your external is formatted this way (info can be found in Disk Utility):
    Partition Map Scheme : GUID Partition Table
    Format : Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

    The best interface for the external would be Firewire 800, but USB should be usable. Operations like booting and launching apps might be slower, but once up and running you shouldn't see too much slowdowns.

    If the internal drive keeps mounting and spinning after you stop using it, you can write an AppleScript to unmount it at login, or if you ask I can send one to you.

    Edit: damn, 2 other posters type faster than me.

    Edit 2: if your hard drive is failing, you should see repetitive, possibly cryptic messages in Applications/Utilities/Console. Google them to see what they mean.
  10. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    Good advice from posters above about booting off an external drive, checking SMART status, and checking Console. After booting off the external drive, at least you can see if the problem goes away, and it may run perfectly well enough to be a solution until you gather the funds for a repair, get your courage up to do it yourself, or decide to just live with it that way.

    I've got a similar iMac, and if it happens to me, I'd try booting off an external drive, and if that fixed it I'd replace the internal drive myself. Though I've never opened my iMac and I hope I won't have to!
  11. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Yeah, originally when this started happening to me I did a Target Boot from my iBook to run diagnostic on the internal HDD. Can't remember if any specific errors came up, but the constant beachballing on my iMac internal was enough of a confirmation for to consider the drive "close to death". Oh, and when I tried reinstalling OS X it would get about 80% in and then the install would fail, this confirmed without a doubt to replace the drive.

    Definitely do a backup and I'll explain my story with opening up iMac and replacing the drive (I'll try to keep it brief):

    My drive started beach balling on my constantly so i backed up and decided to install a new internal in my iMac. I bought a 1 TB drive and some hex screws and went to town. Took off the iMac screen with my shower loofa (sp?) which was easy and followed the tear-down instructions from here.

    So I took apart the iMac and made the decision to take off the LCD, later this move cost me as when I put the iMac back together I did not properly reconnect the LCD power cable (because it is incredibly difficult) and ended up frying my power supply (had to have Apple replace it for $90 :( ). To avoid this, have a friend available when you take apart the iMac when you get to the LCD part, uncscrew the LCD and instead of unplugging the LCD to gain access to the HDD mount just have your friend tilt up the LCD so you can replace the HDD.

    The tear-down the first time might take you about 15 minutes, but after you do it once you could probably repeat the process in under 5 minutes.

    These two threads cover my struggles:
  12. Ytsephill thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    ^I might just have to consult you when my iMac undergoes surgery haha.

    Thank you all for the helpful replies.
    I've been thinking about it, and I don't feel comfortable booting my iMac from my external drive, seeing that I walk around with it when I need it.

    So I'm definitely going for the HDD replacement route.
    Before I do this though, how can I be sure this is the problem with the iMac? I mean is must the most likely, I'm just afraid after replacing the drive, the problem will still exist.

    Also, what model of an HDD drive should I get? Is there a specific one for macs? Any recommendations on a specific 1TB model would be helpful.

    Recently, I've been using it without any significant problem, that is, because I've just been browsing the web. But when I open a video thats in the HDD, it slows down immediatly to the point I have to manually shut it off, then comes the problem with booting.

    Thanks again
  13. omvs macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    Do a test install to an external hard drive and make sure it runs okay. If so, its definitely the internal drive. You won't want to use this permanently, but it should at least verify the problem.

    No advice on which drive - the newer models are 'picky' about what drive you put in (needs special firmware for thermal readouts), but don't know if thats true or not for yours. Might be worth seeing what a mac repair shop will charge you to do it, since they'll get the drive right and save the hassle of dealing with the surgery. I opened mine up once, and am scared to do it again....
  14. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Wait, what? You walk around with what? The iMac or the HDD? I don't understand.

    Well, one way to really tell once and for all it's your HDD is to boot off an external and see if your problems go away. Or if you try reinstalling OS X and it fails on you.
  15. Ytsephill thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2010
    Hah, I meant I walk around with my external hard drive.

    I'm gonna try both those options and see where I'm at.

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