Old iMac: major problem with hard drive after power surge. Help needed!

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Levina, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Levina, Mar 8, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015

    Levina macrumors member

    Levina

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    #1
    I have an old iMac, late 2006, 2.16Ghz, 20" screen. The last of the white ones. I do the bulk of my work on a Mac Pro, but the iMac is still in use for internet browsing, emailing and as it's in my bedroom I also use it to watch movies on before I go to sleep. :)

    It was behaving a bit erratic the last couple of weeks. Just some odd things that I couldn't really put my finger on. Three days ago I upgraded Firefox to the latest build (36.0.1) and FF would crash each time at launch. I finally got it to work, but not well. I then began to receive warnings from Smart Reporter about I/O errors. And then had a kernel panic as well. The first one in 8 years on this iMac! Blaming Firefox, I trashed it and downgraded to the previous version. I also had Disk Utility run a diagnostic and all was well.

    Then last night there was a power surge as a light bulb in a lamp next to the iMac went out with a blinding light and a very loud poof, leaving me in an all dark house. Luckily the fail safe in the meter box had kicked in, so no harm done, but after turning everything back on, the iMac showed a flashing question mark. After pointing the iMac to the correct start-up drive, the question mark went away but was replaced by a prohibition sign.

    Here are my steps after that:

    I inserted the install cd and did a hardware test. All was well. I repaired disk permissions. I also reset PRAM. Still the prohibition sign.

    As there is no crucial data of any kind on the iMac I decided to erase the hard drive and do a fresh install. Installation was successful and the iMac restarted into Tiger with no problems, although a bit slow. I immediately got the message to upgrade components, which I did. After installation of those I was told to restart the iMac which I did and after a normal but slow reboot and just before the desktop was to appear, it got stuck on the blue screen.

    I did another extended hardware test. All was well. I then had Disk Utility check the Macintosh HD and it came back with a lot of lines in red. When I clicked "repair", it couldn't.

    This is what the red lines said:

    -Invalid volume header
    -Invalid node structure
    -Volume check failed

    -Error: the underlying task reported failure on exit

    -Volume could not be repaired because of an error


    I tried rebooting in safe mode and came into a really cheerful page, saying:

    -panic: unable to find driver for this platform: "ACPI"

    Underneath this was the dreaded kernel panic message.

    After looking for answers some more I found a possible solution and that is to Secure Erase the drive and then use the install disk again. Problem now is that I can't access the drive any more. It's not visible as a start-up drive during reboot (whilst holding down the option key), and is greyed out in Disk Utility. It also doesn't stay on the blue screen any more. After a while the iMac just restarts.

    So now I'm here to ask you, is this an ex drive? Has it gone to meet its maker? Or is there still something I could try?
     
  2. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #2
    I suspect that your power problem pushed your hard drive over the edge to the hard drive equivalent of "purgatory"
    And, after your previous symptoms, that makes the hard drive even more suspicious.
    The secure erase option exercises all of the hard drive disk, and can also end up making things worse. And, that's likely a Good Thing™ in your example. You probably will be wasting your time trying to resurrect your existing hard drive. Look to replace the drive - a task that's a bit challenging in your older iMac.
     
  3. Levina thread starter macrumors member

    Levina

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    #3
    Oh yeah, replacing the drive is going to be a bit of work, which is why it would be ever so nice if I didn't have to do it! :D I have disassembled and reassembled the Bondi Blue type of iMacs though, but this is definitely going to be more challenging. Fortunately there is an excellent guide on iFixit, and it's definitely doable. I have an old drive that came with the Mac Pro but was hardly used as I put in WD Red drives. So I was thinking of using that one. Should be a good fit and will cost no money. :) Thanks very much for your input, DeltaMac!
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    After 8 years, the internal HDD drive may be wearing out on you.

    But be aware that you don't have to go through all the trouble of opening the thing, if you want to get back up and running.

    If I was in your position, I'd get:
    - A 2.5" firewire800 enclosure (actually, it might be possible to get one with both firewire800 and USB3, for "future considerations")
    and
    - A 2.5" drive to go into it
    and
    - boot and run the iMac that way.

    Boot times will be longer, but once it's up-and-running I predict you won't notice any speed differences at all.

    I have a white Intel 24" iMac of the same vintage, and I often boot and run it this way by choice. In my case, I use a USB2/SATA dock (which is slower than firewire800), but it still boots and runs fine.

    Insofar as the (possibly broken) internal drive goes, I'd just ignore it.
    You might try re-initializing it a final time, but leaving it completely "empty".
    If the icon on the desktop bothers you, just drag it to the trash.
     
  5. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #5
    Mostly good idea, I think.
    BUT, a hard drive that finally dies completely CAN interfere with normal booting, probably because the hardware fails to "ignore" a dead hard drive, but continues to check the bad device, sometimes locking up the whole system.) The only good way around this is to disconnect the internal hard drive. If you get to that point, then you might as well just replace the drive.
    This is a situation that may not affect you, but is something to remember in case you can't get a normal boot to succeed.
     
  6. name99 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2004
    #6
    I'd agree with the above recommendation and just add that (depending on how much storage you need) you might want to buy an SSD (64, 128 or 256GB) and use that as the boot drive instead of an HD. Using an SSD boot drive (over FW800, even over USB2) will feel as fast as the previous drive. I ran both an old iMac and an old Mac mini this way, off an external SSD, for years. You can look at AnandTech for SSD reviews, but for your purposes you don't need a speed demon, you want something that requires low power. Especially if you drive it off USB2, you cannot EVER allow the power to exceed 2.5 W. The highest power draw is when doing random writes, and many SSDs will do that as 3.5 or 4W (which is OK for USB3, but not for USB2). FW in theory should supply up to 7W, but I've found many enclosures (especially those that also support USB2) only handle 2.5W.
    So look on AnandTech not for the fastest SSF but for those that never exceed 2.5W. Back in the day I used the Patriot series, and most recently I've used the Samsung 840.

    As for the old drive, you initialize as "empty" (if you can) as follows:
    Launch Disk Utility, choose the drive (if it's visible) from the sidebar, and choose partition. Choose Partition Layout as 1 parition, and choose the partition format as "Free Space". If this can connect to the drive enough to mark it as blank, then subsequent reboots won't waste time trying to connect to the drive.
     
  7. Levina thread starter macrumors member

    Levina

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    #7
    I'm not afraid to open up the iMac, but I do like these suggestions! The iMac only has 2 FW400 ports though. I think it was the 24" of that generation that had FW800.

    So would the Samsung 850 EVO 250GB be a good choice? From what I can tell writing and reading speed stay below 2.5W.
     
  8. matreya macrumors 65816

    matreya

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #8
    Given Samsung's issues with the 840 EVO are unresolved, I wouldn't buy anything EVO from Samsung.

    You could try Crucial MX100, but I'm uncertain about power requirements.
     
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    I'd recommend Crucial over Samsung.

    Samsung SSD's of late seem to have more than their fair share of problems...
     
  10. Levina thread starter macrumors member

    Levina

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    #10
    I'm glad I asked; so much knowledge on these forums. The Crucial MX100 is well above 3W, but I'm sure there are other Crucial SSD's that stay below the 2.5W mark. Thanks very much!
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    OP:
    If you're worried about power consumption, get a USB3/SATA docking station (that supports UASP), and use that for the SSD.

    Docks have their own power supplies, and power consumption won't be an issue at all.
     
  12. matreya macrumors 65816

    matreya

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #12
    Why not put the SSD inside the iMac?

    ----------

    You clearly didn't read the OP's posts, because his old iMac has USB2/FW400 ports. An SSD connected via those ports would not benefit from having a UASP-able USB3 drive dock. :/

    The best option is to put it inside the iMac.
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    [[ You clearly didn't read the OP's posts, because his old iMac has USB2/FW400 ports. An SSD connected via those ports would not benefit from having a UASP-able USB3 drive dock. ]]

    I absolutely DID read the OP's posts.

    I recommended an "external booter" to save the trouble of going inside.

    I recommended a USB3/SATA dock because even though the OP has USB2, buying USB3 will provide BOTH backward-compatibility AND the advantage of USB3 when the time comes to move up to a newer Mac.

    Granted, USB2 speeds at bootup will be slower than booting from an internally-installed drive. But once up-and-running, the speed difference will be largely negligible. I post this from the hands-on experience of booting my 2006 white Intel iMac from a USB2/SATA dock. This is done BY MY CHOICE, not because there's a problem with the internal drive, but I wanted a second drive with different software on it.

    My advice to the OP stands.

    Save the trouble of tearing into the old iMac, just hook up a new drive in an external enclosure or dock, and squeeze a year or two more out of it that way.
     
  14. Levina thread starter macrumors member

    Levina

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    #14
    After all that's been said and advised, I thought it a good idea to try how the iMac would function running on an external drive, so I hooked up a spare drive to the iMac using an old SATA/IDE > USB adapter. That worked pretty well indeed. Start up took a bit longer, but I can't say I noticed the iMac to be slower in its normal, light tasks that I use it for. So that would work well.

    However, with the iMac running on an external drive now, I took the opportunity of trying out that Secure Erase I talked about earlier and what do you know, that actually worked. The old, troublesome hard drive has been fixed, Disk Utility has given it a clean bill of health and the iMac is up and running again. On Tiger. I will upgrade to Snow Leopard later and put some of my stuff back on it. So for now my problem is solved.

    I don't know how long that drive is going to last, but when it does break down, I now know I have some options. So thank you very much, everybody, for your help. Much appreciated.
     
  15. Levina thread starter macrumors member

    Levina

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    #15
    A short update, because, well, the old drive didn't stay healthy for very long; after trying to install some applications, it failed on me again. Not wanting to spend money on it I thought 'what the hell' and just put in a spare 640GB drive (from the 2009 Mac Pro). Took me about 45 minutes to get it done, but all went well and the iMac is up and running again and all looks well. I'm very pleased with this. And proud. Who said girls aren't technical?! :D
     
  16. dyt1983, Mar 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    dyt1983 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Location:
    USA USA USA
    #16
    edit: To remove personally identifying information not relevant to the thread.
     

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