Start Up Problems

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Mac-d-out, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Mac-d-out macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011

    Hardware: 24" IMac, Purchased August 2008
    Software: Mac OSX Leopard 10.5
    HD Capacity: 320GB (Maybe 300GB)
    RAM: 2GB
    Upgrades since purchase: None
    Peripheral Devices Connected: 1TB WD External Drive, Bose Companion Series, Mac keyboard and Mouse (Wired)

    Moderate. Surfing, Word Processing. Occasional Downloads. Watching Movies

    Apple Logo with Spinning Wheel / Folder with Question Mark / Gray Screen

    Literature Consulted:
    Mac OS X: Gray screen appears during startup (
    Resetting your Mac's PRAM and NVRAM (
    A flashing question mark appears when you start your Mac (
    Other sites referred to by link, originating in the articles mentioned above.

    My IMac has worked rather well for me over the past 3 years. Surprisingly, no systems crashes or equipment failures have been encountered, or at least that i have been made aware of till recently. The computer was purchased in the United States, and brought back soon after to the Middle East. This is my first Mac purchase, and the experience so far has been smooth.

    Approx a week back, I noticed the computer running rather sluggish. The beach-ball spin wheel ran for much longer than expected. Applications started hanging. Video playback was a disaster. I assumed that there must have been some sort of error, which would fix itself if i simply powered down the Mac and get it back up again.

    When powering the Mac back up, it cycled through its distinct chime and brought me to the gray screen. The apple logo then appeared along with the spinning gear. The Mac stayed at this screen for approx 45 minutes, after i which I shut it down again.

    On my next attempt, the apple logo did not show. The Mac simply stayed stuck on a gray screen. After reading up briefly, I decided to do a safe boot (Shift). The Mac took quiet some time and finally booted into safe mode. I performed a verify and repair disk permissions operation along with a verify disk operation. The repair disk operation tab was grayed out. The results seemed rather standard. After having successfully performed the above mentioned, i rebooted the system. Once I arrived at my desktop, I finalized my scheduled backup (which was painfully slow).

    It was apparent that the computer was going to crash soon. Sure enough after the last of my files was backed up, the computer froze. Further reading suggested that i disconnect peripherals so i may isolate the problem. This did not help. I then decided to insert the OSX disk, and perform an erase and install of the system. The process went by effortlessly, and i was pretty confident that it would be smooth sailing. I rebooted the mac a few a few times to ensure that the problem went away.

    after having installed the microsoft office suite, latest updates for OSX and office, and a copy of all my files, i performed a file transfer from my blackberry phone (as a USB) onto the mac. The computer started freezing again.

    Once again I had to shut down. Unlike the first time though, I persistently kept getting stuck at the gray screen. After a few hours, the fray screen turned into a folder with a flashing question mark. a few more restarts the no entry sign started flashing. the computer refused to enter into safe mode. i made an attempt to reset the PRAM. I also tried to respecify the star-tup disk. I was unable to do either of the above.

    A few more hours down the mac actually started with the osx disk. Once again I performed an erase and install. The logic (misguided as it was) i used to justify the failure was that i connected the black berry phone (yes i know, totally bogus).

    Well a few more hours down, and here i am staring at an apple logo with a spinning gear!!!!!

    I am now inclined to think that i have a hard drive that seems to be suffering from an intermittent failure. There are no authorized service centers where i live. the few people that do offer service, have been characterized as extremely shady. I will most probably have to do the work myself. (The videos posted online should serve as a decent guide)

    Can anyone reading this post have any additional suggestions or agree with my deduction?

    Your help is appreciated.
  2. fullojellybeans macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2010
    You should try verbose mode for start up. Command + V.

    See where it gets hung up during the start up process. I'm going with disk check errors. Please update with more.

    It's possible the directory is hosed but if you did an erase and install it should've taken care of those issues. Possible a bad launch daemon. Worst case scenario is a failed hard drive.
  3. And1ss macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2009
    Does seem more like a drive failure given the age of your mac that you stated. Bring it to a store or authorized repair center and let them check for bad hdd.
  4. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    There were some iMacs, a couple of years older than yours, that had faulty graphics cards and would overheat then shut down.

    Have you seen any odd screen anomalies?
  5. Mac-d-out thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011
    Thankyou for your suggestions.

    Here is an update along with a few details that were missed.

    After my last post, i turned the Imac off. (it was still hung).
    The next morning, I attempted to turn it back on, and voila, it started up without any issues. I subjected it to a few more start and shutdowns, and it performed flawlessly.

    I now suspect that when the harddrive overheats, it starts acting funny. Has anyone come across this?

    Also, as i had mentioned earlier, I purchased the computer in the US, and now use it in the Middle East. The resulting input voltage and change in frequency, require that I route power through a converter. While I was having my problem, I observed that both the converter and and IMac were running hot. Could it be that the converter has now gone bad when subjected to extended use, and the sensor on the Imac hard-drive just does not allow it to process if it feels an impending overheat condition?

    @BrianBaugn: Nope, no anomalies detected or observed with reference to the Video Card
    @And1ss: I strongly suspected a faulty hard drive, but now it just might be a failsafe to prevent it from overheating. The "authorized" service stations are major rip offs over here.
    @fullojellybeans: When the mac does hang, it does not come out of the various gray screen modes. Therefore the verbose mode will not work. Also, when i did get it started the next morning, I performed a disk check through the installation disk. Everything turned out to be OK. Turns out the difference in permissions was a normal occurrence.

    Any suggestions would be welcome!

  6. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Yes on hard drive overheating. I have definitely seen that. If that's the case start backing up what you need ASAP.
  7. Mac-d-out thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011
    @BrianBaughn: Do you suggest I change the hard drive out, or change the converter first and see what happens?

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