Very strange behavior from a year-old iMac. Care to diagnose?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by quantum003, May 23, 2009.

  1. quantum003 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 27, 2009
    Hello all,

    A friend's mother asked me to look at her practically new 2.4Ghz Duo iMac 24". This computer is gorgeous- and just 1 year and a couple months old! Always buy Apple Care kids...

    So it's very sick, here are the symptoms. She says she did a software update, and then it restarted... but never again booted past the spinning circle beneath the Apple. So, I advised her to reinstall Leopard, which she did attempt to do- Leopard install booted up from the optical, but no hard drive is found anywhere inside of this iMac! Nor is there a hard drive found in disk utility, or target disk mode in firewire transfer. The iMac gets the firewire screen but nothing ever appears on the host desktop, or in host's disk utility.

    So, I figure the hard drive is bad, a little young to die, but oh well. For more information, I tried to run the original install disk with the Apple Hardware Test: the iMac will not boot from the original install disks, either of them. It spits them out and instead offers that wonderful question mark. "Where is my operating system??"

    So this is odd. At this point I decide before I get all crazy I should let the Apple Geniuses have a look at it and see what they say. Immediately, the Genius tells me the hard drive is bad and is denying changes to the boot order. BUT, he was very surprised when he then tried to boot from his external drive, (with all the Apple software utilities on it), and it did not show up on the Option-Boot screen! The Option Boot screen had NOTHING on it, I've never seen that before.

    But he still maintained that the hard drive is very corrupt, it's not letting anything else boot up. And so I left. But then I thought later: If that's the case, why will it boot from the Leopard Drop-In DVD? And would this hard drive problem also allow the option-boot screen to appear, but it won't even boot from it's original install disks??

    Has anyone seen anything like this? Can a hard drive get this corrupt, and cause these strange booting problems? What do you think? Thanks!
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I guess the hard drive is dead and it has to be replaced. Did you ask from Apple Store how much it would cost to replace it by Apple? It shouldn't cost too much, maybe 200-300$. Of course you can replace it by yourself but unscrewing over 32 screws can be quite scary. Call to Apple and ask.
  3. ziggyonice macrumors 68020


    Mar 12, 2006
    Rural America
    I've seen this happen where a machine would not allow any other device to boot up, although it was a slightly different situation. In that case, the firmware had to be flashed, which included a trip to the Apple Store and a new hard drive. In this case, I'd assume it's just the hard drive, but I'd try it with a couple other devices just to be sure.
  4. MacAndy74 macrumors 65816

    Mar 19, 2009
    Maybe install SMARTReporter once the HDD is replaced. This way the program will warn your friend when the next HDD impending disaster is imminent.
  5. trose macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2002
    While your hard drive may indeed have failed, that does not explain in any way the odd boot behavior prohibiting you from even reaching the "Option Select" menu.

    Even assuming you have no hard drive, or the hard drive is completely and utterly destroyed, you should still be able to select a boot device when holding down option. If it's not even booting off of Apple's own repair drives or a system disk, it's a firmware issue.
  6. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    It's either a problem with the hard drive or the logic board.

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