A sick iMac that I want to save.

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Jack Briggs, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Here's the deal:

    My vintage, G3-based iMac, which had served me well for lo' these many years, is broken. It happened a few months ago, but only now am I getting ready to fix the thing. Thing is, I don't want to have to pay too much for it.

    What happened was that I had been surfing the Internet one Sunday morning and was at a strange site that wouldn't let me log off. Instead, the site kept spamming me with more and more screens. In frustration, I simply switched off the power. Then I restarted the power and then attempted to turn on the computer.

    Instead of booting up, the iMac instead flashed the dreaded question-mark icon at me. The poor little thing did not know what to boot up.

    At first, I put in a copy of Norton Utilities and was able to scan my drive. Files that I care deeply about appeared to be OK.

    So I turn the thing off for the time being.

    Next time I tried booting up to isolate what might be preventing the machine from starting properly. With Norton in the disc tray and me holding down the shift key while trying to start the machine, the iMac started making a clicking noise (a regular, easy-to-hear, repeating clicking noise). Frustrated, I switched the machine off. And later attempts at reloading the Norton disc proved futile.

    I called a few Apple dealers in town and was told by all of them that the diagnostic alone would run around $80. Then, of course, anything that was discovered amiss would also cost me. The bill could be at the very least $250-$300.

    I suppose that's what I'll end up doing. But I can't help but wonder if there is a Mac user here who might know of something else I could do.

    As it is, the machine is not worth much at all. But it's my machine, and it has a bunch of files I want to keep and the thing is laid out in a way that I really like. I've toyed with buying a used iMac and reloading what is on my present machine to it. Still, though, the irrational in me wants to keep this machine for some reason.

    Any ideas, Mac users?
  2. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Apr 11, 1999
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    The most important things are the files. The clicking could be the drive -- they don't last forever -- and if it is, you may be hosed. But you could try booting the iMac in FireWire target disk mode if it is recent enough, and copy the files off with another Mac.

    If the iMac should be able to do FWtdm but can't, then the drive probably is gone; so to fix the computer, you will have to replace the drive.

    Or at the very least, disassemble the computer, and try to access the drive directly, perhaps with something like SpinRite on the PC (although the odds are rapidly diminishing).
  3. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

    Feb 11, 2001
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    were you running macosx? or os9?

    Can you boot from your Norton disk? (Hold down the 'c' key). Personally, I use diskwarrior, instead of norton, but it's expensive, and rather specialized.
  4. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

    Aug 14, 2005
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    Chicago 'burbs
    Real Name:
    Jack, I'd be willing to bet the farm that your hard drive is about to go kaput (if it hasn't already.) As Ken menioned above, the fastest way to back up those files is using Target Disk Mode. However, to use this you'll need two things...at least one FireWire port on your iMac and another Mac with FireWire to back up the files to. If your iMac supports Target Disk Mode there is one other option...if you have an external FireWire drive with a bootable operating system partition you could boot the iMac from the external drive. To do this connect the external drive via the FireWire cable and press the OPTION key as soon as you turn the iMac's power on. If it works, you'll see your iMac's hard drive on the desktop and can hopefully copy the files if the drive isn't too far gone. Also, in the future I'd recommend the program Jeremy mentioned--Alsoft's DiskWarrior--as I've used it to resurrect more than a handful of dead disks over the years.

    If the disk is indeed dead, there is one trick you can try to bring it back to life. You could remove the hard drive and stick it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. I'm not joking. Granted it's a long shot...I've done it about a dozen times in my years using Macs and it's only worked twice, but you have nothing to lose. If this trick works, you'll only have a short time to get the drive back in and back up the files before it goes dead again, so make sure you have a backup plan in place before starting it.

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