6 Replies Latest reply: May 22, 2010 9:40 AM by R C-R
jonkun227 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
This is my mother's computer. After years of my brothers and me advising her to buy a Mac so we wouldn't have to fix her Windows computers anymore she finally bought a 24" iMac. Since then the hard drive has failed repeatedly. The first time it was still under warranty (barely) and it was replaced by the fine folks at the Apple Store. The next time I had the pleasure of doing it myself (I've been doing such for a couple decades; walk in the park). The first two were, of course, standard/OEM Apple-issue drives. The most recent (installed less than 2 months ago!!!!) was a decent Seagate (same grade as the OEM drives).

Seriously, something is very wrong. Please put yourself in my position: My mother dropped quite a bit to buy this computer after I insisted that it would be more reliable than anything she'd used before. Her frustration (she is very verbal about her frustrations) after the first failure was difficult to endure. Now she won't let me rest until this is resolved.

I have zero desire to put another drive into this if it's just going to die like the last. Not to mention the cost. This is ridiculous! She has a great Time Machine backup, and I personally saw it running the day before the failure, so she's good on that front, but what am I supposed to do to prevent this from happening again?

Other than the previous hard drive replacement I have had zero experience with Apple support. I've never needed it. Do I have any chance of them recognizing that this is a lemon and doing something about it?

Look at it in perspective: This will be the 4th hard drive in less than 3 years. In my mother's computer. She's almost 60 years old. It gets maybe 15 hours of use per week.

Thank you for any help/direction/whatever you can provide.

24" Intel iMac, Mac OS X (10.5.8), MA878LL
  • 1. Re: Serial (repeated) hard drive failures - 24" iMac (early 2007)
    garysisson Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    I am in the same boat as you. I purchased this imac 24 inch 8,1 with a 500gb drive it failed after 9-10 months, the replacement drive failed at 18 months. Now I am using an external firewire drive and have no problems with that.

    For what it is worth, you won't get much help here, most people worship apple and will tell you that it is normal for hard drives to fail and you and your mother are just unlucky in that you picked all the bad drives. Maybe if you have someone else pick the drive for you your luck will change?
  • 2. Re: Serial (repeated) hard drive failures - 24" iMac (early 2007)
    Scott Billings Level 4 Level 4 (1,655 points)
    I'd say the odds of it being considered a lemon died long ago. You would have had to make that claim within the first couple months of owning the system. But I've personally replaced hard drives on 4-5 mid-2007 24" iMacs, so it just seems to be something about those era systems. On the ones I replaced, they all had the same basic symptoms. The HDD failed, and started getting really hot, which then cooked the logic board on 2 of them since the fans didn't kick into high gear like they were supposed to.

    One thing you could always try, is just having her boot off an external FireWire drive if the next HDD fails. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you, except that there appears to be some issues with the 2007 models, and I'm not entirely sure what.

    BTW, if you've never replaced the HDD on an iMac, you may be in for a bit of an unpleasant surprise. You have to go at them from the front, which means removing the glass, the top bezel, and the display. Getting the glass off alone requires special suction cups, and then you have to be very careful because that glass is not tempered. Meaning if you drop it, it will shatter into a million sharp little pieces. So, don't get too cocky and thinking it'll be easy. And if you don't have some precision Torx screwdrivers, you're not going to find it very easy to get the display panel off.
  • 3. Re: Serial (repeated) hard drive failures - 24" iMac (early 2007)
    R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (14,180 points)
    Are you certain that the HD failed each time after the first replacement? IOW, how did you diagnose the failure? Did you check the drive independently of the iMac, like with an external enclosure or one of those converters you attach to the raw drive to use it as a USB one? When the drives fail, do they all have the same symptoms, like failing to spin up, or spinning up but not being recognized, or something else?

    It is possible that something else was damaged, possibly as a result of the first drive failing, like a motherboard or power supply component, & that is causing either the appearance of the other drives failing or them actually to fail.

    Also, if the Seagate was a brand new one, it should have a warranty of some sort. Assuming it won't work independently of the iMac, you might want to contact Seagate about a warranty replacement. If you do replace the drive in the imac yet again, be sure to run the Apple Hardware Test, possibly several times, to see if it uncovers any other problems.

    Finally, if it already doesn't have one, I strongly suggest a good surge protector/line conditioner for the AC powering the iMac & any associated devices plugged into it. Modern 'universal' power supplies like those used in computers are lightweight & compact but they aren't very good at isolating electronic circuits from power line voltage spikes like 'old school' power supplies with big iron core transformers in them.
  • 4. Re: Serial (repeated) hard drive failures - 24" iMac (early 2007)
    jonkun227 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Excellent questions. Yes, I have tested the drives independently of the iMac. I tried target disk mode first, which showed no drive installed. Then I removed the drive and tested it with two different external devices. In all cases my MacBook Pro doesn't recognize any drive connected, though it does recognize the external devices.

    The iMac and the backup drive are plugged into a uninterruptable power supply which, in turn, is plugged into an excellent Isotel surge protector which isolates the printer and other devices which are also plugged into it.

    I will definitely be getting this drive replaced by seagate. I just don't want to do this again.

    The AHT never shows any problems. Is that normal? Seems like it isn't even trying to test the HD, which would make sense if can't see a drive attached. Hadn't occurred to me to run it right after installing the drive, when everything appears to be running just fine. Thanks!


    And, to the other guy who cautioned me about the scary glass and fancy sounding tools (give me a break; I own torx drivers up to T20-something), you'll note if you scroll up that I said in my first post that I personally installed this last drive. If you'd like I can go over the pros and cons of each iMac design in terms of hardware upgrades and/or replacements. Same goes for the PowerBooks, PowerMacs, Macbooks/Pro, and Macs Pro.

    I'm not a psychiatrist, so I'm certainly prepared to be wrong, but it sounds like you had a traumatic experience with your own glassy iMac. Do you feel like you want to talk about it? I'll listen if you think it will help you feel better.

    Message was edited by: jonkun227
  • 5. Re: Serial (repeated) hard drive failures - 24" iMac (early 2007)
    Scott Billings Level 4 Level 4 (1,655 points)
    Nope, simple mistake of my reading "had" with "have". I mixed up the tense in my head as I was reading it.

    And the take apart bit was as much for other people who may read this thread as you. A lot of people think that replacing a HDD is a simple task, which it usually is, except on an iMac or maybe a Mac Mini. Some people can handle it, others are probably better off paying whatever it costs to have a professional do it.

    I don't think I've ever had a system come back for the same problem twice since I've been an ACMT, and never had an issue with some part being accidentally destroyed. I'm only a touch paranoid about the glass because I used to work out of a tiny little closet, where I'd have no choice but to set the glass on the floor. So I was always worried about someone blundering in and breaking it. Not my concern anymore, but after having to worry about that for over a year, it takes a little time before it goes away. For all it's other faults, I do really miss the old G5 case design. Three screws and then the whole back cover pops off giving you access to everything. Now it's such a convoluted process... Oh well, more work for people like me I guess.

    And AHT does do SMART checks, but it doesn't really do a surface scan of the drive. I don't even think ASD does. IMO, it's something that should be added as a test option in ASD, and even part of the "Extended" tests for AHT. SMART doesn't find everything.
  • 6. Re: Serial (repeated) hard drive failures - 24" iMac (early 2007)
    R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (14,180 points)

    Thanks for the reply. The only thing that still seems unclear to me is if you are saying that the AHT was not showing any errors with a failed drive installed. I've never run it on a Mac without a good internal drive, & it does do a brief check of the internal drive in those circumstances.

    FWIW, I use Isotel's myself & don't think there are any better ones on the market, so I don't think that could be a contributing factor, unless maybe there is a problem with the ground on the branch circuit it is plugged into. That's a long shot, but maybe worth testing if the household wiring is old.

    It seems more likely that something in the iMac isn't quite right. Perhaps you can get Seagate to tell you exactly how that drive failed, which might provide a clue about that. Along the same lines, I assume you know about the importance of HD chassis screws & other metal-to-metal grounding paths to keep drives happy & have checked everything in the iMac for tightness, proper assembly, etc.