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Why doesn't my mac startup after a failed zero writing?

2710 Views 32 Replies Latest reply: Nov 30, 2012 2:21 AM by guybrush_threepwood RSS
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Tom Selleck Calculating status...
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May 31, 2012 10:24 AM

Hi all,

 

I'm on a macbook pro, os x 10.6 snow tiger. I had only 10GB of free space on my disk, and I decided to write zeros over it. By accident I interrupted the writing and the free space became a temporary 10GB file, which left me with a full disk. I found the file and moved it to the thrash but got an error message when trying to securely erase it. I verified the disk with disk utility and got a message telling me to restart the system with the installation disc on it. I did, and since then I cannot boot my mac again: it makes the startup chime, goes to the gray screen with the "clock" ticking under it, but stays there forever.

 

So far, in no exact order:

 

 

-Tried solo mode and fsck -fy until i got the "The Volume Machintosh HD appears to be OK";

-Tried booting with option pressed, and then tried both the installation disc and the hard disk... both got the mac screen frozen once I clicked at them;

-Tried putting the install disc on a pc and through ethernet to acces the disc on mac;
-Tried leaving the macbook boots for 10 minutes...

-Executed a hardware test;

-Tried booting on safe mode.

 

 

 

Nothing worked and I have no idea how to repair the disk. I wonder if there's a way to delete the corrupted temporary file or any other way to make it work. Any help would be highly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 

ps: I found a website in which they charge for remote advicing, I would even pay for a solution, as long as it really works.Anyone had any success with such online services?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    When you Zero Erased the free space, it did create a temp file to read back so it can confirm that zero's were written, in fact it's hack of mine to pre-map off failing sectors before placing real data on the drive.

     

    Reducing bad sectors effect on hard drives

     

     

     

    So since you canceled the operation and OS X needs free space on the drive (about 10-20% free) you now can't boot.

     

     

    Run through this list of checks here to fix your file issue, a repair disk might work all by itself

     

    Step by Step to fix your Mac

     

     

    You tried the Safe mode trick, which you hold the Shift Key down while booting, this doesn't seen to work for you, so you'll need to create a bootable external drive, whcih you then can access the internal drive to remove files. (movies is a prime target)

     

    Create a data recovery, undelete boot drive

     

     

    Your going to have to make room on your boot drive, see Storage Drive here

     

    Keep your boot drive below 80% filled

     

    Most commonly used backup methods

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    Tom Selleck wrote:

     

    Tried solo mode and fsck -fy until i got the "The Volume Machintosh HD appears to be OK

     

    I wonder if there's a way to delete the corrupted temporary file or any other way to make it work.

     

     

    Ok, your able to boot into Single User Mode, which is command s at boot.

     

     

    Is there any files or folder of files like Movies that is large and you have a backup of that it's contents can be safely deleted off the drive in Single User Mode?

     

     

    Otherwise it's Target Disk Mode with another Mac, or copying their Lion Recovery to a USB and getting a external drive to install Lion on to boot from to remove files that way.

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    Tom Selleck wrote:

     

    Tried putting the install disc on a pc and through ethernet to acces the disc on mac;

     

    Since you have a PC, you can download and burn a ISO of Parted Magic to a cd.

     

    Connect a external drive, reboot the Mac holding the c key (or option key) down, you then boot off the Parted Magic cd and choose the default "install in RAM" the disk will auto-eject so watch out for it.

     

    Next your going to be in a slightly unfamilar world.

     

     

    See here

     

    http://partedmagic.com/doku.php?id=screenshots

     

    this screen here is all your really going to be working with

     

    http://partedmagic.com/lib/exe/fetch.php?w=600&media=desktop.png

     

    There should be a window or icon to mount disks so you want to mount your internal drive and the extenral drive.

     

    Then clicking on the Mount Devices window twice will open two windows, one you set for the internal drive and the other is for the extenral drive.

     

    Transfer some large files out of your Home folder onto the external drive, then delete them.

     

    Free up enough space so your Mac will boot normally.

     

    To exit, unmount the drives (important) and use the lower left corner to exit and reboot the Mac.

  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (13,805 points)

    Tom Selleck wrote:

    I'm on a macbook pro, os x 10.6 snow tiger. I had only 10GB of free space on my disk, and I decided to write zeros over it. By accident I interrupted the writing and the free space became a temporary 10GB file, which left me with a full disk.

    How exactly did you interrupt the process? The erase free space option does not normally create any temporary files (except possibly journaled entries) so what probably happened was the file system was left in a corrupted state if you forced a shutdown.

     

    Using fsck -fy apparently repaired the damage, but the repair may have deleted corrupted OS files on it necessary to start up the Mac.

     

    -Tried booting with option pressed, and then tried both the installation disc and the hard disk... both got the mac screen frozen once I clicked at them;

    The Startup Manager (option key startup) is completely independent of anything on the hard drive. If you used a suitable installation DVD & chose it, the Mac should have started up from it no matter what state the internal drive was in. If not, it means that you weren't using a DVD with a compatible version of Snow Leopard on it, that you didn't select the DVD, or that something else is wrong with your Mac.

     

    One thing you can try is resetting PRAM, which sometimes helps in situations like this. Then try restarting from the DVD again, after making sure it is either the original system disk that came with the Mac or has a version of the OS at least as new as the original version that came with that Mac.

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    R C-R wrote:

     

    The erase free space option does not normally create any temporary files

     

    Sure does, see this R

     

    Screen shot 2012-06-01 at 6.20.04 AM.jpg

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,305 points)

    Tom Selleck wrote:

     

    I'm on a macbook pro, os x 10.6 snow tiger.


    -Tried booting with option pressed, and then tried both the installation disc and the hard disk... both got the mac screen frozen once I clicked at them;

     

    It does appear you might have used the wrong OS X install disk to try to boot from.

     

    10.4 Tiger

    10.5 Leopard

    10.6 Snow Leopard

     

    10.6.3 Snow Leopard retail disk is  a full OS X install disk, not just a upgrade disk it apparantly seems to be when you stick it in and run the upgrade installer.

     

    Clean and polish the bottom of the 10.6 disk with a soft cloth and a bit of rubbing alcohol to clean the oils and polish to a shine, stick it into the machine and reboot holding the option key or c key down to boot from it.

     

    If you can't, then my guess is the disk is bad, as the computer should be able to boot from the disk.

     

    Do the PRAM Reset as R mentioned, as some settings are stored there and need to be cleared out as you can't create a data recovery disk without  a working 10.6 disk.

     

     

    If you need a new 10.6 disk, if your machine was upgraded from 10.5/10.4 then you can order the 10.6.3 Snow Leopard $29 retail disk on line at Apple.com. If your installer disk says 10.6.3+ then you need to call Apple for machine specific version disks.

     

     

    If you have the disk stuck in the machine, reboot holding the trackpad button down, or the option key for Startup Manager, select the disk and hit the eject key on the keyboard.

  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (13,805 points)

    OK, I stand corrected about that. However, there is no indication that they are ever read back to verify the zero write. At the end of the process, the files are simply deleted, & that happens far to quickly in every test I've made for even a fraction of the temp file(s) to be read.

     

    The main temp file (named "EFTFile1.sparseimage" on my systems) gradually builds in size & seems to function only as placeholder to prevent new files being written to the free space being overwritten with zeros. (You can verify this by trying to copy a file larger than the remaining free space to the drive as the temp file grows in size -- you get a 'not enough space' error until the process completes.)

     

    If you stop the process before it is complete, the file is only as large as the amount of free space already zeroed, not the entire free space on the drive. If you stop it with the Skip button, the files are deleted immediately. I'm not sure what would happen if you force quit Disk Utility or forced a shutdown of the Mac, but some incomplete testing suggests that if this is the boot drive the temporary files are deleted automatically as part of the boot process on the next startup.

     

    Regardless of all that, the OP still should be able to start up from the system DVD that came with the Mac since it doesn't reference the HD for anything -- in fact, you can normally start up from the system DVD even if the drive is dead, unformatted, or even removed.

  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (13,805 points)

    To clarify slightly what ds store meant about the wrong disk, if your Mac came with Snow Leopard installed, it may require a later version of that OS than is available on the Snow Leopard retail disks to start up.

     

    If you are unsure about this, refer to http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1159 & check the version(s) of the OS that it could have come with. If the version is later than 10.6.3 you can't start it up using the retail Snow Leopard installer DVD because it lacks support for the newer hardware on your Mac.

  • WZZZ Level 6 Level 6 (11,875 points)

    Some things to look at. The first copied I believe from MacGeekery, which is perhaps no longer available. I can't get it.

     

    Sometimes, when using the erase free space function of Disk Utility, the process will be interrupted by a crash, hang, power outage, or small mammal urinating on the power supply. Should this happen, you’ll find that your disk has suddenly lost the majority of its free space and nothing you do in the GUI will show you where it is. No amount of checking the disk will bring it back, because it’s not a catalog problem.

     

    Disk Utility accomplishes the erase feature by creating large sparse image files in a preset directory. It then deletes them with the srm tool (secure remove) and an overwrite pattern of your choice. If Disk Utility is interrupted, this sparse image is left on the disk just taking up space. Starting another free space erase session makes another file, instead of cleaning up the previous one. So, as there are no checks in Disk Utility for cleaning up this failed process, so you have to hunt it down manually.

     

    There are a variety of ways of doing this, but I’ll cut to the chase and give you the answer. The files are created in /var/root/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems and are sequential variations of the name EFTFile1.sparseimage. Simply remove these files (as root) to reclaim your free space and then start the process again to finish the task.

     

    sudo rm -f /var/root/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/*

    http://www.macgeekery.com/tips/quickie/recovering_from_a_failed_secure_erase_fre e_space

     

     

    Be extremely careful with the above command. Copy/Paste it in only. One typo/wrong space and you may erase your entire drive. If this path is no longer present in Snow Leopard, you may get a message "command not found," or "no such file or directory." You may also get "permission denied."

     

    https://discussions.apple.com/message/12492945#12492945

     

    Then see this post from jsd2. (Tiger but probably still relevant.)

     

    https://discussions.apple.com/message/10704330#10704330

  • WZZZ Level 6 Level 6 (11,875 points)

    In addition to what jsd2 wrote for What Size, you can also run OmniDisk Sweeper (free) in root with the following command.

     

    sudo /Applications/OmniDiskSweeper.app/Contents/MacOS/OmniDiskSweeper

  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (13,805 points)

    At least in theory, the contents of /var/root/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems should be deleted on a normal shutdown & restart. (This of course only applies to the startup volume.) That seems to be what happened at least for one of the posters to https://discussions.apple.com/message/10704330#10704330. The same thing should happen to the temp file(s) if one uses the "Skip" button, at least if you give it a few seconds to tidy up before quitting Disk Utility or using any method to force quit it or force a shutdown of the Mac.

     

    Thus, I still think it is important to know exactly how our OP interrupted the secure erase & more importantly, why the Mac won't boot from the install DVD. Without another Mac to use target Disk Mode to access the internal HD or an extra HD already capable of booting the Mac, there is no way to use OmniDisk Sweeper or any other third party utility to find or remove the file(s) using up the remaining space on the internal. And if the OS has been damaged, it will still have to be reinstalled to set things right.

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