Skip navigation
This discussion is archived

Frequent Serious Problems With New iMac - Advice Needed

6636 Views 54 Replies Latest reply: Nov 15, 2007 9:44 AM by TomWheel RSS
1 2 3 4 Previous Next
TomWheel Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 20, 2007 10:31 AM
In early March of this year I purchased a 24 in. iMac with a 2.33 GHz processor, 500 GB HD, and 256 Mb of video RAM for the 7300GT video card. For two weeks the computer ran perfectly, and then I got the spinning beachball of death (SBBOD) while browsing the Apple web site in Safari. I used all of the possible methods for force quitting Safari and unfreezing the iMac to no avail. Finally, I did a power button forced reboot and the computer would not reboot but gave only a forever spinning black circle against the Apple Logo silver screen. I purchased Apple Care Support at the time I bought the iMac. After being on the phone for more than an hour with Apple Support, the conclusion was that I would need to erase my Mac drive and reinstall the software. That is when I learned how painfully long the process is of installing OS X from the disks included with my iMac and the importance of having a good backup.

I spent the better part of a day formatting the HD and reinstalling OS X and restoring the contents of my HD from a Restrospect backup. All ran fine for about 3 weeks. I even purchased Aeprture and began cataloging my photo collection. After three days of working in Aperture, one day I was assigning ratings to images when suddenly I got the SBBOD which never went away and once again all of the above was repeated: phone call to Apple Support, one hour plus on the phone, need to reformat and reinstall the OS and restore the contents to the HD.

After this experience, I scoured the internet for information on software for properly maintaining my iMac and avoiding freezes. I learned about the OS X maintenance routines, Disk Warrior, etc. and began instituting weekly maintenance programs to clear caches, etc. on my iMac. All went well for approximately one month. During this time I experienced no problems and regularly ran the maintenance routines, repaired permissions, verified the disk in the Apple Disk Utility, and occasionally used Disk Warrior to check for directory problems. I also ran the Apple Hardware Diagnostic and everything came back OK. After about a month I was working in some piece of software (can't remember now which software), and again I experienced a freeze and the SSBOD followed by a failure to reboot as described previously. Once again after calling Apple Support I was advised to reformat, reinstall OS X, and restore the contents of my HD.

I did so and all ran well for about 5 weeks. Last Saturday night I was out for most of the evening and came home at 10 PM and opened Mac Mail. My mail starting downloading normally but seemed to take longer than usual. When it finished downloading, I discovered the Mac had frozen entirely and I soon got the SBBOD and found no way to unfreeze the computer short of the power button reboot. This time my computer did reboot, but I discovered that I was no longer on our LAN network so that Safari could not pull up a web page nor could I download my e-mail. I ran Disk Utility and repaired permissions, and then tried to verify the disk which failed and gave me the error of "invalid sibling link". Browsing these forums, I discovered that this meant that somehow my disk directory was corrupted. I booted from disk Warrior and ran the directory repair routine three times until it reported that the directory was fully repaired. I rebooted the machine and found that I had no internet connection still even though my iPhone and my PC's were all connecting fine to our LAN system. By booting the iMac from the Apple Installation disk we could clearly see that the LAN was being picked up so there was not a hardware problem with the ethernet port. Apple Support suggested doing an Archive and Install of the software. I spent two hours doing this only to have the Archive and Reinstall fail on the second of the two installation disks. It just hung about 80% of the way through the second part of teh installation and would proceed no further.

This time I resolved to do something different than just reformat the disk, reinstall OS X, and restore the contents of my HD. I again scoured the forums here and had no problems finding many instances similar to what I have experienced. Some, but not all of these, seemed to be solved by zeroing the HD -- something I had not previously done. Therefore, I spent 2 hours zeroing the HD (to map out bad blocks) before reinstalling OS X and restoring from my previous night's Retrospect backup. After zeroing the drive, I checked its S.M.A.R.T status and it was showing no problems.

Once again I am back up and running but only time will tell if I have succeeded in eliminating the freezing and other problems I have experienced with this iMac.

If you have taken the time to read my tale of woe, I would appreciate any advice you might care to give me. I have not taken the computer to the local Apple Store because I feel they would simply reinstall OS X and then tell me to restore my HD from my nightly backup and that all is fine. I have decided that if I have another freeze that corrupts my HD and I have to repeat the process I have now done four times in 4 months, I will take this computer to the local Apple Store and insist that the 500 GB internal drive be replaced with a new drive. I really cannot think of anything else to do. Any other suggestions?

Thank you for reading and responding.

Tom
iMac, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 2.33 GHz processor
  • Dah•veed Level 7 Level 7 (29,575 points)
    I can only agree with your assessment. Others here in this forum report similar issues with the 500 GB hard drives.

    How much physical RAM is installed? Have you made Repair Permissions a standard part of software updates/upgrades?
    17" iMac Core Duo, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 2 Gb RAM
  • glyphis Calculating status...
    Hi Tom

    I've had a very similar experience to yours, same spec. iMac too. No end of trouble (and I'm actually on my 14th replacement machine!!!).

    However... I think I may have solved this particular issue by unplugging my 'empty' iPod dock, and rebooting. I think the Intel iMacs don't like empty docks; mine is an old 3rd generation iPod dock, so perhaps they're just not backwards compatible.

    Could this be the problem with yours too?...

    Good luck all the same.
    Kind regards,
    Scott
    iMac 24", G5 Dual 2.0, 20 ACD (3 bad 23s was enough), AlBook 1.25, TiBook 550, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • Paul Howland2 Level 1 Level 1 (125 points)
    I agree this sounds like a bad disk.

    One idea - why not buy and install a new disk yourself (now that you're experienced at installing from the install disks!) and see whether that solves the problem (500GB disks are quite cheap now). At the same time, get an external hard disk housing (not expensive) and put the original drive into this. If the original disk is OK, you could then use it for backups.

    You could temporarily install the new disk in the housing and use the free Carbon Copy Cloner (ccc) to clone the old disk onto the new disk avoiding the need for a reinstall process. Then just swap the disks over.

    Having said all that, I have the original iMac G5 20" which is very easier to disassemble. I've no idea how easy it is to swap the disk in the newer iMacs.
  • ~Bee Level 7 Level 7 (30,580 points)
    Tom --

    I am so sorry to see that your only help from Apple Care has been recommendations to reinstall the OS. That is very sad to me.

    Could you check a few things here?

    1. When you select your HD icon on the top right, and do a "Get Info"
    (apple key with the letter "i" key) what are the numbers next to
    Capacity
    Available
    Used

    2. Did you ever delete fonts from your System Folder?
    Look here: HD>System>Library>Fonts. At the minimum, are these all there?
    Courier.dfont
    Geneva.dfont
    Helvetica.dfont
    Keyboard.dfont
    LastResort.dfont
    LucidaGrande.dfont
    Monaco.dfont
    AppleGothic.dfont

    (Warning: Just look, but do not TOUCH any fonts there, at this point)

    3. You're working on FCP and Aperature quite a bit.
    Have you opened up the Activitity Monitor to check how much memory is being used up? HD>Applications>Activity Monitor>Check "All Processes".
    That is often very helpful to identifying potential SBBOD problems before they take hold. (For instance, when I use InDesign for a couple of hours,
    the Activity Monitor will tell me I'm running out of System Memory. I save everything, and then restart, and I'm good to go for another period of time.

    4. Is your 500 GB HD a Seagate?

    Message was edited by: ~Bee
    iMac Intel2 -1GB; Mac G4 17" FP, 1 GHz, 768 MB RAM, and Mac Mini upstairs, Mac OS X (10.4.10), Cable I'net; LaCie Ext. HD
  • Will : Hi ! Level 5 Level 5 (4,305 points)
    I have Courier New but not courier.dfont. I have GenevaCY.dfont, but not Geneva.dfont. I do not have Keyboard.dfont. I do not have LastResort.dfont. I have LucindaGrande.dfont. I do not have Monaco.dfont. I do not have AppleGothic.dfont. I am concerned that the indicated fonts are missing from the Fonts folder. Please note that I have a Retrospect Backup of a vigin install of my OS X system, and I can restore the missing fonts from that backup should it be necessary assuming that these fonts are a part of OS X. Please advise on the wisdom of doing this. I will hold off until I hear from you.

    Your description of your Fonts folder's contents looks like that of my ~/Library/Fonts folder (and not my /System/Library/Fonts folder). Are you sure you really checked the /System/Library/Fonts folder, and not ~/Library/Fonts (where ~ is your Home folder)?
    Mac mini1.25 Ghz G41 GB RAM40 GB HDDAirPort Extreme, Mac OS X (10.4.10), External 250 GB LaCie HDDLaCie FW DVD-RW DL 16x20 GB iPod w/Color Display
  • DMullen Calculating status...
    Tom,

    I'm sure you saw my postings in the "spinning beach ball" thread. I guess I was lucky because my problem progressed to the point that the computer would not even boot up, I would just get blue, white, and black bars across the screen.

    On Friday evening, mine was diagnosed as having a bad logic card. They did not have the part in stock, so I've been waiting until I could confirm the fix before posting again. I'm supposed to get it back this week and will certainly post again after checking it out.

    Even with the frustrating experience I had at the first store (no hardware problems diagnosed, erase and re-install the software, don't use the problem apps), I would recommend that you take it in and be persistent (and if you have the option, as I did, go to a different store if you don't get the service you think you should).

    I was able to reproduce the problem both at home with no peripherals and with different software versions and at the store (using their own power cord, mouse, and keyboard). My problem seemed to occur "randomly" with various applications, but I started to focus on the apps that triggered it the soonest and most consistently. It broke completely before I could demo that to the second store.

    I really think trying to find a consistent way to reproduce the problem is more productive than spending your time with "fixes" that may or may not be addressing the issue. It also can give you a good way to see if the problem has been resolved instead of just waiting to see if it happens again.

    I would also recommend that with this particular issue, you should consider having a camera/video nearby. I started taking pictures of the screen problems during the boot in case it didn't happen at the store.

    I hope this helps and I certainly wish you luck in resolving it.
    imac core 2 duo, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • Dah•veed Level 7 Level 7 (29,575 points)
    "Your description of your Fonts folder's contents looks like that of my ~/Library/Fonts folder (and not my /System/Library/Fonts folder)."

    That also appears to be a bit strange, because my ~/Library/Fonts folder is an empty folder. Nada, zilch, nothing.
    17" iMac Core Duo, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 2 Gb RAM
  • Will : Hi ! Level 5 Level 5 (4,305 points)
    I don't know. It could be that my Fonts were moved around. However, I found odd that my ~/Library/Fonts folder has the fonts that Tom reported (and none of the fonts listed by ~Bee), when my /System/Library/Fonts has all the fonts listed in ~Bee's post.
    Mac mini1.25 Ghz G41 GB RAM40 GB HDDAirPort Extreme, Mac OS X (10.4.10), External 250 GB LaCie HDDLaCie FW DVD-RW DL 16x20 GB iPod w/Color Display
  • ~Bee Level 7 Level 7 (30,580 points)
    Tom --
    Really good, on topic answers.
    Thanks a bunch.

    Your available space looks very good.
    We need to check out your System Fonts really carefully.
    If, in fact, the folder you were checking really was
    HD>System>Library>fonts, then you definitely have serious problems.
    If Keyboard, and Last Resort are missing, you're in trouble.
    (Among the others.)

    Please read this FAQ by Kurt Lang really carefully.
    He explains "Of these eight, Keyboard.dfont, LastResort.dfont and LucidaGrande.dfont are used mainly for menus and other system font display purposes and so are the most important to the OS itself."

    Here's the FAQ:
    http://www.jklstudios.com/misc/osxfonts.html

    I see from an older post of yours that you were messing around with fonts
    trying to get some to run in FCP. This is when this might have happened,
    if you accidently fooled around in the System>Library>Fonts folder.

    Take another careful look to make sure we're talking about this very important folder. The system would have never put the one you do have, LucidaGrande.dfont, in your Home>Library>Fonts folder, which leads me to believe that some rearranging has occurred, either way.
    iMac Intel2 -1GB; Mac G4 17" FP, 1 GHz, 768 MB RAM, and Mac Mini upstairs, Mac OS X (10.4.10), Cable I'net; LaCie Ext. HD
  • ~Bee Level 7 Level 7 (30,580 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 21, 2007 3:19 PM (in response to ~Bee)
    Tom, I think you were looking here:
    HD>Library>Fonts
    That is not the System folder.

    It is here:
    HD>SYSTEM>Library>Fonts.
    This is the one that is crucial.

    If the report you made above was in the System Folder, there are instructions at the bottom of Kurt's FAQ on how to restore them.

    If you were looking in the wrong folder, then look at the correct one, and report back, OK?

    Message was edited by: ~Bee
    iMac Intel2 -1GB; Mac G4 17" FP, 1 GHz, 768 MB RAM, and Mac Mini upstairs, Mac OS X (10.4.10), Cable I'net; LaCie Ext. HD
1 2 3 4 Previous Next

Actions

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)

Legend

  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.