7 Replies Latest reply: Sep 27, 2007 7:08 PM by cornelius
library kate Level 1 (0 points)
I've had similar problems to Mark, who has previously posted a concern about his computer flashing a small gray folder with a question mark, obviously indicating oblivion to my Powerbook's system. I know very little about repairing my G4, as this is the first I've had any sort of crash in the three years I've owned this computer.

Should I find some rebooting disks from another Apple user (and does it matter if they have an iBook or a Powerbook and does the make's year matter?)? Or should I purchase some cleaning system? Does this sound like the work of a virus? Mostly, I use my G4 for word documents and music downloads (over 8500 songs), mostly. Should I expect to lose whatever wasn't saved elsewhere?

Thanks for any help.


Powerbook G4
  • Troy Macneill Level 2 (165 points)
    Hey Kate,
    First of all, if you don't back things up- yes you should expect to loose everything at any point. ^^ It will eventually happen, so if you're mentally ready to loose it all then it won't hurt so much. OR you could just back up.
    ok- enough harping ^^
    I would suggest running disk utility's "veryify and repair permissions" from an install disk. You should match the type of disk to the model of computer. (eg: an imac install disk won't work in a laptop but a 12' tibook's disk might work with a 15' powerbook)

    so step by step
    1-boot from the disk (insert and reboot + hold down the 'C' key
    2- choose language - it's okay you just want the next screen
    3- from the menubar > tools choose 'disk utility'
    4- locate the system disk (not the volume) and select it - the disk will be the upper of the 2
    5 -choose verify disk permissions
    6- wait
    7- it will probably give errors - this is actually good. Then choose repair permissions(repeat until no more errors come up when it's done)
    8- wait
    9- reboot without holding 'c'

    The reason why we boot from a dvd is so that the application can actually fix the disk- something impossible to do while it's booted from it. (think of performing open heart surgery on yourself)

    If this doesn't work and you still gget the flashing folder - check for audible noises that arent' normal during it's startup cycle...it could be a physical issue.

    if the worst case senario- youcan most likey get a lot of your data back with an app called "data rescue x". It's been a while since I used it but many fond memories I have...
    hope it helps
  • Pismo 900 Level 4 (1,110 points)
    First, I'll say with pride (but can be shot down the same) that that is DEFINITELY not a virus. (Bang).

    Second, you have to have the installation discs / restore discs that came with your computer... despite what some may say, you can't use an iBook's discs on your PowerBook. (Maybe in the old days of OS 9 it was possible, but not in OS X).

    A sure shot would be to use a retail version of Mac OS X, but it can't be one (Jaguar, Panther, Tiger) made before the one originally installed on your system. So for instance, my 12-incher came with Panther installed--subsequent versions came with Tiger--so I can't use a Jaguar retail disc to install on my PowerBook.

    But, I think your problem is something else. See my postings on this thread:

  • cornelius Level 6 (17,825 points)
    library kate:

    Welcome to Apple Discussions.

    +flashing a small gray folder with a question mark,+
    This indicates that your computer cannot find a startup volume/disk. The article A flashing question mark appears when you start your Mac explains this phenomenon and suggests options for fixing it.

    +Should I find some rebooting disks from another Apple user (and does it matter if they have an iBook or a Powerbook and does the make's year matter?)?+
    Not having install disks for your computer puts you at a distinct disadvantage. I suggest that you call Apple Customer Service (not tech support) and have the Serial number of your computer available. Ask for the disks that shipped with your computer. There is a fee of about $60 for this service.

    Where do you go from here?
    1. If you do not have an up-to-date backup, and if you have data that you would like to preserve, and you can get access to a second firewire Mac, you can boot into Firewire Target Disk Mode and backup your data. To do this:
    a. Connect the two macs via firewire.
    b. Start up the second mac (Host) and log in.
    c. Start up the affected mac (Target) and hold down the "T" key immediately after the chime. The Firewire symbol will start flashing n the screen, and the Target Mac's HDD will show up on the Host's desktop as a Firewire HDD. You can then backup your data.

    2. Since you do not have an install disk try the procedure described in the article Resolve startup issues and perform disk maintenance with Disk Utility and fsck.

    Only after you have you run Disk Utility can you determine the condition of your HDD. If you have access to any of the following utilities you can run it:
    Tech Tool Pro
    Disk Warrior

    Please do post back with further questions or comments.

    Good luck.

  • Pismo 900 Level 4 (1,110 points)
    Interesting. I was just going to respond to this poster who stated that you can run any install disc on any computer. That is wrong. If you use an iBook G4 restore disc on a PowerBook G4, it will say "this disc can not be run on this machine" because the files and such are unique to the iBook G4.

    It is odd, since today's Macs, rather, OS X comes with all the necessary elements already on the disc. The software knows what to install and not to install based on your system. (That's a retail version by the way... not the OEM restore/install discs that come with your specific system).

    In any case, the only "universal" version of a disc is the retail version of Mac OS X. If you need to restore your PowerBook, you must have the discs that came with your system. Even at that, you can't just use any old PowerBook disc. It has to be the version specific to your system.


    You have requested mail to be sent to you when messages to the Apple Discussions topic "Flashing Folder = Death?"are posted. guyphenix posted "Flashing Folder = Death?" on Sep 26, 2007 5:58:17 AM.

    Dont lisen to them ^^
    I have this "friend of a friend who knows this GUY" right and he has installed both Emac OSX and Ibook OSX on his powerbook g4 12" and they have worked fine, dnt expect it to run perfect but if youve lost your disks and are in trouble....im just saying...
    All the best
  • cornelius Level 6 (17,825 points)
    Pismo 900:

    I think we can note in passing, that some earlier platforms are not as discriminating in terms of the install software you use, although there is a certain amount of risk involved. My first installation of OS X on my Pismo was Jaguar for iBook G3 install disks I bought from eBay (new in the box, it said). It installed and ran well. With Panther is was for an eMac, and I never had any issues with it either. However, this does not always work, and it does not work for all computers.

    One needs to be careful of not infringing the Software License Agreement, as well, as the software is licensed to be installed on one computer at a time. That is to say, if it is currently installed and running on one computer, it may not be installed on a second mac without breaching the SLA.


  • Pismo 900 Level 4 (1,110 points)
    That is true, but I've also come to roadblocks when OS 9 was the current system. If you had a disc not for your system, it wouldn't work. (This was because I was trying to reformat/restore an iMac at work, and the OEM discs that someone borrowed to do their own restore for their iMac at home--which was the same build disc for their system--never was returned to me, so I tried a PowerMac G3 disc... to no avail).

    Case in point, in reference to the present day Macs which are very discriminating, one wouldn't want this to happen, just posted this week by Apple:


    Message was edited by: Pismo 900

    I should note that that is an example, but not a problem for PowerBooks (hangups during startup... but discs not working, yes).
  • cornelius Level 6 (17,825 points)
    Pismo 900:

    I am not advocating the use of computer specific disks on computers to which they are not specific. As a matter of fact, I have seen too many issues arise out of that practice on these forums, and it is a practice I discourage at every opportinity. However, I was pointing out, and you agreed, that there are instances where it works, and works without incident.

    However, after all that is said, I recommend that users first obtain the system disks specific to their computers, or use the Full Retail Version for upgrading.