5322 Views 4 Replies Latest reply: Jun 18, 2008 3:32 AM by AndyO
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This sounds as if your hard drive has suffered a problem.
If you have the original install disc which case with your mini, or a retail MacOS installer such as the latest Leopard disc, insert that in the optical drive and reboot, holding the C key down as soon as you hear the chime, and until after the spinning gear-wheel appears. This should force the system to boot from the install disc rather than the internal drive. Not, you'll need a wired USB keyboard which is NOT an Apple aluminium keyboard for this.
If the system boots to the installer, pull down the Utilities menu and select Disk Utility, then select the hard drive icon on the left, then click on Repair Disk. This will check the drive and attempt to make repairs if it finds any problems. If this finds problems and repairs them, try and reboot normally. If it finds problems and can't repair them, it'll report 'error on exit' in which case you'll need a better utility such as DiskWarrior or TechTools Pro (both around $100) to recover the drive or perform an erase and install to reformat the drive and reinstall MacOS. Beware that this last option will erase all data, so don't do it unless you have a good backup or don't mind losing all your data etc!
When Disk Utility reports 'error on exit in a situation such as that, it means there are errors on the drive it cannot repair. Occasionally (very rarely) running the Repair Disk task again will complete the repair successfully, so that's worth doing just in case. Typically however at that point you basically have two options: either buy a third-party disk utility such as Alsoft's DiskWarrior and attempt a repair to the drive and data structure that way, or perform a full 'erase and install' of MacOS using the original MacOS installer that came with the system, or a full retail MacOS installer issues subsequent to the release of the specific Mac model you're using (meaning you can't generally use a MacOS installer which pre dates the system).
Since the latter option involves reformatting the drive, it should only be done once any and all critical data has been backed up or recovered from the drive - though in the event of many of these type of errors, data on the drive can be significantly corrupt, and so recovery may not yield much in the way of positive results.
A copy of DiskWarrior (or Tech Tools Pro) will cost around $100. If you can't afford that and either don't need any data already saved on the drive or have a backup, then by returning to the MacOS installer screen, you can select erase and install by clicking the customize option. Since this process reformats the drive, it basically wipes the error Disk Utility couldn't fix and returns the mini to the same condition it was when it came out of the box, so you'll then go through the initial setup screens again.