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todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I have an iBook G4 that is having problems. This computer has been replaced with a Macbook. I am trying to determine if the iBook is salvageable. The iBook was dropped on the floor about a year ago. It required a replacement logic board. It was replaced (big mistake). I am getting strange things like it won't boot (box in the middle of screen with a question mark (?). I have been able to get around this several times by running Disk Warrior in target mode. Since replacing with Macbook, I have erased and reinstalled Tiger. Currently, I am getting a message to "enter keychain password." It won't accept my login password. Manny problems with this computer. Bottom line: Is there anything out there diagnostic wise to figure out the problem? I don't want to put any more money into it. I would be willing to put in a new HD, but otherwise it might go out for the garbage.

Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Have you tried running the extended version of the Apple Hardware Test? This might give you some clues in the form of an error code.

    The question mark indicates that the iBook is having trouble finding a bootable volume, which may indicate hard drive problems. How old is the hard drive? If more than 3 years, it may well be on its way out. What is the S.M.A.R.T. status of the internal drive?

    Do you have an external firewire drive? If so, you could install Tiger on it and then see how the iBook boots and runs from the external. If the weird problems disappear, that would indicate a problem with the internal drive.

    Did these problems date from the drop and the replacement logic board, or have they just started relatively recently? If just recently, I would tend to be suspicious of the hard drive, particularly if it has never been replaced.

    Good luck!
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    S.U.,
    How di I run the extended version of the Apple Hardware Test? I am only aware of Disk Utility. Where do I find the S.M.A.R.T. status of the internal drive? Running from the external is a good test. I will give that a try. The computer ran OK for awhile after replacing the logic board. I am suspicious of the hard drive also, but it seems to run OK at first boot, but becomes flakey after running for 20 - 30 minutes.

    Thank you.
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    The Apple Hardware Test should be on one of the original gray discs that came with the computer. Sometimes it is on one of the install discs, and sometimes it is on its own shiny disc, depending on which model iBookG4 it is. It will test a variety of hardware components including the hard drive, and give you an error code if it finds a problem.

    To look at the S.M.A.R.T. status, go to Disk Utility and click on the First Aid tab and look at the bottom right. It will give you the S.M.A.R.T. status, which should be "verified" for a healthy hard drive.

    For even more insight, you could download S.M.A.R.T. Utility, which will give you even more insight into the health of your hard drive:

    http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/32454

    This utility can be run several times for free.

    Good luck!
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I found and ran the Apple Hardware Test. It reported no problems. I also checked the S.M.A.R.T. status in Disk Utility and it showed verified. In addition, I downloaded and ran the S.M.A.R.T. utility. It came up with "PASSED", but did report some errors that I guess were correctable. It reports 3092 power on hours, temperature 44C, CRC error count 22,189, total error count 6, last at 3084 hrs. I don't know if this represents a flaky drive or something else might be wrong.

    Any other ideas?
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    By comparison, my iBook drive, a new WD 120 GB, has 2045 power on hours, has a temperature of 44〫C, and shows no errors. However, since your drive came up "verified" in Disk Utility" and "Passed" in S.M.A.R.T. Utility, I'm not sure what to make of the 22,189 CRC error count or the total error count of 6. Did you click on the "Show All" to see the detail of the CRC error count?

    I'm not a hard drive expert, but it is my understanding that there can be some errors and the drive will still be OK. Over time the number of errors will increase, and at some point there will be so many that the status of the drive will change from "Passed" to "Failing" or "Failed". But this has not happened to yours. And the number of power on hours seems quite low. But the CRC error count seems quite high.

    S.M.A.R.T. status is not infallible--it is just a means of trying to predict a hard drive failure in advance so that you can rescue your data before the drive dies. A "Failing" or "Failed" status is more credible than a "Passed" status. So I am not certain that the drive is really OK.

    Since you mentioned running Disk Warrior in Target Disk Mode, I assume that you have done all you can to repair the disk and permissions.

    What might be good to do next is to try installing Tiger on your firewire external drive and run the iBook for a while on the external and see if the weird problems persist. Since the iBook was dropped, almost anything could have happened. If it runs perfectly off of the external drive, then I would tend to still be suspicious of the internal drive, or possibly its connections. However, if the weirdness is still there when running off of the external drive, that would indicate some other problem. But I do think that running the iBook off of the external drive for a while is the thing to do next. Please post back with how it goes.

    Good luck!
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    S. U.,

    I decided to start from scratch. Formatted (erase with zeroes) and reinstalled Tiger. It has been running good so far, but that is not unusual. It seems to get flaky as it warms up. Will see. I like the idea of running from the external. I will give that a try. I did do a "show all". It showed 4 "identity not found" errors (1 read sectors, 3 "read dma ext", and 1 "write dma ext). The write was the first error at 2720 hours.

    Thanks for your help.
  • spudnuty Level 5 Level 5 (7,045 points)
    Hey todivefor,
    The iBook was dropped on the floor about a year ago. It required a replacement logic board. It was replaced (big mistake). I am getting strange things like it won't boot (box in the middle of screen with a question mark (?).

    Well that would point to a hard drive going bad. What does SMART say?
    It seems to get flaky as it warms up.

    It is possible that the studs that hold the heat spreader down have broken loose. Download a temperature monitor and read the CPU temp.
    otherwise it might go out for the garbage.

    Well I hope you won't do that. I repair these and donate them to teachers in the inner city.
    Richard
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I ran for about an hour. CPU temp was about 46C. The fan never cam on. It worked fine. I shutdown and then did a startup. It never started. Got to the white screen, but never an apple. Ran AHT again and it passed all. It will start in single user and safe mode. After starting in single user and then safe mode, it did start normally. As I said, very flaky.
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have been playing with this computer for several days. It seems to run well ost of the time. It appears to me to be a heating problem, although none of the temp. readings seems way out of line (as if I would know what is out of line). I had a problem today after it had been on for awhile. It was having problems restarting. After it cooled down, it started without a problem. I ran DU and verify disk, it reported a minor problem. I repaired this and ran Disk Warrior which also found a minor problem. The disk still "verified" for S.M.A.R.T. I have noticed the fan never runs. Any ideas?
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    If everything passed the Apple Hardware test, then the fan works. I have found that my iBook fan very seldom runs--it is usually at "0" RPM--but will come on if the iBook gets very warm. If you run the AHT, you will hear the fan run for a few seconds.

    Have you tried running the iBook from your external FireWire drive exclusively for a while yet? If the heat problem is associated with the internal drive, then you should be able to run without the heat problem. If the heat problem persists even when booted from the external drive, then the heat problem has its origins elsewhere in the iBook.

    It may even be that there is a flaky connection of the hard drive cable to the logic board. The plug goes into a socket and is covered with pretty sticky yellow tape. The edges of the tape can also stick to the shield, and it may be possible that at the computer heats up, the inner geometry changes just enough for the connection to not be as good as it should be. I'm just speculating here, but when I took my iBook apart to remove the logic board, the hard drive connecter was stuck more firmly to the shield than it was to the socket.

    You mentioned that you would be willing to replace the hard drive in the iBook, and perhaps that would not be a bad thing to try next. While the iBook is apart, you can check all the connections and heat sink studs like Richard recommended and install a new hard drive. If the problem persists even with a new drive, you could then remove the new drive and put it in a firewire enclosure and have a new external drive. Then you could donate the carcass to Richard for his inner city teacher program.

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to post back.

    Good luck!
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I am trying, unsuccessfully, to run from my external drive. I copied Macintosh HD to my external using SuperDuper! When I try to boot from it I get the "?" and then it boots from the external. My external is partitioned (150GB and 350GB). The first partition is where I normally backup my iMac and the second partition I use for TM. I backed the iBook up to the first partition. This setup works fine with my iMac and is bootable. Is the size an issue with the iBook?
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    If you're using Time Machine and have an Intel iMac, your external drive may be partitioned according to the GUID Partition scheme instead of the Apple partition map. You can do an iBook clone on a GUID partition, but I'm pretty sure it won't boot--at least mine wouldn't when I tried. I don't think the size would be a factor, but the partition map would be.

    You can look at the external in Disk Utility--it will tell you what partition scheme is used.

    Good luck!
  • todivefor Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    That's it. It is GUID. I am not really interested in reformatting my external drive. I might get brave and open up the iBook. It would be nice to travel with. Thank you everyone for your help.
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    No, you definitely don't want to reformat your external drive. But if you do buy a new drive for the iBook, you could also buy a firewire enclosure for that drive. Then you put the new drive in the enclosure, format it, and install the OS, and see if you can boot and run from it.

    In the meantime, you can open up the iBook and check the hard drive connections and cables and see if you can find anything. After all, if it's unusable as is, you don't really have anything to lose by trying to fix it.

    Good luck!
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