5 Replies Latest reply: Dec 11, 2008 11:12 AM by sd2102
sd2102 Level 1 (0 points)
My iBook G4 has been running slow lately. I found an article online suggesting that one way to do maintenance on the laptop was to boot up in safe mode. Every time I try to do so, after a minute or so of the rotating wheel on the start up screen, my laptop turns itself off. I've been holding down the shift button once I hear the chime noise. I've tried holding it down for various intervals- either until the apple appears, or until the apple and the rotating wheel appear, or continue to hold it down after the apple and the rotating wheel appear (until it decides to turn itself off).

I can boot the computer up normally, so I'm not sure why it refuses to boot in safe mode. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

ibook G4, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • sd2102 Level 1 (0 points)
    I'm trying to bump this up in the hopes that someone has an idea of what's wrong. I'm worried that if something does happen to my laptop, I won't be able to start it up in safe mode. Unfortunately, my iBook is no longer under warranty so I can't contact Apple directly.
  • Adrian Clarke1 Level 4 (3,580 points)
    Hi sd2102 and welcome to Apple Discussions.

    I had noticed your thread when it appeared but as I didn't know why Safe Boot isn't working I refrained from responding.

    You say "I found an article online suggesting that one way to do maintenance on the laptop was to boot up in safe mode" - that is true. Safe Boot takes longer than normal startup explains: Safe Boot forces a directory check of the hard drive. This is identical to using Disk Utility's Repair Disk or the fsck -fy terminal command.

    I don't know what Safe Boot does by way of reporting a problem that it cannot repair but, & I'm guessing here, it may be that the symptoms you describe are indicative of just such a scenario.

    What I recommend as a first step is to carry out "Disk Utility's Repair Disk" using your install disk. Place the disk in the drive and restart holding the C key down immediately after you hear the chime. This will boot the iBook from the Install Disk.

    You don't mention whether you are using 10.3 or 10.4 (or even 10.5) but the procedure is basically the same. If using 10.3 choose Utilities>Disk Utility from the Menu Bar, if using 10.4 or 10.5 first select your preferred language, then Utilities>Disk Utility from the Menu Bar.

    From the left hand pane of DU select the hard drive name and check at the bottom of the right hand pane that the S.M.A.R.T. Status is Verified. Then select the Volume name (Usually Macintosh OS X HD unless you've called it something else) from the left hand pane, then select the Repair Disk button. Wait while the disk is checked and repaired. If DU reports that repairs were made repeat the process until it reports that the volume "Appears to OK"

    Quit DU, then Installer and restart.

    Post back with how things go.

    Good luck,


    Edit: p.s. Can you also report your HD size and available space. This info can also be got from the bottom of the DU window after selecting the OS volume name.

    Message was edited by Adrian.
  • sd2102 Level 1 (0 points)
    I did as you suggested and now have a new problem. The hard drive was verified in the SMART status, so I tried to repair disk on the Macintosh HD volume. I receive the following error message when it tried to repair disk:

    Checking catalog file
    Invalid node structure
    Rebuilding Catalog-B tree
    The volume Macintosh HD could not be repaired
    Error: The underlying task reported failure on exit
    1 HFS volume checked
    1 volume could not be repaired because of an error
    Repair attempted on 1 volume
    1 volume could not be repaired

    My iBook is running 10.4.11, it only has a 60 GB hard drive, of which 7.2 is free. My computer is generally running ok, other than being a bit slower than it was in the past.
  • Adrian Clarke1 Level 4 (3,580 points)
    Hi again, Thanks for getting back.

    Not good news I'm afraid. When DU reports that the volume cannot be repaired a third party repair utility is called for. Disk Warrior is the one most commonly recommended on these forums, TechTool Pro is another.

    Like DU's Repair Disk, these repair utilities cannot be run from the boot disk and have to be run either from another bootable Mac OS X installation, i.e. another computer/partition on an external HD, or the Utility CD used in the same way as the OS X install disk.

    If you don't want to go that route the alternative is to create a comprehensive back-up of your files to another medium - an external HD would be needed here otherwise you'd need a lot of CDs - and then to use the install disks to zero overwrite/erase your iBook HD and reinstall everything.

    Whichever route you take, or even if you choose to carry on as you are, I sincerely recommend that you still back everything up to an external. As the OS is damaged a clone wouldn't be a good idea at this stage but once the problems are sorted that would be the way to go.

    You also need to know that, with only 7 GB free, you are running at the bare minimum for free space. 15% is the usual recommendation. If you have been running with much less than 7 GB that could well have been the cause of you current problems.

    Long term I think you need to consider getting a larger internal HD. The lifespan for notebook HDs is 3-5 yrs, your current HD could well be living on borrowed time. iBook compatible HDs are not expensive, the fitting isn't straightforward, but is doable DIY. (I've done it, with no prior computer tech experience whatsoever) Or shop around for a supply and fit from a reputable Apple mechanic.

    My own replacement is a PATA Hitachi 160 GB; Western Digital are also frequently recommended. Currently 250 GB is the largest PATA laptop drive available.

    Good luck, and post back if you need any more info, advice or guidance.

  • sd2102 Level 1 (0 points)
    I figured it wasn't a good sign. My laptop was running with less than 7 GB free at one point, once I realized the problem I went through and deleted some programs. Maybe I should go through and delete some more- I can't replace the hard drive right now.

    I guess I don't have a choice but to buy DiskWarrior. Hopefully that will take care of the problem. I don't want to try reinstalling everything if I can help it, I'm worried that somehow my backup on my external drive won't work and I will have lost everything.

    Thanks for all your help.