8 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2010 1:42 PM by Kenichi Watanabe
_seph Level 1 (0 points)
hello. Recently I have had issues with my iMac not starting up properly, it would make the initial chime and then stop at a blank white screen and if left on long enough it would become a flashing question mark folder. At first, I was able to boot from my restore CD, run disk utility to repair my permissions and HD and things were fine. The next time this happened it wouldn't boot from the CD so I entered 'single user mode' and ran fsck -fy and after a couple passes the errors were repaired and I was able to reboot.

a week or so ago Flash quit working in Safari and applications started crashing. I posted my issues here and was advised to do an archive and reinstall after running disk utility.. everything went smoothly and after all of my updates were completed it worked wonderfully again, for a day... then gradually it would get bogged down (extended moments where it was thinking and i got to watch the beachball spin) and sometimes i would then start experiencing program crashes (Safari, iChat, Mail)

well, earlier today this behavior occurred so I quit my open programs, rebooted the computer in single user mode, ran fsck -fy and after three passes it repaired the issues. after the reboot it asked me to log in, which it has never done before but it did boot to the desktop. I launched Mail, iChat and iTunes and then Safari ... after three minutes the beachball came up and then the OS crashed! ! ! ...with the several Macs i've owned over the years, i have never seen this happen before... the spinning wheel you seen below the apple when your computer starts up came up on the screen and then everything disappeared and all that remained was a BLUE SCREEN and my mouse cursor...

no button combination worked. pressing the power button seemed to only put it into sleep and it would 'awake' to the blue screen when I pressed a key. so I unplugged everything from it and let it sit for about 10 minutes. plugged in the mouse and keyboard and I have not been able to get it to reboot since.

it only boots to the blank white screen. i cannot access single user more with Command-S, I am unable to boot from the CD, I have tried flashing the PRAM but that doesn't work either. as far as I can tell it is dead.

earlier I had thought that perhaps the 1Gb of RAM wasn't enough or maybe my stick was going bad... the HD isn't making any clicking sounds... aside from not booting the computer seemed fine. my HD has about 90Gb of free space... the only keyboard command that seems to work is holding Eject was able to get my restore CD out of it

so... what do i do? is there anything i'm missing? please help.

iMac 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 (33,007 points)
    It seems like your hard drive was becoming more and more unreliable, because you kept fixing issues and it would work for a while, but the problems would come back in one form or another.

    You said you reset PRAM and you did something like an SMC reset, but be sure to do it exactly like this

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1379 <- PRAM

    <a class="jive-link-external-small" href="http://">http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964 <- SMC reset (procedure recently changed)

    For the SMC reset, you should disconnect ALL cables. If you have been using a crowded or old power strip, connect the power cord directly to a wall outlet for this test. Power up with nothing connected, except for power cord. If it does not startup up to the internal drive, connect your keyboard/mouse. Try doing a C key startup with the Mac OS X installation disk, if the internal drive does not work. Also, try doing an Option key startup, which gets you do the Startup Manager window; see if you can start up from the Mac OS X installation disc this way.

    Please post back to report if you are able to at least start up from the Mac OS X installation disc in the optical drive, or if that is still not possible.

    Also, do you have access to another Mac that has a FireWire port?
  • _seph Level 1 (0 points)
    it still will not boot from the CD and yes, I do have access to another Mac w/ Firewire

    right now after placing a couple phone calls, my best guess is that I am dealing with a logic board failure, or possibly a bad RAM stick (which I think is less likely)

    as of now the only thing this iMac does is turn on to a blank white screen.
    all else has failed.

    as soon as I finish typing this I am going to try and see if I can do a Firewire target disc to at least see if the HD is still operational (and to hopefully retrieve my resume since I have a job interview tomorrow)

    please advise with any suggestions
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 (33,007 points)
    FireWire Target Disk Mode would be a good thing to try, since you have another Mac with FireWire.


    If the iMac is able to start up in that mode, and its hard drive appears on the other Mac's Desktop, you can back up your data, and then run Disk Utility on the other Mac and use +Repair Disk+ to see if there is another data-related error. However, if the drive does not appear on the other Mac (and the iMac does start up in Target Mode), it may be a hard drive failure. Depending on the type of failure, the faulty drive may prevent the optical drive from working just by being connected.
  • _seph Level 1 (0 points)
    well... firewire target disk does not work ... i do have the firewire icon on my screen, but the drive is not showing on this computer. ugh...

    so, this is something major and not fun. either my hard disk has failed and failure to start up plus repeated errors could potentially be a sign... or my logic board is bad which I would assume is fairly expensive to replace ... also, i still wouldn't rule out bad RAM as that can create all sorts of weirdness and slowdowns/crashes are both signs.

    as things currently stand... my computer will not boot. it turns on to a blank white screen. i cannot enter 'safe mode' or 'single user mode'. it will not boot from CD. i cannot reset the PRAM. Firewire Target Disk does not work.
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 (33,007 points)
    You can test the RAM by removing one at a time, and alternating RAM slots. It should be able run with one module, even if each one is only 512mb. It is unlikely that both have gone bad at the same time.

    First, you should try removing both and simply reseating both back into their slots.

    Also, when attempting to start up from the Mac OS X installation disc, make sure it is a compatible disc for that iMac model. It should be the Mac OS X installation disc that came with the iMac, or a retail disc that was released AFTER the pre-installed Mac OS X version.

    There were several 2.4 GHz iMacs, but if you can find your iMac model here


    look at the profile info for +Pre-installed MacOS+. If the iMac came with 10.5.2, you cannot use a retail disc with 10.5.0, for example (because 10.5.0 is earlier than 10.5.2).
  • _seph Level 1 (0 points)
    yeah.. the only CD's I have are the ones that came with my computer and the computer has been able to boot from the CD before. as i mentioned earlier, i recently did an archive/reinstall to correct a problem with flash/java and programs crashing.

    and i did try to reseat the RAM earlier which had no effect and unfortunately this machine came with a single 1Gb stick so there isn't much I can do there aside from just buying new RAM... which I planned to upgrade to 4Gb anyway, but I suspect that probably won't fix this issue.
  • _seph Level 1 (0 points)
    at this point I am fairly certain that my HD has failed. everything seems to point to HD trouble and I made some phone calls and spoke with a couple techs and they both agreed that it is probably my HD

    so, on the plus side that isn't expensive to repair and I planned on upgrading to a larger size anyway. on the negative side, I may have lost all of my data...

    so, I plan on buying a 500GB drive (probably a WD Caviar Black) and a USB HD docking station in hopes of potential data recovery.

    at this point I think a logic board failure is unlikely and I've also pretty much ruled out trouble with the RAM or optical drive ...although those are still suspect. hopefully a new HD will get my computer running again and hopefully I will be able to recover data from the (potentially) bad drive.

    if anyone reading this has experience or suggestions on data recovery (if that is the issue) I would love any info you can provide as this is the first time I've had one of my Macs go belly up
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 (33,007 points)
    After you get it working, you should get a second hard drive (maybe a less expensive but higher capacity Caviar Green) to use with that USB "docking station," and use it with the built-in Time Machine feature. You will then have a backup that is always up-to-date to within one hour of active use. Even in Macs, hard drives can fail or have data corruption at any time, with no warning. Time Machine makes doing backups automatic, once you set it up.

    When you connect the bad drive externally, it is possible that the drive will be accessible, or partially accessible.

    There are three type of recovery in this case. One type attempts to repair the data on the existing drive. Apple's Disk Utility provides a basic tool, when you run +Repair Disk+. There are third-party utilities with much more capability; the best known are Disk Warrior by Alsoft and TechTool Pro by Micromat. This type of repair will only work if the hard drive itself is still working.

    The second type of data recovery uses an utility that attempts to access the drive and scavenge as much data as possible, to recover it to another drive. TechTool Pro has a data recovery feature, but there are also specialized tools such as Data Rescue by ProSoft


    But the software has to be able to at least access the hard drive, even if it is somewhat unreliable. If the drive is completely dead, then it will not work.

    The third type of data recovery is to send the drive to a data recovery service. They can do things like take apart the hard drive and recover data directly from the platters inside. But such servicing is usually quite expensive. For example