I don't think upgrading to Leopard will help your situation, in fact it might make it worse given that you only have 1 gig of Ram.
How much disk space have you got left? Macintosh HD Icon>Control+I (or right click+I)>Get Info. If you've got 15% or less of HD space available that could be a cause of your problem.
This sounds awfully familiar--a lot like my friend's iMac that was doing the same thing. We added more RAM so it had 2.5 GB and ran SMART Utility, which passed the hard drive with no errors found:
(You can download the demo and run it several times for free.)
We then reinstalled and updated the OS and all seemed to be well.
However, some months later the iMac made a "whirly clicky sound" and froze. My friend shut it down, and then it booted up to a flashing question mark. I had her boot from the install disc and navigate to Disk Utility, but Disk Utility could not see the drive at all, so it had obviously failed.
Based on this experience, there's a good chance that your hard drive could be ready to fail, even if the SMART status shows as verified. So your first order of business is to make a good up to date backup so your data will be safe.
Once you have a good backup, boot from your install disc and choose your language and then navigate to Disk Utility. Select your boot drive by brand name and repair it. Also check the SMART status.
Also run SMART Utility, which is a bit more critical than Disk Utility. If you get any indication that your hard drive is failing, believe it. Even if SMART is verified and the drive passes, it could still fail without notice.
What we did with my friend's iMac was to install the OS and other software onto an external FireWire Drive and migrated her data from a fairly recent backup. So far the iMac is running perfectly from the external FW drive, and this might be a possible solution for you if the internal drive is on its way out.
I have a related topic in this forum with some additional questions that might be of interest to you--at least if I ever get any answers to them.
Do all you can to check out your hard drive, as I suspect that it may be the underlying problem. If so, you need to address the drive before installing any other software.
Checking the startup disk for errors might offer some insight to the freezes.
Insert your install disk and Restart, holding down the "C" key until grey Apple appears.
Go to Installer menu and launch Disk Utility.
Select your HDD (manufacturer ID) in the left panel.
Select First Aid in the Main panel.
*(Check S.M.A.R.T Status of HDD at the bottom of right panel. It should say: Verified)*
Click Repair Disk on the bottom right.
If DU reports disk does not need repairs quit DU and restart.
If DU reports errors Repair again and again until DU reports disk is repaired.
When you are finished with DU, from the Menu Bar, select Utilities/Startup Manager.
Select your start up disk and click Restart
While you have the Disk Utility window open, look at the bottom of the window. Where you see Capacity and Available. *Make sure there is always 10% to 15% free disk space*
"I talked with one of the local apple stores and they said that they don't really do diagnostic type work. Is this true?"
*Apple Stores* will do diagnostic testing & for FREE! At least the ones in my area. AASPs also do diagnostic testing. Not all are free though. The AASPs in my area will diagnose for FREE if you are a regular customer (of good standing).
Are you aware you can get ProCare for your iMac?
My wife attempted to put a slide show together this morning and the computer froze three times!
I tried this morning to create burn folders for file/picture backups, but the superdrive will not recognize my DVD's even though it has before.
She bought a mac compatible external hard drive today that is USB. Hopefully that isn't a big issue, but I have to do something! I know I should have backed up before, but the only thing I've ever backed up is my iPhoto library.
I just hope I can get stuff backed up before it bites the dust! What else do I need to back up besides my photo's and personal files I have created?
Easiest thing to do is to download Super Duper and make a clone of your entire drive:
You can use it for free to do this, and it will save everything. You can also set it to back up "user files", which is what you really want to save, assuming you have all the discs for your software.
If you like it, you can register a copy later on for $28 and unlock other very useful features like Smart Update.
Otherwise, you want to copy the contents of the home folder for every account.
SuperDuper! is worth more than the amount asked for it!
However, you said you bought a USB drive, and unfortunately, even cloning with SD will not let you boot from the clone, it has to be a firewire drive. You can certainly backup all your data (most importantly, your Home folder) but you won't be able to boot from the clone. This is a function of the G5 architecture, intel machines will boot from USB and firewire. There is some anecdotal evidence that people have managed to boot from a USB drive, but I certainly wouldn't bank on it.
I really appreciate all of the information.
I was able to copy all my contents onto the external hard drive last night. I was unable to locate a firewire drive so due to the urgency (in my mind) I stuck with the USB drive and it appeares that all went well. Kind of embarrassing that I had to watch a teenager's (maybe even younger) youtube video to show me how to reformat the external hard drive. Made me feel really old and I'm not really that old.
I think I will take it either to the Apple Store for diagnostics or my local "Mac Shack" in Ft. Collins. Hopefully it can be saved as I was thinking I'd get more than six years out of it. I know that is ancient for a computer, but we all know how expensive the front end is with these machines.
Chad - There are plenty of things we "oldsters" know that teenagers have yet to learn, and lots that we can teach them - but you have a new skill that will stand you in good stead in the future.
I hope that your computer can be repaired, but do weigh the expense of repairs against a brand new one, and if you get Apple care with it, a three year warranty. By the way, Apple sell refurbished iMacs at very reasonable prices and they come with the same warranty.
Often local retailers will not carry FW drives, but you can order one on line. Since the iMac is a desktop, a viable thing to do would be to run it from an external FW drive, which is a useful device all by itself. That would give your iMac a new lease on life, enable you to install Leopard and any other software you like, and avoid the cost of repairing your iMac.
You saved your data onto the external USB drive, which was the first priority.
Before taking your Mac in, there are a couple of things you could do.
Boot from your install disc, choose your language, and navigate to Disk Utility, select the First Aid tab, and see if you can repair your boot drive. Report back if you find any errors that cannot be repaired and say what they are. Also note if the SMART status is verified or not. Verified doesn't mean much, but "failing" or "failed" does.
Also, boot to the Apple Hardware test and run the extended version of that and see if you get anything in the form of an error code.
The Apple Store or the Mac Shack should be able to determine if your hard drive is the issue, and if it is the only issue. The Apple Store may also have external FW drives for sale, or you can order one on line. Tiger Direct has good prices on drives, and OWC has some excellent FW enclosures. This is what I am doing for the iMac I am working on--a 500 GB SATA drive in an OWC FW enclosure. If you go this route, also consider maxing out your RAM--OWC has good RAM, and they sometimes have RAM on their garage sales. The last garage sale was June 5, so I expect there will be another one soon.
Post back with any further questions or comments.