9 Replies Latest reply: Feb 22, 2013 10:59 AM by rccharles
Sgort2000 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



   When i boot up my imac g3 (slot loading) it shows a folder with a question mark. Is there any way to recover the OS and put it on an extarnal hard drive or a usb flash drive? I can buy another hard drive but would prefer to use the stuff i have. Help please???

iMac, Mac OS 9.2.x, iMac g3
  • Allan Eckert Level 8 Level 8 (48,010 points)

    No It sound like the drive is dead. so it is too late to save anything from it.


    Use the install CDs for your Mac to install OS X on the new drive.



  • ComputerFixer Level 3 Level 3 (735 points)

    ufortunately, you may have a failed or corrupt drive...  you MAY, and no guarantees, you MAY be able to take the disk out, put it in an external enclosure, and TRY to recover information from it that way, but as the drive is faulty, this may not work.

  • Niel Level 10 Level 10 (285,410 points)

    If the hard disk has died, only a professional data recovery service can recover its contents, and those can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.


    A blinking question mark doesn't necessarily mean that the internal drive is dead, but usually means you'll need a compatible Mac OS 9 or X install disk.



  • rccharles Level 5 Level 5 (6,655 points)

    The ? means the startup software -- firmware -- could not find a valid OS to boot.  Could be a corrupt OS or a bad hd.



    Sometimes if volumes don't appear in Startup Manager (what you get when you hold down the Option key at startup), you need to reset the Mac's PRAM, NVRAM, and Open Firmware. Shut down the Mac, then power it up, and before the screen lights up, quickly hold down the Command, Option, P, and R keys, until the Mac has chimed twice more after the powerup chime. Then, before the screen lights up, hold down Command-Option-O-F until the Open Firmware screen appears. Then enter these lines, pressing Return after each one:






    "The reset-all command should restart your Mac. If so, you have successfully reset the Open Firmware settings."



    How to eject a cd from the internal cd drive:

    eject cd


    List of devices:





    Try holding down the option key then power on. This brings up the startup manager. Click on your hd. Click on right arrow key.





    You need an external Firewire drive to boot a PowerPC Mac computer [ a few G5's will boot from USB ].


    I recommend you do a google search on any external harddrive you are looking at.


    I bought a low cost external drive enclosure. When I started having trouble with it, I did a google search and found a lot of complaints about the drive enclosure. I ended up buying a new drive enclosure. On my second go around, I decided to buy a drive enclosure with a good history of working with Macs. The chip set seems to be the key ingredient. The Oxford line of chips seems to be good. I got the Oxford 911.



    Has everything interface:

    FireWire 800/400 + USB2, + eSATA 'Quad Interface'


    save a little money interface:

    FireWire 400 + USB 2.0

    This web page lists both external harddrive types. You may need to scroll to the right to see both.



    The latest the hard drive enclosures support the newer serial ata drives. The drive and closure that I list supports only older parallel ata.


    Here is an external hd enclosure.



    Here is what one contributor recommended:



    Folks in these Mac forums recommend LaCie, OWC or G-Tech.

    Here is a list of recommended drives:



    FireWire compared to USB.  You will find that FireWire 400 is faster than USB 2.0 when used for a external harddrive connection.




    How to format an external harddrive:



  • Sgort2000 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I just bought it off of craigslist. I dont need to = )

  • Sgort2000 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    The disk loader is dead

  • rccharles Level 5 Level 5 (6,655 points)

    Sgort2000 wrote:


    The disk loader is dead

    What do you mean by this? 


    ( disk loader would be some software/hardware which reads in data from the harddrive. i doubt you mean this. )


    What do you do with the machine?  What happens?  Describe all steps.

  • Sgort2000 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Youre the one helping me with the my other question. The cd drive is broken, remember? :-) Okay so when i turn it on a white screen flashes and then a light gray screen shows up with a question mark flashing the mac logo. I have tried the partition select thing (firmware?). It doesnt find anything

  • rccharles Level 5 Level 5 (6,655 points)

    What do you want to do? 


    The next step is to replace the hd or get an external firewire hd.


    Slot loading iMac


    You need to get the 3 and a 1/2 inch ATA harddrive. They are also known as parallel ATA or PATA. The iMac was designed to take a maximum drive size of 128gig. The 120gig drives are the largest readily available. People have put larger drives in the machine, but only 128gig is usable.  People have reported problems with small odd size drives, for instance 3gig.


    For drives greater than 128, I suggest you create a 127gig partition and leave the rest of the drive as free space. That way you will not have to worry about the boundary conditions.


    Did you set the harddrive to master? Master is a must. Cable select doesn't work. You need to set the hard drive to master mode. There is usually a label on the hard drive that tells you what jumpers you need to set. If you are not sure, give us the name and model number of the hard drive and usually someone will be able to tell you how to set that drive.


    Did you check all of the cables? Put everything back and verify that all works.


    Try holding down the option key then power on. This brings up the startup manager. Click on your hd. Click on right arrow key.


    Check out this site

    iMac HDD Upgrade Guide (Slot-Loading) Visual Installation Guide - slot loading iMac Hard Drive http://wn.com/How_to_Disassemble_an_Apple_iMac_G3


    You could try to locate the service and repair manual for your iMac on the Internet.

    iMac G3 600 is imac_summer01.pdf


    other names iMac_slotload_CD.pdf or iMac_early2001.pdf.


    AppleCare Support Phone Number: 1-800-275-2273

    open 6am to 6pm Pacific Time


    Apple Phone Sales 1-800-692-7753


    International Technical Support Numbers




    Restore Tiger 10.4 & Leopard 10.5  DVDs are available from Apple by calling 800-767-2775 as of January 20, 2013.