At least for once, I have good backups...
October 29, 2009 8:46 AM Subscribe
iMac drives failing - first external, then internal. Seems to be hardware in both cases. Questions about troubleshooting or replacement inside.
My 1TB external media drive (usually connected via firewire, but has USB as well) on my iMac went bad last week, randomly dropping off until it's powercycled. It was a WD MyBook, which I have now come to understand has an overheating issue. The firmware upgrade didn't help. I bought a new (1.5TB Seagate USB 2.0) external and migrated over the files using rsync. Opening the external case and pointing a desktop fan at the drive seemed to help it stay up longer, but SEVERAL times during the process it crashed, sometimes hanging the host computer with it. Several forced powercycles and hours later, I had all my data moved. One of these crashes happened in the middle of a Spotlight index job which I tried to kill to no avail.
I was just about to "retire" the old drive when it crashed once more, again hanging the iMac. I held down the power button on the iMac and forcefully rebooted it, and this time the system came up to the "question-mark-within-a-folder" icon. Booted from Snow Leopard install DVD, and tried to run Disk Utility. Disk Utility was having some problems detecting the filesystem/partitions on the internal drive, so I tried to repartition it to restore my Time Machine backup and found that its capacity was listed as 0 bytes.
I've gotten the drive to (briefly) recognize properly once, but most of the time the drive begins clicking as it's trying to read. When it was recognized I attempted a verify and repair, but the drive stopped working (and again hung the computer) in the middle of the process.
Is there any possible correlation (unstable power, magnetic interference, sunspots?) between the external and internal drives failing so closely together? It seems like this is a hardware failure where both drives are concerned; the external due to heat intolerance, and the internal due to unknown causes but making a telltale click. Could the internal drive have failed due to my powercycling the machine? I would think the machine should have brains enough to gracefully kill off its drive before shutting itself off....
Secondly, is there anything else I can do to save the drive? I'm assuming the click generally means the drive won't ever be good again. I know about the freezer trick and other temporary methods, but I don't care about the data on the drive as it's backed up and easily replaceable.
Third, if the internal drive is permanently dead, how easy is it to replace it with a new one? I have a 3.5" 250GB SATA drive that I can use to replace it, but have never taken apart an iMac before.
Lastly, is there anything I can do with the overheating external? It seems to work fine, so long as I direct a lot of airflow at it, but otherwise it crashes within 30-60 minutes of use. It seems to be getting more intolerant of heat as time goes on.
The receipt lists this as an "iMac 17/2.0/1G/160/SD/AP/BT/WLKBM, Part Number MA758LL/A". It was purchased July 29, 2007 so is not still under any warranty.