Please hope my iMac.
March 15, 2011 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Can't boot up my iMac (2009, 27" aluminum and glass model). Based on the failed solutions tallied after the jump, do you think buying Disk Warrior might work, or am I looking at total hard drive death? (Apple Care conveniently expired six weeks ago.)

The basic situation: it's been freezing and hanging a lot lately, and startup has been getting slow. Yesterday it froze and after a manual shutdown, it won't reboot. Sometimes I get to the grey screen and sometimes I get to the blue screen, but then it just gives me a progress indicator for up to 30 minutes.

Things I've tried which have failed:

- unplugging everything, holding power button for 10 secs, trying again.

- booting in Safe Mode. I know how to do this but it's not working now. Just hangs on the grey screen. (Unless it's supposed to take upward of 5 minutes holding Shift to kick in!?)

- using the original install DVD to get into Disk Utility. It said that I had an "invalid node structure" and couldn't repair the hard drive.

- tried booting in fsck mode. I ran this four times (as it told me various things: "invalid record count", "Missing thread record"). Finally it said the HD was successfully repaired. "Woo!", I thought. I then entered "reboot", whereupon it went to the blue screen and showed the progress indicator on and off for 30 minutes, until I shut off manually. I tried turning it back on and it went straight back to the same blue screen.

- now when I try turning it on, sometimes I get the hard drive sound but just a black screen. Or the grey screen, or the blue screen. Sometimes a startup chime, sometimes not. I cannot reach the desktop.

I don't hear any awful noises and I've never seen the question mark that people say is an indication of hard drive failure, but is this a hard drive failure? Or is it worth buying Disk Warrior--might that still work?

Any advice is much appreciated.
posted by Beardman to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Dead hard drive would be my guess if you're still able to boot to the install DVD.

You could replace it yourself if you're moderately handy.
posted by pjaust at 6:41 AM on March 15, 2011

Sounds like a bad hard drive. I doubt Disk Warrior will help retrieve your HDD data if that's the case. I would get a HDD scanning software to see if it's broken or not.
posted by RaDeuX at 6:44 AM on March 15, 2011

previously, a really similar question from last week.
posted by clearly at 6:46 AM on March 15, 2011

Bad hard drive.

If you feel comfortable replacing it (yikes, it looks difficult), a new hard drive will set you back less than $100. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure that Apple's own repair charge will be fairly reasonable.
posted by schmod at 7:44 AM on March 15, 2011

Replacing a hard drive on a newer macbook is very, very difficult.
It sounds like the drive is bad, and, even if you could get it booted, it's not to be trusted at this point.

Before you do anything, take it to the apple store and ask them. My experience with apple is that they WILL stand behind their product.
posted by tomswift at 7:48 AM on March 15, 2011

Response by poster: Btw--it's an iMac, not a Macbook, but I'd never try replacing the HD myself anyway, not being a handy type of guy.

If my Apple Care has run out--I bought this in January 2009--what are my chances that they will still stand by their product? I know, you're not Apple. But I've heard horror stories to match the "Apple still stood by their product" stories...diagnosis costing $100, repairs costing $1000.

Does anybody think it's a better idea to take it somewhere other than the Apple Store?

Also, a n00b question: if they can restore my data, does that mean I can get my programs back too? Or is my expensive software, like Logic, condemned to the flames?
posted by Beardman at 8:06 AM on March 15, 2011

Response by poster: Wait. Wait a second. How long does Apple Care last? I was thinking two years. Is it three? iMac in Canada.
posted by Beardman at 8:08 AM on March 15, 2011

I thought it was 3 total, so you might be golden. You can check your status here.
posted by cabingirl at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take your computer to the Apple store if there is one close by. There is no guarantee that the genius will fix it for you under Apple Care, but they seem to have a lot of leeway if they think it's the right thing to do. Ask politely and describe that the problems started before Apple Care ran out. I had my logic board replaced two months after normal warranty ran out, without any problems.
posted by brorfred at 8:51 AM on March 15, 2011

If it's out of warranty you might as well buy any standard 3.5" SATA2 hard drive and take it, along with the drive, to your local computer shop to have the drive replaced. It's not rocket science to replace a HDD in a flat panel iMac though I would not recommend doing it yourself if you've never built a few PCs. Hard drives are --cheap-- , here's one example of a 1TB 7200 rpm Samsung that may be suitable.
posted by thewalrus at 1:36 PM on March 15, 2011

"if they can restore my data, does that mean I can get my programs back too? Or is my expensive software, like Logic, condemned to the flames?"

Unless you've pirated your expensive software, it's completely preserved on the original CD's or DVD's you purchased. After your drive is repaired or replaced, simply re-install. It's a little bit of a pain downloading all the updates, but you'll be good to go.

As for your data, I know you don't need a sermon with everything else you're going through right now, but you need a good backup plan. You could do worse than Time Machine.

Best of luck.
posted by dinger at 3:53 PM on March 15, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks. Re: programs, it's not pirated, just limited installs. I didn't realize that I could reinstall on the same computer and not have that count as another install.

It turns out I am still covered by Apple Care, despite my mistake about the scope earlier. However, they were like "Try Disk Warrior or bring it in." They also mentioned that I could still try getting into the drive to back up my files with my Macbook, i.e. like an external monitor. So I'll give that a whirl before I contemplate paying someone to restore the data.
posted by Beardman at 5:26 PM on March 15, 2011

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