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#26819 - 09/24/13 04:17 AM Wonky startup and freezes (iMac)
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
My iMac 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 running Lion 10.7.5 has been misbehaving.
Applications freeze intermittently, with spinning beachball, necessitating forced shutdown. Starting up stalls or generates spastic startup, again necessitating forced shutdown. Sometimes resting the iMac for 30+ minutes resolves the problem, sometimes not.
I ran HD Recovery which indicated that the disk is OK. Following that everything seems to be running normally.

Queries:
• Am I looking at momentary glitch(es)? Or is my hard drive in imminent risk of croaking? (I'm guessing that the very fact that I can access Recovery HD is an indication that the hard drive is functional.)
• If the latter, how does one go about replacing the hard drive?
• If one has to send it out to a repair facility (none in town), how might one protect the information on the drive from unauthorized access?
•If it needs replacing, will I be able to restore my previous system and files from Time Machine to get back to the status quo (ante)?

Depending on the answers to the above, I'll probably have numerous further queries.

Many thanks in advance for any and all assistance.



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#26821 - 09/24/13 05:33 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: grelber

Queries:
• Am I looking at momentary glitch(es)? Or is my hard drive in imminent risk of croaking? (I'm guessing that the very fact that I can access Recovery HD is an indication that the hard drive is functional.)
• If the latter, how does one go about replacing the hard drive?
• If one has to send it out to a repair facility (none in town), how might one protect the information on the drive from unauthorized access?
•If it needs replacing, will I be able to restore my previous system and files from Time Machine to get back to the status quo (ante)?

  • As you surmise the drive is functional, that does not mean there are not problems on sectors of the disk. Disk Utility > Repair Disk can tell you if there is as damaged volume structoure and may be able to make repairs. However the only definitive test of impending drive failure I know of is a Surface Scan. TechTool Pro or Drive Genius can do the honors there.
  • Replacing the drive depends on what Mac you have. Other World Computing has some excellent online videos for most machines. If you have an iMac that may be a chore best left to a professional.
  • Get a known good clone of the drive, then erase the drive before sending it in for diagnistics and repair.
  • Yes. But cloning back from a clone would be faster.
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#26822 - 09/24/13 05:44 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
I ran Disk Utility > Repair Disk in Recovery HD which did not identify any problems.

If the hard drive craps out, how would it be possible to "erase the drive before sending it in for diagnistics and repair"?

I have no clue about cloning. Time Machine would have to do for me.

Edit: In case it's of value, the internal hard drive = WDC WD5000AAKS-402AA0, 500 GB.


Edited by grelber (09/24/13 06:20 AM)
Edit Reason: Additional information

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#26826 - 09/24/13 09:34 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Well, it would appear that I'm well and truly screwed.
(And here I sit in the public library using a PC.)

After several hours of functioning normally, the original problem returned. Once again, I went to Recovery HD and tried to use Disk Utility > Repair Disk. This time it went as far as to note that the (main) partition appeared to be OK, then wouldn't go any further. In fact, the spinning beachball came up and wouldn't quit.
I did another forced shutdown.
When I tried to access Recovery HD again, it made it to the Apple and spinnning pizza, but after a short while the Apple switched to a circle with diagonal slash and the pizza kept spinning.
Another forced shutdown.
Then the attempt to access Recovery HD switched to trying to access Apple's Internet recovery -- which of course could not be accomplished (since I'm not online and couldn't get online without the iMac up and running).
So, now what?!

At this point it looks as though I'm going to have to resurrect my 13-year-iMac running OS 9 -- I should be so lucky.

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#26827 - 09/24/13 11:19 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
It is no consolation, but at least you won't need to worry about any data on the drive when you send it in for repairs. I do hope you have good Time Machine or other backups.

frown


Edited by joemikeb (09/24/13 11:20 AM)
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#26828 - 09/24/13 12:53 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Oh, I got lotsa backups on TM.

Latest news: I finally gave in/up and took the iMac to the local university computer store. They ran Apple's recovery diagnostics on it which indicated that everything (especially the hard drive and fan) checked out as OK. They ran a couple other tests, which came up normal. PRAM was also reset. Now the iMac boots faster and more reliably than before.

So, rather than having their techs dig into it in more detail, I decided to see if whatever has been plaguing it has been given the old heave-ho and brought it home.

The one thing that niggles is the possibility that heat may be the culprit in the wonky functioning (since often a literal cooling-off period seems to help). Intermittent issues are always a bugger to deal with.

Stick around for the next chapter.

Addendum:
I can only hope that the iMac is behaving much like one's pet.
Anybody who's had a vaguely sick pet which didn't need veterinary care urgently but refused to get better and who finally decided that a trip to the vet was in order gets to the vet's only to have the pet demonstrate wellness to the professional, who then collects a fee for pronouncing same and sends the 'malingering' beast home, said beast 'dew-clawing' its nose at the caregiver.
The ride/outing alone solves the problem. It happens a lot.

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#26829 - 09/24/13 02:14 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
dkmarsh Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Might not be a bad idea to keep Activity Monitor running while you're using the iMac. That way you can see if the beachballing, should it recur, is correlated with an application hogging CPU cycles or system memory.
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#26883 - 09/27/13 01:17 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: dkmarsh]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
After my last post (ca 1 hour) the iMac crapped out again; couldn't even get to Recovery HD.
So back into the shop it went. I probably won't know anything for about a week.
At the moment I'm back with my old iMac which I just upgraded/updated to OS 9.2.2.

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#26884 - 09/27/13 01:29 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> At the moment I'm back with my old iMac which I just upgraded/updated to OS 9.2.2.

Wow... Talk about reverting!

I'll be curious to hear about the experience.
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26895 - 09/27/13 07:17 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
From that description, based on much experience, 85% of the time I would call that a HDD failure in progress.

If you have your apple hardware test available, boot to that. all tests will be checked except hdd, which will be partly selected. deselect all, and then fully check the hdd test and run. Should run a surface scan. If that hangs or fails that should confirm a bad hdd.

or you can use any of several other surface scanning apps. I use one I made myself.

If you have backups, you're good. Otherwise you need to decide between immediately rescuing your /Users/ data, or just trying to clone the entire hdd. It's been my experience that in ~5% of cases, the hdd checks out, never to return, when trying to do a full disk klone in that condition. (sometimes before even reaching the /Users/ folder) So sometimes going directly after the /Users/ is wise.

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#26908 - 09/27/13 12:11 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: Virtual1]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Thanks for the advice. But, as noted previously, the iMac is now in the shop, although I probably won't know until next week where the problem lies. My TM backup(s) should suffice if the hard drive requires replacement.

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#26933 - 09/30/13 05:03 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
FYI — My 13-year-old iMac (400MHz PowerPC G3), now updated to OS 9.2.2, is chugging right along (ie, working reasonably nicely) after being idle for 2 years. I also updated my browser from Mozilla 1.0.1 to 1.2.1 (the last to run under OS 9), but many websites have been changed so that I can't access them reliably.


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#26934 - 09/30/13 05:04 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
UPDATE + QUERIES/CONCERNS

I still haven't heard back from the (Apple-authorized service) shop about my iMac's ills. It's a bad time of year to hit tech services in a university setting.

In the interim a number of concerns occur to me regarding which I'd like some guidance. It's a mid-2011 iMac, Model Z0H6, 2.5GHz Intel Core i5, with 21.5" screen.

(1) Assuming my hard drive is well and truly hosed and requires replacement, I'm planning to have its 500GB Western Digital hard drive replaced with same — I don't need or want greater capacity — unless there's a good reason for me to select something different.
• Would a solid-state drive be advisable (to ward off mechanical failures) or are there significant downsides to such (if indeed it exists for my iMac)?

(2) Assuming that the hard drive is replaced:
• Would not the replacement be a tabula rasa or would it be properly formatted?
• In order to restore my previous set-up via Time Machine, how would that be accomplished if Recovery HD is part of the software on the hard drive (which now has no software)?
• Assuming that somehow Recovery HD is accessible, which does one select to restore everything: the hard drive mechanism (ie, the superordinate drive with ID spec) or the subordinate hard drive with the Mac HD icon (which is user-nameable)?
Pogue's Missing Manual for Lion is ambiguous in that regard, noting under First Aid ~ Repair one thing in one place and another thing in another place.

(3) Is there anything I should be aware/wary of upon return of my iMac? For example:
• If it was opened up in the shop, should I inquire if it was put back together according to original specs (eg, taping), even though it's been looked after by an Apple-certified technician?
• If the drive was replaced, should I obtain written confirmation that the data on the original drive was irrecoverably erased?

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#26946 - 09/30/13 01:49 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
LATEST UPDATE:

Tech just got back to me to advise that there are several bad sectors on the hard drive. So the best/cheapest replacement is going to be a Seagate ST1000DM003 1TB BARRACUDA 7200RPM 3.5" 6GB/S to the tune of $90 (+ $75 labor).

Apparently my information from forum discussion 2 years ago regarding reinstallation of software is not as informative as I thought it was: Time Machine can restore my iMac's condition but it can't install the software to make the recovery. So that's going to run another $100+ for the tech to install OS X 10.7.5 (unless somebody out there has a better and immediate solution).
Had I known that, I would have constructed my own recovery partition on a separate hard drive for just that purpose (and once I get the iMac back and functioning again I will do so, after checking via Google or Apple how to generate such). C'est la vie.

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#26950 - 09/30/13 04:37 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
I believe your iMac is up to specs to take advantage of "Internet Recovery," but it obviously requires a faster Internet connection than your dial-up.

Edit: OS X: About OS X Recovery

Edit 2: Shame on the tech for either not knowing or not telling. mad


Edited by artie505 (09/30/13 05:53 PM)
Edit Reason: Clean up and add link
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26951 - 09/30/13 06:27 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
No, he advised about that. But I have no access to an Ethernet connection.
I have a colleague with both a bootable install disk and external HD, so I should be OK with my restore and recovery.

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#26952 - 09/30/13 06:37 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: grelber
No, he advised about that. But I have no access to an Ethernet connection.

No access to high-speed Internet either, I assume? (And, by the way, the recovery partition you mentioned in your earlier post requires a high-speed Internet connection to do its thing.)

You might consider backing yourself up with an Apple issue OS X Lion Thumb Drive; they're available on eBay for a reasonable price.

Edit: Y'know, on second thought, maybe you ought to try to beat a thumb drive out of Apple! It's unimaginable that they didn't consider your circumstances as a down-the-road possibility when they stopped shipping install discs and began advising people to bother their friends, relatives, neighbors, and employers, and it would be interesting to see what, if any, plan they've got. (This is the precise situation I anticipated a coupl'a years ago, but it's our first opportunity to plum its depths.)

Go for it!


Edited by artie505 (10/01/13 01:26 AM)
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26953 - 10/01/13 01:29 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> I have a colleague with both a bootable install disk.....

Are you certain that the incarnation of OS X on the disc will install on your iMac...that it's not specific to some other Mac?
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26956 - 10/01/13 11:24 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
I made a Recovery Assistant from his Apple-updated system (Lion).
When I get my iMac back (with a 3-year warranteed hard drive), we'll see if it works.

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#26961 - 10/01/13 03:24 PM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: grelber
I made a Recovery Assistant from his Apple-updated system (Lion).
When I get my iMac back (with a 3-year warranteed hard drive), we'll see if it works.

Are you aware that Recovery Assistant requires high-speed Internet?
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26963 - 10/02/13 01:15 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
It's my understanding that it boots into Recovery HD which then permits restore from TM (at least according to the Apple writeup) — plug in drive with RA on it, boot machine via option-R, restore directly via TM.
Am I missing something?

If that's not the case, then I also have access to a bootable OS 10.7 installation DVD.

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#26964 - 10/02/13 01:38 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> Am I missing something?

I guess it's more like I wasn't aware of the option.

Sorry.

Edit: Good luck!


Edited by artie505 (10/02/13 01:39 AM)
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26965 - 10/02/13 01:44 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Also, I didn't name it correctly. Here's the blurb from Apple support:

OS X: About Recovery Disk Assistant
The Recovery Disk Assistant lets you create Recovery on an external drive that has all of the same capabilities as the built-in Recovery.
With Recovery Disk Assistant, you can create Recovery on an external drive that has all of the same capabilities as the built-in Recovery: Reinstall OS X, repair the disk using Disk Utility, restore from a Time Machine backup, or browse the web with Safari. This drive can be used in the event you cannot start your computer with the built-in Recovery HD, or you have replaced the hard drive with a new one that does not have Mac OS X installed.
Further info at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4848 .

PS I wasn't aware of the option either ... until yesterday.


Edited by grelber (10/02/13 08:35 AM)
Edit Reason: Additional info

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#26966 - 10/02/13 01:57 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: grelber]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Thanks.

I guess TimeMachine can, indeed, be a useful beast.

(Is Time Machine Apple's justification for its "no disc" policy, even in the face of no high-speed Internet?)
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#26967 - 10/02/13 05:17 AM Re: Wonky startup and freezes (iMac) [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: artie505
(Is Time Machine Apple's justification for its "no disc" policy, even in the face of no high-speed Internet?)

I think Apple's justification for doing away with internal optical drives has several arguments and Time Machine is not part of any of them…
  1. The lifespan of complex optical drives such as the SuperDrive is often shorter than the lifespan of the computer and it is a lot easier and cheaper to replace an external drive
  2. The lifespan of recorded optical media is not all it was cracked up to be and users are finding CDs and DVDs are unreliabel for long term storage
  3. In a time where TeraByte drives are common, the storage capacity of optical discs is ludicrously small
  4. As our computing devices get smaller there simply is not room for optical drives
  5. The internet is turning out to be the only practical media for sharing data between OS X and iOS devices and the big money is in iOS devices
  6. Even though SSD devices are a lot more expensive than a CD/DVD media they are a lot easier to use, not to mention being orders of magnitude faster. I haven't run the numbers but I would venture that when all things are considered using SSD devices is cost coompetitive with optical drives
  7. CDs and DVDs are disappearing in the commercial market place and being replaced by downloaded content.
  8. With satellite broadband connections there are very few locations where high speed internet is not available. In fact the United states is lagging the industrialized world in the availability of broadband servcie.
I could go on but I think you get the point by now. Optical drives are a trailing edge technology soon to join 8 track tapes as historical footnotes and as always Apple tries to remain on the technological leading edge.
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