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#3515 - 09/11/09 08:54 AM Sawtooth Hard Drive problems
Vanceone Offline


Registered: 09/11/09
Hi all,

I'm new to this forum, but I'm a long time mac user. I thought I'd post here because I have a feeling this will likely be a long thread, and it might as well be in the correct forum.

Okay, so I've got a Sawtooth, a PowerMac G4 400 speed. It's got 4 hard drives in it. Two are Parallel, a 20 GB and a 6 GB. The 20 GB is the startup disk, running Tiger 10.4.11. I've got two media SATA drives, a 1 TB and a 1.5 TB. Both western Digital Green models. PCI slots have a SATA card, the original ATI radeon, and also a USB 2.0 card with some external peripherals.

Now, here's the story. I had three drives, and I just recently got the 1.5 green drive. Everything was working fine before that (except the stupid SATA card doesn't support deep sleep), but the 1.5 drive has been having some issues. First, it needed to be formatted before it would show up at all. I.E the Finder asked to initialize it--it didn't recognize it. That's not normal for a brand new drive.
After formatting, It would stall the computer for a few minutes--no mouse movement, no response at all. Well, it was usually when the finder tried to access that drive it would stall. So I ran Disk Utility on it, and it found some corrupted stuff it could repair (some corrupted nodes). That fixed it temporarily (Oh, SMART status has always been verified). But then it started freezing again, and then once again the finder threw an Initialize message. Disk Utility said it had some corrupted nodes (again) and this time, it couldn't repair it--it would just quit the repair. I was thinking, "ok, I got a bad drive. New drive, it just was a lemon."

But then I noticed my 6 GB drive was just... gone. It didn't show up on the desktop, it didn't show up in Disk Utility either. Checked the cables to it, nothing wrong. So I restarted (off the 20 GB internal), and opened up Disk Utility again. I got a kernal panic this time, and when I restarted from that, I got the flashing question mark.

So I grabbed my Firewire disk and booted off of that. My 6 GB drive still is nowhere to be found. Now I've got invalid node structures that cannot be repaired on the startup drive, the 20 GB one. The 1.5 TB one still has the same problem. Only my 1 TB drive seems unaffected so far. I checked the cables, power--everything is plugged in.

I could believe that my 1.5 TB drive is faulty, but I can't see how it could kill off two other drives too.

Only other thing that was changed is I added a new stick of Ram, a 512 from OWC. I added the new Ram after the 1.5 went down for the last time, but before the startup drive kernel panicked and was corrupted. The problems to that point had been just with the 1.5 TB disk, though to be honest I don't know if the 6 GB disk had vanished before the new ram--it's small, I don't necessarily see it all the time. Thinking this might be the issue, I yanked the new Ram, but it didn't solve anything I could see.

So, is there something I'm missing? If the hard drive bus itself was bad, all my drives would be gone, but the 1 TB is still there. Ditto if the SATA card or PCI bus went berserk--the PATA drives would be unaffected, right? Maybe a bad stick of ram corrupted things, but I was having that problem with the 1.5 TB before that ram stick came, and possibly the small drive had vanished too. There had never been any issues with it ever. SMART status has always verified on all drives.

External drives seem to be unaffected, the ones in my USB 2.0 card and also Firewire.

I got this computer a couple of years ago, and it didn't come with the apple hardware test CD, so unless anyone knows how to get that, I can't run it.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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#3518 - 09/11/09 09:18 AM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: Vanceone]
donikatz Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Gotham
Welcome to FTM! smile

You can download the appropriate AHT CD for free from Apple: http://www.info.apple.com/support/aht.html

As for what went wrong, it's possible you encountered a perfect storm: your 1.5 TB drive buggy (very common, unfortunately) and the new RAM corrupting. Do you have a way of testing these drives in another system (even via your external enclosures)? Does the 6 GB show up in System Info? Does it spin up? Do you have DiskWarrior to try on the others?


Edited by donikatz (09/11/09 09:26 AM)
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#3522 - 09/11/09 09:58 AM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: donikatz]
Vanceone Offline


Registered: 09/11/09
Thanks for the welcome. And thanks for the link! One problem--does the powermac g4 one cover Sawtooths? If I remember the models correct, the Digital Audio is the earliest model listed--and that's after my sawtooth.

I suppose it is possible that I got the perfect storm, but seems unlikely. I've been having a few computer problems and my only working comps right now are a Pismo, a couple indigo g3 imacs and a powermac 5400. Yeah, it's amazing the old computers are still alive whilst my g4 tower and ibook g4 aren't....

So I could probably test the PATA drives, but I don't have any enclosures, unless I break into the external drives. No, I don't have diskwarrior yet. I might have to get it, alas.

I'll have to try to check the rest of that out once I get home. Thanks for the quick reply, by the way!

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#3524 - 09/11/09 10:03 AM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: Vanceone]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
A possibility occurred to me that could easily cause all of your problems. As I recall the power supply in the sawtooth model is not the most robust. So your newly added 1½ GB green drive may be pushing the power supply to the edge or even beyond its limts. That could result in low power to all your drives which in turn would cause all sorts of read/write errors. The only test would be to remove one of your drives, not necessarily the 1½ GB green drive, just one on either the ATA or SATA bus. Personally I would start with one of the SATA drives.

As to the Apple Hardware Test, unfortunately the downloadable AHTs Doni referenced do not cover the G4 Sawtooth. However the freeware Rember or the $1.39 Memtest are excellent tools for testing RAM. In either case be sure to run for at least five fully test cycles or until a memory error is detected.

Unfortunately RAM is only one of several possible hardware components that may be causing your problem. TechTool Pro ($97) or TechTool Deluxe (that comes with AppleCare) both have extensive hardware diagnostics, but whether or not they are the equal of AHT I don't know. Certainly they are capable of detecting gross hardware errors in the system.
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#3526 - 09/11/09 10:49 AM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: joemikeb]
donikatz Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Gotham
Good theory re the PSU, hadn't occurred to me.

And yes, you're right re the Sawtooth, thanks for the correction. Forgot it just predates the AHT (back then you had to be an AASP to get an official Apple test disc). TechTool Pro is way overpriced for a home user (esp one with such an old Mac), so you'll prob want to try the other trial-and-error things first. Or borrow a friend's boot DVD (as long as not installed in another machine, don't think it would violate the license).
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#3529 - 09/11/09 11:36 AM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: donikatz]
Vanceone Offline


Registered: 09/11/09
Thanks for the advice. Hmm, I have a Tiger install disk, but not an original to the Sawtooth one.

As for the PSU. I did disconnect the sata drive (the 1.5 TB one) last night and it still has the issues I reported. I did think of that.. and I think you may be right, it might have led to some corruption. It seemed to work much better with only one of the two SATA drives plugged in.

So if that is the problem, how then do I rescue my hard drives? Short of reinitializing everything, that is?

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#3530 - 09/11/09 11:54 AM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: Vanceone]
donikatz Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Gotham
(Note: When I mentioned borrowing a boot DVD earlier, I meant TechTool Pro, not OS X, in case that wasn't clear.)

For the invalid node structure errors, Diskwarrior will usually do the trick (but that doesn't come cheap either). You can also try just cloning your drive to another using Carbon Copy Cloner, Super Duper, etc, reformatting the original, and cloning back. Assuming the file system damage isn't too severe, that should work. As for the 6 GB that doesn't show up at all, you didn't answer my earlier questions, but if you're reaching PSU limits I'm not sure you'd want to waste power on a 6 GB drive anyway.

Also, this should be a good lesson to do regular backups. If you do have complete backups, you can always just reformat the drive(s) and restore.


Edited by donikatz (09/11/09 11:58 AM)
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#3536 - 09/11/09 03:27 PM Re: Sawtooth Hard Drive problems [Re: Vanceone]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Disconnecting one of your disks would not correct any damage that had already been done to the volume structure on the other drives by "internal brownout" read/write errors. Doni has some good suggestions but depending on the extent of damage you may need to resort to a file recovery utility such as Data Rescue or File Salvage. Here again you are back to $100 software products but each offers a trial download to see if they can recover your files. FWIW I agree with Doni's assessment of the 6GB drive. It is too small to be of real value these days.
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