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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

iMac - iMac 20" (late 2006 model) - opinions needed


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cwa107

 
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So, I'm working on an iMac for a customer that is exhibiting some rather odd behavior. It's a 2.16GHz, 1GB Intel Core 2 Duo machine running Tiger. The customer originally complained that it was extremely slow, I advised them to run Onyx and do the maintenance tasks. A day later, the customer brought it into me - when he tried to boot it up to download/run Onyx, the machine would simply sit on the blue screen just before the Mac OS X splash screen would normally pop up. It would sit that way for hours.

I booted into single user mode, ran an fsck and later booted off the System Discs and ran Disk Utility. Verify/Repair Disk and Permissions reported no errors, but the machine still wouldn't boot (also wouldn't boot in Safe mode).

I booted up using a Tech Tool Pro 5 disc. Ran diagnostics, but the program kept quitting during the surface scan. Ran the AHT in extended mode, but it found no problems.

So, I attempted to do an Archive & Install. It got about 2 hours into it and was reporting that it would take another 28 hours to complete! So, I let it sit another 2 hours and the status remained virtually unchanged. Discouraged and thinking I had a bad hard drive, I closed the Installer, which warned me against doing so, but I had no choice since I was leaving work and the machine had to come with me.

At this point, I'm fairly certain I'm dealing with a bad or failing hard disk. I booted the machine in Target Disk Mode and made a SuperDuper backup. Although it was fairly slow to do so, it did successfully backup (I let it sit overnight).

So, my questions are:

1. Do you agree with my assessment that I'm dealing with a bad HDD (the machine is only 2 years old and the drive is a Western Digital 250GB).

2. If yes to the previous question, any particular model you recommend? I was thinking of going with another WD, but a Blue edition - primarily to keep the temps down.

Thanks in advance for any opinions or thoughts you might have. I only want to have to open this beast once, since it's not exactly the easiest case to open.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Collin Bl

 
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If i had gone down that path my assumption would be that with the SD in Target mode then perhaps the disk is ok, so would have tried to boot off the back up in an effort to try and choose between Hardware issue and Software issue. Not fool proof i know but just might give a bit more info.
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Personally prefer DiskWarrior to TechTool Pro and yes the three year old drive sounds like it is on the way out. Have you replaced the drive or tried booting from the external with SD backup on it?
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Quote:
1. Do you agree with my assessment that I'm dealing with a bad HDD (the machine is only 2 years old and the drive is a Western Digital 250GB).
I agree with you regarding the hard drive. The first clue was Tech Tool Pro 5 not able to complete a surface scan. That's a pretty good indication.

Quote:
2. If yes to the previous question, any particular model you recommend? I was thinking of going with another WD, but a Blue edition - primarily to keep the temps down.
I've had good luck with WD drives over the years. Most of the drive failures I've experienced both at home and at work have been with drives made by Hitachi, and some other off brands. A "Blue" model should be fine although I think it would probably be OK to also go with a WD "Black" model.

Regards.
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Collin Bl

 
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chscag - so what is the thinking here - that Superduper can 'step round' a problem or that it just happened to work OK during the SD back up?
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Collin Bl View Post
If i had gone down that path my assumption would be that with the SD in Target mode then perhaps the disk is ok, so would have tried to boot off the back up in an effort to try and choose between Hardware issue and Software issue. Not fool proof i know but just might give a bit more info.
Well, I haven't tried booting from the backup as the backup is of a failed Archive & Install. But I might give that a shot once I get the kids to bed.

What is interesting is that booting from the System Discs and also the TechTool Pro disc worked fine and the system ran normally. But if I can boot it off an external and it runs acceptably, then I can be fairly certain it's a bad hard disk I suppose.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
I agree with you regarding the hard drive. The first clue was Tech Tool Pro 5 not able to complete a surface scan. That's a pretty good indication.
Yep, that was my thought as well, but strange that the AHT wouldn't pick up a problem when doing a surface scan.

Quote:
I've had good luck with WD drives over the years. Most of the drive failures I've experienced both at home and at work have been with drives made by Hitachi, and some other off brands. A "Blue" model should be fine although I think it would probably be OK to also go with a WD "Black" model.

Regards.
Me too. I was leaning toward the Blue line for quiet operation and lower power consumption and therefore less heat generation (especially with as compact as the case is). So, you think I'd be OK with the Black edition models?

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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cwa107

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Collin Bl View Post
chscag - so what is the thinking here - that Superduper can 'step round' a problem or that it just happened to work OK during the SD back up?
Well, SuperDuper ran pretty slow when I was running the backup, but it did complete. I assume that's because it wasn't doing any write operations on the suspect drive. Hard to say, this certainly does seem like a tough nut to crack.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Yep, that was my thought as well, but strange that the AHT wouldn't pick up a problem when doing a surface scan.
I've read in several places about AHT being unreliable. When I advise someone to use it, I usually also state that it may not find everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Me too. I was leaning toward the Blue line for quiet operation and lower power consumption and therefore less heat generation (especially with as compact as the case is). So, you think I'd be OK with the Black edition models?
The Black edition models do emit a little more noise and may run a bit warmer, but I think it shouldn't be a problem. The prices are certainly right.

Regards.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Collin Bl View Post
chscag - so what is the thinking here - that Superduper can 'step round' a problem or that it just happened to work OK during the SD back up?
I don't know about SuperDuper "stepping around" a problem... cw107 reported that it was fairly slow and let it go overnight which it then made the backup.

I've done the same thing with defective (numerous bad sectors) drives using Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image. It'll make the backup but it seems like it takes forever. I've even restored from drives with bad sectors - again, taking like hours for 30 or 40 GB. But, sometimes it crashes in the middle of the backup or restore and then you're out of luck.

Regards.
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I'm going to agree that the problem appears to be rooted in hard drive problems. It seems odd that AHT didn't pick up on it (I assume you did the extended tests) but I have heard of AHT missing some things. You also mention that the machine is only two years old so I assume that the drive is under warranty which should appease the individual if there are any concerns over costs.

As for HD recommendations, I've only ever bought WD drives and had great success with them. I have a WD Scorpio Black in my MB and a WD Caviar Blue as my TM HD and both have been great.

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Well, I attempted to boot the machine from the external backup and it was a no go (i.e. EFI didn't see it as a bootable option). So, I have another 80GB external that I used to install OS X. When that drive was chosen, OS X installed normally (roughly an hour and thirty minutes, not bad for a USB 2.0 5400rpm HDD). The machine works pretty normally from the external, so I think we've successfully isolated it to the HDD.

Van - I believe the warranty on any original equipment mirrors the warranty of the manufacturer of the system (so, even though a Seagate drive would normally be warranted for 5 years, since it was integrated into an Apple product, its warranty would only be as long as the machine's own warranty). In this case, the machine (purchased just before the Aluminum iMac models came out, sometime in 2007) did not have the Applecare, so it's limited to 1 year.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
Van - I believe the warranty on any original equipment mirrors the warranty of the manufacturer of the system (so, even though a Seagate drive would normally be warranted for 5 years, since it was integrated into an Apple product, its warranty would only be as long as the machine's own warranty). In this case, the machine (purchased just before the Aluminum iMac models came out, sometime in 2007) did not have the Applecare, so it's limited to 1 year.
It's true what is said - you learn something new every day.

I hadn't realized that Macs came with WD drives so I had assumed that it was an upgrade from the original HD. The 250GB drive though does correlate with the late-2006 iMacs which came with either a 250GB or 500GB 7200-rpm drive. It really is a shame though that the warranty doesn't "transfer" over so to speak when an manufacturer includes it with their product.

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Well, finally cracked the case on this thing - what a job. Fortunately, I had the service manuals (although the person who wrote them must have a bad crack habit). I watched a tutorial online which completely misses the latches that are at the top of the machine. They must be released with a special tool (roughly the same shape and thickness as a credit card, but bent at the top). Once you get into the main assembly, the service manual has you peeling back tin foil tape, which just doesn't work, it must be cut in certain places. Thankfully, I have some left over foil tape from an HVAC job, so I should be able to put it back together again.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed in the construction of this machine. Clearly it was designed to be disposable (not service friendly at all). For the premium prices Apple gets for these things, the design is inferior (at least for this generation). There are better ways to do RF shielding without resorting to tin foil. At the very least, they could have used a heavier gauge material and less glue.

Needless to say, this will be the last iMac of this vintage I work on.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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That's the same model I bought the kid when I got my MBP.

So, what you're telling me is when it bites the dust, I should tell him it's time for a new one?

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