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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    Problem formatting old iMac
    I work in an office that has long phased out these old white iMacs. Before we throw them out we need to format them, but I'm having a lot of trouble with this. We have so many generations of Macs in this office that we have a folder with all our OS software. I cannot find the CD that matches to this one. We have so many versions of OSx.

    Every disk I've tried starting up with gives me trouble. One iMac will take me to some scary screen with a bunch of goobledigook I don't understand and then I have to restart.

    Short of physically blowing these things up, how can I wipe these drives? At this office there isn't an IT person and the buck stops with me. I've got 5 or 6 of these to do. Please let me know the best way, because trying to boot from a startup disk doesn't seem to be working for me.

    I've seen suggestions of booting from an external so I might try that but I want to see if there are easier ways.

    Thank you so much

  2. #2

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redcar View Post
    I work in an office that has long phased out these old white iMacs. Before we throw them out we need to format them, but I'm having a lot of trouble with this. We have so many generations of Macs in this office that we have a folder with all our OS software. I cannot find the CD that matches to this one. We have so many versions of OSx.

    Every disk I've tried starting up with gives me trouble. One iMac will take me to some scary screen with a bunch of goobledigook I don't understand and then I have to restart.

    Short of physically blowing these things up, how can I wipe these drives? At this office there isn't an IT person and the buck stops with me. I've got 5 or 6 of these to do. Please let me know the best way, because trying to boot from a startup disk doesn't seem to be working for me.

    I've seen suggestions of booting from an external so I might try that but I want to see if there are easier ways.

    Thank you so much
    You probably have a bunch of the "gray-colored" disks laying around...and as you probably found out...they don't work. They are "tailored" to work with the Mac model that they shipped with.

    You could do a "trial & error" approach...assuming all of these gray disks belong to at least one of the iMacs...until you find the right match.

    What you really need (to make things easy)...is a retail OS install disk. If these are older "white" iMacs they probably need an OS 10.4 or OS 10.5 install disk. If they are newer white iMac's...they probably need OS 10.5 or 10.6 (depends on the models).

    The problem is these older OS install disk are no longer sold by Apple (OS 10.4 & 10.5)...and they can be expensive on e-Bay. You can still get OS 10.6 from Apple for $29 dollars.

    These costs may not be worth it if your company is just getting rid of the computers...it may just be easier to just remove the hard drives...install them in an external hard drive case...and reformat/erase them via a USB cable with another working computer....and then reinstall the hard drives back into each iMac.

    So to summarize...you have 3 options:

    - the trial & error approach with the gray OS disks you have
    - purchase the correct retail OS install disks
    - remove the hard drives from each computer, erase/format them on another computer via an external case & USB cable, then reinstall the HD back into each iMac.

    HTH,

    - Nick

    p.s. Of course there is a 4th option...ship all the computers to me...and I'll take care of it (and keep the computers)!
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  3. #3

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    I wonder if some of these are iMac G5's? they look just like the Intel version.

  4. #4


    Member Since
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    What about starting up from an external and then wiping out the internal HD using disk utilities? I really doubt I'm going to find the original CDs. Is there some app I could download to wipe these computers or is finding or buying a disk the only option?

    Thanks a lot guys I really appreciate your help and I can see that I can use this forum for a lot of other troubleshooting. I hope I can contribute in some way in the future.

  5. #5

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redcar View Post
    What about starting up from an external and then wiping out the internal HD using disk utilities?
    Whether you boot the computer from the internal CD/DVD drive...or an external CD/DVD drive...it doesn't matter. You still need the proper OS disk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redcar View Post
    Is there some app I could download to wipe these computers or is finding or buying a disk the only option?
    Finding/buying the proper disks is the way to go (there is no downloadable app.). Like I mentioned...the HD's could be removed, connected to other Macintosh computers you have...and erased/formatted with Disk Utilities.

    Since you have these older Mac's in your office...I'm assuming you have newer Mac's as well. You could try erasing the older iMac's HD's via "Target Disk Mode":

    How to use and troubleshoot FireWire target disk mode

    You will need to make sure the Mac's used all have Firewire ports...and you will need the proper firewire cable.

    Again...you have multiple options...just depends how much time/effort you need/want to put into this.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  6. #6

    Mac SK's Avatar
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    Just take the HD out and ship one of them puppies my way.

  7. #7


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mac SK View Post
    Just take the HD out and ship one of them puppies my way.
    Ya unfortunately that isn't even remotely an option. They would crucify me.

  8. #8

    Germany_chris's Avatar
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    You could hook them to a computer with FW and then start th iMac's in target disk mode (hold T key while booting)..they'll show up as an external dive on the computer they are hooked to then zero out all data..

    If you plan on selling these do you plan to reinstall the OS, if you do then use whatever media you planned to use to reinstall and follow the above process..
    Mac Pro 4,1 (Flashed to 5,1) W3570 3.2 Quad..48GB RAM..Gainward GTX 570 "Phantom."
    MacBook Pro 5,2..2.8Ghz C2D..8GB RAM..240GB Vertex +

  9. #9


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    Quote Originally Posted by Germany_chris View Post
    You could hook them to a computer with FW and then start th iMac's in target disk mode (hold T key while booting)..they'll show up as an external dive on the computer they are hooked to then zero out all data..

    If you plan on selling these do you plan to reinstall the OS, if you do then use whatever media you planned to use to reinstall and follow the above process..
    No these are getting trashed. No one would buy machines this old.

  10. #10

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redcar View Post
    No these are getting trashed. No one would buy machines this old.
    I would (and so would others)...so not a good assumption! In fact...I know many folks who would purchase MUCH older Mac's...much older than the iMac's you have. Of course the price would have to be right.

    One person's trash...is another person's treasure.

    - Nick

    p.s. Since you mentioned that these computers would be getting "trashed"...obviously the price would be right...since the price would be free!
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  11. #11

    dtravis7's Avatar
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    Well said Nick!

    A friend in Arizona just bought a used C2d white 17" iMac and loves it. Bought Snow Leopard and upped the ram and the thing Flys. He was also shocked to find that with SL installed, it's showing and connecting to his 5G network off his new Dual Band router when his almost brand new Windows machine (Gateway) will not even see the 5G network!! Apple always seems to be ahead of the pack with new technology!

    A friend here in town just bought a TOP of the Line brand new Lenovo Gaming laptop. I went over to mess with it. He asked me, how come the 5G side of my router is not showing up? Guess what, my late 2007 Macbook shows and connects perfectly to the 5G part of his router. HE WAS QUITE upset! He is a very big Apple hater also but this has him thinking a bit! Nothing else in his house will see the 5G network. He had to go out and purchase a USB Dual Band dongle! At the price he paid for that notebook he should have not had to purchase anything!

    So my point is, some old Apple stuff was ahead of it's time and still useable today.

  12. #12

    Germany_chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redcar View Post
    No these are getting trashed. No one would buy machines this old.
    Yuppers I'd buy one too
    Mac Pro 4,1 (Flashed to 5,1) W3570 3.2 Quad..48GB RAM..Gainward GTX 570 "Phantom."
    MacBook Pro 5,2..2.8Ghz C2D..8GB RAM..240GB Vertex +

  13. #13

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtravis7 View Post

    A friend in Arizona just bought a used C2d white 17" iMac and loves it. Bought Snow Leopard and upped the ram and the thing Flys. He was also shocked to find that with SL installed, it's showing and connecting to his 5G network off his new Dual Band router when his almost brand new Windows machine (Gateway) will not even see the 5G network!! Apple always seems to be ahead of the pack with new technology!

    So my point is, some old Apple stuff was ahead of it's time and still useable today.
    I'm sure you read the thread I started last week about how I found my older dual-cpu Powermac G5 to still be QUITE useful for internet & e-mail (and probably other things as well with the proper software versions).

    I would imagine if the OP's iMac's are Intel...that they would be even better!

    So they are far from being ready for the "trash"...and there are certainly folks that would buy them!!!

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

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