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

Power Mac - G5 clacks and whirs, then freezes


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dogplant

 
Member Since: Jan 19, 2007
Location: Burbank, CA
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Mac Specs: Power Mac G5, 1.8 GHz / 152 GB & 232 GB & 4 x Lacie 500 GB external / 3.5 GB RAM / OSX 10.4.10

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For the last year or so, my G5 has been making some worrisome noises. The hard-drive occasionally clacks and whirrs like an old electrical relay, causing my system to freeze up, and sometimes locking up entirely, requiring me to either Force Quit my applications, or reboot entirely by pressing the main power button. I have a few weeks left on my extended warranty, so I am taking my G5 to my local Apple store tomorrow, having backed up all I can.

Apart from this, my G5 has been perfect. It's been my workhorse as a writer (currently using 95.2 GB of a 152.6 GB hard-drive), and for my DV movie-making endeavors (using 231.1 GB of a secondary 232.7 GB hard-drive installed in the machine), and 3.5 GB RAM. I've procrastinated dealing with this problem until now, because I've never had the time, but I have to address this now before it's too late.

Any ideas what this might be?

To illustrate the problem -- specifically the alarming mechanical sounds -- I put a short movie of it misbehaving on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mSKX0bI2EE

Any advice, or observations, would be greatly appreciated.
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NanoBite

 
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All I can say is that Extended Warranty is going to be very very useful...
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dogplant

 
Member Since: Jan 19, 2007
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Oh, crikey, thanks, Marty. I am fearing the worst.
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mac57

 
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I had this happen to me on an older HP PC. It is likely bad sectors on the drive, with the drive attempting to auto recover from the failure by repetitively rereading the errored segment. The drive motors and head positioners make a terrible noise while doing this. That is what you are hearing.

Now why this should worry you is that most hard drives these days come with quite a bit of spare capacity over what is advertized. They use the extra sectors for "self healing". When they run into errored sectors, they just mark the sector as bad, substitute in one of the excess capacity ones and carry on. You the user don't notice anything. They only start to grind back and forth on a bad sector when they have exhausted their pool of "self healers" and have no choice.

So, this means that your disk is literally dying under your feet, with a LOT of bad sectors on it. I would recommend treating this VERY seriously. This drive is about to die.

In the case of my old HP, I was running Linux on it at the time, and was able to reformat with an older Linux file system (ext2, built to work with early hard drives that didn't have this sort of self healing capability) that was able to map out all the bad sectors as part of the formatting and then avoid them. It also, at a software level, built a pool of extra "self healing" sectors that it was able to use when additional sectors went bad. This worked out very well, and I was able to keep using the machine for another year or two.

This file system option is not one you have here in Mac land, so my advise would be to treat this as a very serious problem. You need a new hard drive more or less asap.

My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
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dogplant

 
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Thanks, Mac57. I am writing to you now on my old G3 Powerbook, running OS9, because my G5 just died. Earlier this morning, after I replied to Marty above, it froze up completely and the cursor would not move. Very sad. My local Apple store is all booked up with appointments today, so I have to try again tomorrow. I only found this forum yesterday, and I must say I do appreciate the sage advice and courteous replies.
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mac57

 
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Wow, sorry to hear that dogplant. I hope that they can recover the machine soon. I also hope you don't lose too much data in the process. Good luck.

My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
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MacHeadCase
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Yeah I'm with mac57 on this. This does sound like a dying hard drive. Gosh, I hope you can get some of your data back.
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dogplant

 
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I took my G5 into my local Apple store yesterday, and they are replacing the hard-drive, free of charge, because I had eight days (eight days!) left on my extended warranty. Very glad I invested in that.

I managed to back up a lot of my most important data hard-drive 'A' before it died, but I am sure it will be a pain getting back up to speed. I was generally pretty good about backing up my writing, for work and personal, and I have my contact details on my Palm, so the main things I had to make copies of were my photos and my iTunes. I don't have a Mac.com account to upload to, so it was a bit tedious burning discs. My iTunes library alone filled four DVDs.

Hard-drive 'B' was hopefully unaffected, which is where I do my video editing. However, I know I was pushing the capacity there, because backing up to disc was always a very tedious process and I procrastinated making backups. To remedy that, I have purchased myself a 500 GB LaCie drive to clean that out when I get my computer back in a few days.

I may retitle that little YouTube video 'Death of a Hard-drive' and leave it there as a tombstone: R.I.P. 152 GB, October 2003 ~ January 2007
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MacHeadCase
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You backed up? *Phew* At least you won't lose all your stuff and that's good to hear.
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dogplant

 
Member Since: Jan 19, 2007
Location: Burbank, CA
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Mac Specs: Power Mac G5, 1.8 GHz / 152 GB & 232 GB & 4 x Lacie 500 GB external / 3.5 GB RAM / OSX 10.4.10

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This will hopefully be my final post here on this thread, mainly just to compliment the Apple Store at The Grove, in Los Angeles.

Their '3 to 5 day' work-order estimate proved to be one day, and I am now back in the saddle with a new hard-drive in my G5. Customer service was excellent, as I was anticipating a painful haul getting the G5 through the mall and up three floors back to my car -- these things are heavy and sharp edges, so I got a friend to help me drop it off on Saturday, but I was flying solo today; but it was no problem, the Apple folk loaded my G5 onto a little cart, helped me steer it all the way to my car, and gently lifted it into the trunk. A nice touch, much appreciated.

My secondary drive is intact and in good health. And, as an added bonus, my new A-drive came equipped with OSX 4.8, so I need to update my user profile here. All in all, a painful experience was made much less grueling than it could have been. Now back to reinstalling all that software.
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mac57

 
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Excellent dogplant, great news. It is always nice when a story like this has a happy ending.

My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
My iStuff: 64GB iPhone 5, 64GB iPad4, 30GB iPod Video, 16GB iPod Touch
My OS': Mac OS X Lion, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Mac OS X Tiger, Mac OS 9.2.2, openSUSE 10.3
I was on the Mac-Forums honor roll for September 2007
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