2006 iMac Startup problems

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Hello, all. I have been an avid mac user for 20+ years and have never had a problem that I couldn't figure out a fix or a workaround for. This recent problem for my wife's 2006 iMac has got me stumped.

The computer was working fine yesterday in the morning but when I went to go wake it up from sleep the screen came up but the mouse and keyboard were frozen. I had to do a hard shutdown (power key) to turn it off. When I restarted it, it just hangs (for an hour or so) at the Apple logo screen with the spinning wheel. I did a hard shutdown again to try some booting options. SU mode, Verbose mode, resetting the PRAM, safe mode, booting from CD (cd drive is a hit or miss) don't work. When I say they don't work I mean the computer ignores my key presses and starts to the Apple logo screen. I never see the command line or any text. I have unplugged all devices, removed 3rd party RAM and done all that I can think of but nothing has worked.

Does anyone have ideas or suggestions that I can try? I'm running 10.6.8 with 2gb RAM (1gb 3rd party). Thanks :)
 

chscag

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It sounds like you may have a combination of things that are happening. First, there's a chance that the hard drive has died - that would explain the freezing and no response. Second, I wonder if your optical drive is working OK since you stated that you could not boot from the install DVD?

Do you have access to another Mac in your home? If you do, try booting the iMac using Target Disk Mode from the other Mac. Both Macs will need to have access to Firewire in order to do this.
 
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@chscag
I read some other forums and realized that the problem with booting in the various startup modes was the aluminum Apple keyboard I was using. Apparently it is not compatible with boot up hotkeys on the 2006 iMacs. I was able to get an old keyboard (similar to the one that came with the computer) from my dad, which worked to boot into SU mode.

The fsck ran and said there were no problems with the drive but when I tried booting into it, the system gave me an I/O error on disk0s1. I believe this means there is indeed a problem with the internal drive but hopefully just temporarily. When I was finally able to boot the install disk (optical drive is hit or miss) it doesn't even show the internal drive as an option for restore backup, disk utility, install and the system profiler states there was an error when reading what was plugged into the SATA port. Not good.

I booted back in SU mode and did an "ls -al" command to see what was showing and it showed the hard drive and all the data on it just like it was before the crash. Now the problem is recovering that data. I am in the process of creating a bootable drive my from newer iMac to see if some other utility programs can see and possibly restore the drive, or at least let me copy the files and reformat.

As to the Target Disk Mode, I have a computer with firewire 400 and one with firewire 800 and unfortunately I don't have a convertor cable yet. :(

I will post any updates and if you have further suggestions please let me know. :)
 

chscag

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It seems as though you have a good handle on everything. One suggestion: You might want to consider using recovery software to extract the data from that not working hard drive. You can choose which recovery software to use, however, the best in my opinion is Data Rescue 3. It is a bit pricey though so you may want to download their trial copy first to see if it will work for you.
 
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As to the Target Disk Mode, I have a computer with firewire 400 and one with firewire 800 and unfortunately I don't have a convertor cable yet. :(

Um, 400 should run with 800, they're directly compatible. Or do you mean you don't have the right physical cable ends? I got a FW cable from Amazon cheap for an external drive.

An external drive with FW will let you install a bootable Mac OS. Mac won't boot from external USB. To be more precise, I put the HD inside the iMac, format it, yank it out into the external case, and put another HD inside the iMac.

When the internal fails (not if, but when!), I can just swap the external into the machine and away I go...
 

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