Mac OS forum


G4 start up problem

by walkerdine / June 29, 2011 8:14 PM PDT

When starting up a G4 the hard drive obviously spins up, but then slows down again and the monitor shows only the blinking question mark. Is this a sign that the HD is malfunctioning. Is there a work around to get it started?

Answer This Ask For Clarification
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: G4 start up problem
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: G4 start up problem
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

All Answers

Collapse -
Almost certain that the HD has breathed its last.
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / June 29, 2011 10:35 PM PDT
In reply to: G4 start up problem

the blinking question mark means that the system cannot find a valid system folder from which to boot.

Collapse -
G4 startup problem
by walkerdine / June 29, 2011 11:51 PM PDT

Thanks for that. Have tried three different system 9 boot discs but with the same result. refuses to boot from any of them. Curiously a system X disc did read and attempt to install system X. So it is not the DVD/CD drive at fault. I did not let this proceed because the HD has needed data if I can recover it. If it refuses to boot from these discs do I assume that the HD is dead?

Collapse -
A dead HD should not prevent the G4 from booting
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / June 30, 2011 6:51 AM PDT
In reply to: G4 startup problem

from the DVD/CD, unless the dead drive is holding up the IDE bus in some way.

Boot from the OS X disk and S L O W L Y step through the install process until you see the menu bar at the top of the screen.
From the menu bar you can run Disk Utilities.

That will tell you if the drive is dead or not.


Collapse -
G$ start up problem
by walkerdine / July 1, 2011 12:29 AM PDT

Thanks for your reply. OK have done that and the message after verifying the HD is that it needs to be repaired. From that I gather that it needs replacement. It is a Quantum Fireball LM27.3 25.53GB drive And from reading I see that the Quantum range were not such a good bet. Any suggestion on a good replacement would be welcomed. Many thanks for you assistance.

Collapse -
replacement drives
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 1, 2011 5:37 AM PDT
In reply to: G$ start up problem

Seagate and Hitachi make, or sell, good IDE drives that are fairly inexpensive.

Was Disk Utility able to repair the disk?

Repeat the process above and instead of just using Verify, use Repair.
If DU cannot repair the disk, then replacement is usually the cure.

When you are out shopping for a replacement hard drive, remember that the early G4's had a hard drive size limitation.
128 GB is the largest size that the early G4's can address. If you purchase a 250Gb drive (for instance), an early G4 will only be able to use 128Gb of it.

Remember, IDE not SATA is what you want.
This should suit you:


Collapse -
Replacement drives
by walkerdine / July 1, 2011 8:30 PM PDT
In reply to: replacement drives

Have tried that, but the option to repair is greyed out. I assume that it is beyond the capabilities for First Aid to deal with. It is making some pretty awful noises. replacement is the obvious option. Many thanks for all of you assistance. I am most grateful.P.

Collapse -
Just for a test.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 1, 2011 5:44 AM PDT
In reply to: G4 start up problem

There are IDE errors that could stop some machines from working or even boot.

HOWEVER I have a test I use (it's quite old) and that is to remove the suspect IDE drive and try the machine without it.

Collapse -
Just for a test
by walkerdine / July 1, 2011 8:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Just for a test.

I presume that just unplugging it would be sufficient?

Collapse -
Yes, unplugging would be sufficient
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 1, 2011 11:31 PM PDT
In reply to: Just for a test

On the Disk Utility subject, while we accept that the DU is not very smart, we cannot accept that it will know that it cannot repair a disk.
If DU cannot repair a disk, it will say so after it has attempted to do so.

Collapse -
Disc Utility
by walkerdine / July 2, 2011 4:12 AM PDT

I can't see what else it could have been booting from. Started up after inserting the DVD whilst pressing 'C' and the "you are about to install system X" came on screen with the top bar. It was there that I gained access to the DU and selected the Hard Drive to verify. This it did, then said that the HD needs repairing, but the REPAIR option was greyed out. Far as I could go!

Collapse -
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 2, 2011 7:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Disc Utility

Given that information, I would go with Plan B.
Replace the drive, install OS X on it and then see if the disk can be repaired.

Collapse -
New Drive
by walkerdine / July 2, 2011 8:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Interesting.

Replacement drive ordered. Will let you know what happens. Again, many thanks for your help and advice. Much appreciated.

Collapse -
New Drive
by walkerdine / July 7, 2011 2:05 AM PDT
In reply to: New Drive

Final found a drive on which I could install OSX. Snag now is that the back up drive that I need info from is an OS9. OSX tells me that in order to read this I need to install OS 9 I have the discs, but when I try to install all that I get is "To install this system you will first have to have the system 9 installed" Not getting very far. Do I need to reformat the HD and then try installing the OS9. All seems very confusing.

Collapse -
Back up a little,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 7, 2011 8:07 AM PDT
In reply to: New Drive

You have the System 9 installation disks but are unable to install System 9 on the new drive.

Collapse -
Back up a ilttle
by walkerdine / July 7, 2011 6:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Back up a little,

Installed version 10.1

Collapse -
At the start of this venture
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 7, 2011 10:02 PM PDT
In reply to: Back up a ilttle

it was mentioned that the data on that original drive may not be recoverable.

Collapse -
at the start
by walkerdine / July 8, 2011 7:35 PM PDT

Original drive very defunct. i know that some of this software is suspect, but that it what this older date used.

Collapse -
Try your local Mac Users group
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / July 8, 2011 11:40 PM PDT
In reply to: at the start

and see if they will lend you a disk or help you out.

Collapse -
I've found Disk Warrior to be Useful in this Situation
by jwoodywoody / September 24, 2012 2:07 AM PDT
In reply to: G4 start up problem

If you can get hold of a copy of DiskWarrior version 2.1.1, you should be able to boot from this, and I've seen DiskWarrior fix drives making the 'click of death' noise to the point where you can back up all required information. It does sound as though the drive is definitely in its way out and a replacement drive is needed.

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


Big screens for the big game

Still looking for the best TV deals ahead of Sunday's game? Here are our top three big screen picks.