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strange startup tones - has the hard disk died?

by lucyweb / May 5, 2010 2:35 AM PDT

Hello,

My daughter's 2006 intel IMac has problems. Last night, it had frozen, and was playing a strange sound. When I forced a shut down, on restart the strange sound came again, and the folder and question mark icon - showing that the start-up drive is missing - came up. Pressing Alt to try to select start-up wouldn't work.

This morning I managed to start up from an external firewire drive, intending to tinker with the drive in disk utility. However, disk utility won't find the drive. What it does find is a mystery 7.5 GB drive (hard drive icon) called WDC ROM MODEL-HAWK----Media. Disk Utility won't let me verify, repair or erase this mystery drive. The 'missing' hard drive is 250GB.

Drive Genius, Onyx and Idefrag don't 'see' either the proper hard drive or the mystery Hawk drive either.

I've done my best to record the weird sound. This sound starts up immediately I press the power on button which seems weird. Then the 'normal' start-up chime sounds, but the weird sound continues and the iMac fails to find the usual start-up drive. I've uploaded the sound (not good quality I'm afraid) here:
http://web.me.com/lucy.banwell/Site/Imac_HD_problem.html
The chime comes in a little loud - sorry.

Has the hard drive died, do you think?

Thanks for any help

Lucy

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I think you've nailed it
by Jimmy Greystone / May 5, 2010 4:17 AM PDT

I think you've nailed it down pretty well as being the hard drive.

Given the complexity of accessing the hard drive on these models, I'd really recommend you take it somewhere. Looking at Apple's service manual, you have to remove the LCD panel to get at the hard drive. If you don't know what you're doing, you might end up causing even more damage to the system. I guess the alternatives would be to just run it off an external from now on, or buy a new one.

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HD problems
by BobHG / May 14, 2010 12:58 PM PDT

Sorry to hear about your problems.

There are several things you can do to determine if your HD has died. Plug in your external HD and start up with that, or you can start up with your installation CD. Once started up, go to your system prefs, have a look in "startup disk". If the internal drive isn't showing up, it looks as if your system's corrupted or your HD's died.

The second thing you can do is to start up another Mac with a Firewire linked to your iMac from the second Mac. Once the second Mac's started up, try starting the iMac whilst holding down the T key on the keyboard. Go back to your second Mac when you see the Firewire icon floating on the iMac's screen. If you can't get to that point, then your HD's probably died. If you can get to that point, go to the second Mac and see if your iMac HD can be seen. If it can, then take the opportunity to copy all the files on it whilst you can see it. Then re-install your system on your iMac. If you can't see it, then your HD's probably died.

Macs had a problem with HDs made in China about four years ago. I had to replace mine, and a friend of mine had to replace his as well. There were no warning signs of failure - one minute it was working, the next not. If you do have to replace your HD, get a nice one from Hitachi or Fujitsu, and take the opportunity to install a 7200rpm drive which will increase the speed of your Mac. Let me know how you get on.

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Floating Firewire icon
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / May 14, 2010 11:24 PM PDT
In reply to: HD problems

appears on the Mac that is started with the "T" key held down and not, as you stated, on the Mac that was started normally.

P

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Clarification
by BobHG / May 16, 2010 2:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Floating Firewire icon

Dear Mr Mac Fixit,

Thanks for pointing this out. Is this clearer?

The second thing you can do is to start up another, known-to-be-working Mac with a Firewire linked to your iMac from the second Mac. Once the second Mac's started up normally, try starting the iMac whilst holding down the T key on the keyboard of the iMac. Go back to your second, normally started Mac when you see the Firewire icon floating on the iMac's screen. If you can't get to that point, then your HD's probably died. If you can get to that point, go to the second, normally started Mac and see if your iMac HD can be seen. If it can, then take the opportunity to copy all the files on it whilst you can see it. Then re-install your system on your iMac. If you can't see it, then your HD's probably died.

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