Beachballing & disk0s10: I/O errors after upgradin to 10.6

Hi, I'm new at this forum but everyone has told me it's the best for mac troubleshooting so here I am.

Here's my situation: I recently upgraded my iMac (2.93 Ghz Intel Core Duo, 4GB of ram, model id is 9.1) from Leopard to Snow Leopard. I did a basic install (not a clean install), the installation went smoothly, no errors were reported and in less than 40 minutes I was up running Snow Leopard.

But... immediately, on the first launch, after a couple of minutes my Mac started beachballing, leaving it completely unresponsive for like 5 minutes. Afterwards, the spinning pinwheel disappears, my Mac continues running normally, and I don't experience much issues. At first I thought it was a one time thing, probably saving some settings up after the first launch, but... it has been happening every time I start my computer! Every time, it starts up, all my startup programs launch, the desktop icons appear, and then suddenly after a couple of minutes it starts beachballing again.

I now start to suspect there's something wrong. I launch the Console and take a look at the logs. There at the exact same time the beachballing occurs, i find like 3 or 4 subsequent "disk0s10: I/O errors". Now I'm starting to think it's a hard disk issue, so I bring up Disk Utility and check the S.M.A.R.T., it says everything is OK. I verify the disk, and it says everything is OK. Now I don't know what to suspect.

Something tells me it's not the hard disk failing (maybe it's denial Sad ), because the problem started happening immediately after installing Snow Leopard. With Leopard I didn't have any problems at all. Also, once the beachballing stops, my computer runs smooth and fast, much faster than with Leopard; and it seems the beachballing and the errors don't happen again until the next restart (though I haven't yet used it for a long period of time since this problem happened like three days ago). Another thing is that I recently transfered like 30GBs worth of files and I didn't receive a single error. Everything seems (as for now) to run perfectly well after the initial beachballing occurs.

So, I'm now facing two options: (1) Make a clean install and see if the problem persists, or (2) Replace the hard disk.

As all of you know, both options are pretty time consuming and annoying, so I really want to troubleshoot everything I can to see if the problem has a simpler solution. What other things can I check? Have any of you had this problem before?

Sorry to make my post so long but I believe the more information you get first hand the better, right? Please, I will really appreciate any advice.<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">

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Clarification Request
As far as I understand this message

from various reviews (you are not alone), this message usually concerns failing hard drive. Your computer must have come with a restore disk, which has an Apple hardware test. I would run it first. If it shows errors, replace the HD. If not, I would try DiskWarrior just in case. That utility will rebuild directory and also repair permissions, which could more or less rule out software issues. And, as a rule of thumb, before things escalate, backup all your data on a separate HD or even a flash drive. See if somebody comes up with a better solution here. As a rule of thumb again, it never hurts to stop by an Apple store and ask a "genius" to check the computer for you. Good luck!

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I'll have to stick to this forum for now

I'll have to stick to this forum for now since I live in Puerto Rico and there's no Apple Store here.

I'll check into DiskWarrior after I try to run a disk repair from Disk Utilities and I run the Apple hardware test that you mentioned.

I know this error usually concerns a failing hard drive but I've read in the forums that sometimes it could just be a corrupted sector and it can be repaired. Really hoping it's not the hard disk. Sad I mean, it coincidently happened after upgrading to Snow Leopard, in the first launch!

Anyway, if I'm not lucky and I have to replace it... is it something simple I could do myself. I would usually fix this in a regular desktop but the iMac seems like it can't be opened. Any thoughts?

PS. I'm not giving up just yet, just wanted to get a heads up of what I may end up having to do.

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You don't have

You don't have to take it to an Apple store. Long before Apple had its own set of retail stores, it relied on a network of AASPs to repair it's products. That network still exists, and there's BOUND to be a few in Puerto Rico. Whether or not any are near you is still up in the air, but it's an option. These places are every bit as capable as an Apple store (maybe even more so) when it comes to diagnosing and repairing Apple computers. I'll spare you the dissertation, but let's just say I work for an AASP, and due to certain part constraints once had to send a system to one of Apple's repair depots. They put WAY too much thermal grease on the CPU and GPU, which caused the system to fail within a month. Even better was someone wiped thermal grease all over on the inside of the system. Just because someone works for Apple, doesn't automatically mean they aren't a blathering idiot. Like any company, they have some exceptionally talented people, and plenty of dead weight types to go along with them.

And getting the white iMacs open requires some special tools. Even if you have those tools, it's still a bit of a trick to actually open the thing. I hate working on those old white iMacs. Getting the front bezel off is ALWAYS a giant PITA, without fail. Getting it back on isn't exactly a picnic either, trying to hold the thing in place while connecting a few cables for which there really is no good angle to handle them, especially when you're trying to hold the front bezel in place. It's practically a two man job. Which is why it would be worth checking to see if there's an AASP near you, and paying them to do it. You could probably save some money buying a drive yourself and just paying them to install it for you.

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Sounds like a dying HDD to me

Sounds like a dying HDD to me. "disk0" would be the primary HDD, and if you're getting I/O errors... Well, let's just say it's not a good thing.

The fact that it happened immediately after upgrading is probably coincidental. Or it might just be that the stress of upgrading the OS was enough to push the drive over the edge. You have one of the original Intel based iMacs, so that puts the system at 5-6 years old. A HDD failing at that point in time is hardly out of the question. Plenty fail a lot sooner than that.

AHT, sadly, probably won't tell you anything's wrong. Some other program may or may not, but I've had systems come to me where people say they ran something like Tech Tools and it was throwing errors right and left, but when I run Apple's professional diagnostics, I get nothing.

But, assuming you have everything backed up that needs to be backed up, it would seem like it's a pretty simple matter in your case. Start by just reinstalling the OS, see if by some bit of dumb luck you didn't have some errant leftover program gumming things up. I expect that you won't even be able to get the OS to install however. If that ends up being the case, you replace the drive.

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