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can repairing permissions cause trouble?

by qqqq88 / November 20, 2010 10:39 AM PST

I have a an old G4 running Mac 10.3.5 that I need to update to 10.3.9 to run a program. The machine has a long boot time so I'm worried it might die soon.

Anyways I am wondering if I should click "repair permissions" and/or "verify permissions" before I do the 10.3.9 combo update. Will this increase the chances that the 10.3.9 update will not cause problems? Or can repairing permissions itself cause trouble?
I have never repaired or verified permissions on this machine.

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It's a good idea
by Jimmy Greystone / November 20, 2010 12:09 PM PST

It's a good idea to do if it hasn't been done in a while. Small side story. Work as a repair tech for Apple systems, so I keep an external drive with a bootable OS on it. One time I was going to install the update on that drive, and it kept failing. So I ran a quick repair disk operation on it, and it found some issues, probably from the times I was "bad" and pulled the drive before fully ejecting it. After that, the update installed fine.

If you run a verify disk operation, it may come back saying it can't complete. At which case you pretty much know the drive is done for.

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by qqqq88 / November 21, 2010 10:50 AM PST
In reply to: It's a good idea

Thanks. So Jimmy if that update had kept failing on the machine's internal drive(instead of the external like in your situation), would you have still been able to boot up the machine? what would you have done if not?
I'm trying to do everything I can to prepare for something going wrong with my combo update. Besides backups, repairing and verifying permissions, I am wondering if there is anything else I should do to be ready for a problem.
And thank you to mrmacfixit for the other helpful replies.

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Not really
by Jimmy Greystone / November 21, 2010 11:04 AM PST
In reply to: question

Not really. You've pretty much done all you can. Backups are the main thing, so even in the worst case scenario of having to reinstall, you don't lose that.

And since I'm responding anyway, I'll also say that you can go back and forth in a point counterpoint debate for the HDD lifespan thing. For every point on one side or the other, there's at least one counterpoint on the opposite side. Pick one and stick with it. Don't spend a lot of time worrying about it.

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As stated, always a good idea
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / November 20, 2010 11:11 PM PST

to repair permissions before applying an update to the OS.

In your case, a slow boot "could" indicate a failing HD, hence the suggestion that you verify the HD while you are in disk utility.

Because it is your boot disk, Disk Utility will not be able to repair any problems, if any, it finds with the drive so you will have to boot from an external source, the OS X installation disk, and run the Disk Utility that is on the installation disk.

If DU cannot repair the disk, it is time to consider a replacement drive. Nothing over 120GB though.


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ok thanks
by qqqq88 / November 21, 2010 6:23 AM PST

so which should I click first, repairing or verifying permissions? Do they both need to be done from the installation disk?

Also, as far as replacement internal hard drives, is there a website similar to RAM) which will scan your machine and tell you which hard drives are compatible etc.?

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hard drive lifespan
by qqqq88 / November 21, 2010 6:32 AM PST
In reply to: ok thanks

one other question about preserving the hard drive's lifespan; is it best to put it to sleep or turn it off as much as possible? Or leave it running all the time? It'd seem it'd be best to put it to sleep but I've heard that the process of the hard drive firing back up is what puts stress on it.

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Repair permissions first
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / November 21, 2010 7:17 AM PST
In reply to: ok thanks

then verify the disk.
You can repair permissions from the internal drive but you cannot repair the HD from the internal drive.

After you verify the HD from the Disk Utility on the HD, if there are any problems you will need to use the installation disk to run DU from there after you have booted from the installation disk.

As for the sleeping question. Seems to be a matter of personal taste.

I have my iMac running 24/7, as was the G4 I had before this, and set it to go to sleep after an hour of inactivity.

All IDE hard drives are compatible with your machine. Make sure you do not purchase a SATA drive. This will not fit your machine unless you purchase a PCI card to go with it.
Stick to IDE, sometimes known as PATA, for your drive.


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