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MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your own suggestions in the comments.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed from our readers. This week we have questions on external disks no longer mounting even though they are recognized by the system, an iMac no longer turning on, and the latest Boot Camp update not installing. We continually answer e-mail questions, and while we present a few here, we certainly welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: External disk stops mounting

MacFixIt reader Arturo asks:

I have an external disk that suddenly stopped mounting. It shows under Disk Utility and I've tried running Verify and Repair Disk and then clicking Mount, but it does not do anything.

Have you tried attaching the drive when booted into Safe Mode (hold Shift at start-up)? If not, then give that a try.

One option is to try different USB/FireWire ports, but since the drive is recognized then this likely is not the issue. The next option is a problem with the drive's filesystem or partitioning scheme, which is more of a hassle to fix. Granted the filesystem checks out in Disk Utility, but it is likely a more robust option like Disk Warrior may find additional problems. Alternative utilities will cost a little for a license and are not guaranteed to fix anything.

You can also try the drive on another system to see if it will mount there. If so, then I would immediately back up the data and then both partition and format the drive.

Question: iMac not starting with pungent smell

MacFixIt reader "mwprods" asks:

Our 4 1/2-year-old iMac (20-inch , Intel, 2GHz) just went POP, screen to black, and no power, ability to restart. Lingering electrical burn smell, too. No thunderstorms or external power problems in area. So what blew, how serious, how fix/replace, and does this mean hard drive contents may be gone? Thanks!

Does the system show any activity when you press the power button (lights, fans, sounds, etc.)? If not, then the power supply is likely burned out. The system may have blown a capacitor in the power supply, which is a common reason for them to fail and also a reason why a pungent smell may be present (when capacitors burn out they often make a popping sound). In this case, the only solution will be to have the power supply serviced. This can be done at an Apple store or any other authorized Apple service center. Overall it is likely not a serious situation, but without power the computer is like a car with an empty gas tank and a dead battery.

Question: Boot Camp update not installing

MacFixIt reader Matthew asks:

I write to report that the Boot Camp update (64 bit), as with most of Apple's updates for the Windows platform, is broken.

Apple Software Update will download the update, appear to install it, request a reboot to finish, then nothing. Running Apple Software Update again will show that the same BootCamp update is available, and worse yet, reports that the update has been applied (see screenshot, you can see that I tried updating twice).

The standalone update balks if you don't have the Snow Leopard disk at the ready, as it asks for the BootCamp.msi. Not carrying it around with me at all times, I can't report if the stand alone works. The required msi file is not available at

I have noticed that many, many times Apple software updates always ask for one msi file or another. Why can't they get their act together?

Try installing the standalone updater for Boot Camp to see if that one installs correctly. The problem may be with your version of Apple's Software Update utility instead of the updates being presented in it.

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