How I spent the 4th.

Whitehill

Registered
When I tried to do anything Wed. morning, the beach-ball started spinning. So I patiently quit all applications and tried to restart.

Oops - the gray screen of death. Power off, power on - same thing. Power off, power on with option key: it presented me with my system disk, my TechTools eDrive, and my SuperDuper external drive.

Choosing the latter, I arrived at the gray screen again. Hmmm. Evidently whatever was wrong got copied to that drive in the previous daily update.

Choosing the eDrive, it booted and I started running diagnostics. It didn't reveal anything interesting and got stuck somewhere in the system checks.

At that point I had a cookout to attend. Thursday morning, today, I tried reinstalling from my Lion install DVD - yes, I had made one - and in two attempts it stalled after loading the Italian package. Arrivederci.

The one remaining option was to restore from my TM disk. It worked! It booted! So far, the worst that has happened is Mail demanded to import everything. And Safari has lost the handful of extensions I had installed.

OK, gurus. What should I do now? And what should I do soon to avoid this in the future?
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
Have a viable backup at all times! All hard drives WILL fail and the failure rate is arbitrary. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but is my many years of computing have backed up my feeling.
 

djackmac

ACMT
Have a viable backup at all times! All hard drives WILL fail and the failure rate is arbitrary. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but is my many years of computing have backed up my feeling.
Considering the age of the machine (if the machine in the sig and original drive?), I'd say more problems are on the horizon. Start shopping drive prices and make sure backups are up to date and good.
 

Whitehill

Registered
Have a viable backup at all times! All hard drives WILL fail and the failure rate is arbitrary. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but is my many years of computing have backed up my feeling.
That's what I thought I had with SuperDuper. How does one determine viability? Should I try to start up from it every day / week / month?

Yes, the machine in question is 4 years old.
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
Well TechTools should alert you when running.

The more I think about it is might be bad running program messing with you Lion system files. Keep an eye on the Console logs to see if you see many errors on something.

You are doing the right thing with a clone & Time Machine. My feeling you should clone once every 3 days and let Time Machine run at it's normal interval. This way you have a backup and also have a good files backup (with Time Machine).

Also check and make sure all you RAM is running without errors. Plus to be sure run in Single-User Mode and run fsck -fy on your startup drive, to be sure.
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Your backups are to protect your files.
I also think that your backup combination should be a good one.
One thing that a backup does NOT do, is extend the working life of your existing hard drive.
If you continue to have problems that MIGHT be associated with a questionable hard drive, then you continue to back up (the full clones every 3 days seems like very often, but may be a good plan when you begin to experience the early signs of HD death.
And, so you consider replacements - 3 or 4 years of HD life seems to be a fairly normal replacement interval. Should you expect longer life from a HD? Sure, but there's a short side to that, too, for what many long-time users expect, especially for those that are used in a commercial environment.
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
One more thing. Use /Applications/Utilities/System Information (or just hold down the 'option' key while clicking on the top left Apple symbol) and in the application highlight memory and see if any of your RAM sticks is throwing up errors.
 

Whitehill

Registered
The more I think about it is might be bad running program messing with you Lion system files. Keep an eye on the Console logs to see if you see many errors on something.
The system does seem to be a bit more responsive after this ordeal. On the console I am seeing quite a few of these:
7/7/12 10:14:28.183 AM mdworker: (Error) ImportPluginLoading: Couldn't load plugin 'file://localhost/Library/Spotlight/iWeb.mdimporter/'
Nothing else sticks out.

One more thing. Use /Applications/Utilities/System Information (or just hold down the 'option' key while clicking on the top left Apple symbol) and in the application highlight memory and see if any of your RAM sticks is throwing up errors.
No issues shown there. And I ran TechTool's RAM test a few times - all passed. And its Surface Scan test located about a dozen bad blocks on the 1T device, none associated with files. The OS seems to be managing them OK.

As for replacing the disk ... After looking up instructions on the internet, I don't believe I want to get personally involved. The closest licensed tech gave me an informal estimate of $400, parts and labor, to swap in a 2T drive. Is that reasonable?

Of course I have no hard evidence of disk problems.
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
The system does seem to be a bit more responsive after this ordeal. On the console I am seeing quite a few of these:
7/7/12 10:14:28.183 AM mdworker: (Error) ImportPluginLoading: Couldn't load plugin 'file://localhost/Library/Spotlight/iWeb.mdimporter/'
Nothing else sticks out.
Then reindex spotlight to see if that clears up that error.




As for replacing the disk ... After looking up instructions on the internet, I don't believe I want to get personally involved. The closest licensed tech gave me an informal estimate of $400, parts and labor, to swap in a 2T drive. Is that reasonable?

Of course I have no hard evidence of disk problems.
Not sure since I don't have an iMac. I have heard of TurnKey for iMac and also saw videos & teardown posts but have never tried it myself. Sorry.
 

Whitehill

Registered
Well, I have the evidence now. After working well since about 1pm 7/5, this morning the console started filling up with disk errors. I restarted into TechTools on the eDrive, but it didn't behave. Evidently it's not just the main volume, but the whole device. I restarted into TechTools on the DVD, but any attempt to access the offending drive took forever.

I am restarting now into the DiskWarrior DVD, but I don't expect much.

Sometime over the weekend I decided, if something like this happened, I would just order a new system. I can't afford the time to go at it piecemeal trying to keep a 4 year old system on its feet.

It doesn't owe me anything. If I amortize the cost over its good lifetime, I had a really nice system for less than $40 per month. Not too shabby.

Meanwhile, I still have my 8 year old G4 PowerBook ...
 

Whitehill

Registered
I suppose I could have waited here in the dark until ... when? But it begs the question: Why? SSD drives are rather expensive, to put it mildly. And I now have an unused Thunderbolt port and don't feel a pressing need for an unused eSata port.

I understand what you're saying, but I have heard the same question since soon after I bought my first Mac in 1984. Don't the years just fly by when you're having so much fun?
 

Satcomer

In Geostationary Orbit
I suppose I could have waited here in the dark until ... when? But it begs the question: Why? SSD drives are rather expensive, to put it mildly. And I now have an unused Thunderbolt port and don't feel a pressing need for an unused eSata port.

I understand what you're saying, but I have heard the same question since soon after I bought my first Mac in 1984. Don't the years just fly by when you're having so much fun?
Oh I forgot about the Thunderbolt port. Well I guess you can wait (and save up) because the I have a feeling this Holiday season Thunderbolt external drives should go down.
 
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