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Ask Michelle Your Own Question
Michelle
Michelle, Mac Technician
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 982
Experience:  Apple Computers and Mobile support with 12 years of exp.
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I have an iMac and I cannot get past Apple logo screen and

This answer was rated:

I have an iMac and I cannot get past Apple logo screen and spinning gear icon. Shut it down this morning and this started happening. Software that was open was 'frozen' when I elected to shut down.

Michelle :

Hi, and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am excited to get started with you.

So I can better assist you with your issue, I will need additional information. Do you know what version of OSX you are running?

Customer:

Lion OSx

Michelle :

Thank you for that additional information. From what you are describing, there may be an issue with your hard drive or your operating system may need re-installation. Lion comes with a built in recovery partition so lets check your hard drive first. Go ahead and shut down your computer. Then power it back on again an immediately press and hold both Command+R key until the apple logo appears

Customer:

Done

Customer:

Something happened

Michelle :

Now it should then boot into an install screen asking you to choose a language

Customer:

yes

Michelle :

Ok go ahead and choose english. Next you will see a series of options. Choose disk utility

Customer:

done

Michelle :

In the left column do you see where it says macintosh HD?

Customer:

yes

Michelle :

Select Macintosh HD and then choose verify disk at the bototm

Michelle :

bottom

Customer:

done

Michelle :

Let me know if it says "Macintosh HD is OK' Or if there is an error

Customer:

Looks like it is going to take a little while.

Michelle :

It should take about 5 mins

Michelle :

depending on if there are errors

Michelle :

Our goal is to see green and no red text

Customer:

Says to repair disk

Customer:

We failed in that regard

Michelle :

Ok go ahead and hit repair

Michelle :

Lets see if disk utility can correct the issues

Customer:

Invalid node structure

Customer:

Says it cannot repair disk

Customer:

I need to back up files

Michelle :

From past experience, invalid node structures is not repairable via disk utility and the hard drive itself will actually need replacement. Re-formatting the hard drive may fix your issue. It does wipe everything off. Do you have a backup?

Customer:

I have not backed up some of the files

Customer:

Maybe on iCloud. . . .

Michelle :

iCloud will backup pages documents, contacts, calendar. Not photos or pictures. When was your last backup?

Customer:

Not sure. . .

Customer:

Any chance I could get to files through networked computers?

Michelle :

At this point I am afraid it is too late.. You will not be able via network since it required the machine to boot. However, you can connect your imac to another mac using target disk mode. You may have issues copying files over since the drive is bad. Issues such as freezing

Michelle :

during file transfers

Michelle :

You will need a firewire cable to do so

Michelle :

Or thunderbolt depending on your computer's port

Customer:

okay

Michelle :

Do you have a thunderbolt or firewire cable?

Customer:

no, but I can get them

Customer:

So, this is a hardware issue?

Michelle :

Yes and No. Normally you can re-format the drive. But if that fails, it is hardware related and the hard drive will need to be replaced. Since your files are not backup, we can not re-format to see if that will resolve your issue. I would still recommend replacing the hard drive any ways. Since it is apparent that early signs of failure has occurred

Customer:

So, what do I need to do once I get Firewire or Thunderbolt

Michelle :

Ok first lets check which port you have. On your iMac, check to see if you have a thunderbolt. You will have a firewire 800 port already but do you see a port with a lightening bolt icon?

Michelle :

Full Size Image

Customer:

No lightning bolt

Michelle :

But firewire 800? (its is a square port)

Customer:

yes

Michelle :

Ok now what about the port on the other mac that you plan to connect it to. Does it also have a firewire port

Customer:

Well - I have 2 options - an older MacBook with older style Firewire port and a brand new Air with Thunderbolt

Michelle :

You will need to use the macbook. Since your iMac does not have thunderbolt. So you will need a firewire 800-400 cable (400 is what your macbook has) http://store.apple.com/us/product/HA833ZM/A/belkin-firewire-800400-9-pin6-pin-cable-2-m66-ft?fnode=51

Michelle :

I am sure you can find it much cheaper than that on ebay or amazon but that is what it looks like

Customer:

Any chance I can find that at Radio Shack or Walmart? Closest Apple store is long way away.

Customer:

Guess I could call them - if not, order online.

Michelle :

They certainly have it.

Customer:

So, once I retrieve information, I need to take computer to Apple Store for repair of hard drive. . .

Customer:

After I reset the OSX

Michelle :

You have two options. To transfer info from one computer to the next, You will need to connect the two first. Then on you imac, boot up while pressing and holding the T key until a firewire logo appears

Michelle :

Then on your Macbook, you imac as if an external drive was connected. Then connect an external drive to your macbook and transfer files there. Or if you have room on your Macbook, you can transfer files to your macbook

Michelle :

Once the transfer is complete and you have verified your data is backed up. Boot back into the recovery partition again on your Mac. (command+ R) go back to disk utility. Select your entire hard drive in the left column (the one above macintosh HD) and then choose Erase. Volume format should be mac os extended journaled

Michelle :

Don't worry I will give you links with detailed instructions

Customer:

Will this conversation be saved for me somewhere?

Customer:

Nevermind - I see the Save & Exit button

Michelle :

Yes. Once our chat is over, you can bookmark it and get back to it

Michelle :

Now if re-formatting your drive fails then you will need to take the trip to that apple store

Customer:

Well, I think I know what I will be doing for the remainder of the afternoon

Michelle :

Let me give you the links with detailed instructions

Customer:

Michelle - thank you very much - you have been fantastic

Michelle :

You are very welcome, would you like me to give you the links incase you get stuck?

Customer:

Please

Michelle :

1. Transfer files using target disk mode:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1661
Once that is complete..
2. Re-format drive
http://guides.macrumors.com/Formatting_an_External_Device
If it re-formate without an issue, then you can move on and re-install Mac os x
3. Quit Disk utility and choose Re-install Mac OS X and follow the onscreen instructions
If the re-partition fails, you will need to haul you iMac in for service :(

Customer:

Thanks again - you have been one of the most helpful Mac experts I have ever encountered. . .

Michelle :

For step 2 and beyond you you are booting back into the recovery partition (Command+R)

Michelle :

Awww than you for your kind words you are very welcome. Best of luck

Customer:

Take care

Michelle :

Thank you.. You too :)

Michelle and other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What if - even with the 800/400 cable - I cannot see the "dead" iMac. . . ?

Is the dead Mac in Target disk mode? It will display a target disk mode image
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

yes - it is


 

If your iMac is in target disk mode and it still can not see the dead mac, that means the Hard drive is not in good shape. Look in Finders preferences to make sure. On your macbook pro, click on Finder and then choose Preferences.. Under General Check Hard disk, External disk and connected servers if they were not checked already. Then click on sidebar and do the same for devices. If all are already checked and the drive still does not show up, it means the issue with your hard drive is preventing it from showing up