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Shawn, Computer Engineer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 275
Experience:  15 years of Mac software and hardware troubleshooting experience, 10 years of programming experience
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I have a 2005 mac g4 laptop, never any problems. Yesterday

Customer Question

I have a 2005 mac g4 laptop, never any problems. Yesterday agreed to download new versions of itunes, quicktime etc. Worked fine all day. Then wouldn't open safari or itunes. Now it won't start up at all- it keeps sticking on the apple page with the spinning disc. It did start up in firewire mode...
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.
Hello Jack,

Let's try some troubleshooting to clean things up.

First, I'd like you to follow the directions at the URL below to boot into safe mode. This will execute a repair operation on your computer that should clean things up.

Once it has booted into safe mode (it may take up to 1/2 hour), restart again and let it boot normally. Let me know what happens - particularly if you get any error messages along the way. If it doesn't boot, there are other things we can try.

Kind regards,

Shawn and other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi Shawn,
its been a half hour of starting up in the safe mode and still no change- gray screen and progress indicator spinning away.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
also- I held the shift key right after the openning sound, but never saw any sign that it was in safe mode.
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.

It sounds like the problem might be more serious - it could be a failing hard drive, or it could be that the operating system needs to be reinstalled. Let's find out which is the case. You will need the system CD/DVD that came with your machine.

Go to the following URL and follow the directions under the heading "Try Disk Utility":

This will give you a verbose description of what (if any) problems are encountered during the operation of trying to repair the drive. Let me know in as much detail as you can of any errors that Disk Utility was *not* able to fix.

Thanks! Kind regards,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
So I found the original OSX discs and I'm at the first aid screen, but I don't see the disclosure triangle that would allow me to get into the contents of the hard disk and find the operating system. Do I "first aid" the whole hard disk?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Or should I just verify the whole hard disc (as opposed to repair). A little jittery about losing data.
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.

You should do a repair. If there are issues with trying to get data off of the drive then the repair operation is the first step anyway.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
1 HFS volume checked. No repairs necessary.
Expert:  Shawn replied 8 years ago.

Okay, then it's likely not a hardware problem. Let's try one more easy fix. I'd like you to reset the PRAM (parameter ram) by following the instructions under "Resetting PRAM and NVRAM" at:

That will probably not fix the problem, but it's quick to do. So... where this brings us is it looks like your machine needs a fresh copy of the operating system to be installed. This can be done WITHOUT losing your data, as long as you use the ARCHIVE AND INSTALL feature of the Mac OS X installer. This will make a backup of your system software, disable it, install a new copy of the system software, and then copy most of your settings and all of your files over to it. Then, you should be able to boot from your machine and you'll be all set.

Here are instructions from Apple on how to do an Archive and Install operation:

You mentioned being worried about your data. Since you can access the computer in Firewire target mode, I'd recommend backing up your important files to another drive just in case. Archive and install should preserve them, but it never hurts to have a backup.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions. Kind regards,

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for your help, Shawn. I will back it up and try the last strategy in the morning after a good sleep. Goodnight.