This Power Mac G4 has Mirrored Drive Doors.

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Boot first to question mark, then hard restart to normal boot.

So when I turn on my G4 MDD it sits at the grey screen for a minute or so, then I get the question mark/sad face folder icon. If I let the computer sit at the error message for 15-20 minutes, then perform a hard restart, the computer will boot normally.

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The question mark means your machine cannot find an operating system. The hard drive with your boot system is probably trying to fail. To confirm this put a system on another of your internal drives (your machine will take four internal hard drives). On this machine I liked to have one drive for just a backup. This was a great machine!

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Why would that explain leaving the computer sitting at the error message for twenty minutes, then immediately hard restarting it and having it boot properly?

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