Apple's line of PowerBook laptops was intended for the professional and power users. The PowerBook line includes the PowerBook 100, Duo, 500, and 5300 Series; the PowerBook 1400, 2400, 3400; the PowerBook G3, G4 Titanium, and G4 Aluminum.

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G4 PowerBook won't start up properly

I've had my 15" G4 PowerBook for around 5 or 6 years, and it's had a few problems, but now it is no longer starting up properly (does not get past blue/grey apple screen) and was wondering if anyone could enlighten me as to what the problem might be and what can be done about it.

Firstly, it did need a complete hard drive replacement within it's first year, and it also had a failure of one of the RAM slots a few years ago (which I solved by moving the card to the other slot). And I had noticed over the last few months that it wasn't taking much for the fan(s) to come on, suggesting that it was overheating for some reason.

That said, here is the problem:

I was simply web-browsing whilst adding some files to itunes (this caused the fan to activate) when the computer completely froze and made a prolonged glitchy noise. After several minutes I forced a restart with the main power button, and it seemed to start ok (power-on chime) until it got the grey/blue screen with the apple logo, where it just hung, occasionally making clicking noises. After several restarts the kernal thing did appear and it finally got to a black screen with white script in the top left corner which read something like this:

can't boot in single user mode

disk 0s3 Input/Output error

localhost:/I have no name!#

However this is the only time out of many restarts and much waiting that it has managed to get past the grey/blue apple screen.

My next step was to try and boot from the OSX 10.4.6 start-up disc using the Utility function. This worked until I selected the HD to repair and was told it could not perform the function because the HD could not be 'unmounted'. On a second attempt it seemed to have been 'unmounted' and started a repair but then stopped, saying something like:

Rebuilding catalog B-tree

Invalid node structure

Error: the underlying task reported failure on exit.

On further attempts to use the OSX disc, it no longer seemed to be able to recognize the hard drive, with 'HD' being written in grey as opposed to black with the rest of the script. It's status is 'unmounted', whatever that means. Also, when selecting to install OSX, there is no 'HD' drive in the options to select for installation.

So I'm guessing this might well be a write-off, but my questions are:

1) As far as the machine is concerned, what exactly has happened here, what does it mean and what can I do about it?

2) As far as data on the hard drive is concerned, will any data salvaging disks such as DiskWarrior etc be able to work if the OSX start-up disk is unable to find/recognize the HD?

Thanks for reading, any help/advice/comments would be much appreciated.

Thanks again in advance!

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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I concur, sounds like a bad hard drive. But to be absolutely 100% sure that it's not something else, or that something else is also not wrong, you might want to connect your machine to another via firewire cable, power the remote computer up in target mode, and then boot the laptop in option mode, and select the remote computer's drive. If the laptop works perfectly using the remote hard drive, then you can rest assured it's the hard drive and that your computer itself is still fully functional.

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You need a new hard drive - it has failed from old age. Input / output errors aka "bad sectors" are when the drive can no longer read certain parts of itself, the more and more this occurs, the machine slows down, until something important is no longer able to be read, like something required for booting, etc. as the OS attempts to move itself around to prevent "stepping on a landmind" (bad sector) it thrashes the Directory Structure - This inclues the B-tree, node, etc..

Simply put, you need a new harddrive, Install a clean OS on that new drive, and you will be all set.

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Thanks very much for your replies, kind of confirmed what I had suspected about the hard drive having some pretty fatal problems.

As for booting it from another computer via firewire - I have no idea how I would go about this. I don't have another mac, only a PC, so would that still be possible? If you could point me in the direction of an 'idiots' guide to this process that would be much appreciated..

Also, if the HD on the PowerBook is no longer mounting.. is any kind of data retrieval possible?

Thanks again!

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Hi! Unfortunately the firewire procedure is only available using another Mac. If you took the computer to an Apple store, they might be willing to try it there (although "might" is the key word...sometimes they do things like that for free, and sometimes they charge you when the computer is out of warranty, etc.)

I'm not too familiar with data recovery software, but one that was recommended by another person on this site was:

Another thing you can do is remove the hard drive from the computer and put it in an external enclosure like this one:

Firewire ATA Laptop Hard Drive Enclosure

If you need a USB enclosure instead of firewire, they sell them on eBay very cheap, or at places like Fry's and MicroCenter. Anyway, sometimes putting a drive in an external enclosure and connecting it that way or to another computer for some reason causes the drive to be accessible, at which point you can copy the data off, etc. If you but an enclosure, just make sure to get one that is standard ATA/IDE (not SATA).

Anyway, good luck! It sounds fairly certain that the drive is dead, so if further troubleshooting is not possible, it's probably pretty safe to go ahead and get another drive.

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Ok thanks for your time and all the info. It's not my sole computer and I do have most stuff backed up so I'll probably give Data Rescue 3 a try in the new year when I have more time, but otherwise I'll probably look at getting a new machine.

Thanks again for your help - really appreciate it!

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Find a friend with a mac and see if you can firewire/target connect your mac to his or hers. I have had Hd failures and sometimes have been able to save data. Replacing a hard drive is pretty simple in a G-4. I believe You just need that torq srewdriver to loosen the screws on the bottom of the computer. Take out the battery first.

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