Model A1224 / Mid 2007 and Early 2008 / 2, 2.4, or 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor

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Can I save this computer? (or at least some of the data)

I have had this iMac since about 2008. The only thing that I've changed in terms of hardware is a RAM upgrade to 4GB. Ideally, I would like to continue using it, but at the minimum, I want to recover some files on it which were not backed up on any other drive.

On Sunday of last week the computer suddenly displayed the dreaded 'prohibition' or circle-with-cross symbol at startup. I tried several things to get it to boot properly including a PRAM reset, SMC reset, and booting into Safe Mode. None of this was successful - after I reset the PRAM, the machine would automatically reboot in a 5-minute cycle. I unplugged it and walked away to evaluate my other options.

Two days later, I decided to turn on the computer again and was delighted to be able to log in! It seemed that the problem had magically disappeared. I immediately went to work to try to back up some files onto an external HD. However, the computer was running very slow due to Spotlight indexing the machine. I ran a terminal command to kill Spotlight, but, the computer had slowed to a crawl. So I rebooted.

On my second successful log in I rushed to copy my documents to the external HD, but I was blocked by an "error code -36" ... The Finder could not copy the file because the ".DS_Store" file could not be read or written. Again, I tried to use Terminal to delete all the .DS_Store files, but the computer had ground to a halt about 20 minutes into the process. I had to shut it down.

I have not been able to log in successfully since then. Sometimes the computer will get to the log in screen but nothing seems to happen when I attempt to log in. Other times it just hangs.

My suspicion is that there is a problem with the hard drive. I think it may be overheating or seizing up - this would seem to explain why I cannot keep the computer running for more than about 20 minutes. The computer is not making any unusual noises or smells.

What can I do to revive this machine or recover some of the files?

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Chosen Solution

Try starting up in Safe Mode (hold down the Shift Key on start up.) Have an external drive already plugged in. Go immediately to our User folder > documents and drag it over. They to get one folder at a time out of the user folder. Do it one folder at a time. If it quits, check to see how far it got on another machine. Let it cool down then go back on the next boot to where it left off and grab some moe. Do this till you've got what you need. After you have saved what you need, consider replacing the drive with an SSHD. Do an internet install or a clean install from our original system installation disk.

You can then upgrade the system. Now hook up your external with your old user and drag that user into the User folder.

Now go to System preferences > Users. Hit the + button and as the old user and make it an administrator.

Install system on your external, boot from it and run Disk Utilities on the new internal drive. Now set the external up for a Time Machine backup, so you don't have to worry about this happening again.

Understand this machine is getting long in the tooth. Your most probable next failure will be the power supply. These can now be gotten new out of China for about $25. I ordered five last month. The next most common issue with this model is the GPU. It takes well to a rework with a hot air work station. Be a good scout and "Be Prepared" ;-) Blow the fans and vents out when changing the hard drive. This machine was built when Steve Jobs was still running Apple and is a quality product. With some care and maintenance it could easily last another decade.

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