Really weird iBook problem! - ehMac.ca
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 10:33 AM   #1
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Unhappy Really weird iBook problem!

I don't know how to explain that problem... Anyway... I have an iBook G3 900, running 10.3.9. Bought August, 2003. Pretty long post, but I want to give as much details as possible.

Tuesday night, I downloaded a file throught BitTorrent (nothing illegal). When I woke up wednesday morning, the fan was running like hell. I wasn't surprised since BitTorrent client is a processor hog and I forgot to run my notebook cooler. No big deal I thought.

Like every morning, I checked my e-mails and surf on the Web for a few minutes while having I coffee. After 5 minutes or so, I had the spinning beachball and my iBook completely froze, as if the HD wasn't able to find any file. It kept searching, searching, searching... Overheating I thought. Had to hard reboot. Computer stuck on the Apple logo. Again, seemed like the HD couldn't find the files it was looking for. Had to hard shutdown...

I let it rest for half an hour to cool it. Rebooted. Everything went fine I thought... go figure. I was then that I heard for the first time that little squeaking sound (or chirping, or humming, hard to describe...) coming from the HD (I'm not sure about that one), even when it was idle. Still, the iBook ran fine... for 10 minutes or so. Again, the HD seemed on drugs: opening a small folder would take 10 seconds... I gave up and shutdown the computer. I had to go to work.

Came back from work and booted the computer. Same behavior. The iBook ran fine for 10 minutes approximately, even if my notebook cooler was working. I ran Hardware test and Disk Utility to no avail. Everything seemed fine : only a minor repair was done by Disk Utility.

This morning, fed up, I made a backup of my most important files and decided to format the drive and reinstall Panther. Here's the craziest part: formatting did not progress until I hold the iBook at a 30 degrees angle! Talk about home repair!

Still, I could hear that squeaking sound coming from the now empty HD. Fan problem maybe? I ran the first installation disk (the iBook was still at a 30 degrees angle, thanks to a well-placed dictionnary!). On automatic reboot, the fan started! The second installation disk was running when I left home for work this morning.

So, any idea? HD or fan problem? Hardware or software problem? What about overheating? Will I need the replace HD?

Really, I don't understand what's happening...

Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 02:46 PM   #2
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It's hard to tell without seeing the notebook and playing with it for a bit, but my first guess based on what you're describing is a dying hard drive. Although that *shouldn't* cause the fan to come on. My second one is a faulty logic board as that would cause the fan to turn on under certian circumstances. In fact, my gut is leaning in that direction.

Take it to a dealer that has lots of experience with iBook repairs and have them look at it.
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 03:17 PM   #3
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Sounds like your hard drive is running a bearing. Eventually it will seize. Get your stuff off NOW. If a bearing were getting tired, a period of excess heat could push it over the edge......

If you like to fix things just before they break, now is a really good time for that big 7200rpm drive you've wanted... Or you can wait for the really cool noises, closely followed by silence.
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #4
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The hard drive in your iBook is defective and will go completely dead in the next short bit of time. If the hard drive is acting up and causing crashes and producing extre heat because of it, the fan will act abnormally because the two work together. No surprise to me that the fan is also acting up because of the hard drive.
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 03:56 PM   #5
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How about hitting the iBook?

Well... First time I had any problem with an Apple product...

I've e-mailed Mac 911 for a quote. Could be $250 (time and material). It's about half my iBook market value...

Thanks for your insights.
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 03:59 PM   #6
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Could be $250 (time and material). It's about half my iBook market value...
Perhaps, but think about it more in this way: It's less than a quarter the price of a replacement iBook.
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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 04:15 PM   #7
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My iBook was acting up on me for a while, I never really knew if it was the logic board or the hard drive, but I decided to suspect the hard drive. I got a 40GB 5400 rpm drive for about $80 at a local little computer shop and did the swap myself.

It was a bit nerve-wracking at the very beginning, but by the time it was all taken apart I was very comfortable with it. Going back together was pretty easy.

Mine is a G4 800MHz 12". The stock drive was a 30GB so I didn't gain a lot of space, but it does seem quieter and maybe a tad cooler now.

Hard to judge speed impartially since I had Panther on the stock drive, and put Tiger on the new drive.

Anyhow, rather than shell out the $250, if you're feeling adventurous you could do the swap yourself. There are some good step-by-step instructions available on the web.

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Old Sep 8th, 2005, 09:17 PM   #8
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Have you tried booting up from a CD or external HD? If your powerbook runs stable, then your HD is most likely at fault. If not, your logicboard may be introuble.
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Old Sep 9th, 2005, 10:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rgray
Or you can wait for the really cool noises, closely followed by silence.
I heard one of these this morning... Something like scratching a chalkboard with an exacto knife...
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