Tag Archives: Macintosh Not Starting

Blast From The Past: Want to Repair Your Own Mac? Don’t Bother.

This was an editorial that I wrote about 4 years ago! Here it is in all of its glory:


Want to Repair Your Own Mac? Don’t Bother.

A good portion of today’s Mac users are obviously switching from the Microsoft Windows world, and in their own time were used to many givens in that world. One of those givens was the ability to be able to literally rip open a PC and fix, tinker and repair your way to a working computer. I often hear of PC users replacing motherboards, modding cases, adding and subtracting hard drives and optical drives, but, I rarely ever hear a new iMac owner saying things like “Wow, I just replaced my logic board and upgraded the processor while I was in there for the fun of it,” or, “Boy, my 2 terabytes of hard drive space spread over my 4 hard drives really makes my Mac much better to work with.” The reason you don’t hear these statements coming from a Mac user is simply because Apple doesn’t want nor allow you to easily perform these types of upgrades or repairs on most Macintosh hardware.

Ever since the early days of the Macintosh, Apple has had a love-hate relationship with those users who have technical backgrounds enough to repair or upgrade their own machines. The stories call back to the days when there were fights within the early days of Apple as to whether to allow something as simple as a ram upgrade to be handled by the customer or, whether to even allow expansion slots in the early Macs. Often, the company won this battle owning to the fact that customers tinkering around inside machines could bring the said computer to its demise and hold the company responsible for any futher repair work. So, the expansion slots and various other upgrades just weren’t offered on most Macintoshes, and even to this day, repairing or upgrading your own Mac is often either impossible or very difficult compared to the average PC.

Most veteran Macintosh users are fairly savvy when it comes to upgrading or making simple repairs on their computers. For whatever reason, this concept seems to be lost on this select pool of users who could do these upgrades and repairs without having to bother the Apple service centers. Does Apple purposely design the computers to be impossible to work on for any specific reason? In the last five or more years, Apple has built its entire business on converting the masses from the PC world to the Macintosh world, however, one of the very reasons it can be useful to work on the PC is the fact that you can easily change out mostly any part you wish. I feel strongly that Apple has either lost sight of this fact, or, there’s an underlying reason as to why it’s just plain difficult (or next to impossible) to swap out any parts on a Mac, except ram.

Oddly enough, during the reign of the recent iMac G5’s (now discontinued, of course) Apple allowed full customer access to the innards of the computer for the very first time, other than previous pro-level G4 and G5 towers here and there. Even better, a customer could order replacement parts for the iMac right from Apple, including power supplies, optical drives, and even logic boards if you were so inclined to swap these out yourself. I thought that was a revolutionary step for Apple, allowing complete access to any part of the machine, and even encouraging you to attempt these repairs yourself with detailed guides to help you along. Unfortunately, almost as soon as it began, those particular iMacs were discontinued in favor of the newer iMacs which now included the integrated iSight cameras. Now if you have ever seen the take apart guides for the iSight iMac, you will be utterly amazed on how anti-repairable these machines are. You literally have to open the machine by jamming a credit card into the back ventilation slot to try to disengage the hidden tabs that may or may not even be reachable. This can take upwards of at least ten minutes just to get the back case off. Then, you have to remove hidden screws around the display to get to the guts of the machine without damaging the video cables first. Now, on a similarly-equipped PC, a simple hard drive swap would take you roughly five to ten minutes, not counting the Windows installation. As I mentioned, it can take ten to fifteen minutes just to get the back case of these iMacs off!

Apple needs to make this the final nail in the coffin of trying to get the masses to move to the Macintosh; simple repairs. I don’t want to have to take my machine to the repair center every time a logic board or hard drive blows apart and I’m sure PC users feel the same. Allow the users to get in and get their hands dirty with repairs or upgrades; if they damage anything then they can be responsible for it. Chances are, if they damage something, given easy access, they can simply repair it themselves instead of being blamed by Apple that they broke it while tinkering around inside the machine. At the very least, allow the users access to the main components such as the hard drive and optical drives with easy to access panels. This would cut down useless trips to the service centers, which are clogged up with repairs that could easily be attempted by the more savvy users who aren’t afraid of the screwdriver.


Your Mac Startup Disk Full

My Mac just got a ‘Startup Disk Full’ Warning. What now?

Your Mac Startup Disk FullThis is a scary message because nobody seems to understand what it means! Apple, in all their ease-of-usefulness, forgot to make this message a little more user-friendly. What this message means in human-speak is that your internal hard drive, which is where all of your data (photos, documents, music, etc.) is stored is now full. Visualize a 5-gallon bucket for a moment. If you fill this bucket to about 90%, a voice will yell at you saying “Hey, you just filled the bucket up to 90%!” Though this doesn’t sound very problematic, since it’s just a bucket and all, it’s actually a HUGE problem if left unchecked.

What can happen when your startup disk, or bucket, is full is that the computer no longer has any room to perform its operations–it’s almost as if the computer is suffocating and has no more air to breathe. When this happens, the computer simply will get to a point that it will no longer startup, or boot in geekspeak.

At this point when you see the “Startup Disk Full” message, you will want to immediately begin to either back up your data to an external hard drive for safe-keeping, or, begin going through your data and deleting older data that you may no longer need. These files will always start with videos and photos, since they take up the most data, and then into music and documents. Thankfully, Capital Mac can help you figure out what is using all of this data and how to get it safe before it’s lost forever.

Why is my Macintosh booting to a gray screen all of a sudden?

Booting to OS X Gray Screen“I woke up today to turn my computer on and it’s now booting to nothing but either a gray screen, or, a gray screen with the Apple logo and a loading bar at the bottom of the screen.”

During my time with Apple, this was something I heard about umpteen times a day. What it usually means is either a failed hard drive, hard drive cable, or, directory damage that is stopping the unit from booting. Rarely, it’s a problem with the operating system, but, usually it’s one of the first 3. Read more below the fold!
An easy way to check this out is to force reboot the computer and hold down these 2 keys: COMMAND and the S keys simultaneously, which puts the computer into a mode called “Single User Mode.” This mode will cause the screen to turn black and display a whole bunch of white text, similar to an old DOS computer. When you see this text, you can let go of the keys. At the end of this stream of text, you will eventually get a prompt where you can type on the keyboard. Type this line of text just as you see it, with the spaces between:

fsck -y -f

Hit return on the keyboard and wait. Eventually, it’s going to either pass or fail–if it fails, you will see something that states the Macintosh HD could not be repaired, or maybe disk I/O error in that text. If it fails with either of these faults, you will most likely have to either erase the hard drive, or, replace the hard drive and cable. What you are seeing is directory damage, which can happen to anyone at anytime for any reason and it will prevent the computer from booting. Sometimes, the directory damage will be small and the built-in utility can repair it enough to get you on your way. Otherwise, you would need a higher strength disk utility such as DiskWarrior.

If you are nervous about doing any of this on your own, it’s Capital Mac to the rescue! Contact us for any types of gray screen or stuck at the Apple logo that you may experience on your Macintosh. We’re here to help!

Why is my Macintosh beeping 3 times when I turn it on?

Macintosh RAM ChipWhat do you do when you hear 3 beeps when you try to turn on your computer? First of all, don’t panic. What this typically means in one of about 3 possible problems. First of all, this usually means that the built-in memory (not where your files are stored), or RAM, is either damaged, not seated correctly, or, the slot that they plug into is malfunctioning. A last dark horse that could cause this triple beeping is a strange bug while running Google Drive software on a Macintosh running 10.6 (Snow Leopard). If you meet this last condition, either deinstall Google Drive or upgrade your Macintosh operating system. See some more suggestions below after the fold below!

If your RAM is causing this beeping, what has to happen first is a reseat of the internal RAM. This means opening the bottom of the computer and removing the RAM chips and reseating them. You will want to have anti-static working conditions for this, such as an anti-static wrist bracelet or mat. This assures that you won’t zap the internal components of your Macintosh with harmful static electricity. Sometime, you will want to only reinstall 1 chip at a time, and through the process of elimination, you can figure out which RAM stick is bad.

If this post helped you out, please consider a small donation!