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Old 2007-12-18, 01:13   Link #1
Ledgem
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iBook System Failure: Won't Boot

Greetings all. I'm coming to this forum with a problem plaguing a friend. I've never seen anything like this before, and wanted to know if anyone had seen something similar, or could offer any advice.

If I have the story correct, it's like this: my friend has an iBook G4 that's about three years old. Yesterday when she pressed the power button, nothing happened - she heard a slight whirring sound, but the usual Apple start tone did not sound, and the screen didn't display anything. After a bit of mashing the power key the system turned on, but after shutting it down later, it would not start up again. Another friend of ours who is rather good with Macs recommended that she try a key combination that resets the PRAM (the PRAM probably stands for "preferences RAM" - based on what I understand, it's something like the Mac equivalent of a CMOS). It didn't do anything, and my friend diagnosed it as likely being a failed logic board (motherboard).

My friend continued trying the PRAM reset combination, and eventually the computer started up. If I understand her correctly, when she physically moved it, it shut off and would not start up again. I may have misunderstood her about that part though.

I looked over the system myself. When the power button is pressed, the whirring sound largely comes from the hard drive. It sounds like it attempts to spin up, but doesn't get very far - as though it weren't receiving enough power. After about three seconds it completely stops, and any other system noise seems to be derived from the fan spinning slowly. Holding the power button will not shut the system down - the battery and power cord must be removed.

According to my friend, she didn't do anything weird with her system or handle it roughly, this just started happening. When she managed to successfully start it last her date and time were reset, which could be indicative of her motherboard battery failing, but also occurs when the PRAM is reset.

For those without much Mac experience, HD issues are ruled out. If the HD fails or is not detected, the screen will still turn on and the tone will sound, but a question mark and a Finder icon will display, indicating that the boot partition cannot be found. In this case, the screen isn't turning on and it doesn't sound like much is going on.

Does anyone have any clues about what's going on, and perhaps how to fix it? I'm very curious to know what happened - I think I know what's happening (problems with power being supplied) but I'm not sure how it could happen.

She'll be taking her system to an Apple store this weekend, so we'll get the "official diagnosis" then. I'd still like to be able to guide her about what the best options are - is the problem severe enough that she should think about getting a new system, or is it a repairable issue. Any comments are appreciated.
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Old 2007-12-18, 01:42   Link #2
grey_moon
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What your friend said about the PRAM rings a bell. I don't know anything about Macs, but I remember not so long ago a pub discussion that sounds very similar to your situation, the drunken conclusion was that the battery/cell powering the PRAM was about to die and to replace it. It was a G3 if I remember correctly so it might not be the same.
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Old 2007-12-18, 01:49   Link #3
Ledgem
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Did I read that right... a pub discussion? About computer failings? What pub was this, if you don't mind my asking?

I suggested that she try replacing the motherboard battery, as it's cheaper than going for a logic board replacement (if you can even get them these days). Good to know that you second it
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Old 2007-12-18, 02:11   Link #4
Sazelyt
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I just did a google search on that, and it seems the problem you have mentioned is not uncommon. But, I think it might be quicker to check Apple's support forum, to get an answer, as I see many threads that are related to power failures.
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Old 2007-12-18, 03:02   Link #5
Ledgem
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Thanks for the suggestion. Most of the problems mentioned seem to deal with failing hard disks or corrupted operating systems. The only one that seemed to relate had the solution of resetting the PMU/PRAM, which was performed and didn't help. It's a hardware failure of some sort, I suppose.
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Old 2007-12-18, 03:38   Link #6
GHDpro
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I think it might still be the HD, in one way or another. But anyway:

- Considering it's a iBook, let all components inside it go without power for a few minutes. Or in other words: remove the power adapter and physically remove the battery and leave it like that for a few minutes. It won't hurt, but who knows, it might help

- Try a NVRAM reset: press Command-Option-O-F (Apple key + Alt key + "o" + "f") while booting until you get into a bit peculiar looking screen that reads "Open Firmware" among a few other things. Then use these commands (each followed by enter of course):
reset-nvram
reset-all

After the second command the iBook should reboot automatically.

- The clock resetting is a direct result of a PRAM reset. It's the Mac equivalent of a BIOS reset.
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Old 2007-12-18, 04:40   Link #7
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The boot up chime is actually there to tell you that the self-diagnosis ended successfully. If you don't hear it, that means there has been a hardware failure during early booting.

If the iBook did shut down when she moved it, then that would strongly indicate a hardware failure. It could be a simple as a loose wire to the last breaths of the logic board.

I'm not sure if the PMU-NVRAM could fail the boot test in that you wouldn't hear the chime anymore. But if you tried resetting it and that didn't help, then a software failure can be quite definitely ruled out.
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Old 2007-12-19, 21:34   Link #8
Epyon9283
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You said you reset the PRAM and then later added PMU. Did you actually do the Shift-Control-Option-Power for a PMU reset?

PMU issues can result in a machine that won't power on although this honestly sounds like the hardware is going.
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Old 2007-12-21, 13:37   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epyon9283 View Post
You said you reset the PRAM and then later added PMU. Did you actually do the Shift-Control-Option-Power for a PMU reset?
As a side note, the process to reset the PMU is not consistent between the models. It changes every few models, actually. ^^'
You can find the procedure for a specific model on the apple site: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=14449
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Old 2007-12-21, 20:56   Link #10
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Yeah I posted the one for the ibook g4.
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Old 2007-12-25, 14:24   Link #11
Ledgem
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Just to update, my friend took it to the Apple store and it turns out that the logic board had failed. The logic boards on her line of iBook had actually been recalled, but the service offered by the recall ended about five months ago.
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