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One possible fix for a non-visible external hard drive
Authored by: brw3sbc on Jan 19, '07 02:34:08PM

Although peripherally related (strange happenings), I recently had a spate of system crashes (the four language black box), Safari crashes, CD and DVD burn failures, and some HD scrambling. I covered a lot of ground in my attempts to resolve this, to the point that I actually lost some files to make more room on my HD (it was getting near the overfull level). At one point, I finally read the manual - the operations manual that came with my G5 PowerMac. There I was introduced to the Apple Hardware Test - a program resident on by original installation disk, found by booting from the disk with the OPTION key held down.

Although TechTool Deluxe had reported that my hardware was OK, the detailed Apple test identified a failed DIMM. A second test indicated the same DIMM as faulty. Swapping the indicated DIMM with its counterpart in the other bank saw the problem move with the DIMM in the subsequent test. Since removal of the pair, I've had no problems. My supplier has since confirmed the failed DIMM and we await replacements.

In retrospect, I could have shortened my agony by three days had I known about and performed the test at the outset; and I wouldn't be missing some of my files.

I'll bet some of you are asking why I'd not backed up. I had been. It's an every night routine. The problem was that I was using Apple's Backup, which may be fine as an archive application but miserable as a backup app because over the course of time, it chews through my backup HD until I am out of space. I then have to erase the HD and begin again, exposing my data to potential loss for the few hours that it takes to do the initial BU. I decided to switch BU software, and my efforts there were coincident with my RAM failure, coincident enough that I initially thought that the software was at fault. Efforts to store fles onto DVDs saw verification failures, leading me to believe that I had an optical drive failure as well. In the end, it was just the one DIMM that was causing all the problems.

Also, through this exercise, I discovered (it was a logical assumption that proved to be right) that when one puts a system into Target Mode, its optical drive works as a firewire external drive. Since I had thought the optical drive in my G5 tower had failed, I used a MacBook in target mode as my DVD drive for access to the Apple Hardware Test that is on my installation disk.

I learned a lot last week. I hope some of it has value for others.

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