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Ask Max: Apple PowerBook G3 Error: ™Unlocking the Disk.™

Asked on 01/07/2009:

I have an Apple PowerBook G3 running OS 9, and when I turn it on it starts up fine but about half way through the start up a screen came up and said ™Sorry, the desktop folder on the start up disk could not be created. Try unlocking the disk.™
I do have an iMac with OS C and I put the restore CD in and nothing… What do I need to do now?


Some late-model, used PowerBooks have FireWire on them and those units could be booted into Target Disk Mode (TDM). You do this by holding down the [T] key on startup of the PowerBook. Then you can connect your two Apple computers together with a FireWire cable. The PowerBook’s hard drive should appear on the Desktop of your iMac. You then can use Disk Utility to repair the drive. Also, make sure that your PowerBook drive is not full; it sounds as if you may have a full hard drive and that may be causing your boot-up issues.

If you do not have FireWire or the above does not work, you can try booting up your Apple computer with the [Shift] Key held down. This will boot OS 9 in a limited mode that should help you diagnose the problem. There is a good chance it will also fail, but holding down the [Shift] key turns off extensions and those can often be a cause of a failed OS 9 boot. If that works then you need to sort through your extensions folder to find the culprit.

If everything above fails, then you will need to find a retail copy of OS 9 to boot up the computer and repair or replace the installed OS on the drive. It would probably be best to backup the data off the PowerBook and erase the drive. Then you can reinstall a clean copy of the Mac OS.

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