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Ask Max: Nightmare G4 locks up, loses playlists, won't keep time!

Asked on 09/20/2006:

I have a G4 and from Day 1 it has been a nightmare. There is always something wrong. It will not function correctly after a power outage, or shutdown. If you turn off or unplug any peripheral the computer locks up. The CD drive does not function. I loose my iTunes tunes and playlists. It will not keep the correct date and time although the battery is good at 3.6 volts. I have an identical G4 at my office that functions brilliantly, (knock on wood).What could be the demon???


The first step to finding the root of a problem like this is to eliminate software as a possible cause. Borrow the other good G4 in your office. Move it close to your problem computer. Plug a keyboard and a power cable into the good G4, and start it up holding down the "T" key. Next connect the two Macs with a 6-to-6 Pin FireWire cable. Now start up your troubled Mac holding down the "Option" key. At a blue screen you'll be able to select the good G4's hard drive to boot off of. Select the drive and click on the right facing arrow. You will now have your troubled Mac booted off the good Mac's hard drive. Try to recreate the problems you have been having. If you cannot recreate the problems then you will know the problem is with the Operating System on the problem computer. You can just do a clean install or archive and install from a Mac OS install disc to fix that.However, I suspect that you are having a hardware problem, and when you do the above test the problems will continue to occur. In that case you are going to need to take it to a service center. I would guess that the problems you are having are caused by a faulty power supply. If you feel confident with service work you could test the power supply by switching it with the good Mac. If the good Mac becomes the bad Mac and your problems are solved then you know it is the power supply. If nothing changes then I would look next at the logic board, and that can be an expensive repair.Hope that get you closer to fixing that misbehaving Mac.

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