Learn from my mistakes. Please.

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Editorial

Here is a story about why you should all do as I say and not as I do.

About a week and a half ago my 20″ iMac G5 started to turn off by itself. I thought it was a fluke at first, but when it happened 2 nights in a row I began to get suspicious. So I began the normal troubleshooting procedure: plugged into another outlet, reset the PRAM, ran repair permissions, reset the Energy Saver settings, reset the SMU, etc. Now, this is my main desktop system where I store all my iPhotos and other personal files, so you would think at this point it would have been a good idea for me to make a backup right? Of course it would of, but if I had, I would not be writing this and since I am, I’m hoping sharing my story will allow you to learn from my idiocy.

Fast forward to last night. The issue had become progressively worst and was now at the point where the iMac would shut off one or two minutes after you turned it on. So now I am pretty sure I need a new power supply and can take it in to AppleCare, but I need a backup and the machine won’t stay on. What do I do? I’m the Mac guy, this isn’t a problem, I can solve this, right? I’ll just remove the drive, put it in an enclosure, pull the data off, put the drive back in and take the iMac into Apple for service. Easy. Problem solved. Not quite.

iMac HD temp sensor cableI go out this morning and buy an external USB 2.0 SATA drive enclosure and begin the process of transplanting the drive from my iMac to the new enclosure. I figured it was no big deal since the hard drive in the iMac is a customer replaceable part and Apple even provides instructions in the DIY area of their support site. I print out the instructions and begin the process of opening my iMac and removing the drive. It is going great until I reach step 4. In this step you are supposed to remove a tiny black connector (see image) from the hard drive temperature sensor which is attached to the side of the drive. The problem is the sensor is damn small and as I gently try to coax it out of the socket by the connector I hear a tiny “crack” sound! The top wire pops lose followed by the rest as little tiny bits of plastic around the connector fall away. Crap! I just broke the connector. Needless to say, now my iMac really needs repair and I will be paying for it. The good news is I did get the drive out and was able to make a backup with Carbon Copy Cloner so my data is safe.

I am now off to the Apple Store with my broken iMac in tow and hopefully they will only charge me for the small cable I broke or the temperature sensor part and not more. I should also mention that when I called AppleCare to admit my wrong doings I spoke with a nice rep named Kurt. Kurt informed me that while I will be responsible for the damage I caused, my AppleCare is still in tact for the rest of my iMac and they will be able to diagnose and repair my power issue under warranty.

Geeks, I write this as a cautionary tale to you all. If I had only heeded my own advice I would not have a broken iMac and I would not be paying for what is sure to be a costly repair. Learn from my example and don’t end up like me. Do your backups.

There are 26 comments on Learn from my mistakes. Please.:

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  1. James | Jun 26 2006 - 02:08

    dude, that sucks. I’ll definitely be making nightly backups now…

  2. Justin | Jun 26 2006 - 02:23

    That really sucks. Hmmmmm…..I think I might need to start doing more than copying important documents, full res. pictures, and music to my ipod.

  3. Dave | Jun 26 2006 - 04:49


    Have you found out why your Mac was shutting down automatically? Where you running a script or had a Power setting wrong or what?

  4. maccast | Jun 26 2006 - 05:01

    Dave, turns out this is an issue with some of the earlier iMac G5s and there is even a warranty extension program in place, http://www.apple.com/support/imac/repairextensionprogram/. The issue is defective power supplies and logic boards that cause power loss and video issues. My machine had the right logic board but a defective power supply.

  5. Appleologist | Jun 26 2006 - 06:52

    My iMac G5 had the same problem, except the fans were running rapidly and it was starting to smell like it was burning. Luckily, I had backuped the day before and Apple was able to fix it with no charge.

  6. Leonard | Jun 26 2006 - 07:11

    I am sorry this happened to you :( I hope that you are
    able to get it back to its regular state asap without spending to much. Over the years I have done similiar things. I understand your problem alot becausee I always think about the fix it approach and sometimes I get in trouble.

  7. Clark | Jun 26 2006 - 08:12

    I have Apple’s .Mac Backup application backup my stuff every day at 1 am. It’s great, cause with the power preferences, i can tell my mac to turn itself on at 12:45, then turn off at 3. No power wasting here!

    Once a month I backup to CDs as well.

    I guess I never thought that data loss actually happened, I pretty much thought it was a myth. Unless there was like, a hurricane or something.

  8. Bruce Aguilar | Jun 26 2006 - 09:30

    Like clark, I use .Mac’s Backup program every day to back up my sensitive files. Your story remindes me that a system wide backup is the best solution. I’ll have to buy a larger external drove to do that though. But I guess it will save me much stress if I ever need it.

    Thanks for the lesson Adam.

  9. rose matthews | Jun 27 2006 - 01:08

    so I’m at the eMac editing a bunch of family photos to make a calendar to send out at xmas (if you haven’t checked out calendars in iPhoto 6 do so – it’s great fun) and iPhoto starts doing really weird stuff. I restart but it starts mis behaving again. I think I’ll have a cup of tea and check my fav podcasts websites & see what’s happening before I start troubleshooting. I read Maccast and I guess you all know what I’m going to right now!
    Thought you looked extra stressed last time I checked the webcam Adam although I don’t think I’ve seen you smile. How bout a big cheesy grin?

  10. Neil | Jun 27 2006 - 05:40


    Is the serial number of your iMac G5 within the ranges covered by the repair extension program? I had the same problem with my iMac G5 with a serial number (W8523xxxxxx) not in the covered ranges and had the power supply exchanged under regular (not extended) warranty at my local Apple store. I was unable to learn whether my original power supply was from the model (or lots) known to contain defects. If so, perhaps the repair extension program needs to be extended to additional lots. Also, the personnel at the Apple store couldn’t tell me whether the replacement power supply was an updated model or whether it would still be at abnormal risk of failure. Do you know whether your new power supply is an updated model?


  11. Mo | Jun 27 2006 - 06:15

    As I always say…
    “There are two kinds of people in the world, people who’ve had a hard disk crash and people who are about to have a hard disk crash.”
    Backing-up may be boring, but its a hellofa lot better than losing it all!

  12. Andres | Jun 27 2006 - 09:05


    That has happened to me. I broke the cable not the actual heat sensor. I have actually left it without the cable and it is working fine. Not really sure if it has an impact on system performance or overheating. I’ve noticed that some don’t even have the wire attached. Fortunately I back up all info.

    I’ve also had at least 10+ iMac G5’s go bad on me. I work at a publishing company and we purchased a bunch when they first came out and almost every single one has had either a powersupply issue or a logic board issue.

    We even had a system go bad after a weekend power outage. This system was purchased a few months after our previous purchases and it didn’t fall under the serial range.

    Just from the batch of systems that we have had and the amount of times we have sent an iMac G5 in, I would be a bit worried about personally buying one of these systems. Although, if I were to purchase one on my own I would definitely get apple care.

    We were able to send all these systems in for repair and the was no charge because they fell within the serial range and they were still under the one year warranty. We don’t purchase apple care since we do all our repairs in house when possible. Don’t get me wrong Macs work great! These particualar models just have issues.

    You know when it is a power supply issue when your computer won’t turn on. When it turns off by itself without your interaction it is a power supply issue. When you first turn on your system and all you get is the light on the power button and no image or boot sequence then it is likely that your logic board may need to be replaced. Everything else is logic board and power supply related.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Kim | Jun 27 2006 - 09:49

    Sorry about your trouble. I had a similiar problem a couple of weeks ago. I was noticing my ibook wasn’t keeping its charge. I did the same thing you did I changed the outlet still kept loosing the charge. I looked at the charger and I realized the tip was broken. Time to buy a new charger. Plugged the new charger in still no luck. Finally one night all power drained from the computer. I don’t have a apple store within 200 miles of me, so I had to send my ibook out to get repaired. I was without it for a week. (my only other computer is a very slow window XP, it was a very miserable week) I got it back and I plugged it in and it worked fined. The problem was the information on was not mine. I had fortunately backup most of my stuff, except for my keychain data. This is onetime when using random secure password really sucks. The lesson for everyone is backup backup.

  14. maccast | Jun 27 2006 - 10:06

    It was in the serial number range and covered under the repair extension program. Not that it mattered too much since I have an AppleCare extended warranty.

  15. MacLuvR | Jun 27 2006 - 11:37

    I think that for as much as you do for us Adam, I without hesitation am donating a few bucks to the cause to help offset your repair costs. Pretty cool that we can not only learn from your vast knowledge, but even in your mistakes we’re learning from you.


  16. Charles Hepburn II | Jun 27 2006 - 02:54

    yep, I agree… my $10 bucks is donated… hey, it ain’t much, but if we all chip in a little, we can make sure that good things happen to good people.

  17. BruceG | Jun 27 2006 - 10:05


    Something similar to your experience, but with a Gateway PC I’d purchased in late 2003.

    It was working fine for 3 to 4 months, then started to turn off unexpectedly shortly after booting up. There would be a snap or pop sound and the display screen would go black.

    I eventually shipped to a Gateway service center and they replaced a defective power supply.

    It’s been running fine ever since. And I didn’t lose any data, even tho’ I wasn’t into doing backups at the time.

    Now I do. Not only with my PC, but I run frequent backups with my G4 Powerbook.
    (I have separate external drives for both machines.)

  18. leo | Jun 28 2006 - 06:23

    Did you discover anything like a “latch” at the black connector that has to be “opened” to release it? In my experience repairing electronic devices there is a locking mechanism that must be carefully released.

  19. Jim | Jun 28 2006 - 03:29


    That’s horrible. I’m off to the 24 Tesco to buy some blank DVDs right NOW!

  20. John G | Jun 29 2006 - 04:16

    My iMac G5 purchased in April 2005 decided to have a hard drive failure just one day short of its twelve month warranty. Luckily for me, I had got into the habit of backing up each night to an external Hard drive, but I do know that feeling and it ain’t pleasant. I have my doubts lately about the quality of the working parts within the innards of my G5. I hope it’s a one off for a little while at least. I’m now even more paranoid, but I guess it is worth being safe than sorry.

  21. James | Jun 29 2006 - 07:02

    I use .mac for backup, and 2 weeks ago my HD went. I thought, no problem…However, though I had done an iphoto, itunes and personal data and settings backup recently, one thing it did not backup was my iweb data! Now, I don’t have a big site but I have hours of work ahead of me to re-create the site. I have been telling everyone I know, to make a backup schedule to include iweb. The leason I learned. Adam, good luck with the repair, and I look forward to your next podcast. It should be a good one!!

  22. R Arentz | Jun 29 2006 - 11:29

    For all that you do for us it would be really nice if Apple provided you with a new macintosh system. I will donate when My paypal is set up.

    Thanks Adam

  23. Joe | Jun 29 2006 - 02:30

    HUGE fan of SuperDuper here.

    As someone who’s lived through more hard drive crashes than he deserved, backing up is like a religion to me.


    Best of luck, Adam.

  24. g0rdo | Jun 29 2006 - 03:06

    Haha. Loser

  25. Scott | Jul 03 2006 - 08:07

    WOW! I know about the magic crumbling connectors. This is the main reason why I did not toss out my 450Mhz G3 B&W tower. It’s in the basement in a server rack with a 120 Gig drive. This is the machine that my Intel iMac and my wifes’ TiBook backup to every night automatically.

    It only takes one time for something like this to happen. Losing data that was not backed up will make you sick to your stomach. Thank goodness it wasn’t your drive, and you were able to back it up.


  26. Gerry | Jul 06 2006 - 03:14


    I feel for you. I bought my iMac G5 back in April of 2005 (2nd generation iMac G5) with Tiger installed. A week later the system HD died and I took it back to the Apple store for repair. I got it back 4 days later and had a lot of installation to do after that.

    I then bought and built an external HD enclosure and SuperDuper! and have been backing up regularly ever since. Actually, I have two external Firewire drives on my iMac G5 just for backups.

    Two things I would like to point out is that if you backup your system drive to an external and the system drive has a problem, you can reboot from the external and run all your diagnostics from there in an attempt to fix the system drive. This makes it very easy to work on the system drive.

    Secondly, when doing system software updates (i.e. 10.4.6 to 10.4.7) if there are any problems with the update, you can restore your system (full backup before you perform the update) if necessary with a minimum of hassle.

    Finally, something I just tried this week. I backed up my system drive fully with SuperDuper!, wiped my system drive and restored. As I understand it, this procedure packed and defragged my system drive since SuperDuper! does do file-by-file copying rather than imaging the drive (like Ghost). I had never defragged my system drive since I had bought it, so I figured it was time. My iMac G5 works even faster than before.

    I wish I could find a Windows version of SuperDuper! that I could use to backup my PCs. Ghost is great but it stops me from fixing certain disk problems.

    Thanks so much for your show, Adam. You do a great job.