Apple Mac Troubleshooting Guide
Start From Scratch, Factory HardWare Configuration
by ©2003
Main Site

How to troubleshoot tutorial to rule out a hard drive, hardware and system install to prepare a Mac for Apple repair serviceone last chance to clear the problem — information about how to prepare a Mac for Apple warranty service and repair by Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP).

Reference guide for G4, G5 PowerPC PPC, Altivec CPU, Mac OS X, 10.2 Jaguar, OS 10.3 Panther OS10.4 Tiger 10.5 Leopard workstations, including dual core processors quad processors Macbook Pro laptops Intel Xeon Mac Pro IntelXeon MacPro computers.

Hopefully, we will complete this process and identify the culprit when we add it back on — so test third party thoroughly and pay attention!

This service guide assumes you have already BACKUP ALL DOCUMENTS and performed all normal Mac OSX basic maintenance troubleshooting steps.

Be sure to use only the original Operating System (OS) Install CDs that came with the specific Mac (or a higher Retail OS version than the Mac shipped with). Do not use Install CDs or DVDs that came with another Macintosh computer.

Return Mac to factory–hardware configuration:

  1. Remove all RAM sticks tests except one (or one pair of sticks if the Mac requires two sticks).
  2. Remove all nonApple cards, all nonApple hard drives — nonApple everything.
  3. Plug Mac directly into the AC wall outlet (remove all surge/battery protectors).
  4. Re seat all internal cards, internal/external cables (check for damaged cables, pins).
  5. Attach Apple keyboard directly to Mac.
  6. Attach Apple mouse directly to Mac.
  7. Insert original OS (Operating System) Install CD.
  8. ShutDown.
  9. Reset the logic board's PMU/CUDA
  10. Replace the logic board battery.
  11. Be sure to remove all ethernet network cables.
  12. Power ON and immediately press Command+Option+P+R — hold keys down until four startup bongs sound.
  13. Then let up on those four keys, and immediately hold down the C key.

Step 12 resets the Pram. Step 13 forces Mac to boot from the CD.
You will need to reset time, date, Apple Talk and other preferences.


Rule out the hard drive:

Booted off the OS X 10.4 Install CD:

  1. Select language (Welcome to Installer window appears).
  2. Click on Utilities drop menu (top of screen)> open Disk Utility.
  3. Click on highlight the hard drive (in left column).
  4. Click on Erase tab.
  5. Volume Format> Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
  6. Click on Security Options.
  7. Click on Zero Out Data (former ZeroWrite).
    Zero Out option can take several hours to complete.
    This is recommended to map out any Bad Blocks and test the entire drive.
  8. Click on OK
  9. Click on Erase....

If the ERASE (Initialize) fails a Zero Out Data (ZeroWrite), or if bad blocks return, replace the hard drive.

Booted off the OS 9 Install CD:

  1. Open Drive SetUp (in CD Utilities folder).
  2. Highlight target hard drive.
  3. Functions menu> Initialize Options> check: Zero All Data, Write Zeros
    This adds about one hour per 10GB....
  4. Click on Initialize.
  5. Click on Custom Setup.
  6. Select 1 Partition — confirm Mac OS Extended (HFS Plus) format.
  7. Then initialize.

•Write Zeros feature forces the drive to repair bad blocks (takes 1hr per 10gb).
OS 9 Apple TestDisk (also takes 1hr per 10gb).
TestDisk is only necessary if you want to test your hard drive for Bad Blocks.
TestDisk is available in the Functions menu> Initialize Options.
•More on ZeroWrite and TestDisk: Apple Knowledge Base

For specific numeric Mac OS error codes, try

Booted off the OS 10.3 Install CD:

  1. Click on Installer drop menu (top left of screen)> Open Disk Utility.
  2. Click on Erase tab.
  3. Click on the target hard drive in the left column.
  4. Volume Format: Mac OS Extended.
  5. Check Install 9 drivers.
  6. Check Write Zero option (see above paragraph).
    This use to add about one hour per 10GB, but new Macs do this on 200GB drives in a few hours.
  7. Then Erase.

If the Initialize fails a ZeroWrite, or if bad blocks return, replace the hard drive.


Rule out the Install:

Install the Operating System OSX 10.4:

You will have a "brand new" Mac at this point (and your install and HardDisk will be ruled out).
Test around repetitively trying to duplicate the problem.

If problem duplicates here:
Send to Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) for bench testing — AS IS — do not install anything else.


Rule out the Prime SUSPECT:

Install ONLY the problem application:

Do not add anything else until the SUSPECT is ruled out!
If even ONE crash/freeze/lockup here — get a second opinion:
Apple For Photoshop problems

Then send Mac to AASP for bench testing — as is — and let them tell you why it doesn't work.


If all issues cleared here, add hardware back one at a time, testing thoroughly and restarting several times before you add another hardware or driver.

It is very important to restart and test thoroughly after EVERY addition until you finish the install and burn the BACKUP.

DO NOT DRAG ANYTHING OLD back onto your new install — this runs the risk of reintroducing corruption/viruses/SUSPECTS into your BackUp.

When you get done and fully tuned — BACKiTUP! — then drag back on any old your may require.


by: ©2003 G. BALLARD •
Note: G. BALLARD prefers a shredding if he is wrong or unclear.

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