Living in fear of the iMac

My iMac wouldn’t start up yesterday. Well, first it just turned itself off while I was in the middle of something. Then it wouldn’t start up again – most of the time, I got nothing other than a glowing light when I pressed the On button; sometimes I got as far as the Apple logo.

I’d had the mysterious shutdown happen to me before, but this was the first time it wouldn’t restart afterwards. All things being equal, I figured it was a hardware problem, particularly once I found the iMac wouldn’t even boot into Target disk mode when connected via FireWire to my PowerBook. So I unplugged all the peripherals. Nothing. Final resort: I took out the extra 1GB of RAM I’d installed the first day I got the iMac.

Hooray! It worked. The iMac booted just fine.

I would then have tried to get Crucial, the company from which I bought the memory, to exchange it, but it was 8am and no one was in yet. So I waited and carried on using the iMac.

I tell you something: don’t even think about using a new Intel Mac without boosting the memory beyond 512MB because it’s unusable otherwise. A complete dog.

Anyway, deciding there was no way I could work in a glacier, I took a risk and decided to put the RAM chip back in. This time though, I swapped it with the chip that Apple had included in the first slot.

The results:

  1. The iMac works just fine again and is actually usable
  2. It seems a little/a lot faster than it did before the whole disaster occurred. Maybe the Crucial memory is faster than the Apple memory and it’s being used by the system for most operations, rather than the Apple memory.
  3. I’m mystified about what caused the freeze. Maybe the iMac had overheated and all that moving the iMac around, unscrewing the memory hatch, etc, cooled it down a bit. Or maybe one of the chips wasn’t quite seated properly and when I swapped the chips, I seated them correctly.
  4. I’m now working in constant fear my iMac is going to have another hiccup. After that incident with Linux a week ago, my backup strategy is becoming meticulous.