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Mike the Mac Medic
Mike the Mac Medic, Mac Support Specialist
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 9000
Experience:  Over 20 years IT experience with Apple computers in publishing, marketing and design.
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I have an old iBook G3 laptop. i am trying to retrieve files

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i have an old iBook G3 laptop. i am trying to retrieve files from it, but when i turn it on, i get an icon of a file folder with the finder icon flashing alternately with a question mark. please can you make suggestions about what i can do to fix this?
That can mean the dirve directory is corrupt or it has failed. Do you have the systerm install disk that came with it?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

i might do, but i will have to look for it.

OK put that disk in and restart holding down the letter C key until you see the Apple logo. Choose your language then you get to the install screen DO NOT INSTALL, you will see at the top of the screen a Utilities menu drop down. Go the Disk Utility, Highlight your hard drive (usually Macintosh HD) and click on Verify Disk on the right. If that is OK and only if that is OK click on Repair Permissions. If Verify Disk is not OK try to Repair. If Repair is successful then Repair Permissions if it is not successful let me know. If all is ok just restart
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you, ***** ***** will go look for the system install disk. If I can't find it, is there any other way of retrieving my files?

If that mac has FireWire and you have another Mac with FireWire or Thunderbolt ports there is another procedure we can try using Target Disk mode:
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

yes, they both have FireWire, and one has a Thunderbolt port, but i don't think i have connectors. i will have to get one and look for the system install disk. can we keep this open until i can do that?

Of course
We can keep it open until you get a cable too, no worries...
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

found the system install disk! turns out there is organisation under all the chaos. am trying your first suggestion right now!!

Ok great!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

sadly, same result, and the disk just keeps intermittently spinning.

OK so you put the disk in and then shut down by holding the power button for 10 seconds then you started holding the C key?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


It should at least boot from the disk it will take a while to boot from it the DVD drive is much slower than a hard drive
Try resetting the PRAM.1. Shut down the computer.2. Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need them in step 4.3. Turn on the computer.4. Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys before the gray screen appears.5. Hold the keys down until the computer restarts.6. Release the keys then hold the C key if the disk is still in
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

same result.

Ok you can try the Target Disk mode but it sounds like the drive has failed which could stop it from booting even from the install disk
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

going to go borrow some fire wire cables - hopefully they will work - will be back in about 15 minutes to try Target Disk mode!

OK if the disk mounts on the other Machine open the Disk Utility and try to Repair Disk
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK - got the cables - will try to see if they work.

OK connect them and start up the Macbook holding the letter T until you see a FireWire logo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

i borrowed these cables from a friend locally, but they don't fit into both laptops. which i think means i need to go out now and buy cables, which will take much longer. how does this work - does our thread remain open?

Yes as long as you like
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

local shops do not have what i need, and the Mac store has shut for the night. i am going to get the cables i need tomorrow and will have to pick this up again then. i hope that we can continue this thread!! (sorry - i live in the UK, and things can be a bit like this…)

No problem it is a holiday here so that is good for me too.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

i (finally) have my cable. i've tried starting up the iBook while holding the T key down, but nothing actually happens.

OK in that case the drive has failed sorry
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

does this mean i've irretrievably lost my files?

I'm afraid so there are places that you can send the drive to try and get your data back but depending on what is wrong with the drive they can be very expensive.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

do you have any particular recommendations? i can't really give up on those files just yet!

Not really I have never used one too expensive. Just search for "hard drive data recovery"
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

OK - well thanks for your time and your help.

OK good luck. If you are satisfied, please kindly Accept and provide an OK Rating - or Above or I don't get paid. Keep in mind you can always come back to this page at any time regarding this question. If we solved your problem, giving me high marks on the survey and / or bonuses are also GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!!
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