A couple months ago, I was defragmenting the G3's hard drive using Norton Utilities (as I've done quite often with our computers), and Speed disk unexpectedly quit in the middle of it. I didn't have a backup of our data (except for an oldi-sh copy on our G4's hard drive), but I ended up spending several days getting the G3 up-and-running again. (Even so, there would still be unknown files corrupted by the crash; I just made sure the system files were all right, while repairing any other files that I could.) I ran Norton Disk Doctor on it repeatedly until it couldn't find anything more wrong with the directories. The disk was now as fragmented as it had been, with corrupted files to boot.
So, at this point the G3 was useable. I still knew it wasn't completely healthy, but short of wiping the disk and starting from scratch, it was as good as it could be.
Jump ahead to 11 days ago. I decide, Enough is enough and I should fix the G3's hard drive to as good as new before anything further disasterous occurs. (It was REAAAAAALLLY sluggish from the fragmentation, anyway.) I begin by backing up the entirety of the G3's hard disk to the G4 via our Ethernet Crossover cable. (This took about 3 hours.) When that was finished, I then used Speed Disk again on it (knowing that it very well could crash again like it had). Sure enough, it crashed while shuffling our data around. Actually, this time it crashed VERY soon after I clicked "Optimize." Well, it was far worse this time around, because the disk couldn't even be RECOGNIZED by Norton VolumeRecover (as it had been last time), let alone mounted. So my only option was to initialize the disk. I spent the next 36 hours (with a 3.5-hour nap in-between) re-installing system software, then trying to get our data and system settings copied back over.
This didn't go so well. First off, our G3 originally only had OS 9.2.2 on it, and we had been wanting to upgrade to OS X, so I installed that first. Then, when I tried to install the Classic Environment, it told me that those disks don't work on slot-loading models!!! So my only option was to install from the OS 9.0.4 disks that originally came with our G3 iMac, and then use the updaters I had downloaded to get it to 9.2.2. (I assume this is equivalent to installing the Classic Environment. . . ?) So far, so good. Then, I had to set up the file sharing again, so that I could access our data backup. Once I got that going, I copied our data back to the G3 over the next three or four hours. At this point, I'm thinking "All is going as planned." I spent some time carefully copying over preferences and other application-specific files so that our G3 would be exactly as it had been. When I was done, I figured that was it and I was finished. Well, not so fast.
Begin the insanity. OS 9 boots, but crashes endlessly such that its unusable. OS X won't boot at all. The subsequent hours I spent on the damned thing are now such a blur that recalling exact detail is impossible. All I can tell you is that, at the end of my 36-hour sentence to Computer [bleep], I had only fixed the G3 so that we could use OS X and not much else. (My mom usually only uses the internet to keep in touch with her e-mail contacts, so if it's useable at all she's OK with it.) I had run Disk Doctor many, many times, and every time it found something wrong with the disk. So apparently, even though I initialized the disk, that wasn't enough to keep the directories from getting shot again. And, once again, the disk was badly fragmented, although this time it was, in fact, even WORSE than it had been. I feel terrible about the whole thing. I really need more information on what it is I should do, what order I should do it in, I need actual info on how directories work, etc, so that I can UNDERSTAND this whole thing and fix it myself.
The G3's directories are still in serious trouble as evidenced that last Saturday, some form of activity on our hard disk made the OS X not boot at all again, and I tried poking around on it to see what happened (although I didn't go into it have any realistic expectations that I'd be able to fix anything, given what I knew about the disk's delicate state). Mainly I just ran Norton Disk Doctor a bunch of times again (with the theory that I'd do that until it wouldn't find any more problems), then I tried re-installing OS X once the disk seemed about as stable as it was going to get, then I ran Disk Doctor again. (That was the plan, anyway.) Unfortunately, I wasted my time, since I think Disk Doctor returned the directories to the state that they were in before I did the re-install! So, for now at least, we can't use our old iMac for anything.
However, I now have the disk to a point where Disk Doctor keeps getting caught on this same problem without being able to fix it. I also tried using the Disk Utility from the OS X install disk, and there is one bit of information that it consistently shows, without fixing it. It says (in red print):
Overlapped Extent Allocation (file 110912d).
Obviously this is some kind of (major) glitch in the directories. It also seems to be major enough that Disk Doctor can't repair it.
Yesterday we purchased online a 120 GB external hard drive and Norton SystemWorks, and until they arrive I'll be "beefing up" on knowledge so that I'll be ready to tackle this (which I figure is smarter than following rote instructions from an Apple tech, or spending hundreds of dollars in repair bills).
So that's the saga thusfar. I'm thinking that I'll have to wipe the disk and start from scratch all over again, only I don't want to have a second go at it with only as much knowledge as I had the first time around. (Hey--Who's up for another 36 hours of despair?!?!?!?!?—The thought chills my blood.) So I'm looking for as much information as I can get on this lower-level computer stuff that can't be learned by poking around in a GUI (which is mostly how I've learned what I know so far about computer software & hardware).
These are the kinds of questions buzzing about in my head:
1. What is the technical explanation for how directories work? (I know the general theory of what directories are, why they're needed, etc; but not a deep technical understanding of their workings)
2. When a disk is re-initialized, is it still possible for bad directories to affect new data? Or, can a blank disk have corrupted directories? (I'd think not, but I'm not sure of anything now.)
3. How does a disk driver decide in what order new data should be written on the disk? (e.g., when I was transferring all the data back over)
4. If I'm installing OS 9 AND OS X, in which order should this be done, and how can the disk be best formatted for this setup?
5. When I backed up our G3's hard disk (that already had damaged directories) to our G4 (whose directories I can only HOPE are in good condition, apparently), does that have the potential of damaging the directories of the G4, or would any corrupted files just be written as such, without the potential for damage. . . .or something? (Clearly I know nothing on this topic.) I just want to make sure that the files we have are "clean" so that our directories won't get this messed up again.
Other issues include needing a way to merge our outdated G3 backup on our G4 (though it has some files unique to it) with our newer (yet partially corrupted) G3 data. Doing this by hand would take FOREVER, and could be incomplete. I'm hoping that this particular application (can't think of the name of it now) included with Norton SystemWorks will help automate merging the two disk contents (which are now both on the G4's hard drive), but I actually don't know how extensive its capabilities are, or if we need to look for some other software. (It seems to me some software should exist out there for doing this exact sort of thing, but I don't know of any.) Assuming I can do this, I then want to set up a system for backing up our files (to the external hard drive) on a regular schedule---as of yet, I don't know for sure how to do this, either. (I'm hoping that Norton SystemWorks will help me out here, also.)
Sadly, our G4 is acting wacky too (some absolutely INSANE things you wouldn't believe---I could go into detail, but I'll spare you), so I'm gonna have to re-install the OS X over here, but I'm not doing that until we have all of our data in order and a system in place for backing it up. (Frankly, I think the "Classic Environment" is glitchier than the original OS 9.2.2.) I'm not looking forward to the next few weeks.
It's been a hectic couple weeks, so any info/guidance/help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.