System Meltdown


Not quite the Holocaust or Armageddon, but however I look at it, the past three days have been rather hellish to say the least. Firstly, our laggy 1.25Ghz dual processor G4 server went down like a bitch. Locking up at startup, faster than you could say “Apple Rocks”, the server just refused to boot. Entering single user boot while attempting to repair using “fsck” brought no improvements.

Our server is configured with a software RAID, 2x 160GB mirrored drives for data, and another 2x 160 mirrored for the system. We use the server as a short to medium term backup facility for our 20-odd users. Mission critical? Yes, I would say so. Containing data almost to full capacity, we were certainly worried, especially for unofficial Mr. Techie (that’s me!) and official Mr. Techie (partner-in-crime, accountant cum IT cum AV man Andy).

Went through the usual troubleshooting – safe mode boot, single user boot, zapping PRAM. No luck. Eventually tried it with a Panther-compatible Norton Utilities 8.02 bootable CD. Breathed a sigh of relief as the server finally booted up and the familiar Norton Launcher presented itself on screen. Attempted to scan and repair the system. This took hours as I configured it to scan every damn bits of the drive including media, catalogue structure and files. Initially suspecting a damaged catalogue B-tree which can cause havoc in the system, Norton froze half-way. Nice. Norton has saved me many times, although not the best disk utility on the Mac platform (don’t agree? shoot me…), it has proven its worth many a times of trouble.
Re-booted, and re-attempted scan/repair. No luck yet again.

Finally got hold of our tech support guy from our Mac supplier to come over. Hardware failure? You bet. After some tests, we found that the 2x 160GB RAID containing the boot-up Mac OS X 10.2.8 Server software had failed. Both the hard drives. That explained the lagginess of the system of late, despite optimisation and what naught. The failure was unexpected, the server being quite underutilised and untested mostly. Fortunately, we had a new 80GB spare, just purchased and we plugged it in, installed Panther 10.3 Server,, and got up and running in about 30 minutes.

Thanking our lucky stars that all data was intact, we placed an order for another 4x 250GB hard drives to be delivered in a couple of days. I have to say that Panther Server is quick, and most notably when running on a DP (dual processor).

Backing up has been a tough process, with lack of spare storage space and all. Had to format my personal 120GB and 80GB externals just to backup the server data. After 2 days, the data have been successfully backed-up and ready for a clean reformat of the drives when the newer ones arrive.

Adding to the system meltdown, our trusty B&W G3 350Mhz used as a scanning machine also refused to boot-up. I suspect a hard drive failure as well. And as if my hands weren’t full enough, I formatted my G5 1.8Ghz, reinstalled Panther and restored all my data. It’s been a long time coming, the G5 not performing to its full potential for some reason. It’s been laggy and buggy to say the least. And for some reason, have always had problems with FLASH-memory based cards/drives. 100% data corruption of anything from GIF files to JPEGs to PDFs. After all the time and effort, the problem has been solved, and I’m happy that the G5 is back to being zippy and responsive again…

I’ve got another story to tell…but I’ll leave it to another time. This time round it isn’t computer/system/hardware failure. It’s human error. Pure and simple. Grrrr…

Word of advise before I end this – BACKUP YOUR DATA!

Subscribe to Vernonchan.comNever miss a story, read stories on Feedly and Medium


By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.

3 replies on “System Meltdown”

no wonder… we were beginning to wonder where you were…

Comments are closed.