MacOs 9.2 Help please!

Yesterday my sister was printing out some work for school when my mac (g3 imac. You know, those colourful ones) froze and now for some reason it won’t boot up AT ALL. When I turn it on, all I get is a screen with a little blue folder in the middle. On the folder flashes a question mark and a little “finder” logo (the half face/comp logo) alternately. Does anyone know what this means? How can I fix it.

First try to zap the paremeter ram (pram):

-Restart the computer.
-Immediately hold down, in unison, the COMMAND, OPTION, P, and R keys. The will soon try to reboot, and maybe this will fix the issue. You may have to reset some control panel settings that were stored in pram, but otherwise, you’ll be fine.

If not, next try to rebuild the Desktop (which probably won’t do much for you, but what the hell):

-Restart the computer.
-Immediately hold down the COMMAND and OPTION keys simultaneously.

Like I said, worth a try, though probably won’t do anything.

If this fails, the only other thing I can think of is maybe your boot volume is corrupted, or your hard drive is competely toast. Boot up with the System Disk:

-With the computer on, open the CD/ROM drive. Insert your System 9.2 CD.
-Restart the computer.
-Immediately hold down the C key. The computer should boot using the System 9.2 disk.
-Hopefully, once the computer has started, you can see both an icon for the System 9.2 disk, as well as one for the hard drive. If you see no hard drive icon, you may need to get the thing repaired. If you DO see the hard drive icon…

-Find the Utilities folder.
-Run Disk First Aid.

If disk first aid finds stuff wrong with your hard drive, it may be able to repair minor problems. If not, something like Norton Utilities could do better. If the trouble is too big, the hard drive may have to be replaced, but you can use a Zip drive or some other removable media to save files that you want to keep from the hard drive.

If it’s just a software corruption issue, sometimes it’s easiest to just go scorched earth:

-Back up all your valuable files to zip disks.
-Reformat your hard drive.
-Re-install System 9.2
-Put back all your apps.
-Enjoy a newly cleansed Mac.

Actually, before you do “scorched earth”, remove the files called “System” and “Finder” from your System Folder and rename your System Folder something like “Old System Folder”. Then reinstall MacOS 9.2 from the CD. After you’ve successfully booted to the new 9.2, drag just the new files “System” and “Finder” from the new System Folder into “Old System Folder” – in that order – and then reboot.

If this works, you’ve got all your cookies, custom preferences like IP setttings and whatnot, software registration doohickies, and so forth preserved intact and it won’t feel like you’re starting all over, it’ll feel like you never had the problem to begin with.

If that doesn’t work, toss the System Folder and reinstall MacOS 9.2 and reboot from it. This time you’ll have to set up your TCP/IP prefs and other application prefs, and you may have to re-register some software, may even have to reinstall a couple apps (Microsoft Office for example), but mostly you’ll have all your applications, documents, folder hierarchy, and so forth intact.

Then if even that doesn’t work, back up everything and do the “scorched earth” thing.

Finally, if that doesn’t work either, time to buy a new hard disk.

Ah, memories. This was a common occurence with those models of iMacs, which everyone I knew worked with when I was in design school. It’s a glitch where for some reason the CPU can’t find your HD. The first two suggestions you should try. I’ll tell you, though, how our IT guys fixed the Macs that did the same thing. It’s silly and makes no sense, but it worked. They opened up the case, tapped the hard drive with the end of a screwdriver, closed it up again, and it miraculously started up just fine when powered up after.

As ridiculously simple as this seems, it WAS a technician who did it, so…try the other suggestions first.