IMAC Snow Leopard + Netextender = Hard Drive Failure?

Posted on 2011-10-14
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I have a Sonicwall TZ100 that my office staff members use to access our file server from their home machines. One iMAC/Snow Leopard user (and so far, only one) has been complaining for some time about 'freeze-ups' when accessing the file server through the Netextender-based VPN tunnel that comes with the TZ100 device. On Monday of this week, her iMAC failed to boot and when she took it to the 'geniuses' at the Apple Store in her area, was told that her hard drive had failed. The iMAC is a year old and still under warranty, but the 'genius' suggested that this was a consequence of the freeze-ups associated with the Netextender program. I am dubious that software conflicts leading to operating system lockups can cause hard drive failure. I will add that the user has subsequently told me that other programs besides Netextender have frozen at times, though she attributes more of them to times when she was connected to our file server through the Netextender VPN tunnel, and claims that the freezeups began only after Netextender was installed on her system. Since Netextender is such a small program, and doesn't produce freezeups on other Macs, I am dubious about the Apple Genius' diagnosis. I suspect a failing hard drive whose troubles happened to coincide with the advent of the Netextender installation. This is partly supported by the fact that I have at least one other user whose iMAC runs Netextender to the same TZ100 without freeze-ups. But if anyone knows of reasons to take the Apple Store Genius' diagnosis seriously, please let me know as I have more than one Snow Leopard user and don't want to imperil the integrity of their hardware.
Question by:Potterjazz
    LVL 20

    Accepted Solution

    Certainly is creative blaming a piece of software for a hard disk failure. Of all the Sonicwall sites and users that we support, I have never had the NetExtender reach out and destroy a disk. I think the scenario is more likely what you suspect, in that the disk has an intermittent failure.

    Why not take the Mac to a different Apple store, and don't offer quite so much info. Just tell them that it has been freezing up during use, and see what they come up with.
    LVL 53

    Assisted Solution

    Complete nonsense. The netextender freeze ups were probably caused by the hard drive starting to fail not the other way round.

    Has the drive been replaced? If not run Verify Disk from Disk Utility to check whether the disk directory needs repair. If it does, reboot while holding down the shift key to force a safe boot which will automatically attempt a disk repair, then run verify disk a second time to see if the repair was successful.

    Also download and install the freeware SMARTReporter:

    This will place a green icon of a hard drive in the menubar. The program will then automatically periodically run a S.M.A.R.T test ( ) on the hard drive in the background, and it the S.M.A.R.T. test detects a hardware problem with the hard drive the menubar icon will turn red and the program will e-mail you a warning.

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks, both of you, for answering different aspects of my question. The machine is in another state and the user/owner is waiting for the Apple store to complete the repairs, but I will have her install that SMART program since it will help me to diagnose any further problems she might have once her OS and programs are reinstalled. This was the reassurance I needed.
    LVL 53

    Expert Comment

    Your user may have misunderstood what the Apple Genius said. If what the Genius said was that the frequent crashes were causing disk directory damage (rather than hardware damage) he may well have been right.

    The first thing to do is to check the disk directory integrity using Disk Utility and repair the drive. If the directory is repairable, and the crashes continue, then you have to look elsewhere for the cause.
    LVL 53

    Expert Comment

    You can actually set SMARTReporter to e-mail YOU a message if your user's hard drive starts to fail. It is a really nifty little program.

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