PowerMac G5 problems - main hard drive won't mount!?

Oh, this is bad...

So, I woke up this morning and went to my computer, to find it hung up.  I could move windows around, but that was it.  I was not able to open any folders or applications.  So, I restarted the computer.  It took forever to boot up, and then I was presented with the Most Feared and Dreaded

Blinking Folder/Question Mark

Panic.  I know what this means - the computer can't find a valid OS X install.  I rebooted, reset the PRAM, no go.  I then booted up from the OS X install DVD.  I launched the Disk Utility to see if I could repair the hard drive, but it wasn't in the list!  I could still see my second hard drive and my USB backup drive, but not the main drive.

Panic++

So, fellow Mac Addicts, what's the next step?  How can I tell if the drive is Really and Truly Hosed, rather than some stupid little thing like a boot record that needs to be rebuilt?  Would it help to swap positions with my secondary drive?  It just seems odd to me that it was running perfectly for years, and it died with no warning.  I've got it shut down (usually it just sleeps while I'm at work) so maybe having time to cool off will help. 

Oh, and here are some details on my computer:

PowerMac G5 1.8GHz DP
4GB RAM
1 TB Seagate Barracuda main drive (the one that's "dead")
120GB secondary drive (forget the brand)
OS X 10.5.x (whatever the latest version that'll run on a non-intel mac)

Wow, the timing on this is really bad.  I'm prepping three Instructables (one due in three days!) and now I don't have access to my computer!  Argh!

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mwrenfro6 years ago
No drive showing in Disk Utility is more serious than a missing boot record, since you should be able to attach any physically compatible drive and at least see what's on the partition table. My guess is that if you check "More Info" on an "About This Mac" dialog, you won't find the drive in the system profiler, either.

I doubt switching drive positions will matter, and I doubt putting the drive into another system will help, either. But both are easy enough to try. And it may come back up after being powered down for several minutes or hours, but that's certainly no guarantee.

Long-term, I'd be looking at Time Machine, Dropbox, or jwz's backup advice (or some combination of those). At least then, a single drive failure is less of a hassle.
jeff-o (author)  mwrenfro6 years ago
Thanks. Logically, I know that trying the drive in different positions or in an external enclosure will likely result in nothing more than wasted time.

As I mentioned before, I do have Time Machine set up to backup nearly everything on my drive to an external USB drive, so I'm not too worried. But just in case, I really would like to get it up and running in the off chance that Time Machine wasn't able to update itself or something.
jeff-o (author) 6 years ago
In the end, I did replace my hard drive with a shiny new Western Digital Caviar Black. Time Machine did its thing and everything is as it was, except for a few folders that I told it not to back up.

I've got the old one in a USB enclosure, maybe I'll be able to talk to it...
jeff-o (author)  jeff-o6 years ago
Time machine backup worked. But things weren't quite right, so I reinstalled OS X and had to repair permissions as well.

Still unable to talk to the old drive.
Burf6 years ago
I know this is going to sound a little strange but I have rescued two PC HDDs by disconnecting the power supply from the HDD, rebooting the system, then shut it back down, reconnect the power to the HDD and boot again. It worked long enough to let me copy the drive anyway.
I don't why or whether this will work on a Mac or any other computer for that matter, but there's no harm in giving it a try.
jeff-o (author)  Burf6 years ago
I'll give it a try, it can't hurt!