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Replacing HDD with a Compact Flash Card

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by rjcalifornia, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    So, crazy idea. Is it possible to replace an ibook HDD with a Compact Flash Card?

    If so, how?
  2. macrumors 65816


    You can, but it will be bootable only in open firmware. Or not bootable at all.
  3. macrumors 68000


  4. macrumors 65816


    Assuming it has an SD card slot like powerbooks.
  5. macrumors 604

    Jessica Lares

  6. macrumors 68000


    Compact Flash card ≠ SD card, nor does the iBook have a slot.

    He means use the CF card with an adapter to IDE as the internal hard drive. This is possible, but I am worried that it would accumulate too many writes too fast and fail.
  7. macrumors P6


    Yes you can use a CompactFlash drive in place of an iBook's internal hard drive with use of an adapter. They work rather well considering their limitations. I have one in my G3 iMac and it works very well with the card maxing out the iMac's ATA/33 bus speed.

    CompactFlash cards work like standard IDE/PATA drives when used with an adapter with the internal PATA bus for booting.

    What? Powerbooks don't have an SD card slot. They have a PCMCIA slot. You can boot OS 9 and Mac OS X from a Powerbook G4's PCMCIA slot although it will be a bit slower than using the internal PATA bus.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Yes. You use an adapter made to convert the CF connection to IDE and as long as you change the jumper settings correctly, if needed, then it works fine.

    The adapters are on eBay, I found some by quickly searching "cf to ide 2.5". I'm not sure if some work better than others but here's a few:



  9. macrumors 68000


    works fine. nice and quiet and cool, and not as likely to die if dropped compared to a regular platter drive. smaller capacity was the only down side i ran into, but i didn't want much more than the OS anyway.

    i'd start at Wiki and scroll down to the bit about 'using in place of a hard drive'.

    as an iBook replacement, you'll need a 44pin IDE to CF adapter. lots around, ebay is full of them. some of the generic/board ones are flaky to use and hard to mount, you might try something like THIS as it mounts in place, and then you pop the cf card in, and you're good to go. i'd also mention that you might want to tape/glue the card in after you get done to secure it, as having it come loose and then needing to take the laptop all the way apart again would be a royal pain!

    i had problems with cheap/generic cf cards, so i'd also recommend cards that are listed as dma or udma compatible or at least list the pio modes that are supported. better chance of getting one that will 'act like a drive'.

    post up results/pics if you give it a go. best of luck.
  10. Giuly, Apr 28, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013

    macrumors 68040


    They even come pre-built in a 2.5" form factor like this one (which happen to be less expensive than 60MB/s UDMA CF cards).

    Or you use an adapter and supply your own CF card.
  11. macrumors 6502a


    Please, Mods just ban this guy already. He is not being helpful at all.


    Beautiful! Thanks for the links!


    If have to get a CF card first. DMA or UDMA? Well, I will be looking for CF and then post 'em here to get advices.

    So, if I install it, will I need to format it? Or the installer will take care of that?


    Just ignore rabidz...

    Well, I heard good reviews of CF on laptops (Linux Laptops) so that's why I wanted to get some advice first, before spending money in a 64 GB Compact Flash Card.

    Also, I read those last longer, since are made for cameras (constant read/write)


    So, CF or an SSD?
  12. macrumors 6502a

    You use Disk Utility on the OS X Installer to properly format the new CF drive.
  13. Giuly, Apr 29, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013

    macrumors 68040


    The iBooks and PowerBooks without an exception have UltraATA controllers, so UDMA-5 is to prefer if you want to saturate the bus.

    If you go for 32GB, CF cards cost roughly the same but are faster (as the SSD gets faster with more storage). This 32GB Kingston card offers 90MB/s read/write, is UDMA-6 compatible and reasonably priced.
    For 64GB, 128GB and 256GB, the SSDs are max out the bus and are the better, less expensive choice.
  14. Cox Orange, Apr 30, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013

    macrumors 65816

    I read that, too, here http://lowendmac.com/macdan/md10/powerbook-ibook-ssd.htm (other link than Jessica Lares posted).
    (the link also mentions dual-adapters like here http://www.ebay.de/itm/Dual-Compact..._Festplattenkabel_Adapter&hash=item2c6e800539)

    Given what Mr. Keks said, it sounds like a no go for me or is it not that bad?

    Maybe this is something: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_on_module
    16GB for 30EUR like here (unfortunately for 3,5" IDE Drive conectors, but there should be 44Pin) as an example http://www.ebay.de/itm/16GB-Disk-on...uter_Computer_Festplatten&hash=item41586e89c1

    I just searched for "IDE flash" to get more results.

    Though it is about SSDs, I'd like to add information I once found about the filling of SSDs and speed loss (though I was told that is not anymore a problem with more modern drives, which would mean, that the problem has vanished somewhere between 2011 and 2013):
  15. macrumors P6


    CompactFlash cards have a different kind of flash memory in them that most modern SSDs. SSDs were designed with computer use in mind. CF cards were designed with cameras in mind. A CF card will wear out much like a VHS tape will. Its little memory cells are not build or designed to the tolerances like those in SSDs. A SSD will wear out as well, but it was designed with that in mind so it was engineered to have an extended life span.
  16. macrumors member

    Technically this may be true; I've not researched it myself, but it makes no practical difference. I've had a CF card as my HDD in my Pismo for a few years now, and another CF hard as HDD in my Power Tower Pro. If you think about it, though, the problems that photographers have (data loss, longevity, etc) are the same problems that computer users have, because it's all data. I might hesitate to use a CF card if I were performing tons and tons of writes 24/7 to a HDD, but that's an extreme case.
  17. macrumors regular


  18. macrumors newbie

    There's a whole category of Compact Flash that you're overlooking - "Industrial" Compact Flash. :)

    For example, take a look at the WD SiliconDrive II. The 16GB CF card has a rated service life of 108.8 Years when writing data at a rate of 402.9 GB per day. Other manufacturers make similar products, with similar ratings.

    If you just go out to the store and buy the cheapest CF card possible, sure, you can expect it to die pretty quickly when used as a system drive. But they're not designed for this. Industrial CF cards are. :cool:

    (WD datasheet for reference: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/ssd/datasheet/en/2879-771374.pdf)
  19. macrumors P6


    I overlooked them because of their high price. You can get a pretty nice PATA SSD for what you'd pay for one of those.
  20. macrumors 68030

    iBooks do not have SATA so that spam link is a waste of time.
  21. macrumors 6502

    I just installed OS X 10.6 on a CF card with a SATA adapter. The HDD from the Macbook A1181 was toast (not booting at all and making a horrible screeching sound) so I thought it could be a interesting project to just reaplace it with a CF card.

    First I formatted the card for Mac OS Extended (Journaled); then I put the card and adaptor in the Mac and the install went fine, I used a OS X DVD and installed to the card. However, now I get the flashing folder. I tried resetting NVRAM but that did not help. I tried selecting the boot drive, but nothing is visible (just the mouse cursor).

    Did I miss a step?

    This is the CF I am using:amazon.com/gp/product/B0056IHYF0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    This is the SATA adapter: amazon.com/gp/product/B0036DDXUW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  22. macrumors 68030

    Strictly speaking; wrong forum as this is all about PPC stuff. I assume that you partitioned for GUID before erasing? Presumably the installation would not have proceeded on a MB partition.

    Try extracting the HD and see if it mounts as an external USB drive on another Mac. That way, you know it is not a hardware failure either by the CF card or the SATA adapter.
  23. macrumors 6502

    Thanks for the tips. Yeah, I know this is technically not the correct forum for this, but since there was a thread here that was similar I thought I may as well try.

    I moved the drive to my Mac Mini C2D and it works fine, in fact, if I choose it from the startup volumes it starts as if it is a new Mac with the welcome screen and all. However, once it is back in the Macbook it boots to the flashing folder. If I hold Option down to select the boot device it is not present.

    Any thoughs? I can move this conversation to a new thread in the Intel area if need be. Thanks!
  24. macrumors 68030

    Since you have tried zapping the PRAM that only leaves incompatibilities as an immediate suspect. Some adapters are finicky, working with some hardware but not with others. Same with the CF cards. We have seen in other threads that the Kingspec PATA SSD rev 1 works in Powerbooks but not rev 6, although both look identical and are sold as such.

    Try booting your Macbook with your normal hard drive externally - in a USB or FW caddy and see if either the CF or the adapter is recognised internally on the SATA bus by SysProfiler. If you can see the adapter, try another brand of CF card. If neither, try another adapter.

    Check Amazon comments for people who have any adapter/CF card you are considering with Macbooks if you can. That might save a wasted purchase or two. The Mac users tend to pipe up.

    By the way, did you try your old Macbook HD in your Mac Mini? If that boots up without issue, then you have more serious problems. Either with your SATA bus or possibly RAM that is on its last legs.
  25. tampasteve, Sep 30, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014

    macrumors 6502

    Thanks for the tips, I will see what I can find.
    I can try taking a HDD out of another Mac and trying, but the original is toast. Also, it would seem that it is being recognized as I can install the OS via a DVD when the SATA/CF is installed in the bay.

    Yeah, I did, but the old HDD is practically dead. It makes a terrible screeching sound and is not recognized by the Mini at all.

    Update: So, if I try the CF/SATA attached to the Macbook via USB externally it will boot. But it still does not boot if it is installed in the SATA slot internally.

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