Dead hard drive - need temporary external hard drive solution

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Gwenyn, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. Gwenyn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
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    UK
    #1
    Hello there. This is my first post, but I have been reading threads about similar problems to mine for the last week. Having read similar problems, I hope you can help me out with my specific situation, please. I'd be really grateful.

    I have a mid-2008 iMac intel, mid-spec and the hard drive has died. (I've run diagnostics/repairs. It's dead).

    I recently lost my job and therefore don't have the budget to replace my internal drive. I also live in the middle of bloody nowhere so am hours from the nearest Apple store in Manchester, and I frankly don't trust the locals (nor myself) to do the work. I'd say I'm a novice user, and am not sure I will be able to replace the internal drive myself.

    I'd like to get a mid- to high-spec external hard drive to act as my temporary boot drive. I would need to rely upon this for about 3-6 months, just to get my lifeline back. From the threads I've read, I would be aiming for a Firewire 800 (I can't afford Thunderbolt). But I read in another thread that some of the older iMacs won't boot from Firewire. Does anyone know if my computer would boot from Firewire 800? Failing that, is there a decent-spec USB drive I could use? I know they're much slower, but I don't have much choice.

    I mainly use Photoshop and Illustrator (100mb file sizes or less, generally) and Word. I'll stay off iTunes until my internal is replaced. I will need to work from the external and save to it. I have DropBox for backing up essential files. And yes, I have all my files backed up to DropBox, so recovery shouldn't be an issue.

    Thank you in advance. Sorry to come to the forum with just a question. I do aim to help anyone else in the future if I can. I appreciate any thoughts you have.
     
  2. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    Jul 29, 2011
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    #2
    USB is not really going to be an option for you...Far too slow as a boot drive and takes an age to do anything. Esata is faster, firewire would be your best option, some info on your model here:
    http://support.apple.com/kb/SP485?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

    As you can see you have firewire there, some FW options:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&...vpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_3nrfw1um54_b

    The link is UK, but the US site has even better prices. In the long run though, you would be better of putting a new drive in your iMac.
     
  3. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

    Staff Member

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    #3
    If you want to attempt to save the drive you have, and have an IBM PC, you can take the HDD out and put it into the PC and run Spinrite on it. I love that program; it's a HDD repair and maintenance tool that I've used many times to repair Windows BSOD's and so forth. Your HDD likely has some bad sectors and Spinrite can repair them.

    These are pics of me using Spinrite on the HDD from my MBP inside a Dell PC.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    MacMan45, thank you! I will order amongst those you linked to. And thank you for posting the specs for my Mac.

    Yes, I will definitely be replacing the internal drive.

    This is brilliant, thank you again. :)

    ----------

    Hi, Sandbox General. Thank you for that suggestion. Perhaps I'll give that a try once I have my temporary solution in place. However, I'm even more useless on a PC than I am on a Mac. Really, I am terrified to meddle with the guts.
     
  5. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #5
    Let us know how you go...:)
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    A previous poster suggested firewire.

    DO NOT buy an external firewire drive for a "late 2008" iMac, unless you KNOW that the drive will boot the iMac. You may get the drive, attach it to the Mac -- and then find that the iMac won't boot from it.

    Example: Within the last year or so, I purchased an Other World Computing "Voyager" docking station to use with my mid-2007 "white Intel" iMac. The dock has firewire 400, firewire 800, and USB3. To my surprise, it boots from USB, but WILL NOT BOOT when connected via either Firewire port. The iMac will connect to the dock via firewire once up and running, but can't be started up from it.

    I did some checking, and found that I wasn't the only one having this problem. Apparently, something has changed with firewire in the past few years, not sure just what. But, if you have an -older- iMac, and a -newer- firewire drive, there is a possibility that the drive MAY NOT be capable of booting the iMac.

    This may not be true for -all- firewire drives and docking stations, but it -is- true for mine.

    Suggestion:
    Whatever drive (or docking station, see below) you buy, get one that has BOTH firewire AND USB connectivity. Otherwise, you may be frustrated if the iMac won't boot via firewire.

    I would also suggest that you buy a drive or dock that has USB3 capability. You may not need it -today-, but USB3 is "the future" in Mac connectivity and by the end of this year we'll start to see firewire disappear and [nearly] all Macs will have USB3 in its place. USB3 is backward-compatible with USB2, so it will have no problems booting your iMac. It will be a bit slower on the boot but once running, you'll hardly notice any differences from the internal drive for most things.

    I would suggest something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=usb+sata+dock&x=0&y=0
    (Many items shown, they all work the same, just pick one you like that's cheap)
    A "dock" will become a very useful device to have around. Just put a "bare drive" in, connect it, and it behaves just like a "standalone" hard drive in an enclosure. But the advantage is that you can just pop the drive mechanism out and put another one in as needed.
    I would suggest spending just a bit more for a dock that has USB3 connectivity, again, with an eye on the future.
    If you go for a dock, don't bother with firewire -- it boosts the cost up. Just get USB3 and be done with it.
     
  7. patricem macrumors 6502

    patricem

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    #7
    My hard drive went out last year, I have a 2008 24 in iMac. I ran out to Staples and grabbed an Iomega FireWire external that was all formatted for Mac. I used that fine no problem. Then I recently got a Western Digital Studio My Book from Amazon again all formatted for Mac, with FireWire. Been working great. I've been a year now using an external. I do everything on it, no problems.
     
  8. Gwenyn, Jun 3, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2012

    Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Hello, Fishrrman. I'm glad you popped in because I recall you in another thread talking about a similar situation. That's why I'd posted a new topic as mine is slightly later than yours, and hoped for advice specific to mine. My iMac isn't USB3 compatible and although I understand what you're saying about buying for the future, I seriously have no cash. I simply can't spend on anything I can't use right now.

    EDIT: I just re-read your post and you've said USB 3 can be used with USB 2. But I'm presuming this means that it will run at slow USB 2 speeds.

    How can I find out if my iMac will boot from a firewire? I take it simply having the available firewire 800 port isn't sufficient information. Hard drive product descriptions are notoriously vague and rubbish.

    ----------

    Hi, Patricem. Thanks for that. Do you boot from it too? I was looking closely at one of the WD drives. If so, are you still booting from it, or have you since replaced your internal drive?
     
  9. patricem macrumors 6502

    patricem

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    Nov 18, 2005
    #9
    I'm still booting from it. I went to a certain website and looked up the exact specs of my machine and then was able to verify that it would boot from firewire. Eventually I'll replace my internal but not for a while and this seems to be working fine. 'knock on wood'. I would just recommend you be sure and get a hard drive that is specifically formatted for the mac, so you don't have to go in there and mess around reformatting.

    ----------

    This is the exact drive I am booting from right now. Western Digital My Book Studio 1 TB FireWire 800 External Hard Drive. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004QGXOOS/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00. I have a 24 inch 2.8 Ghz intel core 2 duo.
     
  10. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    UK
    #10
    Thank you, patricem. Yes, I do have the exact specs and it does state that I have the firewire 800 port. Given that we appear to have the exact same iMac, I think I will take the safe route and buy the exact external drive that you linked to. So, thank you for that. I will let you know how I get on.
     
  11. patricem macrumors 6502

    patricem

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    Nov 18, 2005
    #11
    My hard drive went out very suddenly and unexpectedly last year, so I ran to Staples and got an Iomega external, it's a portable and it's red in color. This worked fine for many months but it started to run warm, so I just recently got the My Book , it has its own plug and more fans to run cooler. Now I'll use the Iomega to back up. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to load the operating system to the My Book. BTW that was one of the cheapest mac formatted firewire ready externals I could find, and I searched. This is where I got my exact specs...put in your serial number and it tells you all about your specific imac. http://www.everymac.com/

    Good luck let me know how it's goes. I have been booting from the external for a year now.
     
  12. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Oh, brilliant, thank you! I'd never seen that site before. I've found my exact specs (indeed identical to yours).

    I've been eyeing the same drives as you've bought. But the price of hardware over here is just appalling compared to US prices. The iOmega portable you originally bought is £137 today on Amazon and the 1T WD drive you bought is £118. I think for now I'm going to get this little "emergency" 500GB WD portable and then upgrade to a 1 or 2T later when I have an income: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005MYX330/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A2W1X7690BVY6Y
     
  13. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
    #13
    All iMac can boot from firewire.
    All Intel Macs can boot from USB.

    Some might say FW doesn't work but it's the internet, anyone can say anything doesn't work.

    If you work with Photoshop etc, then Firewire drive is better.
     
  14. patricem macrumors 6502

    patricem

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    Nov 18, 2005
    #14
    500 GB is plenty. I would have got that size if WD had offered it. Less heat for the hard drive, I feel. The Iomega is bought was only 320GB. Just be sure what you get is formatted for Mac.
     
  15. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    UK
    #15
    Thank you, Consultant. I've seen comments across several forums and Amazon reviews saying the same things, so it seemed like a legitimate worry. Good to know it isn't.

    Oh, that's good to know re: your Iomega size. And yes, it does appear the 500GB one is preformatted for Mac. By the way (and I'm sorry to keep asking questions but I am really quite new at this), will I need to install my Adobe Create Suite onto the new external drive? If so, I wonder if 500GB will be enough...

    Sorry I keep banging on about this. :(
     
  16. patricem macrumors 6502

    patricem

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    #16
    500GB is huge, you'll have enough room for everything for 5 years. Do you have any back up? Or did u loose everything that was on your drive? If the later then you will have to re download your software.
     
  17. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    UK
    #17
    Ah, good. That's brilliant, because I ordered the 500GB drive last night.

    I backed up all essential files when things started getting weird, so I won't have lost any work. But yes, I'll need to reinstall all of my software, which is fine as I have all my original discs. I never could get Time Machine to work, unfortunately.

    Thanks again for all of your help, patricem.
     
  18. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18
    My external drive has arrived. Now my full degree of novice-ness will become apparent. There are two issues:

    1. I have a CD stuck in the drive. It won't spin when I power up the iMac, so I can't poke it out using the techniques splattered all over the web. Any ideas?

    2. I presume I need to get that CD out of there and put my original install CDs in, and THEN boot from the external. Is that right?

    I tried to boot from it holding down the option key, and I just got a flashing globe in the grey screen, and then nothing.

    I'm still looking around the web for help, but would really appreciate any tips you might have for getting this sorted! Thank you! :confused:
     
  19. Gwenyn, Jun 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012

    Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Update! Everything is now resolved! Thank you, patricem, for all your help. And thank you to everyone else for their input.

    If anyone else has a similar problem, get in touch and I'll be happy to walk you through the steps I went through.

    My little 500GB WD My Passport Studio firewire 800 drive boots great and is only a hair slower than before. I'll be getting a second WD external with a fan in a few months to use as my boot drive, and will use this one as my backup.

    I did lose everything, but have all my install discs and had backed up all crucial files, so I'm set. Once I have a second drive, I'll be using Carbon Copy Cloner every ruddy day (which is now installed and waiting).

    Thank you. :)
     
  20. patricem macrumors 6502

    patricem

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    Nov 18, 2005
    #20
    Hey Gwenyn,
    Sorry I didn't get back to you about switching over but it sounds like you figured it out just fine. Good job! I hope it all works ok for you. I hooked up my Iomega last night and used Time machine to back up...so far so good. How did u end up getting the disc out?
     
  21. Gwenyn thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 3, 2012
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    #21
    Hi, patricem,

    I pressed 'option' and then when it tried to boot from the stuck disc I hit the eject button (although it did not spin). I tricked it and it worked. Ha!

    The iMac provided prompts as I was trying to install the OS, telling me that I needed to partition the drive before I could install it, which I did after a bit of poking around and frowning and huffing. I've since upgraded the OS. I'm amazed by what this little HD can handle. So again, thank you.

    I'm also thrilled I avoided a massively expensive trip to the Genius counter, particularly because I do not agree with their policy of keeping your hard drive. I think not!

    I'm glad you got your Iomega running and the CCC is working out for you. Never again! :)
     

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