iBook hard drive replacement experience

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by bankshot, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. bankshot macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    My iBook's hard drive died the other week and I just got done replacing it last night. Everything went pretty well, so I thought I'd share my experiences in case someone else needs to do the same thing in the future.

    This was a 4200 RPM, 30 GB drive in a 2 year old 600 MHz G3 iBook. No AppleCare, so it was up to me to save the day (so far so good, the cost of the replacement drive was about 1/2 the cost of AppleCare). I bought a 5400 RPM 40 gig drive to replace it. The main things I learned were:

    • When a bad/dying disk is connected via firewire and you try to copy a corrupted file, the copy will take several minutes and eventually you'll get a file of the right size but with garbage data. You'll also get no indication that the file was bad, unless you happen to be watching the copy process and notice that it's lingering on that file for a long time.

    • If you do it the other way around - the bad disk is internal and copying to an external firewire disk, you get an "Input/output error" after a few minutes and the copy is truncated where the data started to get bad. From the Unix terminal, you can capture this and have a list of what files were bad. This was very important to me!

    • pbfixit.com is an indispensible resource. I used this guide and printed out each page to help me do the actual drive replacement. Worked perfectly.

    • For each step that requires removal of screws or other parts, make sure you click on the associated image and print out the large version of it. Then lay out all the large images on a table, and when you remove screws, place them where they go on the image. Then you won't be left with any extra screws when you're done, and you'll know each screw went back in the right place. Especially important for steps like this!


    • DiskWarrior saves the day again. I can't say enough good things about this program, and it's not the first time it's bailed me out of a tough situation that Apple's Disk Utility couldn't handle.

    Here's the timeline of what happened:

    1. The machine just froze up all of a sudden one day. Rebooted and it never got past the spinning wheel/spokes.

    2. I rebooted again in verbose mode (hold Command-V during boot) and saw that it didn't get past the 5th line of output - normally there are about 100 or so lines scrolling by as it boots.

    3. Booted off the Panther install CD and proceeded to start an Archive & Install. I figured some critical system file got corrupted, and this should fix it.

    4. About 86% into the install, a loud screeching noise kept repeating over and over. Putting my ear to the machine, I could tell it was the hard drive (I initially thought it was the CD, but the noise was clearly in the lower left corner).

    5. Killed the power, now realizing that the disk was going bad.

    6. Restarted in target disk mode (hold down T at startup) and hooked it up to my Power Mac G4 with a firewire cable. The disk showed up ok, so that was a relief.

    7. To do a proper backup, I wanted to preserve file ownership and permissions. On the desktop, right-click the drive icon and select Get Info. Uncheck "Ignore ownership on this volume."

    8. At this point since I had stopped in the middle of an Archive & Install, the /Users folder was no longer there on the iBook's drive. No need to panic, though - it had just been moved to "/Previous Systems/Previous System 1/Users".

    9. Proceeded to start a backup of the /Users folder (all I really care about, since everything else can be reinstalled). I wanted to know if any files were corrupt, so I didn't just use Finder to copy everything over to the G4's disks. Instead, I used this Unix command:
      sudo ditto -v -V -rsrc "/Volumes/Pumpkin/Previous Systems/Previous System 1/Users" /PumpkinBkp/Users >& /PumpkinBkp/output.txt
      (the iBook's name is Pumpkin, this created a backup in /PumpkinBkp on the G4's boot drive). The backup took all night (since each bad file took several minutes, as above) and even then, the iBook disk stopped responding after some point, so the remaining files were "not found." The file output.txt captured all of this information.

    10. I tried a few more times with varying degrees of success. Got a few kernel panics on the Power Mac - I guess OS X doesn't like dying firewire disks! :eek: DiskWarrior was very helpful in cleaning up the iBook disk after it got mangled by these a few times - particularly when Disk Utility wouldn't touch it. Thankfully the disk was still in good enough shape that the new directory could be written. Still, I wasn't making much progress each time through the process.

    11. Finally decided to try the other way around. I booted the Power Mac in target disk mode and booted the iBook holding down the option key. The Power Mac's boot drive showed up and I booted off that. The iBook thought it was the Power Mac. ;)

    12. Using the same Unix commands, I got better results now. It got all the way through backing up /Users, and I could search the output.txt file to find 63 files with errors. All but 2 of those files were old enough that I had them on a backup from a few months ago (yay, backups actually have a purpose! :p).

    13. Those 2 new/bad files I tried grabbing several times, using both the Unix 'ditto' command and the 'cp' command. To do this, I reconnected in the first configuration (Power Mac booting normally, iBook as target disk) so that the copy would retry until it got something. Unfortunately that something always turned out to be garbage. At least it was only 2 files!

    14. Powered down, got my printed instructions together, laid out the pictures on the table, and proceeded to dissect the iBook. Everything went exceedingly well. I've put together many PCs, upgraded many desktop Macs, but never anything approaching this level of brain surgery. It's pretty much a given that if you put everything back together completely before testing, some small thing will be wrong and you'll have to open it up. Yet after about an hour, I had a fully reassembled iBook with a shiny new hard drive in it, and heard that beautiful startup chime the first time. Woohoo! :D

    15. Booted off the Panther install CD, formatted the disk, proceeded to install. Everything went perfectly. Once into the system, I ran Software Update, created my user accounts, installed iLife, etc.

    16. Powered down and went into target disk mode again, to restore the backups from the Power Mac. Again I like seeing the full results from the Unix command, so I used a similar ditto command to copy everything back. Worked great. Now I login and it's as if nothing ever happened. :cool:

    Anyway, hope this information is useful for someone if this happens to you, and I can certainly expand on anything if someone's interested. I couldn't be happier with the outcome!
  2. buffsldr macrumors 6502a


    May 7, 2001
    Great post, I am glad you salvaged data.

    Can you elaborate on how you actually replaced the drive or refer me to a website? My drive works fine, I simply am running out of space, even after deleting unwanted crap.

    Do you think a novice could get through it?

    Thanks in advance...
  3. bankshot thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2003
    Southern California
    Whoops, didn't see this, sorry for the late reply...

    The guide I linked to was extremely helpful in taking me step by step through the whole process. I really didn't need anything else. As I said, I printed out the large version of every image, and laid them all out on a big table. As I disassembled the iBook, I put each screw on the printout for that step, right where it actually goes on the image of the iBook. This is key, and made reassembly a snap. I can't imagine the nightmare it would have been with a jumbled handful of screws, all different sizes, if I hadn't done this.

    Well, that ultimately depends on how confident you are in taking things apart and putting them back together again. It's kind of hard for me to say because I've been building/fixing/upgrading desktop computers for over 10 years now. This includes Macs, PCs, and even Sun and SGI workstations at work. This was my first time pulling apart a laptop, but it was easier than I expected (and that's good because I just dropped the iBook this morning and I'm going to need to fix the display - yikes! :eek:). I just followed each step very carefully, took my time, and was patient in the few steps where you have to gently pry things apart.

    My best advice is to go through the guide linked above, look carefully at each step and try to decide whether you would feel comfortable doing it. It's a very rewarding feeling to accomplish something like that yourself, but at the same time, nothing's worse than knowing you broke it! :eek: Ultimately only you can decide whether you feel comfortable enough to do it. Either that or find a friend who's good at taking things apart (and has patience in doing so)...

    Hope this helps! ;)

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