Maximum HDD replacement size for G4 15” 1.0/1.25GHz PowerBook?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by waiting, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. waiting macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Hi. I’m asking questions on behalf of a friend in another state, so I can’t visually verify anything discussed here. I guess my question is:

    What is the largest possible HDD that a 15” 1.0/1.25GHz G4 Powerbook can support?

    Years ago, my friend received a used 15” PB G4. (We think it's one of the 15" Macs listed here: <>) I don’t think she has the start-up discs, and the family friend who sold it to her (long since gone) replaced the stock HDD and loaded it with OS X 10.5.8, which she says is what it’s running now.

    But 10.5.8 on her G4 doesn’t show the size of the current/replacement HDD. (Both System Report and doing “Command + I” on the hard drive turn up some message that doesn’t give a figure in GBs.)

    She needs to make a complete back-up of her Mac before it dies (she feels soon), but she’s short on money and can’t afford to overspend on an external HDD that’s too big for this one job. (It’s why she’s still using a computer this old, that she got as a used gift to begin with.)

    How big could the replacement drive in her Mac be?
  2. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
  3. Frost7, Jul 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013

    Frost7 macrumors regular


    Oct 15, 2012
    Republic of Texas
    Those PowerBooks were PATA, so if you're going with a HDD, I believe the largest drive made was a 320GB WD Scorpio Blue, model WD3200BEVE. It was a good, reliable drive too, so worth getting if you can find one.

    PowerBooks had 48-bit addressing starting with the DVI model TiBooks, so there's no need to worry about the 128GB limit unless you're intending to boot a machine into Mac OS 9 (which can't boot off a partition larger than 200GB). The only size limit is how big did manufacturers make 2.5" PATA drives.

    OWC's Mercury Legacy Pro PATA SSDs go up to 480GB and work beautifully with older Macs, but they're pretty spendy.
  4. waiting thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Is a 500GB external OK then?

    Thank you for responding. Do I understand you correctly, that (based on what I've told you here) it's unlikely that her current hard drive is larger than 320GB?

    If that's the case, could she buy a 500GB external/portable HD to create a one-time complete back-up via Time Machine? Or do you foresee a problem with that?
  5. rabidz7 macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2012
    I'd just get a 150GB PATA for main bay, and 120GB SSD for a SATA optibay.
  6. Andropov macrumors regular


    May 3, 2012
    Yes, a 500GB should be more than enough, specially if the hard drive inside the PowerBook is the original. In that case, the biggest stock hard drive inside a PowerBook was 120GB.
  7. waiting thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Thank you for replying. I apologize: I don't think I described the situation clearly.

    She's looking only to preserve her files, externally, perhaps to be transferred to a new computer someday. At this point, she's resigned that her current G4 is too old, so she's not looking to replace the internal HDD--only to migrate the data off of her PB.

    I appreciate your directions on how to do so, though, since you've given her a new option to consider, and having options is always good.
  8. Cox Orange, Jul 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013

    Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    If you do "command+I" do you wait a bit? sometimes, if the HDD is very full, it takes some time, till it shows the GB.

    Is she ever to get a new PowerPC-Mac (not an Intel)? Then you might want to consider making an exact copy to the external drive. She will be able to boot via Firewire from this drive. I do not know how experienced you are with simple Mac tasks, so I like to remind you, that the external drive has to be formatted HFS+ choosing "Apple Partition Map" from the disk utilities.

    Has anyone experiences, if it is better to use Time Machine or Super Duper for emergency backups? Super Duper will check every file before copying (but eventually stop if it finds something it can't repair and wants you to repair first via disk utility).
    Wonder what is the best, if it is already dying you might not want to first try to repair the volumes file structure etc.. Also, you might want to first copy the personal files manually and then start backup of the whole system.

    Btw, a smaller drive is not always the cheaper one...

    Sorry for being this long winded and giving so little information...
  9. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
    Well if she is wanting to get rid of it, I know of a poor, starving teacher (ME) that enjoys any donation given. Unfortunately, I am not a tax write-off. However, my classroom will love you in addition to me loving you.

    If she is going to another Mac, transferring the files is ridiculously easy. The fastest way is to start up the G4 in Target Disk Mode (press T while starting up or select it in the Startup Disk preference). Then connect it with a Firewire cable to the other Mac.

    Mac #2 will recognize the G4 as a Firewire disk. From there it's a matter of shuttling files at Firewire speed.
  10. Frost7 macrumors regular


    Oct 15, 2012
    Republic of Texas
    Oh, I misunderstood, I thought you were looking for info on replacing the internal drive.

    IIRC that model PowerBook didn't have anything larger than 80GB stock, so almost any external currently on the market will have more than enough space for a backup.
  11. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    He said, she doesn't have the money for a new Mac and wants to save the data for the far future,... but that came to mind, too. She could also use "migration assistant", when she has the new Mac, though I, too, prefer migrating the files manually each after one another. She can still do that, when the files are saved to an external HFS+ formatted drive.
  12. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
    Used Macs are where it's at. I'm typing this on a used Core i5 mini with the discrete graphics card. They can be super cheap.
  13. waiting thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    "HFS+" = "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)"?

    Thank you for your advice, everyone, as I've learned more about both the situation and other possible solutions.

    I have a new question, though, and just want to confirm:
    "HFS+" is the same thing as "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)", right?

    (I've reformatted externals in the past with Disk Utility in 10.5, 10.6, and 10.7, but don't recall "HFS+" as one of the options.)

    At this point, we'll buy a 1TB USB external HD, just to create a full back-up--something she doesn't have at this point. If, however, her G4 PB should last until she does get a new Mac (which won't be anytime soon), we'll attempt to migrate her data directly using the advice we got here, either file-by-file or with the Migration Assistant.

    Thanks again, everyone. I am still checking this thread, in case anyone has any new recommendations or warnings.
  14. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    I will recommend a FW external drive it is a Powerbook. The USB ports of the Powerbooks are power limited in that it cannot even spin up my WD passport external drives.
  15. waiting thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2007
    I didn't know that. Finding an external with FW is harder (most portable HDs now seem to be USB 3.0), but I'm glad that you told me about this. Thank you.
  16. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Look around and compare:
    a) a 3,5" Drive + seperate enclosure, were you can put the drive in by yourself
    b) a 3,5" Drive already coming built in an enclosure.
    c) compare F400 to FW800 prices, the PowerBook should also have the FW800, which will be even faster.

    (Not that it sounded like that, but if she plans to get a new Intel-Mac built from 2013 onward in several years, some do not have FW anymore, they have USB3 and thunderbolt, so be sure when you by a drive, that you do not get one of those were the enclosure's interface is "glued" to the drive in it. So you have the ability to swap it in the future).

    Oh, and yes, HFS+ is Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

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