Need advice on replacing internal HD

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by hologram, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. hologram macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    My 7.5-year-old G4 Dual 500 has been working like a charm ever since I got it in Dec. '99. Finally, after all these years, the HD died. Luckily I have everything backed up to an external FW and I'm using that as my boot drive now.

    I'll be getting a new iMac after the redesign comes out, but I'd still like to get a new internal drive for the G4 now and keep it as a 2nd computer after I get the iMac.

    I know the current drive is ATA, but other than that I know nothing about replacing it. Do I just look for another ATA drive and plug it in when it arrives? Are they plug and play, or do I need to know more about it? Is there anything in particular I should know, or is it typical Apple simplicity?:confused:

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  2. viggen61 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    New Jersey
    Good that you had everything backed up.

    G4s are good machines. They keep going and going... I have a G4 Digital Audio (one of the last of the Graphite models), and it runs with a 1.2 Ghz processor, 1.5 GB RAM & as many HDDs as I can stuff in to it (currently 2 120GB drives and 1 80GB, plus the SuperDrive).

    "Typical Apple Simplicity", huh... Well, replacing a HDD in a tower computer doesn't always qualify. If your G4 is anything like mine, the HDD is bracketed to the "floor" of the enclosure. Remove the ATA ribbon cable and the power cable, then remove one screw, and the HDD on the bracket slides out. Then all you do is swap the HDD on the bracket for the new one, and re-install the same way.


    I don't recall which models - and you DO have to know exactly which model you have - but some G4s cannot read large HDDs in the internal ATA bus. I ran into this on my G4 (Digital Audio). I bought a 300 GB drive, but when I got it installed, all I could see was 160 or so GB (I don't recall the exact number). I couldn't even see the whole drive to partition it into smaller logical drives. I had to return that and exchange for a 120GB, which the G4 reads just fine.

    You can get around that limitation two ways:

    1) use an external drive. Seems FireWire doesn't care.
    2) buy an internal PCI card to interface the new drive. Then you have to wade through all the different ATA specs & match them to your drive, or just go straight for a SATA controller and drive (what all the new Macs use), but that can be expensive, especially the controller.

    Do some research on the site. They have a lot of info and knowledgebase articles that'll help you ID your particular G4, and find out if it is affected by the drive size limitation I mentioned.

    And lastly, don't forget you'll have to install your OS on the new drive. I suppose you could just copy your backup to the new drive, but you might be better off starting off clean. Use Apple's CD/DVD installer, and let it copy your apps and setting from the backup.

    Good luck!

    Oh! Here's a link to the Apple Knowledgebase Article on using 128 GB and larger drives.
  3. hologram thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    Wow, thanks for the informative reply!

    I don't really need a large capacity (the original was 30gb, but my backup was 80 and I kept a lot on that on a separate partition. I just bought a 250gb external as a b/u for now, which will also be fine for the iMac when I buy it). So, 80-100gb would do.

    I also don't have to worry about the OS, because when my drive died I reformatted the 2nd partition on the external and installed a fresh copy of Tiger, then updated to 10.4.10 and reinstalled my apps from scratch. Now, if I get a new drive, I can just use SuperDuper and I should be good to go.

    Since I don't want to spend much (no new cards, controllers, etc) I guess the real question is finding the right replacement for the exact model I have.

    Or, maybe I'll just leave it alone and run it from the external. I thought it might be a simple thing, like I could find one on eBay for $20, but I guess it's not that easy after all.

    You spent a lot of time on your answer and I appreciate it!:D
  4. dex22 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2003
    Round Rock, TX
  5. hologram thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 12, 2007
    Thanks, dex22, that's exactly what I was looking for.

    I don't know much about these things and I was afraid I would order the wrong drive but this looks like it will be perfect. It even has 3yrs parts/labor.

    Now I just have to wait for the new iMacs.:apple:
  6. viggen61 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    New Jersey
    No need to find the exact model of drive. The problem will be simply locating new 120 GB drives! But when you do find them, they should be fairly cheap.

    Buy two & piggyback them on the bracket. It was designed for that. My G4 has the power and ATA connector right there for the second drive.

    Good luck!

Share This Page