Run 2007 iMac off external HD?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mstermster, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. mstermster macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2015
    My old iMac dies three times a day, spinning wheel, etc. I think the HD is dying. This has been going on for a year now. Bit surprised it hasn't completely died to be honest. I have reinstalled everything a couple of times but that doesn't seem to make any difference.

    Can I run it off an external HD? Boot it, etc? It seems that should be possible according to a few forum posts here and there. Is that true? Does the machine not need the internal hard drive for anything??

  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    First it's best to verify if the HDD is actually dying. Download & run SMART Utility -- anything other than 'Passed' means it's on its way out. Direct link here:

    If it's dying then it'd be best to replace the internal HDD.

    You can run OS X from an external drive (USB, Firewire), but honestly the speeds are so slow that it's not worth it. The internal SATA interface is going to be much quicker.

    If the HDD is dying, replace it with an SSD -- that'll kill two birds with one stone, as you'll be getting a new hard-drive plus considerably quicker performance in every area from the SSD as well.
  3. mstermster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2015
    That didn't take long! Failing! 15000 errors.

    I just use the machine for surfing. Will an external drive play youtube videos?

    A new internal drive installed would cost about what this machine goes for on ebay, i.e. about 300.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you want to boot and run from an external drive, I think firewire800 is your best bet.

    You might consider looking for a 2.5" enclosure with both USB3 -and- firewire800. If you do this, when it comes time to retire the old iMac, you can continue to use the drive/enclosure with a new Mac, which should support the USB3 connection without problems.

    Do you already keep an external drive, on which you could store seldom-accessed media such as movies, photos, etc.?

    If so, you might consider picking up a "low-mid" capacity SSD. You can get a 120gb SSD in the $40 price range now if you shop carefully (a USB3/firewire800 enclosure will run about $60, by comparison). $100 will get you into the 240gb SSD capacity range.

    An SSD in a firewire800 enclosure will boot and run the old iMac surprisingly well.

    Personal experience:
    I have one of the last "white" Intel iMacs (late 2006, bought in mid 2007) which continues to run for me.
    I often boot this from a USB2 "docking station" with a SATA platter-based HDD. The boot is on the slow side, yes. But once up-and-running, it runs pretty good considering its age.

    I sense that if you go the SSD/firewire800 route, you'll get at least a couple more years of good use out of the old iMac.

    Final thought:
    Might be time to start looking around for something new....
  5. barbu macrumors 6502


    Jul 8, 2013
    Where do you live? That installed cost seems a bit high. You can get an SSD for ~$100 and install should take less than an hour.
  6. mstermster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2015
    That's what a mid 2007 iMac goes for on ebay roughly.
  7. mstermster thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2015
    I have more hard drives than ever, but none available. I actually have almost nothing on the iMac. Just use it for surfing. So no files to save.

    I saw your post late. I went ahead and ordered suction cups and a cheap 250MB hard drive. We'll see if I can get it installed! If so, then total cost will be under 50 bucks.
  8. jasoncarmony macrumors newbie


    Jul 21, 2015
    They do go for about $300 on eBay. Which is why, when I got one for $100, I was thrilled. I decided to replace the HD with a budget $50 SSD. I was ecstatic with the result. As someone said in an earlier post, it added years to the machine. I paid $50 for the SSD, $10 for the mounting bracket (needed for the swap) and I decided to upgrade the RAM ($20 for 4GB used RAM) at the same time. The difference is night and day. If you aren't wanting to buy a new iMac, spend the money and buy years on to you iMac. It is worth it.

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