Skip replacing bad HDD and use external instead?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by OldGuyTom, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

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    Sep 6, 2013
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    US
    #1
    Last night I got a call from a neighbor who has a 2006 20 inch iMac because they were having problems. It sounded like a hard drive problem so I brought over an external HDD I have with Scannerz installed on it and tested the internal drive. The drive has some bad sectors, but not enough to indicate the thing is about to fail.

    I opened one of these things up a few years ago and thought it was a PIA, especially trying to get the plastic case off of it. These people aren't exactly power users, more like the types of people that use it for e-mail and checking the weather forecasts.

    I suggested that instead of opening the thing up and replacing the drive they might want to consider just getting a Firewire or USB external drive, cloning the data from the internal drive to the external drive and then using that as a boot drive. I know it would be a little bit slower than an internal drive but for what they use it for I can't imagine they'd really notice the difference.

    I suppose I could go through the whole rigmarole of zeroing the drive and attempting to remap the bad sectors, etc. etc., but being 9 years old I don't know if it's worth the bother. I'm also afraid if I open the thing up I might inadvertently bust it. If it was my system I'd do it, but somebody else's? I don't like that idea.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    Mar 26, 2008
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    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #2
    If you can get a good external, go ahead. I have done it in the past when I've had trouble with my HDD by having a SuperDuper clone drive that I use as backup. It works fine and with a 2006 I wouldn't bother trying to open it up. If you can find an external with SSD, it would be even better.
     
  3. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    #3
    I don't think I'd bother with an external SSD over USB 2. I've got a newer portable drive that connects and powers off of USB 2 that holds my media files; it is actually pretty quick for a hard drive. It is certainly much faster than the old FW800 drive it replaced.
     
  4. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Actually, building an external with an SSD and a 2.5" enclosure might be a good idea. This way if the thing got banged around a lot it would probably not get hurt. Some of the SSDs on the market are probably both cheap enough and yet big enough to suit the needs of these people.

    I assume that true SSD performance will be bottlenecked by the USB 2 or FireWire 400 interface on the unit.
     
  5. MacNerd1239 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    #5
    Performance certainly will be bottlenecked by USB 2/Firewire 400 but if they're used to the drive in that machine anything Solid State will be an improvement I'd assume.

    Opening the old plastic iMacs can be difficult and they're easy to break so if you're not comfortable with it, I'd definitely stick with the external route.

    Also, 9 years is nearly time for it to go to the computer graveyard.
     
  6. brdeveloper macrumors 68020

    brdeveloper

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    Brasil
    #6
    A good firewire enclosure (perhaps a Lacie Triple with FW support) seems to be the sweet spot. The USB bus will be tight for both the system unit and external pen drives, printer, etc.

    This said, I guess an external USB2 enclosure with a SSD will feel faster than the internal drive. Expect sporadic system crashes due to moving the unit around the desk. This sometimes happens with me when I re-position my Windows VM SSD installed into an external enclosure. One of the enclosure already died. I'm in the second enclosure.

    That's why I'd recommend the good ones for the system disk, like a Lacie Rugged Triple one. It has the advantage of having FW800 support, so the HDD will perform like if it was internal.
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    Use firewire 800 if the Mac has a connector to support it.

    If not, use firewire 400.

    Either will be better than USB2.

    It's probably not worth using an SSD in the enclosure. This depends on how much storage space they have already consumed on the (old) internal drive.

    You also should explain to them that an iMac from 2006 is actually "alive beyond its years", so to speak. The whole machine may be running on borrowed time.

    So -- they need to start thinking about a replacement. This DOESN"T mean they have to BUY a replacement right now, just start considering what they would buy when the time comes.

    If their financial situation supports it, I would suggest that they take a look at the Mac Mini line. But DO NOT point them towards the "entry level" Mini, it's horribly hobbled. The midrange model with a fusion drive would probably suit them well enough...
     
  8. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Alive beyond it's years is right. I could just see me opening the thing up, doing the repair, and then a few days later the screen starts dying a natural death and them thinking, "You know, Tom just worked on that…I wonder if he broke it."

    What I think I may do is get one of those new high speed 2.5" Hitachi drives, put it into a small USB enclosure, attach it with a short USB cable, and then put it on the flat part of the L shaped stand. That way it would be inconspicuous and out of harms way, and when they decide to replace it, assuming it's sometime soon, they could just import all their data from that drive.
     
  9. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    Reply to myself to update: I did exactly what I said above with the Hitachi. All is well now.
     
  10. MacRobert10 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2012
    #10
    As an FYI you can create a plist file and put it into the users Library/LaunchAgents folder to unmount the unused disk. Requires some skill, but it's doable.
     
  11. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    Example??? Also, are you sure that can be done with El Capitan with half the file system in lock down?
     

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