This is a followup to last week’s article where I performed an autopsy on a six-year-old iMac that had a number of ruptured capacitors. Like a low-rent Frankenstein movie, I ended up transplanting the brains from one computer into the body of another, and I ended up learning something new!
Well, maybe not something new as the world is concerned, but new to me!
Pictured above is the G5 iMac lying face down with its back panel removed. In the right hand corner is the SATA hard drive that originally came with the machine when it was shipped from Apple. Apple moved from the older IDE or PATA hard drives to SATA when G5s came out. I took the hard drive above out of the iMac and slapped it into a dual G5 tower from 2004 that was sitting around idle. Poof! It was as if the old iMac was back with all of its programs and all of its user’s preferences and eccentricities but in a different body. That would have been the end of it, but I felt leery about the computer’s owner forging ahead with a six-year-old hard drive. Hard drives are only supposed to last about five years and this one was well used. It was only a matter of time before it gave up the ghost. Fortunately, SATA hard drives are easy to find so a 500 GB Western Digital model was picked up from a computer super store. I got the drive the next day, slapped it into the G5 tower, and nothing happened.
No window came up asking if I wanted to initialize or eject the drive.
I launched Apple’s Disk Utility which will usually show something, and it showed nothing.
I thought that it was a bad drive. The store sells these sort of drives by the caseload, and maybe I ended up with a bad one. Maybe somebody at Quality Control was asleep at the wheel. I put it in another computer, and it showed up. Weird. I formatted the drive thinking that maybe there was some PC/Windows Voodoo involved that the G5 didn’t like. I gave it a nice Mac-happy format and popped it back into the tower. Nothing.
I turned to the internet and typed something like“G5 fails to recognize hard drive” and this article in Apple Support Communities turned up. It turns out that the G5 tower was one of the first G5 towers and it didn’t play nice with SATA 2 drives. It couldn’t handle the speed and preferred the slower SATA 1 drives. Was there a solution? As it turns out, the solution lies in the jumper pins on the hard drive. I had to play with them on the old IDE hard drives setting the drive to either MASTER or SLAVE, but I’ve been lucky enough not to have to worry about them with the SATA drives I’ve dealt with. I thought the jumper pins were like a vestigial organ on SATA drives or something Windows-centric I’d never have to deal with.
It worked. I did a fresh system install; migrated the programs, settings and preferences from the old hard drive to the new; reactivated licenses as were necessary, and the user was back in business!
The best way to recycle a Mac is to re-use it. For the past few years I’ve been getting my hands dirty under the hoods of old Macs swapping parts and performing upgrades. This is a new category that I will post to every now and then about mostly Apple computers. Due to my love of computers, my lack of funds and the wealth of information easily available on the internet, I’ve taken it upon myself to become my own fix-it man. I am not the handiest guy in the world, but, thanks to research on the internet, I’ve been able to cobble together and hot rod a few Macs into completely viable machines. It gives me a real Mechanics Illustrated sense of accomplishment, and puts me in touch with my dear departed Dad.