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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives System
I just replaced the 4200rpm 20 GB drive in my iBook 700 with a new Hitachi Travelstar 7200rpm 60 GB drive using these instructions, and all I can say is WOW! What a difference in makes in speed. My boot time has been cut in half, and for what it is worth as a test, my sudo time find / >/dev/null time dropped from 4:30 to 1:45.

Anyway, I took the 20 GB drive I had removed and stuck it into a 2.5" FireWire/USB enclosure, but could not get it to show up under FireWire (it worked fine as a USB drive). After a lot of trial and error, I figured out how to do it.

  1. Turn off the iBook
  2. Unplug the power cord from the iBook (really, this is key)
  3. Unplug the power cord from the enclosure if there is one -- I recommend you get an enclosure with a power adapter because, at least with USB enclosures, un-powered enclosures can draw too much power and the USB port gets shut down; even the one right on the iBook.
  4. Now plug the FireWire cable into the computer and enclosure and turn on the iBook, letting it start up on battery power
  5. The drive will show up on the desktop
  6. Plug the computer and enclosure power cables back in
This will continue to work even after shutdowns and reboots, as long as the enclosure remains powered (and the iBook will keep it powered if it is plugged in).

I also moved the drive to the front of the FireWire chain, but I am not sure this makes any difference.

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: bjmorgan on Feb 06, '04 11:33:20AM

Very cool. I, myself, am too paranoid about handling the innards of my laptop. I wonder though... Would this procedure work for the 12" PowerBook and would a faster hard drive fit in the small confines of my PowerBook? I'd LOVE to replace the clunky factory drive with a speedy 7200 rpm drive, especially for audio recording work.

Also, did you notice any increase in heat?

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: panopticon on Feb 06, '04 01:50:39PM
The process to swap the hard drive out of the 12" Powerbook is incredibly complicated because everything is crammed so tightly in there, but here's how to do it. Personally, I'd bring it in somewhere and have it done instead of risking damaging my machine...

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: avanham on Feb 06, '04 01:56:39PM

As I understand it, replacing the hard drive in a powerbook is way easier than what I had to do for my iBook because you can't easily remove the bottom cover of the ibook. Here are some instructions on the apple site for replacing the hard drive in a G4 PB

I am 99.9% certain that the powerbook and ibook use the same hard drive. You can see what is available at, but basically you need a 2.5" hard drive that is no higher than 9.5mm. The Hitatchi Travelstar series definitely works in the iBook so I assume it will also work in the Powerbook.

I don't sit the computer on my lap, so I am not sure if it runs any hotter, but I doubt it.

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: stetner on Feb 06, '04 09:12:08PM

I too would be very wary of this as a 7200 rpm drive is likely to throw much more heat than the iBook is designed to handle.

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re: 7200rpm drive
Authored by: NeutronMonk on Feb 07, '04 09:03:30AM
This is probably turning into what properly should be a forum thread... I'll still post a quick comment on the 7200rpm Hitachi drive. I've successfully installed this drive into a 550MHz Gigabit Ethernet G4 Tibook, and I love it. There are absolutely no heat issues, and the drive is virtually silent. While I haven't done any proper benchmarking, drive intensive tasks seem quite a bit faster than before, as should be expected. One caveat: again, although I didn't do any before/after benchmarking, it seems to me that I've lost some 10-20% of my battery life- while no big deal for me, for some it might be an issue. Here is a review of this drive, along with links to aritcles on how to install it.

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: bluehz on Feb 06, '04 01:36:38PM

Oh how I was hoping this would work!

I have a 30G external firewire drive in one of those small VST enclosures. Worked fine in OS X until one day I plugged it in to an OS 9 machine and the OS 9 box crashed. When the OS 9 box came around - the drive was unmountable. Have tried EVERYTHING for the last few months and nothing will revive the drive. Or should I say - I can;t even get the drive to show up so I can reformat it, repair it or anything. I have run the gamut of DiskUtility, DiskWarrior, DiskRescueX, and Drive 10 and NOTHING will mount or act on the drive. I have even tried a few things in the terminal - I can occasionally see the device show up in the df listing in the terminal.

I am not even worried about the contents of the drive - I just want my 30G back. Does anyone know of a method to reformat the drive from the terminal or some other trick?

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Disk Utility?
Authored by: notmatt on Feb 06, '04 01:57:29PM

If you can mount it, you don't even need the terminal. Just open Disk Utility (in /Applications/Utilities) and click on the "Erase" tab.

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Disk Utility?
Authored by: bluehz on Feb 06, '04 02:46:37PM

Disk utility freezes for me while the drive is plugged in...

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: diamondsw on Feb 06, '04 03:21:45PM

If you can get it to show up in df, you may have a chance. Try the following (this is from memory, so I hope I recall it all):

From the terminal, run the system disk mounter script:
sudo /Systen/Library/StartupItems/Disks/Disks

This *might* mount the disk into the filesystem. In my case it did, but the drive would not show up on the desktop, and it locked up disk utilities. However, it was mounted. Try this:
cd /Volumes/; ls

If it's there, copy everything off using:
ditto --rsrc /Volumes/<yourvolume>/* <wherever>

Good luck!

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: tupholme on Feb 07, '04 12:20:53PM

I had the same problem with a LaCie 42GB drive under OS 9 - I bought it very early on and I think the drivers were sub-standard.

Nothing would work on the Mac but when I plugged the drive into my Sony VAIO (onboard FireWire), I was able to see it. Of course, it wasn't readable but I could re-format it. When I then plugged it back into the Mac, it was visible. I needed to re-format again to make it HFS, but the process made the disk usable again and it has been fine ever since (I used the Heat drivers under OS 9 after that!).

Hope you've got a friend with a FireWire-equipped PC!


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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: whenders0n on Feb 06, '04 02:33:31PM

I would love to do something like this to my 12" powerbook. My two worries are heat and battery life. Has anyone tried this, or know of results? I have heard putting in a faster HD can really drain your battery. And what of the speed increases in a Powerbook? Anyone know of benchmarks? Thanks,


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Authored by: SOX on Feb 07, '04 11:18:39AM

You should not have seen any difference going from a 4200 to a 7200 drive on a firewire 400 connection. the connection is the bottleneck not the driver speed

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Authored by: jcteo on Feb 07, '04 12:56:15PM

A couple of points:

- He replaced the INTERNAL drive with a 7200 rpm. I don't think Firewire is involved.

- FW400 can more than handle the sustain rate from a 4200 rpm, so it is NOT the limiting factor

- In many operations (including "find /" that the original poster mentioned), much of the time spent is in seeking, not transfering. The decreased latency of a 7200 rpm drive would speed things up even if bandwidth is limited by the bus.


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Authored by: dintal on Feb 08, '04 01:15:55AM

well, that's just plain not true.

ATA drives, whether 3.5" or 2.5", 4200 or 5400 or 7200 are at most ATA 133 which stands for the transfer speed. an ATA 66 drive is capable of push 66Mb/s while an ATA 100 drive is capable of 100Mb/s. On the other had FireWire 400 is capable of 400Mb/s transfer rate. FireWire 800 is capable of double the rate.

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Authored by: eggman on Mar 15, '04 08:11:34PM

I think "skeptical" might have forgotten that ATA XX speed ratings stand for XX MB/s...notice the CAPITAL B meaning byte whereas the lower case stands for bit (which is used for firewire speeds)...this would make 66MB/s roughly (ok, exactly) 8x faster than 66Mb/s etc...i'll leave the rest of the math to you, but personally, i'd take 100MB/s over 400Mb/s

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Authored by: pasta on Apr 05, '04 02:31:32AM

You're a tool! ATA-100 and ATA-133 drives are capable of a maximum 100MB/s or 133MB/s. However, this is only achieved when utilizing the drive's cache, which is typically 2MB or, more recently, 8MB. After that, the SUSTAINED throughput drops off dramatically to the speed at which the information can be extracted or written to the actual platters. These sustained speeds vary among different manufacturers and different drives, but typically a 5400RPM drive is in the 15-16MB/s range and a 7200RPM drive is in the 22-23MB/s range. As a result, a Firewire drive can perform EXACTLY the same as an internal drive can EXCEPT for the initial 2MB or 8MB cache access. A Firewire bus is capable of 400Mb/s, which is 50MB/s. That's why when you create a Firewire striped RAID, you get almost double the transfer rates of a single drive. It's not exactly double because the Firewire bus reserves a portion of bandwidth for communications with devices, but it's damn near close.

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Mount un-mountable external Firewire drives
Authored by: semios on Feb 08, '04 06:02:20PM
sudo time find / >/dev/null

I'm curious about this metric. Did both drives have the exact same contents? Were they both fresh installs? Or was the old drive full of junk, while the new one wasn't?

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