All Hard Drives Fail

All hard drives fail. It’s a given fact that every hard drive will eventually crash and burn. There are no exceptions. All too often, however, we tempt fate a little too long and fail to heed the audible warning signs and visual clues that our trusted storage device is terminally ill. Fortunately, I took quick action this past weekend to replace the drive in my file and print server, a slot-loading iMac G3 that I bought in late 1999.

In recent weeks, the storage device that I installed in 2002 began to emit a strange barrage of hums and whining noises. Aware that my computer was not equipped with a modern controller that could recognize disk storage space above the first 128 GB of a drive, I bought a Western Digital Caviar 80 GB drive from for $56. Upon receipt of the replacement device, I thought I would save time by cloning the old drive’s contents onto the new drive using Carbon Copy Cloner 3. Or so I thought.

I used instructions from the iMac TakeApart Service Manual (no longer available from Apple’s web site) to complete the switch in less than an hour. I then turned on the iMac to test my newly cloned drive. I was greeted by the flashing folder icon, indicating that the newly installed drive wasn’t bootable. The boot problem wasn’t due to an improper jumper setting on the drive. When I started up the iMac using a bootable OS X volume that’s accessible from one of my portable Firewire enclosures, the icon for the internal drive was clearly visible on the Desktop. Running Apple’s Disk Utility and Alsoft’s Disk Warrior, however, failed to change the drive’s boot status. To resolve the startup problem, I used Disk Utility’s Restore function to reformat and reclone the drive. Knowing that the restore process would take some time on my vintage Mac, I left the office to run a few errands. After an hour or so, I returned. I noticed that the restore process had completed. Accessing System Preferences, I set the internal drive as my startup disk and booted again. This time the computer started up normally. I completed the upgrade by installing the Apple Software Updates. The chirps and whines were history. My iMac, as well as its owner, were happy campers.


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Filed under Apple Hardware, Apple Software, Third Party Hardware, Third Party Software, Troubleshooting

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