Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Upgraded my iBook G4

Since I was stuck at home today again due to this damn poison ivy, I upgraded my iBook G4 with a new hard disk obtained last night from Microcenter.

The OEM 30 GB drive was the biggest bottleneck the machine had. The small size was a problem, since while 30 GB on a Windows or Linux box is a decent amount for my needs, many Mac applications seem to be rather large, compared with their Windows or Linux counterparts. Between apps, data, and iTunes, I was down to under 9 GB free. Also, it's a slow 4200 RPM unit, which hinder performance.

So last night I went out when the poison ivy wasn't bothering me too much and picked up a Fujitsu 80 GB 5400 notebook drive and a Macally Firewire/USB 2.0 2.5" external enclosure. My plan was to put the Fuji drive in the enclosure, clone it using Carbon Copy Cloner, then swap out the OEM drive for the Fujitsu. Simple in theory but not so simple in practice.

The first glitch I ran into was that Carbon Copy Cloner kept hanging on me. After I formatted the Fuji drive as HFS+ using OS-X's Disk Utility, I started the cloning process. The first attempt hung while copying some User Guides installed along with OS-X. The second attempt hung when blessing the drive. Time to take a different approach.

I decided to try SuperDuper. SuperDuper was able to clone the drive. To verify it was bootable I went into System Preferences > Startup Disk, selected the Firewire drive, and restarted the box. It worked!

The next step was to swap the drives. Apple did a hell of a job with the iBook's aesthetics but taking this thing apart is a cast iron beotch. Thankfully, I found an excellent illustrated guide by the fine folks at iFixit, without which I would've been up the creek without a paddle. The hard disk is not accessible until you remove both the top and bottom of the system's case. Around 50 screws, most of which are tiny, need to be removed and reinstalled during the process.

After getting the new drive in the iBook I booted it up and was presented with a black screen. Talk about having an "OH SHIT!" moment. It turned out that I'd forgotten to reconnect a DC power in cable to the mainboard, so while the machine turned on and the fan blew, nothing else happened. After I reconnected it and partially reassembled the machine I tried booting it again, this time successfully. Whew!

Once the iBook was back together, I installed the OEM drive into the Macally enclosure and verified I could access it via the Firewire connection.

Finally, it came time to use the iBook with the new drive. It definitely feels snappier, as I'd expect with a 5400 RPM disk with 8 MB of cache. All my applications appear to run without problems And it's sure nice to have a drive that's not cramped for space.

This upgrade should really extend the useful life of my iBook. It was difficult and time consuming but it looks to be worth it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, looks like screws make up most of the weight of an iBook :)