Is this iBook toast?
February 17, 2009 1:55 PM   Subscribe

The hard drive in my girlfriend's iBook (12" G4 late 2004) died, or at least that's what I think happened. I want to cover all my bases and I need a little advice on best practices.

A few months ago it would make a gnarly clicking sound, but only intermittently. We backed up all her data, figuring that the hard drive was going to fail pretty soon, but the clicking went away and everything was fine until this week when it seemed like it was running a little hot and then went totally catatonic.

After it first died, Disk Utility (running from OSX install discs) couldn't even see the drive and Apple Hardware Test returned a variety of Mass Storage "2STF" errors. After it cooled down, Disk Utility was able to see the drive, but it didn't return any errors and it passed the first Hardware Test but failed every subsequent time I ran it. I have been able to boot from the drive when the computer is totally cold, but I've never left it running for very long. I'm a little puzzled by the symptoms. I would expect the hard drive to stop working altogether.

Did I miss any totally obvious fixes? or troubleshooting steps that might indicate something other than the hard drive?

She would rather spend $65 on a new hard drive than $1k for a new MacBook. And while I have a vested interest in taking the thing apart, I don't want let my impulse to fiddle about inside the thing color my thinking about the problem itself. Thanks.
posted by clockwork to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The clicking points to the hard drive. I think you have covered all your bases. Just grab a new hard drive. The iBook G4 isn't too bad to take apart. Have a good set of little screwdrivers to make sure you don't strip out the screws and draw up a map of the locations of all of the screws.

Check this out for instructions on how to take the G4 apart.
posted by gregr at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: also try for an illustrated pdf guide to replacing the hard drive.

The drive is ultra ATA-100 (not SATA!), laptop hard drive no more than 9.5mm tall. I've seen sizes up to 250 GB in this form factor, the minimum drive spindle speed is 5400rpm although you could splurge and get a 7200rpm drive.
posted by limited slip at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2009

Best answer: Ditto. ifixit is another great source for take apart guides and getting exactly the tools you need (and getting the hard drive too if you like).
posted by quarterframer at 2:58 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's my comment about replacing a MacBook Pro HD, but the advice is applicable to your GF's iBook. The iBook G3 and G4 take-apart isn't impossible but it's harder than some other of Apple's models. Just be sure that you've studied the take-apart first and go slowly and meticulously.
posted by at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2009

The computer's already malfunctioning. Hard drives are cheap. If you screw up, you'll be out, what, $60 or so? Do it.
posted by chairface at 3:35 PM on February 17, 2009

get an upgrade kit from CDW ( get the firewire external case (or the Newer technologies USB drive adaptor). put the old drive in the freezer in a ziploc bag overnight, then hook it up and get your stuff off it.

carbon copy cloner works well for making a bootable copy.

get the biggest drive you can, or i did at least.
posted by KenManiac at 7:06 PM on February 17, 2009

Posting from the resurrected iBook right now—thanks all!
posted by felix grundy at 8:09 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: The ifixit guide definitely had the clearest instructions and the best diagrams. Their screw labeling scheme is great. Thanks.
posted by clockwork at 8:44 AM on February 23, 2009

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