Mac Migration
July 27, 2005 12:24 PM   Subscribe

I am a PC person, but I was given an old Power Mac G4. I am setting it up for my son. The hard drive holds about 9.5 Gigs, and will be filled up by his iTunes collection rather fast. Can I (i.e. should I) (a) swap out the hard drive for a bigger one, (b) add a second internal drive, (c) use an external hard drive, or (d) other? Please help this Mac novice navigate the mental migration from the PC world. Thanks.
posted by Carsey to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
You can add a second IDE hard drive and set it up as a repository for your son's entire user account folder, which includes the iTunes folder, or use it as a repository for just your son's iTunes folder.

Any IDE hard drive from Best Buy and the like will do. You don't need any special cabling, but you might need to put the drive jumpers into Cable Select mode. If you look on the hard drive label, it will be clear which jumpers you need to set.

Just pop out the side door, unscrew the second hard drive plate at the bottom of the machine, screw the hard drive into the plate, put the plate-HD back into the machine, fasten the plate down, and hook up the IDE and power connectors.

Turn on the computer, format the drive with Disk Utility, and then follow either set of instructions above, depending on what you want to do or feel most comfortable doing.
posted by Rothko at 12:33 PM on July 27, 2005

USB 2 or Firewire external drives should work just fine, and they're plenty fast for playing mp3s directly from, and fast enough for bulky transfers.

I don't know if that model G4 has a second internal IDE connection, but I would guess that it would. Swapping out drives is nearly the same as it is on a PC. If it has a second IDE connection, just like in the PC world, that's two channels per connection, so you should be able to install 3 drives + a CD media drive.
posted by loquacious at 12:34 PM on July 27, 2005

Add a second internal IDE drive, it's cheaper than adding an external one and less hassle than replacing the main one. Tell iTunes to use it for the music.
posted by kindall at 12:40 PM on July 27, 2005

2nd half of the puzzle.

~/music/itunes/itunes Music

is where youre music resides.

(where ~ is your user)

What you'll do is copy that folder to the new drive. Then create an Alias (just like a shortcut) which you'll rename to iTunes Music and put it in place of the existing folder.

What will happen is itunes will see the alias, and path correctly back to your music.
posted by filmgeek at 12:42 PM on July 27, 2005

IMPORTANT NOTE: Any harddrive from Best Buy or etc will do, as Rothko notes, except that it cannot be larger than 128 gigs.

Actually, it can be larger than that but the computer will not see anything larger than 128 gigs. You either have to replace the SATA controller card or buy a software workaround.

It can be done -- I put a 250gig drive into my old G4/500.

I have to run right now, but email me and I can provide better details.
posted by docgonzo at 12:42 PM on July 27, 2005

except that it cannot be larger than 128 gigs.

Erm, some PowerMac G4s do support the higher limit, depends on the age.

All are IDE, you do not want a SATA drive.

You can probably get something small (40-100GB) dirt-cheap on eBay.
posted by trevyn at 12:54 PM on July 27, 2005

Personally, I'd buy an external drive. It would be less of a hassle when you have to migrate the data to another machine later on.
posted by o2b at 1:15 PM on July 27, 2005

I would buy a bigger drive and replace the one that is currently in there - newer drives will be a lot faster.
posted by mrbill at 2:37 PM on July 27, 2005

Option 1: Internal Drive) You will need to identify which model of PowerMac you have. The G4 line spanned several years and several configurations, some of which affect your choice of drive. Go to the Apple website and click on the Support tab, then choose PowerMac G4 from the PowerMac menu. On the right of the resulting page are links to PDFs of the manuals for these Macs. Peruse them to identify your system. The manuals will also give you pointers on the drive interface, mounting kits, etc.

Now go to xlr8yourmac and click on the Database tab. Choose Hard Drive for drive type and fill in the Interface and Mac Model slots per your system type. You will get discussions from people who have upgraded your model Mac before.

Option 2: External Drive) Buy an external Firewire (the USB interface on those Macs is USB 1 -- you don't want to deal with that) drive and hook it up. Use Disk Utility to format it. To save money you can pick up a 200 Gb drive and an external enclosure and build your own.
posted by joaquim at 3:44 PM on July 27, 2005

What you'll do is copy that folder to the new drive. Then create an Alias (just like a shortcut) which you'll rename to iTunes Music and put it in place of the existing folder.

There's a preference in iTunes to change your music folder location. It's on the advanced tab.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:10 PM on July 27, 2005

Also, as I recall, a Powermac G4 will not support USB2 external peripherals without a new PCI card. One of the coolest upgrades you can do to an old Mac is to add the Sonnet Temp Trio PCI card (ca. $70), which gives you the capacity for two new channels (4 drives total) of IDE internal drives, plus some spare firewire and USB (I think 2.0) ports out the back. The Sonnet will support large ATA drives. I have a G4/933 in my lab as a server that has a two 500GB RAID arrays (plus the boot drive on the main IDE channel) in it running off a single Sonnet card, and it works great. Go internal with this. Heck, you can buy a brand new 80GB IDE drive for about $50 these days and just add it to the existing IDE channel (both drives jumpered to cable select). If your kid has more than 80GB of mp3s, I'd curtail the downloading before the RIAA knocks on your door.
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:22 PM on July 27, 2005

I'd add a second internal drive. At one point, the Powermac G4 I'm composing this reply on had 4 internal hard drives.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:25 PM on July 27, 2005

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