I broked my computer in every possible way, how do I fix it?
August 26, 2012 1:48 PM   Subscribe

How do I access the contents of an HDD from an iMac G5 (PPC) without the original computer?

My iMac G5 started to freeze on start up so I went to reinstall Leopard which seemed to solve the problem, so I started to back up the HDD and the spinning pinwheel problems began to reappear.

I reinserted the Leopard disk, noticed the archive and install button, attempted the process only to end up freezing up halfway through. The disk is unbootable but hopefully still readable.

The issues are, I don't think, with the HDD itself so I would like to access its contents-- but I imagine that's difficult without a spare Mac to access that HFS format?

What are my cheapest and best options?
posted by dr handsome to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you pulled the hard drive? It's not clear from your question. If so, install it in an external enclosure. It uses a SATA drive, which is the current standard. You can get an external enclosure for about $40. If you want to pull the drive, it's not hard. There are a few Phillip's head screws along the bottom edge. Lay the iMac flat on its screen, loosen those up, and the back tilts off.

If not, the first thing to do would be to get your hands on another Mac and try to boot this one into "target disk mode". Connect your iMac to another Mac via Firewire (obviously the other Mac needs to have Firewire for this to work, and make sure you know whether it has FW400 or FW800 so you can get the right kind of cable); boot up your iMac and immediately press the "T" key. It should appear on the other Mac as an external hard drive.
posted by adamrice at 2:00 PM on August 26, 2012

is it a G5 with a built-in camera? if it is, removing the hard drive is quite a bit more difficult than it is on the ones without the camera. guide here for the 17" and here for the 20". (they have guides for the first-gen G5s too but they really are as simple as remove a few screws, tip the back up and off.)

alternatively, assuming you have another Mac to do this and a FireWire cable hanging around, you could boot it up in Target Disk Mode - hold down T and hit the power button. then you can plug the iMac into another computer with a FireWire cable and the iMac's hard drive ought to show up on the working computer. some caveats: you'll need a Mac with a FireWire port or the Thunderbolt FireWire adapter, and this may not work if the issue with your machine is the logic board (which is very possible - there were some industry-wide component issues around the time the iMac G5 was made). removing the drive and putting it in a case is the better option, I think, but you might be able to do TDM and not have to take apart the computer.
posted by mrg at 4:49 PM on August 26, 2012

Response by poster: I'm near positive it's a logic board issue and I've already opened the thing a couple of times so taking the HDD out won't be a problem. The enclosure thing won't be an issue either.

I'm more at a loss when it comes to accessing the data and this is where I should've been more specific: do I need a Mac, does it need to be PPC, and will I run into any issues involving permissions?
posted by dr handsome at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2012

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