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iMac, failing HDD...
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sek929
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Aug 22, 2012, 03:54 PM
 
Well it's been a day of beachballs and crashes. Console reports tons of i/o errors, so I downloaded a SMART Utility and was greeted by this:



So yeah... I'm copying all my stuff to an external drive, the stuff that matters at least. So what's next? I mean, I keep reading about fixing the bad sectors, etc etc, but that isn't a long-term solution right?

Couldn't be a worse possible time for this to happen, god I don't want to take the iMac apart.

Edit: Trying to find an affordable SATA 3Gb/s drive now, god-dammit. Any suggestions?
     
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Aug 22, 2012, 06:38 PM
 
Replace your hard drive now! I have yet to hear of SMART giving false positives: if SMART claims your drive is failing, it really is failing, and failure is imminent.

Forget about that drive, don't use it for anything but data recovery.

I recommend you have a look at SSDs: Intel's 330 series gives an excellent bang for the buck – if you can squeeze your most-used data into an SSD, that is. It's a huge, huge upgrade, easily the biggest upgrade I've seen in 10 years of computing apart from going from a PowerPC G4 to an Intel Core Duo.

If you can't get an SSD, I'd look into 2~3 TB hard drives, this is where the sweet spot is in terms of price per gigabyte.
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sek929  (op)
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Aug 22, 2012, 08:03 PM
 
Yeah I'd love to see the speed increase with an SSD, but I dunno if a reasonably sized one is in the budget right now.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 22, 2012, 08:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
Yeah I'd love to see the speed increase with an SSD, but I dunno if a reasonably sized one is in the budget right now.
That depends on what you mean by »resonably-sized«: 240~256 GB SSDs are affordable (I had to opt for a 180 GB model instead, wish I could have gotten an Intel 330-series 240 GB SSD).
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sek929  (op)
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Aug 22, 2012, 09:44 PM
 
What's the deal with SATA 6Gb/s? My iMac calls for 3Gb/s, but would a 6 work anyways? Decent prices at Newegg for the 6s
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 23, 2012, 12:03 AM
 
That doesn't matter, SATA is backwards compatible and 6 GBit devices will simply be connected to at lower speeds (3 GBit/s in your case). In practice, SSDs will be able to saturate your 3 GBit SATA port, but don't worry, the largest speed increase is actually due to the much faster seek times compared to spinning-platter hard drives.
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Aug 23, 2012, 06:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
So yeah... I'm copying all my stuff to an external drive, the stuff that matters at least. So what's next? I mean, I keep reading about fixing the bad sectors, etc etc, but that isn't a long-term solution right?

Couldn't be a worse possible time for this to happen, god I don't want to take the iMac apart.

Edit: Trying to find an affordable SATA 3Gb/s drive now, god-dammit. Any suggestions?
As everyone has already said, that drive is dying and should be replaced and introduced to the business end of a sledgehammer ASAP. You can not save it at this point. You can't "fix" bad sectors - what you can do is format the drive in such a way as to hide them from the OS if the rest of the drive is fine, but generally drives do that automagically these days.


Which Mac do you have? Generally any 3.5" SATA will work, but in the 21.5" and 27" models, you a) need a 1/3 height drive (normal is 1/2 height) and b) need to take care of the integrated heat sensor some how. I suppose you know about iFixit's guides?
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 09:11 AM
 
Yeah, first page I went to was the iFixit guide. Everything seems very do-able, but I'm concerned about re-seating the temp sensors correctly.

My iMac is to mid-2007 20" 2.0 GHz model.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Aug 23, 2012, 10:47 AM
 
Reseating the temp sensors is not complicated. They come with little adhesive clips, just make sure they are flush against the metal of the disk. When the drive gets up to temp, that metal casing will be a fairly uniform temperature so you don't need to agonise over precise placement.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 11:05 AM
 
So the local Mac shop gave me a rough estimate of 150 bucks for a new HDD. Certainly less than I thought it would be, but I'm still trying to talk myself into fixing it, since I am no slouch when it comes to doing things with my own hands. I'm going to look at some more SSD prices, and see if I can't get something in the range of $150 that's over 120GB.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 11:23 AM
 
So for 160 dollars, Newegg has a 180GB Intel SSD (linky)

I'm hovering around the order button but I have a few more simple questions.

I've installed plenty of HDDs over the years, can I expect the SSD installation to be along the same lines of what I am used to? Will it fit in the iMac's drive bay without issue? Will I have to install OSX from the iMac's original disks, or will my Snow Leopard DVD be able to handle a fresh install? Am I totally going to ruin my iMac and end up running naked into the woods, never to be seen again? Should I just stick the 150 dollars in the Mac store's pockets and let them worry about it?

Just scoured a little more and Amazon has the same drive for 144....
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 11:32 AM
 
Info says it comes with a bracket adapter to fit the 3.5" bay, but no info I can gather about whether or not the adapter bracket will fit the iMac.
     
The Final Dakar
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Aug 23, 2012, 11:35 AM
 
Try reverse engineering some searches for good SSDs for iMacs and see what they recommend as compatible.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 11:52 AM
 
Also, with a fresh-out-of-the-box drive...does it need to be formatted before being installed in the iMac, or will booting off the Install discs with the bare drive work fine?

Sorry for all the n00b questions, the more links I click on the more confused I become.
     
The Final Dakar
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Aug 23, 2012, 11:53 AM
 
When I replaced the HDD on my PowerBook, I put in a completely blank drive and booted from CD to install the OS.
     
reader50
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Aug 23, 2012, 12:01 PM
 
I can't speak for SSDs. New HDs tend to arrive blank, while new USB flashdrives arrive with MBR / FAT installs. So I expect you'll have to boot and partition or repartition, format to HFS+, then install.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 12:07 PM
 
Crucial has a pretty sweet set-up with a data transfer cable (SATA to USB) so I could clone my current HDD right to the new drive before installing. Though it only comes in 128 and 256GB flavors, the former being a bit to small and the latter being a bit to pricey. Right now, with a decent amount of videos and such my iMac is sitting at ~100GBs used, but of course that isn't counting the WinXP partition.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 12:25 PM
 
Yeah, no way I can swing a 128GB drive without serious reservations about storage in the future, especially since I'd still like to have a WinXP partition.

I have the 180GB Intel in my cart right now, but I'm still on the fence about compatibility. One reviewer on Amazon said it didn't work with his MacBook, but it was recommended by Oreo so I'm willing to take his word over some random dude. I'll keep researching and checking back here, but I'm at 99% on this purchase.
     
BLAZE_MkIV
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Aug 23, 2012, 12:58 PM
 
SSD will arrive blank like most HDD. (anyone else remember the catalogs charging extra for preformatted HDs?) Just boot of the install cd and go, no different from a HDD. There may be SATA version incompatibilities but nothing OS level.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 12:59 PM
 
Okay, here's the rub.

135 dollars for a 128GB drive from Crucial, with data transfer cable, guaranteed to work with my iMac.

or

144 dollars for the Intel 180GB drive on Amazon, just the adapter bracket, and no verifiable guarantee of compatibility with my machine.

Obviously the biggest drive seems like the natural choice, but really, I'm going to have to run a tight ship storage-wise with either solution. With the Intel I'm at square one, with a fresh install of OSX and migrating all my important data over from an external USB HDD.

or Plan B, which is spend just about the same amount of money and get a much, much larger HDD.

For those of you still paying attention, and not yet annoyed by my posting frenzy.....which would you chose if you were, how do I say this....not wealthy?

Edit: Funny thing is the iMac has been running like lightning all day, trying to trick me into not ripping its face off.
     
abbaZaba
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Aug 23, 2012, 02:02 PM
 
I'd say buckle down and figure out a way to fit your stuff on an SSD. it really is the most noticeable upgrade I've ever done on a computer

I'm 99.99% positive the Intel SSD will work.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 23, 2012, 02:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by abbaZaba View Post
I'd say buckle down and figure out a way to fit your stuff on an SSD. it really is the most noticeable upgrade I've ever done on a computer
I'm 99.99% positive the Intel SSD will work.
I'm going to hold you to that figure..heh.

So I just ordered the 180 Intel. I crunched some numbers on the smaller crucial drive and with keeping enough free space on it I would have very little space left for anything apart from my apps and OS. With the Intel I can have a 20GB XP partition, which is a plus. The Crucial drive did come with the transfer cable, but not the bracket adapter, which is included with the Intel. I signed up for the one-month trial of Amazon Prime and was able to get one-day shipping for 4 bucks, so it should be here tomorrow. Until then I need to locate some small Torx screwdrivers, and a plunger to take the glass off....from what I read the suction cups are overpriced, and I saw a youtube video where a guy takes of his iMac's glass with a plunger while recording the video at the same time.

Now, any good one-stop sites about general SSD usage? I heard stuff like enabling TRIM support yadda yadda yadda, it's all greek to me but I'd like to pursue the correct avenues for maximum lifespan and speed.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 23, 2012, 04:41 PM
 
As the others have said, SSDs behave just like hard drives from an OS point of view. They're just a lot, lot faster

SSDs (the ones we're interested in at least) come as 2.5" devices, that's the size used in notebooks, but often, you get brackets so that you can mount them as a 3.5" drive. I'm glad you paid attention and bought the better drive which includes these bracket already.

Just a piece of information: the Intel SSD uses the same Sandforce 2281 controller that is used by many (if not most) SSDs on the market right now, including the SSDs found in the Retina MacBook Pro. My Corsair SSD uses the same controller and it works beautifully. The only thing limiting this puppy is my 3 GBit bus The 330 uses an Intel-specific firmware (which is a good thing).

Hence, I would be really, really surprised if it didn't work in your iMac.
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Waragainstsleep
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Aug 23, 2012, 04:52 PM
 
The only potential stumbling block is the mounting bracket. Some of them will only provide one set of mounting holes on the underside of the 3.5" chassis. To install properly in the iMac you need the holes to also be present on the sides. I expect there are chassis' which have that, bu I know that some don't. Just FYI. SSDs are light, you could probably blu-tack it in place.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Aug 24, 2012, 12:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post

So I just ordered the 180 Intel. I crunched some numbers on the smaller crucial drive and with keeping enough free space on it I would have very little space left for anything apart from my apps and OS. With the Intel I can have a 20GB XP partition, which is a plus. The Crucial drive did come with the transfer cable, but not the bracket adapter, which is included with the Intel. I signed up for the one-month trial of Amazon Prime and was able to get one-day shipping for 4 bucks, so it should be here tomorrow. Until then I need to locate some small Torx screwdrivers, and a plunger to take the glass off....from what I read the suction cups are overpriced, and I saw a youtube video where a guy takes of his iMac's glass with a plunger while recording the video at the same time.

Now, any good one-stop sites about general SSD usage? I heard stuff like enabling TRIM support yadda yadda yadda, it's all greek to me but I'd like to pursue the correct avenues for maximum lifespan and speed.
The glass can be removed with a plunger. I used a suction cup handle, however - I found them cheap in an auto parts store when looking for something else.

That Intel drive uses a Sandforce controller, and does not really need TRIM to work well. If you want to enable it anyway, make sure you find the latest version of the TRIM enabler - there have been issues with using older versions. There is however a hack to disable access time logging, which supposedly is a good thing. I did it, but I'm not sure it really makes a difference. I'll dig up that hack when I get home, but if you're interested, google for "noatime mac".
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
abbaZaba
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Aug 24, 2012, 05:06 AM
 
coincidently enough, I'm going to (finally!) be installing my SSD into my mid-2007 iMac and putting the old drive into the ODD slot this weekend.

I think I may run to the auto parts store and find those suction cups, seems like a useful tool for this install.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 25, 2012, 08:13 AM
 
Well good luck to you sir, I personally cai't wait to launch my first app and be amazed at the speed!

My apt. is a bit cramped for such a complicated tear-down, so I'm heading back to my parent's house, where there is another Mac, and a full spare bedroom I can convert into a workshop.
     
jmiddel
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Aug 25, 2012, 09:44 AM
 
I did this on my kitchen table you don't need a workshop!
     
abbaZaba
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Aug 25, 2012, 02:19 PM
 
I ALSO did this on my kitchen table
     
Waragainstsleep
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Aug 25, 2012, 02:51 PM
 
Are you sure you can fit a full size 3.5" drive into the ODD slot in an iMac? How will you connect it? Those ODDs are PATA not SATA on 2007 iMacs.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
abbaZaba
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Aug 25, 2012, 04:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
Are you sure you can fit a full size 3.5" drive into the ODD slot in an iMac? How will you connect it? Those ODDs are PATA not SATA on 2007 iMacs.
so I'm taking the display panel off and as I gaze into the guts of the iMac, I see something I had not expected. A 3.5" HDD....for some reason I was under the impression there was a 2.5 inch drive in my baby. So, had to ixnay the ODD->HDD bay plans.

Either way, this is like a brand new machine with this SSD in here. Did a fresh ML install and got DANG it's quite an improvement. Very happy with this.

Also, the install wasn't nearly as difficult as I had expected, though in my rush to check out the improvement, I started the ML install before I realized I hadn't screwed the metal bezel back on...always check to see if you have extra screws lying around when you complete a job!
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 26, 2012, 02:27 PM
 
So, like has been said by others, this didn't turn out to be a terribly difficult job in the end. Hardest part, for me, was re-seating the adapter bracket for the SSD and lining up the SATA plugs ion the correct spots....not very much wiggle room in these machines.

Apps are launching in a flash, and since I had to install Leopard, then SL, then Update SL I have restarted the machine about 4 times, and each time I'm sitting there looking at the desktop waiting for it to finish loading, but jokes on me, it loaded a while ago. After my install (I left out the 2 gigs of printer drivers) I've got about 160GB free space, not huge, but definitely something I can work with.

Temp on the whole system is down, temp for the HDD bay is just a tick over 100 degrees and the machines is dead-slient.
     
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Aug 26, 2012, 06:08 PM
 
Glad to see another happy SSD customer. The only really wish I have now is that I can replace my second hard drive of the 640 GB spinning platter variety with an SSD. But I guess I have to wait until they come down in price. Or I just bite the bullet and get a 13" MacBook Pro with retina screen. (I had one of the rubber feet replaced on Saturday in an Apple Store, and these screens are gorgeous – especially for someone who writes a lot of text and loves photography )
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Aug 26, 2012, 11:39 PM
 
SSDs have been dropping in price, though. I can now find a 256 GB Samsung 830 for less than what I paid for this old 120 GB Sandforce 1 drive. Low enough that I might be tempted to upgrade...
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Aug 27, 2012, 02:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Try reverse engineering some searches for good SSDs for iMacs and see what they recommend as compatible.
Or try linking several smart sounding words together to seem smart.
     
sek929  (op)
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Aug 27, 2012, 02:38 PM
 
Installed XP this afternoon, went off without a hitch. It boots so fast I can be practically browsing in Chrome while the startup chime is going off.
     
abbaZaba
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Aug 27, 2012, 04:20 PM
 
I'm impressed by your ability to suppress exclamation marks at the end of those sentences
     
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Aug 27, 2012, 05:01 PM
 
I'm impressed by his lack of references to Minecraft.
     
shifuimam
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Aug 27, 2012, 05:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
Installed XP this afternoon, went off without a hitch. It boots so fast I can be practically browsing in Chrome while the startup chime is going off.
You should totally try Windows 7.

It blows the pants right off XP and into the next time zone.
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sek929  (op)
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Aug 27, 2012, 09:04 PM
 
The thing is, I assume Win 7 would want more than a 20GB partition to itself, which is all I'm allowing XP to have right now. On the old 250HDD I had a 60GB Windows partition.
     
abbaZaba
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Aug 27, 2012, 11:29 PM
 
my fresh 7 enterprise install, after drivers, sits at *exactly* 20GB, base 2.

21.54GB in base 10
     
   
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