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Ask Dave
by Dave Hamilton

He from whom all Mac knowledge flows...




The Honest Truth About Hard Drives
July 29th, 1999

Today's column explores all the questions I've been sent recently about hard drives and configuring your Mac to use them best. If you have a question of your own (hard drive related or not!) send it to askdave@macobserver.com and I'll answer it here for ya'. But for now, please read on!

Dan Sherman writes, "Hi! I'm having a problem finding an appropriate cable to add a 2nd IDE hard drive to my G3 beige Desktop. I have the Rev.2 266MHz w/ zip drive. I recently purchased a Quantum Fireball CR 13.0Gb drive that I will run as the master, moving the stock drive to the slave position. The problem is that the only open bay is quite far (cable-wise) from either the other drive or the expansion bay. I have been unable to find a 2-drive IDE cable that has enough cable in-between the drive connectors (most have only 8" or less between the drive connectors). I read somewhere that the mother board can use the middle connector w/ each drive on an end (is this correct?). If this is the case, then I need a MINIMUM of 12" between each of the 3 connectors. If the drives need to be in series, then I'll need an even longer cable. I have been unable to find an appropriate cable at PC stores or online. Such beasts MUST exist! Please help me find one!"

Dan -- Such beasts do exist, at least they can if you will them into existence! I've had quite a few questions about this, so I thought it was worth mentioning. You can have a custom cable built by the folks at Stonewall Cable, and they will build them to any length you specify. That said, there's probably a technician in your area who would be able to do this as well. A custom IDE cable is relatively straightforward in design, as all it needs is connectors clamped on at the appropriate points. Happy shopping!

Keith Kollar writes, "I have a UMAX J700 with a 2.1 GB (original drive) and an additional 4 GB (IBM-Apple ROM drive). Is it possible to keep my original 2.1 GB drive at MAC OS 8.1 while upgrading the new 4 GB drive to OS 8.5, 8.6 or OS X Server? If so, could you please tell me how?"

Yes Keith -- it's quite possible, and it's one of the beautiful features of the MacOS. All you need to do here is tell the installer for OS 8.6 or OS 8.6 to install on your 4GB drive and it will leave your original 2.1GB drive alone (with the exception of updating the drivers if it's an Apple drive). That's it. Then you use the "Startup Disk" control panel to let the computer know which drive you wish to boot from, and you're all set.

As far as OS X Server goes, though, that may be another story. Especially so on your UMAX machine, where it may or may not run at all. You'll definitely need a G3 processor, and even with that I don't think it will work.

Joseph Liberto writes, "I have a PowerMac 4400/200 PC-Compatible, with the stock EIDE 2GB drive. The increasingly gargantuan drive sizes and diminishing prices are making it increasingly tempting to upgrade the internal drive. I was just wondering if I can go and buy a generic off-the-shelf PC-type hard disk and plug it into my mac. Are there driver issues, etc. with this?"

Joseph -- This should work just fine (see a previous column that dealt with the specifics of the IDE interfaces). You will, however, require additional driver software, and FWB's Hard Disk Toolkit PE is probably the best thing out there (at least it has worked for me for many years). With that, you should be all set. Just format the new drive with HDT and you're good to go.

Brian Whalen writes, "Do you know if you can add a second EIDE drive as a slave to a P6400/180? I have a 1.6 gig drive stock, and would like to eliminate the hassle of the complete transfer of all data to a new 8.4 Gig I was planning on buying. $159 seems unbeatable for that size! I can source a new ribbon with two plugs, but don't know if the onboard drive controller will allow two drives on one bus, or how you set up the master and slave on an IDE based Mac. I know the 6400 has a SCSI open port for the optional Zip that didn't come with my machine, but that's already got a full 1.2 Gig drive attached to it from my first upgrade."

Brian -- With your Performa 6400, there is no way to add a slave IDE drive (at least not when running the MacOS -- it may be possible with other operating systems per a reader's response about this). With that, I think you'll have to replace the original IDE drive that came with the machine when you buy your new 8.4 gig. With that, you'll need to do a bit of a hokey-pokey to get the data over there, since you can't run two IDE drives in your machine. Boot from the 1.2 GIG SCSI drive, and copy all that data over to the 8.4. Then clear off all but your system folder from the 1.2GB drive and copy all the data from the 1.6GB IDE to it. Then put the 8.4GB IDE back in and swap the data between the two drives.

A pain, yes, but it's the only thing that can be done within the limitations of the architecture.

And, lastly, a question that's not entirely hard drive related, but interesting enough to include today!

Todd Moothart writes, "I have a 4 gig Cheetah drive. I have used both FWB's Hard Disk 2.51 Utility and Apple's Drive Setup Utility to partition my hard drive. I have named each volume accordingly. (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4) and at first they appear on my desktop in that order from top to bottom 1,2,3,4... However, when I add files to the different volume's and restart my mac.. the volume's become mixed up. 1,3,2,4 etc... The only thing I can tell you is that they go in order according to Disk Space left. Volume 1 is always at the top because it's my boot volume. But I can't understand why they fall out of sequential order. Can you explain this?...I would like for them to always stay in sequential order."

Todd -- I notice this happening on my machine at home here as well, and it's frustrating. To circumvent this weirdness, I positioned my icons the way I wanted and then used Nick D'Amato's Desktop Resetter to save their positions. Now I put an alias to Desktop Resetter in my Startup Items folder and, once everything comes up incorrectly, Desktop Resetter launches and fixes everything for me. Gotta love shareware!

That's it, folks. See ya next week... Send me your questions, and I'll answer 'em here!

PS. Have a Nice Day.

(music provided by The Replacements: Pleased to Meet Me)

is President and CEO of The Mac Observer, Inc. He has worked in the computer industry as a consultant, trainer, network engineer, webmaster, and a programmer for most of the last 10 years. During that time he has worked on the Mac, all the various Windows flavors, Be, a few brands of Unix, and it is rumored he once saw an OS/2 machine in action. Before that he ran some of the earliest Bulletin Board systems, but most of the charges have since been dropped, and not even the FBI requests that he check in more than twice a year.

Ask Dave is here to answer all the Mac questions you have. Networking, system conflicts, hardware, you ask it, he can answer it. He is the person from whom all Mac knowledge flows....


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