Big fat hard drive in a 700 MHz G4 iMac

Conventional wisdom says that any G4 iMac slower than 1 GHz cannot work with a hard drive bigger than 120 GB. But they were selling 320GB IDE drives in Maplin for only £59.99 and it seemed silly to pay ten or twenty quid less for a fraction of the storage – anyhoo if it didn’t work I could always bung the big drive in my USB/Firewire caddy and use it for backing up the backups of my photos…

So I opened up the iMac again, inserted the drive, had considerably more trouble getting it back together this time but got there. Expecting nothing (I thought I’d broken the IDE cable aside from the fact that most web sites said this would not work) I powered up. Bing! Flashing folder, as expected.

Inserted Panther install disc – installer ran but couldn’t find a hard drive. Well fair enough, it’s factory fresh and not formatted, so I used Disk Utility on the Panther install disc to format it as Mac OS X Journalled.

But the installer still wouldn’t install – it found the drive but it had a red warning triangle next to it and the words “You cannot install Mac OS X on this volume. You cannot start your computer from this volume”.

Game over, I thought. Either the IDE cable is broken or – as people say – the drive is just too big for an old Mac. But before I gave up I had a word with Mr Google (thank you Jamie Oliver) and found this page which told me to give it a reboot. And by jove, he’s right. It’s insane, but he’s right. After a swift kick the installer happily ran and here I am typing this on an ancient 700 MHz G4 iMac that cannot possibly work with a hard drive larger than 120 GB, and yet I have 300 GB free… ah so many things to try… more memory, video editing, installing a DVD burner, keeping all my MP3s, getting all my photos off my PowerBook which has run out of disk space…

look ma! 300GB free!

This entry was posted in Apple, computers, hardware, lowendmac, MacOS X, operating systems, thrift. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Big fat hard drive in a 700 MHz G4 iMac

  1. James says:

    My nephew has one of these (with a considerably snaller hard drive) and I think it’s a lovely computer. What a good save you’ve made there Giles.

  2. blogmywiki says:

    Thanks James – it’s funny how I disliked it when it came out, but the adjustable screen is a lovely thing. Bit cramped at 1024×768 but I have a really nice compact computer with Firewire (it’ll talk to my 1st gen iPod!) and a big hard drive for £60 plus about £5 for the Torx screwdrivers.

    Now I need to find a home for the old CRT Apple Studio Display that’s hooked up to the G4 Tower – it’s too heavy to lift up to the loft!

  3. Pingback: iPod Nano - 4th Generation at Blog My Wiki!

  4. Dngrboy says:

    That’s cool I just got my hands on a G4 iMac 700MHz 40G HD have it just up and running after a bad blinking folder issue that it had when i got it!
    So after doing the target drive thing and re-installing OS X 10.4.11 it is running well and now I want to play more, dvd burner (any suggestions?) bigger HD dont know if it is worth getting a airport card!
    Good fun though!
    and I am a little more courageous with taking it apart than I am with my intel iMac and MacBook….hmmmmmmm

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