Over the past week, since I last had Time Machine run on the iMac, I purchased a few items from iTunes and downloaded some new e-mails. I decided it was time to run another backup so after work I powered up the iMac.

And then I heard the hard drive click of death…

The only thing that appeared on my screen was a folder icon with a question mark in the middle of it. Unfortunately, it’s very clear that the system hard drive has failed.

I do have a fairly recent backup. Assuming the Time Machine backup is reliable I should be back in business as soon as I can replace the drive. However, for some reason Apple chose to make it very difficult to replace the hard drive in this 2006 Core Duo system.

I viewed some tutorials tonight and considered tackling it, but I had already passed on playing the new Gears of War 3 game on the Xbox 360 to catch up on some needed rest. I have a 500 GB SATA 3.5″ drive that would work, but I don’t want to rush the replacement and risk damaging the system.

I might attempt the replacement tomorrow evening or later this week. Getting the system working again is a priority – until it’s up and running I can’t properly balance my bank account, download e-mails, or access items on that computer.

If the Time Machine backup turns out to be bad I’ll still have most of my data thanks to the recent purchase of a Blu-Ray burner.

Updated 09/25/2011: Well, rather than create a new post as “part 2” I decided to just update this one. The hard drive replacement has been completed. I started by using a guide (iMac Intel 20″ EMC 2105 and 2118 Hard Drive Replacement) but I didn’t follow every step. For example, I didn’t disconnect the iSight camera.

The guide suggests adding duct tape to the card to pop the top front bezel latches if a plastic card by itself doesn’t work. I found this wasn’t optional but instead it was required. Amazingly, we seemed to have ran out of duct tape, but electrical tape worked just fine. I stopped following the guide once I was able to lift the display up far enough to safely remove the old drive.

Overall, I think it went well but, not surprisingly, I lost one of the screws that mounts the display to the case. The new drive is working fine. It’s slightly louder than the old one, but I didn’t shop around for a quiet drive.

Once the drive was installed I booted from the Snow Leopard disk. I partitioned the drive using Disk Utility, though it’s possible that the Time Machine restore process would have done this anyway.

The only disappointing aspect of the process was that the last complete backup available was from September 1st. Now, it’s possible that was the last time I had connected the backup drive, but I was certain that I last ran Time Machine only a week before the drive died.

Restoring the data wasn’t very hard. Physically replacing the drive was a bit of a challenge.

Apple, Hardware, OS X
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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] iMac Hard Drive Replacement (Part 1) [Updated 09/25/2011] […]

  2. […] The exclusion of Blu-Ray drives on Macs was an annoyance for some time. Granted, the industry is shifting away from disc drives now, but that wasn’t the case a few years ago (and much of this shift has more to do with portability than with practical data usage concerns). Even now I prefer to use Blu-Ray discs (with an external Blu-Ray burner) to create long-term backups of my data. Time Machine backups are fine but if one doesn’t check on the backup drive it’s entirely possible to end up with a bad backup drive and not realize it until the primary system drive has died (this would have happened to me if I hadn’t checked my drive a couple of weeks before the iMac drive died). […]


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