As previously mentioned, my iMac (graphite DV SE) has been having issues – specifically, the hard drive has been making bad noises of the “imminent mechanical failure” variety. Rather than replacing the whole computer, I decided I’d buy a new hard drive (cheap!), copy the data from old to new, and go on my merry way.

So, at this point, I open up my computer (decent instructions here) and look for a way to hook up both hard drives at once. For some reason, I had thought there were two hard drive bays inside the computer, but alas there was only one (so I would have to leave the case open while both drives were hooked up). It turned out that that was the least of my problems.

My iMac came with two internal drives – a DVD/CD drive and a 13 GB hard drive. Now, I figured I could just unplug the DVD drive, plug in the new hard drive and copy away. Unfortunately, the connector to the DVD drive is a different one than my new hard drive needed (the DVD drive gets its power from the cable, so there are ten extra pins on one end making the plug too big for the hard drive), so there was only one appropriate plug on that cable for a hard drive. The new hard drive came with an IDE cable that has three plugs – one goes to the motherboard, the other two go to the devices you’re hooking up (in my case, the old and new hard drives). Unfortunately, the plug on my motherboard wasn’t the right shape (it has fifty pins and the IDE cable has only forty). Stuck!

Rather than chopping up either the IDE plug or motherboard socket, I decided to join up the two cables that I had. After checking with CompUSA to see if they had an adapter (they said “No, but we can copy your hard drive over for only fifty bucks.” – gee, thanks a lot), I decided to make one. I got out the wire strippers and solid-core wire and came up with a pretty ugly hack. But it worked!

Making this even more ghetto than necessary, I had lent out my digital camera, so the only way to take pictures was with my Lego Mindstorms Vision Command camera and a capture utility. Sorry for the dark and blurry pics. Check ’em out:

If you look closely, you can see the 40 wires bent into bracket shapes (like this: [ ):
Grossest. Hack. Ever.

Because the iMac (on the right) was upside down, I used another monitor (on the left)so I could navigate without going crazy. You can see the two hard drives on top of the iMac. Probably not a great idea to have them right on top of each other, but it worked.
Grossest. Hack. Ever.

Once I got the two drives hooked up, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to make a perfect copy of my old drive on the new one. If you ever want to do this sort of thing (schlep all the data from one drive to another) on a Mac, I can’t recommend CCC highly enough. It was easy to use and completely painless. I had no problems booting up with the new hard drive, and all my data, settings, profiles, etc. transferred over seamlessly.

It was definitely a satisfying solution to a frustrating problem, but really I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There must’ve been a better way – anyone know it?

posted August 29, 2003 – 7:22 am
Old News
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