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Using External HD as Primary Drive

 
 
Ymir
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      05-25-2012, 02:08 PM
Hi all,

My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
drive.

I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
(which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
are.

Sorry if this is a dumb question.

André
 
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Claude V. Lucas
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      05-25-2012, 02:28 PM
In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>Hi all,
>
>My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
>soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
>don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
>drive.
>
>I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
>may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
>realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
>really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
>(which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
>are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
>are.


I've been running an iMac like this for almost a year.

I keep meaning to replace the internal drive but haven't got to it...

It's a bit of a PITA to do in the iMac and I don't have the right
torx screwdrivers and don't really want to buy them...

I'm probably going to pay someone to swap in a working drive, soon..

Overall, it seems a bit slower, and backing up/cloning can be glacial
from the FW to a USB drive but I usually kick that off before
I go to sleep...

Other than that, no insurmountable issues.
 
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Salmon Egg
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-25-2012, 02:31 PM
In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
> soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
> don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
> drive.
>
> I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
> may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
> realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
> really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> (which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
> are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> are.
>
> Sorry if this is a dumb question.
>
> André


I don't have personal knowledge of iMacs. I have had a few Macs over the
years. If opening up is feasible, replacing the drive should be
relatively easy. On my Mac Pro, it is amazingly easy. You take out the
drive carrier, remove the old drive, fasten the new drive onto the
carrier, push it in place, and close everything up.

Even on older Macs, where there was no simple drive carrier, it just
required the additional effort of removing and replacing the power and
data cables. What does your instruction book say. If you lost it, it is
likely you can download it from Apple.

--

Sam

Conservatives are against Darwinism but for natural selection.
Liberals are for Darwinism but totally against any selection.
 
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Ymir
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-25-2012, 02:43 PM
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Salmon Egg <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
> Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > Hi all,
> >
> > My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
> > soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
> > don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
> > drive.
> >
> > I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
> > may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
> > realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
> > really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> > (which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
> > are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> > are.
> >
> > Sorry if this is a dumb question.
> >
> > André

>
> I don't have personal knowledge of iMacs. I have had a few Macs over the
> years. If opening up is feasible, replacing the drive should be
> relatively easy. On my Mac Pro, it is amazingly easy. You take out the
> drive carrier, remove the old drive, fasten the new drive onto the
> carrier, push it in place, and close everything up.


Replacing the drive isn't what worries me. It's opening/reassembling the
case since it requires special tools, and I know that most of the
components are wrapped in an EM shielding bag which is apparently easy
to damage while trying to remove/replace. Since I'm not in the position
to replace the mac at this point (even though it's really overdo), I'm
reluctant to risk it.

André
 
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Paul Sture
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      05-25-2012, 02:52 PM
On Fri, 25 May 2012 08:08:28 -0600, Ymir wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
> soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
> don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
> drive.
>
> I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
> may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
> realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
> really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> (which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
> are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> are.
>
> Sorry if this is a dumb question.
>


Not a dumb question at all. I did this for several years after the
internal disk on my 2002 vintage iBook died. I took a look at the
instructions for replacing the disk on ifixit.com and promptly decided I
didn't want to try it myself. A second external Firewire drive was
definitely cheaper than paying someone else to install a new disk, and
with that vintage of system was probably faster anyway.

I ended up with a pair of 70GB external Firewire drives plus a 500 GB
disk attached to that system (the original internal disk was only 20 GB).
I would periodically clone one 70 GB disk to the other so that I always
had a reasonably up to date bootable disk even if the first one failed,
plus Time Machine backups and other stuff on the 500 GB disk.

--
Paul Sture
 
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Ymir
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      05-25-2012, 02:53 PM
In article <jpo4ud$p1c$(E-Mail Removed)>,
(E-Mail Removed) (Claude V. Lucas) wrote:

> In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
> Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >Hi all,
> >
> >My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
> >soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
> >don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
> >drive.
> >
> >I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
> >may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
> >realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
> >really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> >(which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
> >are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> >are.

>
> I've been running an iMac like this for almost a year.
>
> I keep meaning to replace the internal drive but haven't got to it...
>
> It's a bit of a PITA to do in the iMac and I don't have the right
> torx screwdrivers and don't really want to buy them...
>
> I'm probably going to pay someone to swap in a working drive, soon..
>
> Overall, it seems a bit slower, and backing up/cloning can be glacial
> from the FW to a USB drive but I usually kick that off before
> I go to sleep...
>
> Other than that, no insurmountable issues.


Thanks for the reply. The slow down hasn't been large enough to be
really bothersome for me, and the initial backup up of the external
drive to a second external wasn't much slower than cloning the internal
drive to the external drive (both using CCC). I just wanted some
confirmation that this wasn't a really stupid plan in principal.

André
 
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Ymir
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      05-25-2012, 03:18 PM
In article <agisaak.spamblock-75877F.08431625052012@shawnews>,
Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
> Salmon Egg <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
> > Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> >
> > > Hi all,
> > >
> > > My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
> > > soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
> > > don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
> > > drive.
> > >
> > > I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
> > > may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
> > > realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
> > > really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> > > (which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
> > > are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> > > are.
> > >
> > > Sorry if this is a dumb question.
> > >
> > > André

> >
> > I don't have personal knowledge of iMacs. I have had a few Macs over the
> > years. If opening up is feasible, replacing the drive should be
> > relatively easy. On my Mac Pro, it is amazingly easy. You take out the
> > drive carrier, remove the old drive, fasten the new drive onto the
> > carrier, push it in place, and close everything up.

>
> Replacing the drive isn't what worries me. It's opening/reassembling the
> case since it requires special tools, and I know that most of the
> components are wrapped in an EM shielding bag which is apparently easy
> to damage while trying to remove/replace. Since I'm not in the position
> to replace the mac at this point (even though it's really overdo), I'm
> reluctant to risk it.


Also, the really annoying thing here is that I'm not actually convinced
that there's even a problem with the drive itself -- I think the problem
might simply be that the cable isn't seated properly, which would be
trivial to fix if they didn't make the innards so damn complicated to
get at.

The symptoms I'm getting are rather odd -- the computer hangs when
booted from the internal drive, but *only* if the computer is at ambient
temperature. IOW, it hangs either when you try to boot from the internal
drive when the computer has been off for a few hours, or if you try to
wake the computer from sleep when it's been asleep for a few hours. If
you boot from the external drive, wait around fifteen minutes, and then
reboot from the internal drive, it boots fine. Similarly, if you put the
computer to sleep, but not long enough for it to cool fully down, it
wakes fine. When booted from the external drive, I don't get these
problems despite the fact that that system was cloned from the internal
drive.

After cloning the internal drive, I reformatted it selecting the 'zero
out all data' option and then reinstalled the system and still get the
same results. I'd have assumed, however, that if there was a problem
with the actual drive media, zeroing out the data should have resulted
in enough i/o errors that either disk utility would have complained or
the SMART status would have been affected.

So, basically, I'm thinking that there's a cable somewhere that's not
contacting properly but that makes contact once the components warm up a
bit. That's just speculation, though.

André
 
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Claude V. Lucas
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      05-25-2012, 05:17 PM
In article <agisaak.spamblock-04A2F9.08534625052012@shawnews>,
Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>In article <jpo4ud$p1c$(E-Mail Removed)>,
> (E-Mail Removed) (Claude V. Lucas) wrote:
>
>> In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
>> Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> >Hi all,
>> >
>> >My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
>> >soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
>> >don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
>> >drive.
>> >
>> >I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
>> >may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
>> >realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
>> >really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
>> >(which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
>> >are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
>> >are.

>>
>> I've been running an iMac like this for almost a year.
>>
>> I keep meaning to replace the internal drive but haven't got to it...
>>
>> It's a bit of a PITA to do in the iMac and I don't have the right
>> torx screwdrivers and don't really want to buy them...
>>
>> I'm probably going to pay someone to swap in a working drive, soon..
>>
>> Overall, it seems a bit slower, and backing up/cloning can be glacial
>> from the FW to a USB drive but I usually kick that off before
>> I go to sleep...
>>
>> Other than that, no insurmountable issues.

>
>Thanks for the reply. The slow down hasn't been large enough to be
>really bothersome for me, and the initial backup up of the external
>drive to a second external wasn't much slower than cloning the internal
>drive to the external drive (both using CCC). I just wanted some
>confirmation that this wasn't a really stupid plan in principal.
>


Well, I won't say it's not somewhat stupid, but I've been limping
along for awhile in a similar situration without further issue.

FWIW, I think there was a thermally related failure in
my internal HD, too. It was still under Applecare when
I first had problems with it and the Geniuses helped
me out by reformatting it and they brought it back
to life long enough for the Applecare to expire
without dinging Corporate Profits by actually
replacing the defective drive...
 
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Fred Moore
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      05-25-2012, 07:26 PM
In article <agisaak.spamblock-6DBE90.08082825052012@shawnews>,
Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> My internal hard drive is behaving erratically and I suspect it may fail
> soon. Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace my mac at this time and
> don't trust myself enough to try and open up an iMac to replace the
> drive.
>
> I'm currently booting off an external drive but was wondering whether it
> may cause problems to use an external drive as one's main drive. I
> realise that firewire will be slightly slower than SATA, but what I'm
> really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> (which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary drives)
> are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> are.
>
> Sorry if this is a dumb question.


One note that no one else has mentioned: Depending on exactly how the
drive is dying, I've been told it might somehow corrupt the system on
the external boot volume. This indeed happened to me back in the good
old SCSI days. Much less likely now, but supposedly still possible.

After boot, you could open Disk Utility and try to dismount the internal
for some protection. If DU can't see the internal, maybe you're safer;
but maybe not.

--
Remember, I'm pullin' for ya.
We're all in this together.
--Red Green
 
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dorayme
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      05-25-2012, 07:34 PM
In article <agisaak.spamblock-DF81CA.09183725052012@shawnews>,
Ymir <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

....
> > > > ... what I'm
> > > > really wondering is whether the drive mechanisms inside external drives
> > > > (which I'd assume most people use primarily for backup/auxiliary
> > > > drives)
> > > > are designed for the same levels of continuous use as internal drives
> > > > are.


They are likely to be. In all my Macs but the present Macbook, I have
bought HDs, usually seagate and either out them inside the computers
or in external boxes. Most of the HDs I have bought come with 5 year
guarantees, have absurdly good specs, can be run continuous for years.
Makes no difference whether in or out. In fact, inside, the only
factor that might affect them is the heating or cooling. In some
machines, inside is better because of the more sophisticated cooling
system, sometimes outside, depends on the enclosure.


....


> The symptoms I'm getting are rather odd -- the computer hangs when
> booted from the internal drive, but *only* if the computer is at ambient
> temperature. IOW, it hangs either when you try to boot from the internal
> drive when the computer has been off for a few hours, or if you try to
> wake the computer from sleep when it's been asleep for a few hours.
> If
> you boot from the external drive, wait around fifteen minutes, and then
> reboot from the internal drive, it boots fine. Similarly, if you put the
> computer to sleep, but not long enough for it to cool fully down, it
> wakes fine. When booted from the external drive, I don't get these
> problems despite the fact that that system was cloned from the internal
> drive.
>


Does sound like a hardware issue. If performance is an issue, and it
is on a desk all the time, but not a few running costs, you could just
leave it on all the time, backing up to external on TM or something
for safety, using a screen sleep but not a computer sleep.

--
dorayme
 
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