Mac Powerbook drive dying - need to get the data off

Once again in a time of need I turn to the great, and generous minds of the Dope.

I have an old Powerbook and the drive seems to have finally given up the ghost. It won’t even start in safe mode. Sometimes it gets as far as a prompt (someone tells me this is called Darwin?). I can open it up on a startup disc, and the Disc Utility says the S.M.A.R.T. has failed and that I should backup as soon as possible. But how? I can’t do it from disc utility.

Someone suggested starting it up in Target Disc Mode and transferring the data over to my other Mac (an iBook on 10.5.8) with a firewire cable. The powerbook seems to go into target mode (big, yellow, bouncing radiation symbol on the screen), but doesn’t seem to appear on the iBook.

Any suggestions or thoughts? My local computer store say they can probably recover the data, but it will cost somewhere between £100-700 depending on how f***ed the drive is. I’d like to not have to shell out for this! Not being totally stupid (just partly) I have my photos and music backed up, so only want to recover email folders, documents and address list.

Thanks in advance

Give an external drive enclosure a try. Put the failing drive in it and attach it to your other system. You’re going to be spending money on recovery if that don’t work.

Take the hard drive out of your Powerbook and mount it in an external 2.5" drive case (approx $15-$20) then plug it into the good Powerbook and read it as a slave drive. It will read if undamaged, if damaged you may need professional help.

The only issue for you is whether the drive interface is IDE (older) or SATA (newer) which will determine the interface the external case uses. If you give the precise model # of the Powerbook I’m sure you can look that up or someone here can tell you.

Case examples here

If that doesn’t help, temporarily move your hard disk to a PC and run SpinRite to recover data.

I wouldn’t do that.
I know nothing about SpinRite, but if it’s not OS X aware, it’s likely to not work very well.

If you need drive recovery tools, try DataRescue X, CopyCat X, DiskWarrior, and of course, Disk Utility.

That approach worked for me.

  1. I installed a new drive and did a clean install of OS X.
  2. Used old drive as an external - I was able to copy the entire drive to another external and also to use it to ‘Migrate settings’ to the fresh copy of OS X.

Instead of an enclosure, I used this - which works with IDE and SATA:

Thanks for the help (although I was hoping that someone would say “just hold down the Apple key and praise Steve Jobs and the whole problem will be fixed”, but never mind).

Taking out a hard drive will be a new, and scary, step in my tech journey, but I’m consulting with a more clued-up friend and will maybe give it a go and report back.

Thanks again.

I forgot to say that my failing drive also gave the same S.M.A.R.T errors in Disk Utility.

I did not use it but IIRC, DU does have a ‘backup’ function - look under ‘Restore’. That function allows you to copy a drive from one to another. So, if you have an external drive available, you could start from a CD and copy your failing drive to the external drive.

Then install a new drive in the PB, install the OS and migrate from the copy you just made to restore your docs, settings and applications. One that is done, use the external drive for Time Machine backups or the like.

Unless you are unfortunate enough to have a Mac with a soldered in hard drive then it is far simpler than you might imagine.

I just bought an enclosure from Taiwan for £3.21, free postage, came in four days, to do just that job on a friend’s Vaio laptop. This will be the fourth one in the past 18months.

No Macs have ever had soldered - in hard drives.