MacInTouch Reader Reports

Hard Drives: SCSI

Jan. 2, 2009
Aug. 13, 2010
Aug. 16, 2010
Jun. 28, 2011
Jun. 29, 2011
Jun. 30, 2011
Jul. 1, 2011
Dec. 28, 2014
Dec. 29, 2014
Dec. 30, 2014
Jan. 1, 2015
Jan. 3, 2015
Jan. 5, 2015
Jan. 2, 2009

item.84417

Peter Fine

Brian Lipscomb says:

L In my experience, a single USB port will sufficiently power an IDE hard drive, but not an SATA drive. All the external cases for SATA drives I have seen come with a USB Y cable that requires two USB ports."

Both the WD Passport drive and the OWC Go Drive cases I previously recommended for this use, have SATA drives inside and neither require USB power cables -both work using just the one USB2 connector. I have them both.

Aug. 13, 2010

item.119442

MacInTouch Reader

I have several old SCSI HDD's in external enclosures. At one time they were hooked up to my SE/30 and my PB520. Before I consign them to recycling I would like to browse the contents to see what is on them.

I no longer have SCSI port to connect them to and would like to ask if anybody has experience with SCSI to USB converters. (Such as the Ratoc).

I would be hooking up to my new 27" iMac ( i7 ) - which is a truly excellent machine, for those still wanting feedback on the new iMacs. Thanks.

Aug. 16, 2010

item.119492

Richard Rose

To MacInTouch Reader asking about using a Ratoc USB to SCSI adapter: I have and recommend their Firewire to SCSI adapter which works very well on a G5 dual 2.0 PowerPC running OS X 10.4.11. I have also read reports that it works well on Intel Macs and OS 10.6.

I am using it to connect to a Howtek D4000 scanner, a notoriously finicky SCSI device - no problems at all. SCSI hard drives are less problematic than scanners.

Getting the scanner to work took some resetting of parameters in Ratoc's configuration utility. Easy enough, except that it's necessary to restart the computer with each change of setting.

Also, be aware that with OS X, it is absolutely necessary that the SCSI device be on and connected to the computer *before* the computer is turned on or restarted. Unlike working in OS9, the SCSI device cannot be seen by OS X if it's not there on boot up and there are *no* OS X utilities such as OS9's SCSI Probe to find them. I understand the original SCSI spec actually spelled things out that way and OS9 played fast and loose with it's SCSI implementation, allowing activation of a SCSI device after boot up. OS X either just doesn't permit that or no one has written an OS X "SCSI Probe" program, nor is it likely any will be.

If the drive does not supply power to its SCSI port (it probably doesn't, as its an old SCSI device), you'll need to buy an AC to DC adapter for the SCSI end of the Ratoc device. Going from memory, I believe it is 6 v. Ratoc offers one, but it's way overpriced. It's a standard device and available elswhere for much less.

The Ratoc device is Ultra SCSI and it's best to use an active SCSI terminator on the drive, but if it has a switch for an internal terminator, use that. I've had equal success with both active and passive terminators.

item.119526

J D

I run some old SCI stuff through SCSI to Firewire adaptor. You might consider this

item.119546

Walter Ian Kaye

I have the Ratoc FW-SCSI adapter and that works perfectly; I would imagine the USB-SCSI would as well.

Jun. 28, 2011

item.137730

Randy Marks

I've got an old external Apple hard drive with two 50 pin SCSI [ports]. I would like to see what is on the drive using my less-old G4 running OS9. I was told that the Ratoc Firewire to UltraSCSI connector would work. (Will it?) If so, will I need to terminate my external SCSI hard drive, and what is the proper sequence for turning on the G4 and external drive? I'm assuming I would turn on the external first with it terminated.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Jun. 29, 2011

item.137795

David Charlap

Randy Marks wrote:

"I've got an old external Apple hard drive with two 50 pin SCSI [ports]. I would like to see what is on the drive using my less-old G4 running OS9. I was told that the Ratoc Firewire to UltraSCSI connector would work. (Will it?) If so, will I need to terminate my external SCSI hard drive, and what is the proper sequence for turning on the G4 and external drive? I'm assuming I would turn on the external first with it terminated."

I can answer some, but not all of these.

SCSI drives will work on any version of Mac OS, even the current version, as long as you have a compatible interface.

I don't know if the Ratoc FW interface will work. If you are talking about this device (http://www.ratocsystems.com/english/products/FR1SX.html), the manufacturer says it will, but I have no personal experience with it. I recommend purchasing from a vendor that will take it back if it doesn't work.

You always need to terminate a SCSI bus. If the drive's case has built-in termination, you may be able to simply flip a switch. Otherwise, you'll have to attach a terminator to the port. Use an active terminator. If you have an old-style passive terminator, it may work for 10M (Fast SCSI) speeds, but won't be reliable at 20M (Ultra SCSI) speeds.

You don't say what kind of connector the drive has. There are two kinds of external 50-pin SCSI connectors. A large Centronics connector, and a "micro" connector that is much smaller. The Ratoc device I cited above uses a micro-50 connector. Make sure the cable you get has the right connector on each end. You can also use adapters, but I recommend a cable manufactured with the correct connectors.

Differential termination and cabling is not necessary here, because the Ratoc device (at least the one I mentioned above) only implements single-ended SCSI. Also of note is that the Ratoc device above only supports one SCSI device at a time. No support for daisy-chaining or devices that use multiple LUNs. If you need that, then you'll need a proper SCSI host adapter in the computer.

WRT powering on the drive before booting, that is standard practice for Macs when an internal SCSI port is used, because the OS's device drivers only scan the bus at boot time. Devices powered on afterwards are normally not seen. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule. Even on my old Mac SE, you could use software (like the SCSI Probe control panel) to force a rescan of the bus, which will then detect and mount devices powered-on after boot time.

In this case, however, you're using a FW adapter, and FW has no problem with hot-plugging. I would expect no problems powering-on the drive after bootup. If the drive doesn't immediately mount, you may have to remove-and-reconnect the FireWire cable, but I doubt you'll have to reboot the computer to see newly-attached drives.

item.137800

Victor Staggs

To Randy Marks:

You might find it more convenient to install an Adaptec 2906 SCSI card in your G4, if it has PCI slots. A search on "mac adaptec 2906" at eBay computers found two.

Jun. 30, 2011

item.137875

David Charlap

Randy Marks wrote:

"I've got an old external Apple hard drive with two 50 pin SCSI [ports]. I would like to see what is on the drive using my less-old G4 running OS9. I was told that the Ratoc Firewire to UltraSCSI connector would work. (Will it?) If so, will I need to terminate my external SCSI hard drive, and what is the proper sequence for turning on the G4 and external drive? I'm assuming I would turn on the external first with it terminated."

I can answer some, but not all of these.

SCSI drives will work on any version of Mac OS, even the current version, as long as you have a compatible interface.

I don't know if the Ratoc FW interface will work. If you are talking about this device (http://www.ratocsystems.com/english/products/FR1SX.html), the manufacturer says it will, but I have no personal experience with it. I recommend purchasing from a vendor that will take it back if it doesn't work.

You always need to terminate a SCSI bus. If the drive's case has built-in termination, you may be able to simply flip a switch. Otherwise, you'll have to attach a terminator to the port. Use an active terminator. If you have an old-style passive terminator, it may work for 10M (Fast SCSI) speeds, but won't be reliable at 20M (Ultra SCSI) speeds.

You don't say what kind of connector the drive has. There are two different external 50-pin SCSI connectors. A large Centronics connector, and a "micro" connector that is much smaller. The Ratoc device I cited above uses a micro-50 connector. Make sure the cable you get has the right connector on each end.

Differential termination and cabling is not necessary here, because the Ratoc device (at least the one I mentioned above) only implements single-ended SCSI. Also of note is that the Ratoc device above only supports one SCSI device at a time. No support for daisy-chaining or devices that use multiple LUNs. If you need that, then you'll need a proper SCSI host adapter in the computer.

With respect to powering on the drive before booting, that is standard practice for Macs when an internal SCSI port is used, because the OS's device drivers only scan the bus at boot time. Devices powered on afterwards are normally not seen. But that's not a hard-and-fast rule. Even on my old Mac SE, you could use software (like the SCSI Probe control panel) to force a rescan of the bus, which will then detect and mount devices powered-on after boot time.

In this case, however, you're using a FW adapter, and FW has no problem with hot-plugging. I would expect no problems powering-on the drive after bootup. If the drive doesn't immediately mount, you may have to remove-and-reconnect the FireWire cable, but I doubt you'll have to reboot the computer to see newly-attached drives.

item.137942

Steve Michaels

Regarding the Ratoc Firewire to UltraSCSI connector discussed earlier:

I own it, and it does work. I have a few older 50-pin SCSI drives that are still useable with certain Kurzweil Synthesizers (they only use SCSI drives), and using this Ratoc connector allows me to copy items from the SCSI drive to backup to internal drives in my current Mac Pro.

It's not the easiest plug and play solution, as you have to configure the Ratoc software and maybe configure it differently for each SCSI drive. There might be some vodoo involved, but I can say that it does work.

item.137946

MacInTouch Reader

The Ratoc device works quite well for me. I have used it to access bare drives - you will also need a power source for the drive. I got one from Amazon for $8 as part of a kit to access bare ATA and SATA drives. Termination isn't necessary, as the device can apparently not function as a SCSI chain - so, only 1 device at a time. I currently have it hooked to an old HP DAT - (works well with an old PPC version of Retrospect). You will need a SCSI adapter as noted by another contributor. I got one from CablesToGo.

item.137962

Leonard Gordon

Another cheap possibility is an Adaptec 2930CU SCSI card if you can find one (try eBay, plenty of them there from about $10 to $30). You can boot from the 2930CU on many Macs, including your G4. You cannot boot from the 2906 mentioned in another reply.

Jul. 1, 2011

item.138034

David Charlap

A MacInTouch Reader wrote:

"... Termination isn't necessary, as the device can apparently not function as a SCSI chain - so, only 1 device at a time."

The fact that it doesn't support more than one device has nothing to do with a need for termination.

Termination is a requirement due to the physical nature of a SCSI parallel bus. You need to tie the signal wires to ground (or to power and ground for active termination) in order to prevent the signals from reflecting off of the ends of the cables and causing interference.

While you may see an operational device, operating without termination will invariably introduce noise into the signals, increasing the error counts and lowering throughput.

Some SCSI devices have a switch to enable built-in termination without the need for an external terminator, and the RATOC device probably has built-in termination for its end of the cable, but it is wrong to recommend that people operate a SCSI parallel bus without termination.

item.138031

Marc Marshall

With regards to ways to get data off old SCSI drives, I have used an old Microtech-branded USB to SCSI adapter I dug up at work (Amazon has a picture of it) to read data off of ancient Orb disks and even more ancient 230MB Olympus optical disks.

Surprisingly, despite the device being from the pre-USB 2.0 era, it worked fine even with a 10.5 (might have even been 10.6) Intel Mac. It also required no drivers, so long as you plugged it in after it was connected to a powered-on SCSI device with a disk inserted (I no longer remember any of the Old Ways voodoo, but I faintly remember something about loading a built-in driver off the disk involved).

I don't know if this would work with a hard drive, rather than an external SCSI drive, but it might be of general interest to folks with old SCSI disks laying around.

These haven't been made for years, but a quick Google search seems to indicate that the same device was available from many vendors with their own branding (at least, it looks identical), so you can probably still find one.

Dec. 28, 2014

item.203435

Allen Huffman

I have some old SCSI devices (SyQuest EZ135, Iomega ZIP drives) and I would like to make disk images of the media for preservation. Since my first iMac in 1998, I have never owned a Mac with a SCSI port. Is there any hope of me reading these disks on a modern Mac?

item.203465

Samuel Herschbein

Allen Huffman asked if he could read SCSI disks on a modern Mac. I'm assuming, since he mentioned an Iomega ZIP drive, his drives use the old SCSI with the DB-25 connector and not one of the newer SCSI technologies.

Apparently the chips used to convert from SCSI to USB/FireWire are not being made anymore, so no adapters are being manufactured.

The easiest solution may be to find a Mac that has both a SCSI connector and Ethernet. The latest models of Macs that came with SCSI can run Mac OS X 10.2 or 10.3. Use File Sharing (AppleShare) to get the files from the SCSI Mac to a newer Mac. If the SCSI Mac is running System 9 or an older version of OS X, you may need an intermediary Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5. There was a cutoff (IIRC 10.6) where older AppleShare versions stopped working with OS X.

Just for this purpose, I kept a PowerBook 3400c, I used a hack to upgrade it to System 9.2.2. I use AppleShare to transfer from the PowerBook to a Mac running OS X 10.4/10.5, then transfer from that Mac via USB, File Sharing, et al. to a modern Mac.

A bunch of us MacInTouch readers collect old computers and can help, perhaps one of us is close to where you are.

item.203468

David Charlap

Allen Huffman wrote:

"I have some old SCSI devices (SyQuest EZ135, Iomega ZIP drives) and I would like to make disk images of the media for preservation. Since my first iMac in 1998, I have never owned a Mac with a SCSI port. Is there any hope of me reading these disks on a modern Mac?"

Yes, but it may not be cheap.

About 10 years ago or so, you could get inexpensive USB or FireWire SCSI interfaces. I don't think any are made today, but some Google searches might produce somebody selling one. If the devices properly conform to USB/FireWire mass storage specs, they should be able to interface with a hard drive with no special software drivers.

If you have a Mac with slots (this means an older Mac Pro or a Power Mac), then a PCI/PCIe SCSI adapter is possible, but they aren't going to be cheap. ATTO was one of the last companies to make Mac compatible adapters, but they cost a lot.

I was just Googling for some kind of Thunderbolt SCSI adapter, but I didn't notice anybody making one. It might be possible to get a Thunderbolt-based PCI expansion chassis and put a PCI card in there, but I don't know what kind of driver support you will need or have.

Sadly, if you don't already have a Mac with a SCSI port, it might be too late to read these drives directly via Mac OS. Maybe it would be worth seeing if someone on eBay is selling an old Mac with a SCSI port (e.g. a beige Power Mac running Mac OS 9, or possibly even a 68040-based Mac running Mac OS 8.1) which could read the drives.

Another option would be to find a PC with a SCSI port/card in it. A Windows PC can mount HFS+ partitions using third-party software (I don't have any recommendations, but a Google search reveals at least one inexpensive commercial product.) A Linux PC can also mount them using the "HFS Tools" package included with most distributions.

A PC should also be able to make an image of the partitions, which you can transfer over to a Mac. Linux should have no problem doing this. Windows might need third-party software (the biggest obstacle here would be that Windows PCs don't normally recognize the Apple Partition Map.)

item.203474

Todd Bangerter

For Allen Huffman's problem of trying to access some SyQuest EZ 135 and Iomega Zip media, your best bet is to try to target accessing the media, rather than the SCSI drives.

For the Zip disks (I am assuming they are the most common capacity: 100 MB disks), any USB model Zip drive will work to access the disks. These can be found in abundance for cheap on eBay.

For the EZ 135 disks, The EZ 135 drives (as well as the EZFlyer drives, which will also read EZ 135 disks) were primarily available in EIDE and SCSI versions. Probably the easiest way to access the media is to get an EIDE drive on eBay (again, available cheaply on eBay), and use a PATA to SATA adapter, or a PATA to USB external drive enclosure.

If you absolutely must use devices that are SCSI, the situation becomes more difficult. There are very few SCSI PCIe cards, and I don't think any of them support OS X, so you won't be able to use a Mac Pro. There are USB to SCSI and Firewire to SCSI adapters, but they are very expensive ($200+), and you may have compatibility/driver problems. Frankly, the most economical and compatible way to get SCSI access is to buy a cheap used Power Mac G3/G4 (again, eBay under $100) and add a SCSI card (or the beige G3 has SCSI built-in). You can then use Ethernet or a CD-R/DVD-R to transfer the disk images to your modern computer.

Dec. 29, 2014

item.203478

MacInTouch Reader

One possible solution to finding a computer with a SCSI connector might be to check with a local senior center, school, or other non-profit that that gets cast-off equipment. You'd be surprised to see what might be available. If it helps, make a donation (money) to the organization.

item.203481

a MacInTouch Reader

Allen Huffman asked about moving data from his old SCSI devices (SyQuest EZ135, Iomega ZIP drives) to a modern Mac.

I agree with other commenters that the most straightforward way to accomplish this would be to find an old Mac that has SCSI and a 10BASE-T Ethernet network adapter. On the bright side, there are a lot of Mac models that fit that description. Most, but not all, *beige* Macs made from 1995-1999 will be suitable for this task. (Some of the lower-end Power Mac/Performa consumer models did not have 10BASE-T Ethernet, so those won't be useful. Consult the LowendMac website or the MacTracker application to make sure the Mac has both 10BASE-T Ethernet and SCSI before you spend any money.)

Some of the PowerBook models also can work, but they all had an "HDI-30" external SCSI port, so you'll need to make sure that they come with an HDI-30 to DB-25 adapter if you want to connect your devices.

On the negative side, suitable Macs are getting harder to find. They don't have much resale value, so they usually either end up sitting in a closet or going to the recyclers. At the moment, there are only a handful on eBay and Craigslist. You might try posting a want ad on your local Craigslist or on the "LEM Swap List" at

http://lowendmac.com/2014/lem-swap/

Once you have an appropriate Mac, you'll either want to make a disk image on the Mac and then transfer over the network to your modern Mac, or you can copy files individually from the old model to the modern Mac. Another option: if you can get an Internet connection on the old Mac and you have an FTP account somewhere (a lot of ISPs, including cable and DSL providers include FTP services in their Internet packages), then you can transfer the files to your Internet account via FTP and access them over the net at your leisure. (Some people may find FTP easier to work with than trying to set up file sharing between Mac OS 9 and OS X.)

Finally, you might try calling local print shops, camera stores, and computer repair shops. Some of them will be very familiar with Syquest drives and ZIP drives, and they may be able to perform the file transfers for a fee. You can also search the net for Zip/Syquest data transfer services, though those can get pretty pricey, once you factor in labor. As an aside, Prosoft Engineering, the gang that makes the excellent Data Rescue and Drive Genius utilities, has a division that performs Zip and Syquest data transfers:

http://www.thedatarescuecenter.com/data-migration-services.html

Dec. 30, 2014

item.203542

Peter Trinder

I bought a Belkin SCSI to Firewire box which has Part Number F5U541

I connected an old Apple 20MB hard disk, and it mounted on my iMac 27". Transfer was slow, but it worked.

item.203536

MacInTouch Reader

Allen Huffman asked:

I have some old SCSI devices (SyQuest EZ135, Iomega ZIP drives) and I would like to make disk images of the media for preservation. Since my first iMac in 1998, I have never owned a Mac with a SCSI port. Is there any hope of me reading these disks on a modern Mac?

A more complete answer might mention that after you found an old Mac and required software for the drive, you might not find the drive mechanism or the old cartridges may not be functional. Don't spend too much money on recovery until confirming you can get everything you need.

Did I mention cables or terminators?

It is possible that data on old drives may have been migrated to a newer format way back then. After all the trouble, you could find there is nothing there you don't already have.

The lesson here, get all your data off the old hardware before retiring it. If nothing else, the sooner you try to do this the better your chance of finding what you need.

FWIW -- Just noticed I have an unopened 3-pack of 2GB Jaz carts from the olden days. Seemed like so much backup space back then...

Jan. 1, 2015

item.203566

Robin Lake

For a decade or so, I backed up my Mac and my Stardent Titan to 8mm SCSI tape drive cartridges. Time passes. The Stardent dies. I decide to convert the old SCSI backup tapes to DVDs. Fortunately, I have an attic where all my old Macs are stored and a storeroom with several cartons of SCSI cables and terminators.

The real problem is that none of the Mac operating systems support a magtape driver. Then I recalled a Mac/Unix simulator, "MachTen", which does support 'tar' and 'mt'. Will be trying to remember enough to get MachTen up and running again under one of the 68000 Mac OSs. Then to try to resurrect the data archived on the old, large optical disks.

Jan. 3, 2015

item.203630

David Blanchard

Robin Lake wrote:

...Then I recalled a Mac/Unix simulator, "MachTen", which does support 'tar' and 'mt'. Will be trying to remember enough to get MachTen up and running again under one of the 68000 Mac OSs...

I have done this in the past. I have MachTen installed on an old PowerBook G3 ("Wallstreet" model) and boot in OS 8 to run the application. I also have a FireWire/USB adapter for the PowerBook so that I can write via FW400 to a disk drive. I spent several months reading tar tapes and writing to disk.

Below is a portion of an email conversation with MachTen in 2006 about their product on OS8 and OS9:

MachTen sits on top of Mac OS and makes use of Mac OS device drivers. Since tape drivers are usually bundled with the application and are not part of Mac OS, tape required special attention on Tenon's part. We did do some work with standard 8mm Exabyte tape drives, but that work never became part of the standard MachTen product, nor was it ported to Mac OS 9.

There are other possible solutions including Tolis tape tools for OS X. I have no experience with this application but did consider it before plunging ahead with MachTen, which I already owned.

Good luck!

Jan. 5, 2015

item.203694

a MacInTouch Reader

Apologies for being pedantic, but MachTen isn't a Mac/Unix simulator, it is a real BSD Unix environment running within a Classic Mac OS application. It was an extremely impressive feat when new, and it's still pretty cool. Evidently, you can still buy it, and there's a lot of interesting documentation, including the manual, online at

https://www.tenon.com/


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