MacInTouch Reader Reports

Hard Drives: Laptop Drives

Feb. 5, 2009
Mar. 23, 2009
Mar. 24, 2009
Jun. 26, 2009
Jun. 27, 2009
Jun. 29, 2009
Jul. 17, 2009
Jul. 20, 2009
Jul. 21, 2009
Jul. 22, 2009
Jul. 27, 2009
Jul. 28, 2009
Nov. 24, 2009
Nov. 25, 2009
Nov. 27, 2009
Nov. 28, 2009
Nov. 30, 2009
Dec. 1, 2009
Dec. 2, 2009
Dec. 3, 2009
Dec. 5, 2009
Apr. 27, 2010
Apr. 28, 2010
Apr. 29, 2010
Aug. 23, 2010
Oct. 4, 2010
Oct. 5, 2010
Oct. 6, 2010
Oct. 7, 2010
Nov. 19, 2010
Nov. 20, 2010
Nov. 22, 2010
Feb. 24, 2011
Feb. 25, 2011
Feb. 26, 2011
Mar. 3, 2011
Mar. 4, 2011
Mar. 5, 2011
Mar. 7, 2011
Apr. 5, 2011
Apr. 6, 2011
Apr. 8, 2011
Apr. 13, 2011
Apr. 14, 2011

Newer entries...
Feb. 5, 2009

item.86699

Vladimir Vooss

... On a side note, as a long-time Seagate user, I had a WD Scorpio 2.5" drive that became available due to a "shift in focus" for a computer job, and I stuffed it and a Seagate 2.5"er into the two slots at the left end of the Mac Pro. These were recognized instantly and I'm currently testing the Scorpio, particularly hard on video and audio file recording and playback. So far so good.

NOTE: the SATA connectors are exactly the same for 2.5 and 3.5" drives. HOWEVER, you must make a bracket/brace for them which takes off of the FanBox, etc., etc., so that the drives don't "hang precariously" off of the connector. I swear I was surprised it works... and, so far - well. So much less noise, and I must expect - heat!

Mar. 23, 2009

item.89367

Chris Hanson

I had an interesting experience with a "new" Western Digital Scorpio laptop drive (WD1600BEVE-00UYT0 S/N WXCY08577233) purchased at MicroCenter yesterday to replace a failed Toshiba 30 GB drive in an iBook G4. After replacing the drive and reassembling the laptop (not too difficult thanks to the excellent pictorial instructions at ifixit.com, but still pretty involved) Disk Utility on the Tiger installation DVD failed to see the drive. Argh!

Took the iBook apart again and removed the drive and installed it in an external Firewire enclosure attached to a MacBook Pro running Leopard. Again, Disk Utility does not see the drive, but I can hear it spin up.

Installed the drive in *another* Firewire external enclosure - this time one from LaCie. Now, Disk Utility on the MacBook Pro sees the drive, the drive label is reported as "LaCie Group SA" but Disk Utility cannot format the drive. The format begins, but the drive appears to be stuck in a seek loop.

Note that this was a full retail boxed drive. I mention this because MicroCenter also sells OEM drives in a bare anti-static package as well. The drive is being returned to MicroCenter.

Mar. 24, 2009

item.89403

Paul Huang

Regardless of portable computer model, it's prudent to format and install first externally, then boot it as well. Make sure all works well, then you may put the drive into the computer.

It's not a good idea to pull the 'handle' on the IDE/SATA cable. I generally use a knife to pry the connector away from the drive. The possibility of separation between the printed ribbon cable and the connector is minimized.

Jun. 26, 2009

item.94945

Fred Brock

I upgraded my White MacBook (Jan '09 nVidia) to a bigger, faster drive, expecting a signifiant improvement in speed, particularly in startup and desktop loading; I was disappointed to see very little change. The original drive was a slow 120GB Hitachi TravelStar 5K320 (HTS543212L9SA02), running at 5400 RPM, with an 8 MB cache. I replaced it with a 7200 RPM Seagate 320 MB ST9320421AS, with a 16 MB cache.

I ran X-Bench 1.3 (the only disk speed utility at hand) to attempt some diagnostics, and the Seagate got a Disk Test score of 36.33, while the original Hitachi in a FireWire 400 external case came in at 35.81. The Seagate is dramatically faster in all tests except one; uncached writes.
5400 RPM Hitachi: 9.86 1.04 MB/sec [4K blocks]
7200 RPM Seagate: 6.50 0.69 MB/sec [4K blocks]

Anyone know why this is the case? And why does this one factor seems so crucial? In most of the other tests (including ALL the sequential tests), the Seagate is at least twice as fast, but it just doesn't show in real-world use.

[You can download the free AJA System Test benchmarking application (AJA_System_Test_v601.zip), which we find very useful, and we've got some results from Seagate 7200RPM laptop drive testing in our Benchmarking section. We use the "File Size Sweep" test. -MacInTouch]

Jun. 27, 2009

item.94984

Scott Aronian

Regarding laptop drive speed. I upgraded my MacBook Pro (Late 2008 model) to a Western Digital 320GB Scorpio Black 7200RPM Drive (WD3200BEKT-22F3T0)

For reference the XBench score is 61.73, which was a big improvement over the stock 5400rpm drive.

Jun. 29, 2009

item.95081

Nate Cobb

Scott Aronian notes that he upgraded his late 2008 MBP w/ a Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm Scorpio Black drive. I did the same thing when they were first released, and also saw a notable increase is speed. However, after only a couple of months the machine slipped off a chair and fell a foot onto a linoleum floor causing severe damage to the drive. I had closed the lid 15 seconds before and I assume it was writing to disk when it hit. My understanding at the time was that the version with the free fall sensor was incompatible w/ the Macbook Pro, thus I had the one without.

I note this only because it made me wonder if there is a reason other than cost that Apple uses the 5400rpm drives? When I (tediously) swapped the old drive back in, the difference was again noticeable and frustrating. Yet I'm a bit reluctant to buy another, large high RPM drive despite the speed difference. My laptops have taken a lot of beatings over the past number of years, yet this was the first drive failure.

Jul. 17, 2009

item.96047

Becky Waring

I too just had a Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB laptop fail, just 2 months after installing in my sister's white MacBook. (She needed more space for music and photos, and her original drive was almost two years old, getting close to replacement time anyway.)

Luckily most of it was backed up, but I won't be getting her another WD as a replacement.

Ironically, I chose WD based on good experiences posted here, after my own upgrade to an Hitachi 320GB 7200rpm drive in my MacBook Pro failed within a couple months as well.

And I chose Hitachi because of all the MacBook Seagate failures.

I guess Toshiba will be the next experiment.

The moral of the story? No matter what you buy, BACK UP!

Jul. 20, 2009

item.96197

Bud Martin

I think it is (past?) time to upgrade the HD in my MacBook Pro 2.33 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo. I've read several DIY posts showing how to replace the HD, but I'm a bit fine-motor-challenged.

Several questions:
(1) Will the Apple Store do a HD replacement on an older MBP?
(2) If not, how might I find certified Apple Technicians in either Naples, FL or Cleveland, OH?
(3) Should I buy the HD mail order and just seek an installer?
(4) I assume I'd want to move to a large, 7200RPM HD. What are current experiences?

Thanks for any input.

[Here's a link (also listed under "Resources" on our home page) for finding Apple-authorized service providers. -MacInTouch]

Jul. 21, 2009

item.96208

John Robards

In reply to Bud Martin
(1) Apple Store won't install 3rd party hardware, perhaps avoiding any warranty responsibility and looking for profit from sale of said hardware upgrade.
(2) MacInTouch provided link.
(3) I bought mail order, I used mwave.com, newegg is good also.
(4) I added a 320GB 7200RPM Seagate Momentous to my White MacBook and it was a nice upgrade. Big improvement on space for me and a little faster it seems on file transfers. Not using anything else that benfits that much otherwise muself. I haven't seen any updates but there does seems to be some issue with latest MBP and Seagate's Momentous drive so not sure on that.

item.96245

Sterett Prevost

Re: Bud Martin and replace MBP drive

1) Any Apple Store should be willing to replace a hard drive in any model of MBP.
2) Buying the drive "mail order" will certainly be less expensive.
3) Moving to a 7200RPM model will make your MBP seem somewhat faster if the original is a slower drive; some are concerned that the faster model will run a bit hotter and cause the fans to ramp up somewhat; I use SMC Fan Control to set my MBP's fan speed a bit faster than default and haven't noticed any heat-related issues.
4) One technique to consider making the HD replacement "idiot-proof" would be to buy the new 2.5" SATA drive in an external case, then use it to make a bootable clone (SuperDuper or CarbonCopyCloner) of the original drive. Finally, test boot the clone, then swap that drive for the original, and use the original in the external case for Time Machine purposes ( or clones, etc).

item.96265

Paul Huang

1. Apple will only replace it with an identical-capacity unit. f you need something different, they may refer you to an authorized service center.

4. 7200 generally gives you more heat and shaves a little off of operating time (both ways: you save some time and it eats more into your battery's power).

Jul. 22, 2009

item.96318

Colleen Thompson

Bud Martin asked advice about replacing the hard drive in his MacBook Pro.

ifixit.com has pretty good instructions for doing it yourself, as well as the parts and tools (spudger, anyone?) required. Supply your own ice cube tray for the screws.

Macresq.com has a ship-it-in replacement service that I've utilized in the past, if you don't want to tackle it yourself.

item.96320

Colleen Thompson

Paul Huang wrote:

"1. Apple will only replace it with an identical-capacity unit. f you need something different, they may refer you to an authorized service center."

I'm sure I've had them replace (failed) drives with bigger ones, at the client's request. They charge an arm and a leg for the upgrade, of course, where a straight warranty replacement would have been free.

Jul. 27, 2009

item.96552

MacInTouch Reader

WD SHIPS INDUSTRY?S FIRST 1 TB MOBILE HARD DRIVE
[press release]

WD (NYSE: WDC) today announced two new mobile hard drives that reach new capacity extremes. The highlight is a one terabyte model - the industry's highest-capacity 2.5-inch drive available. Industry-leading 333 GB-per-platter technology enables the new WD Scorpio Blue SATA 2.5-inch hard drives to offer mobile storage device and notebook users an enormous 1 TB capacity. A 750 GB WD Scorpio Blue model also will be available.

The WD Scorpio Blue 750 GB and 1 TB hard drives have a 12.5 mm form factor1 and are ideally suited for use in portable storage solutions, such as the newly released My Passport? Essential? SE Portable USB Drives. Other applications include select notebooks and small form factor desktop PCs, where quiet and cool operation are important. Both WD Scorpio Blue drives deliver high-performance with a 3 gigabits per second (Gb/s) transfer rate.

Jul. 28, 2009

item.96579

Walt French

Re:

"The WD Scorpio ... drives have a 12.5 mm form factor..."

That is, they won't fit most (all?) recent MacBooks and MacBook Pros, which spec 9mm.

Note also the 5200RPM speed; this would raise latency somewhat although more data would (?) pass under the multiple heads per revolution, making sustained read/writes less disadvantaged.

Nov. 24, 2009

item.104979

Colleen Thompson

What is the deal with 2.5" 500gb hard drives? I've only installed two for clients: a Samsung Spinpoint in a MacBook Pro, and a WD Blue in a MacBook. The Samsung failed in 4 months with bad blocks. The WD just failed after only 2 months in a MacBook, also bad blocks. The guys are both photographers (which is why they needed the extra capacity.)

Argh! Are these extra-capacity drives extra prone to failure? I see enough hard drive failures as it is, but to be 0 for 2 on a particular size is frustrating. I don't know if I should tell people to avoid them...

Nov. 25, 2009

item.104992

MacInTouch Reader

I have two 500 GB Drives in a late 2008 Unibody-Macbook (one in the Drivebay, replaced the Superdrive which i didn't need anyway).

One is a Scorpio blue; the other is a 7200 RPM Seagate 500 GB, both work without any problems so far.

item.105024

Paul Huang

I have installed dozens of 500GB/7200 or 5400RPM drives in Mac mini and MacBook Pros. No incidents so far.

I generally advise MacBook plastic users to stay away from the 7200RPM drives, because the level of heat is slightly higher than the 5400RPM drives.

One strange thing that I observed was that the Seagate Momentus 500GB 5400.6 drives operate much cooler than the 120GB or 160GB 5400RPM drive supplied with the FW400 MacBook plastic. I don't remember the exact temperatures, but under identical operating conditions, the 500GB Seagate was much cooler than those two.

I have noticed that, for the last 3.5 years, the MacBook (plastic) has a much higher hard drive failure rate than anything else. I'd attribute this to heat build-up inside of the drive bay.

item.105025

Tom Tubman

Re: 2.5" 500GB hard drives

I have a 2.5" 500GB HD (5400 RPM) which has gotten continual use in a Mac Mini which is used as a DVR and media center. This has been well used and abused (usually stays at only 20-50GB free space) for more than 6 months and I've had zero problems with it so far.

item.105032

Steven MacDonald

I have a Hitachi 500GB installed in a original MacBook that has been running fine (and continuously) since July.

item.105040

Michael Fryd

Colleen Thompson wrote:

What is the deal with 2.5" 500gb hard drives? I've only installed two for clients: a Samsung Spinpoint in a MacBook Pro, and a WD Blue in a MacBook. The Samsung failed in 4 months with bad blocks. The WD just failed after only 2 months in a MacBook, also bad blocks. The guys are both photographers (which is why they needed the extra capacity.) Argh! Are these extra-capacity drives extra prone to failure? I see enough hard drive failures as it is, but to be 0 for 2 on a particular size is frustrating. I don't know if I should tell people to avoid them...

Assuming you are installing them correctly (not dislodging temperature sensors) you are just having bad luck.

I was running a Spinpoint 500GB in my 17" MBP for almost a year without issue. Now it's working perfectly in an external, and I have a 500GB 7200 RPM drive (which also works perfectly).

As a photographer, I really appreciate the extra speed and responsiveness of the 7200 RPM drives.

I long for the extra space of the 750GB or 1TB 2.5" drives, but I don't think I could cope with their slower 5200 RPM speed.

item.105042

Peter Lovell

Re: question about 500GB 2.5" drives

It's interesting that the "regular" Minis are 160 and 320 capacity. Although I note that the dual-disk server has two 500 drives. Those might be the extra-height ones though, and not the thin ones (9.5 mm) normally used in laptops.

item.105054

Harold Zeh

For Colleen Thompson on the 2.5" 500 GB drives:

I have three of the Western Digital Blues in a Mac Mini, a MacBook Pro and an external OWC FW case. No problems - I never let them spin down except to sleep overnight - not sure if that helps or hurts the longevity. Been several months now.

Nov. 27, 2009

item.105070

Neil Laubenthal

Following up on the Drobo/Laptop drive discussion... I've often wondered lately (especially since server-class hardware from Dell, et. al. is shifting to the 2.5 inch form factor) whether there's any appreciable difference in longevity by using 2.5 vs. 3.5 inch drives in external enclosures. I'm strongly considering revamping my home file server setup from the current iMac and replacing it with a combined file server/media center Mini server out in the family room. For this scenario, 2.5 inch drives would obviously be cooler and quieter.

Cost aside, as I know that 1 TB say of 2.5 inch drives will cost more than 1 TB of 3.5, is there any real reason not to do this from a reliability standpoint? I proffered the question on the Tidbits list a few weeks back and the consensus was that the reliability was pretty much the same and performance might be a little less but not anything noticeable without a benchmarking program.

item.105102

Colleen Thompson

Thanks to everyone who sent their happy experiences with 500GB laptop drives.

I figured it's just bad luck (it's kind of hard to install a MacBook drive incorrectly), but is hard to explain that to a disappointed client... and I end up eating a lot of the time involved in the data transfer, RMA wrangling, etc.

Not just 500GB drives. Last week I sent off 3 RMA drives: a Hitachi, a Seagate, and a WD. One had been in a MacBook, one in a G4 Mini, and one came brand new DOA with hundreds of bad blocks. It would let me format it but not install a system.

[Just wondering - you wouldn't happen to be located at a high altitude, would you? -Ric Ford]

item.105113

Adam Barisoff

We've currently got a Seagate 500GB/7200rpm/2.5" in the Macbook Pro 15" (2.2Ghz), another in a backup FireWire drive enclosure, a WD 500GB/5400rpm/2.5" in a second backup drive enclosure, and a 500GB/5400rpm/2.5" Samsung in our living room Mac Mini - all without incident. Some of the drives are almost a year old. Not a whole lot of time to judge by, but the MBP has certainly travelled a lot, always in a sufficiently protective case.

item.105116

Antonio Tejada

The 5400 RPM Seagate 500GB I put in my MacBook over a year ago is fine.

item.105134

MacInTouch Reader

I have been exploring an upgrade to my MacBook Pro 2.5 GHz (Early 2008 model 4.1). I am focused upon the following 2.5" HDDs:

- WD Blue 500 GB 5400 rpm (std 9.5mm ht.)
- WD Blue 640 GB 5400 rpm (std 9.5mm ht.)
- Seagate 500 GB 7200 rpm (std 9.5mm ht.)
- WD Blue 750 GB 5200 rpm (non-std. 12 mm ht.)
- WD Blue 1 TB 5200 rpm (non-std. 12 mm ht.)

Here is what I have been able to garner from the internet so far.

WDs are solid... no problems.

Seagate seems to be having a lot of problems.

WD 5200 rpm HDs are capacious but seem slow.

The WD 500 is faster overall than WD 640.

The areal density of the WD 640 GB and 1 TB is greater than that of the 500 GB HDs. I had thought the increased areal density would translate to higher performance especially with the 640 and its 5400 rpm.

The drop from 5400 to 5200 rpm is only a 3.8% reduction, which I thought should be compensated for by the higher areal density of the 1 TB WD.

I believe the 750 GB and 1 TB have 3 platters and the 500s and 640 have 2 platters. Thus the 500s and 750 would have 250 GB per platter, the 640 would have 320 GB per platter, and the 1 TB would have 333 GB per platter.

The 640's areal density is 28% greater than that of the 500s and the 750.

The 1 TB's areal density is 4% greater than the 640's which should offset the 3.8% slower rotational speed.

Therefore, I would 'think' that the 640 GB and 1 TB should be equal in performance and both should out perform the 500's except for possibly the Seagate 500 GB 7200 rpm drive which is 33% faster than the 5400.

The areal density of the 640 and 1 TB drives might match the advantages of the 7200 rpm speed of the Seagate 500 GB.

What I need, and have not been able to find, is a couple of thorough and reliable reviews.

Can anyone point me to solid reviews and a solid examination of the Seagate problems?

Specifically, with regard to the Seagate problem, which model(s) and firmware revision(s) and lot date(s) have the problems and which do not?

I realize there are factors other than rotational speed and areal density affecting performance and that is why I am asking for some solid reviews.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention.

Nov. 28, 2009

item.105139

MacInTouch Reader

Some one suggested I should include whether my MBP is 15 or 17"... it is 15".

item.105165

Colleen Thompson

Ric commented on my post about failed hard drives:

"Just wondering - you wouldn't happen to be located at a high altitude, would you?"

As a matter of fact, my Wyoming home is at 6237 feet. So my clients are pretty high too. Can this actually have an effect? Googling provided the fact that 10,000 feet is usually the limit mentioned (I would have to spend a considerable amount of work time parked at the summit of nearby Teton Pass for that to apply.)

I would be very interested to learn that operating at this altitude would affect hard drive longevity.

Nov. 30, 2009

item.105252

Harald Striepe

I changed my MacBook Pro 13" drive to a 12.5mm height WD 750GB. No trouble with installation or bringing it up, thanks to the wonderful unibody MacBook construction.

I have not benchmarked it, but there is no noticeable difference between it and the stock drive. It is very quiet.

Love all that space, even with a large Windows 7 Boot Camp!

item.105275

David Charlap

Colleen Thompson wrote:

"As a matter of fact, my Wyoming home is at 6237 feet. So my clients are pretty high too. Can this actually have an effect?"

It's not strictly the altitude but the air pressure. This page (http://www.challengers101.com/Pressure.html) may be of interest. Especially section 5. See also http://www.digitaldutch.com/atmoscalc/ for an altitude-to-pressure calculator, and http://www.csgnetwork.com/pressurealtcalc.html for a pressure-to-altitude calculator.

10,000' has a nominal pressure of 20.58" of mercury. So you will want to make sure your drives don't operate at lower pressures than that.

But atmospheric pressure is not a constant. High and low pressure regions move throughout the atmosphere as a part of the weather (typically +/- 0.5" mercury, but extreme stormy weather, like hurricanes, can make it drop by as much as 3"). In other words, your actual maximum safe altitude will vary based on weather conditions.

If we're experiencing a low pressure system that is 0.5" Hg below normal, then the 20.58" pressure will be encountered at an altitude whose nominal pressure is 21.08" - or about 9372'

I assume drive makers build in some kind of safety margin when the advertise a 10,000' limit, but if we don't know what that margin is, we should assume that the nominal pressure of 10,000' (20.58" Hg) is a real limit.

In short, I doubt your altitude of 6237' is going to be a problem. At that altitude, you've got a nominal pressure of 23.76" Hg, which is far enough above 20.58" that you're never going to see a low pressure region that kills hard drives (especially in Wyoming, where you aren't going to be getting hurricanes.) But if you have customers at higher altitudes, then it is possible that this might be an issue.

Dec. 1, 2009

item.105295

MacInTouch Reader

Re: cooling HDD at elevation of 6000 feet

At 6000 feet altitude the specific heat of air is about 20% less than at sea level. Therefore, to remove the same amount of heat at 6000 feet as at sea level one needs to move 20% more air through the drive enclosure. Otherwise the temperature will increase in the drive enclosure by about 20%. Since the drive lifetime is shortened by operation at a higher temperature, an enclosed HDD operating at 6000 feet may be expected to have a shorter lifetime than at sea level. Unfortunately, since the failure rate of electronics is a strong nonlinear function of temperature it is not trivial to forecast the amount of lifetime decrease without knowing more specifics regarding the design of the drive and enclosure.

The general safe rule is cooler is more reliable than warmer and leads to a longer life. That's why data centers have carefully controlled and monitored climate control.

item.105297

MacInTouch Reader

My home is on the 7000' foot line in Colorado. Never had any issues with hard drives due to altitude (either mean sea level or pressure altitude) since I moved here in 1995. Recall a weekend spent in Breckenridge, CO, MSL 9800' two years ago. Numerous laptops (it was a large gathering) both Apple and others in place - no issues there either. I do think you are safe.

item.105299

Richard Foss

Re:

had to send the (heavy) thing back on *my* dime...

Although this is not a laptop drive, I just sent a 3.5 1T drive in a small USPS box for $4.95 without problems. I did use bubble wrap and the box was bulging a little but it was taped securely.

item.105342

Martin S.

Regarding altitude, my girlfriend guides treks in the Himalayas and is using her Mac laptop as she goes along. She does light work such as downloading images and writing a trek diary. Altitude on these treks ranges from 2.000 - 4.500m (approx. 6.500 - 15.000 ft) - no ill effects so far.

item.105384

Jay Craig

Martin S.: Wow! Your girl friend is way beyond pushing the envelope for an HDD. I hope she's making good backups at base camp. Or, perhaps she is running a MacBook Air, whose SSD has no spinning platters and floating heads requiring air molecules to keep from scraping the good stuff into oblivion.

If she's running a MacBook or MacBook Pro, I have a Christmas suggestion: get her an SSD.

Dec. 2, 2009

item.105392

Alan Forkosh

Somewhat related:

A few years ago, when I travelled by air with a bicycle, I carried my cycling cyclometer (with altimeter) in my pocket. On several flights, I noticed that the passenger cabin was pressurized to about 8500 feet.

item.105393

James Greenidge

Re: Himalayan Hard Drive

If a HD's pinhole vent were 'plugged" somehow near sea level, perhaps it can maintain sufficient internal pressure to float those heads way up high where cooling's no prob...

item.105401

Colleen Thompson

The depth of knowledge of MacInTouch readers never ceases to amaze me. I appreciate all the comments about altitude.

Actually altitude has been covered on MacInTouch before, mostly having to do with iPods on Everest, if I recall correctly.

It wasn't so much at what altitudes hard drives will just plain not work -- I know I'm not that elevated -- but whether living and working at 6000+ feet will reduce the life of a drive. The post about cooling efficiency at higher elevations is especially intriguing.

Even though we don't have a definite "Yes, at higher altitudes your drive might have a truncated lifetime," or not, it's nice to know that there *might* be an effect. Thanks to all!

Dec. 3, 2009

item.105485

David Charlap

James Greenidge wrote:

If a HD's pinhole vent were 'plugged" somehow near sea level, perhaps it can maintain sufficient internal pressure to float those heads way up high where cooling's no prob...

Won't work. Those breather holes exist for a reason. They need to equalize the pressure inside and outside of the drive. If you completely seal the drive and then take it to high altitudes, the pressure inside the drive will cause the case to deform, causing all kinds of failures.

If you need to use a hard drive at high altitudes, you can get drives specially made for this. They are in sealed and pressurized cases designed to withstand the stresses of large pressure differentials. A Google search (keywords "hard drive", and "high altitude") revealed one manufacturer: http://www.mountainsecuresystems.com/114.html

(Note: I know nothing about this company. They're just what came up in a Google search.)

item.105523

Randall Voth

I recently swapped the original 80-gig Fujitsu drive in a 2006 MacBook Pro with a little used Hitachi 80-gig drive from an upgraded Mac Mini. I noticed that, with little or no disk activity, the new drive in my MacBook Pro made an annoying click - click - click head parking noise.

After running "smartctl" (from smartmontools) to check the status of the drive I noticed an alarming number of Load_Cycle_Count, which counts the parking of the head. After a bit of research, I discovered a program called "hdapm" that can set the drive into maximum performance mode to get rid of the clicking every four seconds. The only downside is the head is more likely to be in a dangerous position if you drop your notebook.

http://mckinlay.net.nz/hdapm/

It's a bit tricky to install, but my notebook is now quiet and I'm not so worried about it wearing out prematurely.

Here is a good explanation of installing hdapm:

http://mymacfixes.blogspot.com/2009/06/how-do-i-stop-clicking-noise-from-hard.html

Dec. 5, 2009

item.105665

Martin S.

To Jay Craig:

Actually I was surprised by just how many people bring their laptops on these trips nowadays. They even use them at Everest Base Camp at 5.200 m (17.000 ft).

Apparently the maximum operating altitude of e.g. 10.000 ft is what the manufacturers *guarantee* their HDs to run at reliably, but HDs can be fine way above that. Just make sure the laptop is only operated on a level and sturdy surface and avoid jostling it around while it's running.

Apr. 27, 2010

item.113493

Timothy Morel

Yep, covering the ventilation hole is certain death for disk drives.

I just installed a Western Digital Scorpio Blue drive and noticed that the original Toshiba drive had a sticker warning not to cover the ventilation hole. It was covering the ventilation hole!

Now my PowerBook G4 is running just like new, only not heating up like crazy.

I guess that little breathing hole is there for a reason.

item.113507

Antonio Tejada

Timothy Morel reports:

Yep, covering the ventilation hole is certain death for disk drives. [?]
I guess that little breathing hole is there for a reason.

The breather hole is there for a reason, but it's not ventilation, and it has nothing at all to do with heat. It's simply that the housing of a (standard) hard drive isn't designed to handle pressure differentials, so it needs a filtered hole to allow air to enter and escape as air pressure changes (for example, in an airplane).

There are supposedly specialty hard drives that are hermetically sealed and pressurized and thus have no breather hole, specifically for high-altitude use. However, building such a pressurized housing undoubtedly costs significantly more than the stamped sheet metal lid on a standard drive.

The reason for needing air inside the disk, by the way, is that the hard drive's heads do not actually touch the disk platters during use, but instead float a few microns above the surface, riding on a microscopic cushion of air. (Look up "Bernoulli effect" if you care.)

A standard hard drive won't work above a certain altitude (or equivalent pressurization in an aircraft cabin) because there are no longer enough air molecules to keep the heads floating.

Incidentally, heat is not the huge enemy of hard drives it was once believed to be: Google's famous drive failure study found no proof that lower operating temperatures statistically reduced failure rates. (In fact, I believe they found the opposite to be the case.)

Apr. 28, 2010

item.113555

David Charlap

Antonio Tejada wrote:

Incidentally, heat is not the huge enemy of hard drives it was once believed to be: Google's famous drive failure study found no proof that lower operating temperatures statistically reduced failure rates. (In fact, I believe they found the opposite to be the case.)

But I would still be concerned about the thermal stress from repeatedly heating up and cooling down - as in a computer that's powered off every day, or a laptop drive that spins down when idle. That (or other spinup/spindown stresses) probably does shorten drive life.

Unfortunately, I only have anecdotal evidence - in my personal experience, the drives that last the longest always seem to be installed in computers that are rarely, if ever, powered down.

Apr. 29, 2010

item.113592

Paul Huang

hard drive longevity:

Constant environmental operating condition is a given for hard drive farms, so data/studies based on constant environmental conditions should not be applied to other conditions, such as notebook hard drive's durability.

The internal Google study is certainly not a reflection of users of portable computers, where temperature fluctuation (operating for 2 hours, then sleep, on/off repeatedly, etc) is the norm.

So... shall we say that it's not a study of temperature, but rather, it is a study of constants and the lack of constants.

item.113663

Tracy Valleau

I've replied to the drive life question I don't know how many times over the past 20 years, so that now all I do is reference the blog:

http://mactips.valleau.net/?p=121

item.113682

Paul Huang

re: Tracy Valleau's comments regarding hard drives

Of the 3,000+ computers/hard drives under my care, which may include hard drives with whatever warranty duration, less than 5% drop dead within the warranty period. Additionally, many computers (iMac from 2000-2002) all have hard drive made more than 8 years ago and are way beyond their warranty period. They are turned on and off at least once a day and they spin down periodically. How many of those drives are still in operation? More than 90% of them.

My sample size is much larger, but that does not make my report more valid. I just want to present another point of view.

I do tell people that I replace my hard drive like I replace my shoes. I do buy a dozen drives at a time and test/listen to them all. If there is any funky noise, I mark it and use it as a scratch disk.

Aug. 23, 2010

item.119806

Matt McCaffrey

I can't let the week go by without commenting on my experience replacing the "gigantic" 200GB hard drive in my MacBook Pro (early 2008).

I purchased a new 500GB, 7200rpm drive from OWC (doesn't matter which brand for this commentary), as part of a bundle that included their Mercury On the Go Pro enclosure. (They have three flavors; this is the one that includes a Firewire 800 interface.) The bundle also included the tools that most people would need to change out a laptop's hard drive: Phillips 00, flat blade, two Torx drivers, and a "spudger"--the plastic or nylon pry tool that is indispensable for removing cases and connectors in semi-accessible machines.

This note is really about two indispensable resources. One is Carbon Copy Cloner, Mike Bombich's tool for cloning the contents of one hard drive to another. Step one for me was installing the new hard drive temporarily in the Mercury enclosure (don't install the end cap!), and running CCC to clone all files and low-level information to the new drive. It took about three unattended hours, and when it was done, I popped the new drive out of the enclosure knowing I had a clone of my MBP's drive in hand.

The second resource is the step-by-step install/repair guides at ifixit.com. With the tools included in the OWC kit, another MB for following along, and a muffin tin to catch removed parts systematically, my time for teardown, replacement, and rebuild was a whopping 45 minutes!

As has been noted many times before, replacing a hard drive can boost speed as well as storage. What I want to emphasize is that it can also be close to painless. When I rebooted my MBP, I had exactly the same environment I'd had when I powered down -- including open windows on the desktop. Not a single application known to be sensitive to changes in computing hardware has uttered a peep, including Adobe Creative Suite applications.

I just have 300 or so GB more space than I did on Monday. Now back to work to reduce that?

Oct. 4, 2010

item.122145

Lloyd Wood

I've recently upgraded the original 5200rpm 160GB hard drive inside a late-2007 black MacBook to a 5200rpm Western Digital Scorpio Blue drive (1 TB, 8 MB, 2.5 inch). Using a Torx T8 screwdriver to swap the internal shielding onto the new drive was straightforward, and the old internal drive now lives in a USB caddy.

Booting from the Snow Leopard DVD to format the new drive and then restore straight over USB from a Time Machine backup made on another drive before upgrading worked well, if slow, and beat copying files over. There's no need to reinstall 10.5 first if you have the 10.6 DVD, and restoring from a Time Machine backup skips software update downloads.

The Blue Scorpio 1TB drive case is 12.5mm high rather than 9.5mm, which is a very tight exact fit in the MacBook; no idea if that would fit in a slimmer MacBook Pro case. I can't even tuck the white plastic strip, tugged to remove the drive, back under the drive, and that strip is now lying flat under the battery and L-plate.

Although it seems quiet and cool, the drive is a little heavier than the original; with a plastic protective case around the MacBook and wristpad protector, the whole assembly now weighs in at 6lb rather than 5.5lb. And yes, it's not 7200rpm. But still... it's a terabyte!

I know a few people have bought MacBooks along with higher-capacity third-party drives, which are cheaper than Apple build-to-order options. My take is to defer the drive purchase until you're running low on disk space, and only then buy a new drive, to take advantage of capacity and cost improvements in the meantime. If a replacement drive had been bought three years ago, the same money would have only gotten 250GB.

Oct. 5, 2010

item.122186

Michael Fryd

I recently updated the HD in my MacBook Pro to one of Seagate's new hybrid drives. It combines a traditional 7200RPM hard drive with 4GB of flash ram.

It automatically tracks usage, and copies appropriate items into the flash to improve performance.

I got the 500GB model (ST95005620AS) and I must say it has really made my laptop much faster. It's a big improvement over the 7200RPM drive it replaced.

Oct. 6, 2010

item.122273

Evan Dreyer

For Michael Fryd (and anyone else who has installed a hybrid drive in a laptop): Anything special about the install? Could you install from apple discs and/or a time machine backup? thanks

Oct. 7, 2010

item.122316

Michael Fryd

Evan Dreyer asked:

For Michael Fryd (and anyone else who has installed a hybrid drive in a laptop): Anything special about the install? Could you install from apple discs and/or a time machine backup? thanks

Nothing special at all. The install was no different than any other hard drive swap. No special software or setup required.

In my case:
-drop the new drive into a NewerTech eSATA drive dock (I have an eSATA card for my MacBook Pro)
- boot off an external firewire 800 drive
- use SuperDuper to copy internal drive to new drive.
- Physically swap the new drive into the LapTop.

All done.

I use SuperDuper to clone the drive instead of a sector copy, as this has the side effect of defragmenting.

item.122344

C. R. Oldham

Evan Dreyer asks about hybrid drive installs in a laptop -- I just put one in my Early-2008 MacBook Pro with no issues whatsoever. Did a clean install from my 10.6 disks.

Nov. 19, 2010

item.125030

Michael Clifford

I have an old Powerbook G4 that is in good working order. Some day, the hard drive *will* die. I'd like to be able to replace it when that happens, so that I can still use the computer. But... no one makes ATA laptop hard drives anymore. (A few vendors appear to sell extremely expensive SATA drives with ATA adaptors or interfaces - but these cost significantly more than the actual laptop did!) Is there any way to get some other type of drive into that machine? An SSD would be nice, of course, but those are too expensive. An ATA to SATA adaptor might work, but would have to fit into the drive bay along with the drive. Booting from a flash drive might also be an option, though not a great one.

I'm wondering what suggestions people have.

item.125035

MacInTouch Reader

Other World Computing still sells 2.5" ATA drives.

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/2.5-Notebook/

item.125036

Bob Vennerbeck

I just bought a (P)ATA laptop drive from Data Memory Systems - there weren't a *lot* of choices, but they are still readily available.
No connection, just a satisfied customer.

Nov. 20, 2010

item.125049

Barry Levine

Regarding the poster who was having trouble finding PATA drives: Just bought a 250GB WD Scorpio PATA HD for a PowerBook from BestBuy. $80. Yes; they're a bit more costly than SATA drives but they're still out there.

item.125051

Rob McCleave

If speed and capacity aren't your top priority, something like this IDE to Compact Flash Adapter is one option. CF cards up to 32 Gigs are pretty cheap.

In my G3 Pismo, a similar adapter and an 8 Gig CF card made for a cheap SSD option. It's a lot quieter and also faster than the 4200 rpm hard drive it replaced.

Nov. 22, 2010

item.125127

John Muccigrosso

Just had Hitachi ship me a replacement PATA drive for my wife's iBook. The previous one died about 18 months into a 3-yr warranty.

Feb. 24, 2011

item.130143

Grant Symon

I'm looking for help on a pretty unusual scenario.

I have a unibody MacBook Pro, which has had the DVD drive replaced with an Momentus XT drive. There is a firmware update for this drive, which I would like to install. Normally, Mac users would burn a CD from an ISO file provided by Seagate, then boot from this CD into DOS and apply the firmware update from there.

Obviously, I can't do this. I have tried to make a USB-key 'clone' of the CD and boot from that, but I think there are invisible files, that any of the Mac tools I've tried, do not see and so, don't copy.

I have tried using a 'Remote Disk' CD, and this works for startup, but unfortunately, the DOS software on the CD only looks as far as the internal drives on the Mac actually housing the CD drive.

I don't own an external DVD drive, which would probably solve the problem, but I'm curious if anyone here, with such a breadth of knowledge, might have a suggestion, as to how one might perform a firmware update, booting into DOS, on a Mac without a DVD drive.

Feb. 25, 2011

item.130199

Davide Guarisco

In reply to Grant Symon's query: I also do not have an optical drive in my MacBook anymore.

I made a very cheap external USB DVD/CD ROM drive using an old ATA optical drive and an USB adapter.

Feb. 26, 2011

item.130281

Lyman Taylor

Re:

... might have a suggestion, as to how one might perform a firmware update, booting into DOS, on a Mac without a DVD drive.

I think it is doable. However, getting a DVD drive is probably easier. :-)

I don't have a spare drive to try this on right now but if the EFI bootloader will recognize a DOS partition, you could:

1. backup boot drive.
2. resize the boot partition and insert a FAT32 partition.
3. Install the contents of the ISO onto that FAT32 partition and mark it as bootable.

step 2 is along the lines of

diskutil resizeVolume /Volumes/SomeDisk 300g MS-DOS "MS-DOS FAT 32" 0b

where, if a 320 GB disk, [we] would create a 20GB FAT-32 space, the end. Bootcamp Assistant does something similar when preparing to install Windows. (Booting into Windows is the other solution that avoids an external DVD, but would probably cost more than buying one.)

Likewise with the USB Flash drive clone. It could be the case that it is FAT 32 format, but that partition is probably not marked as bootable in the MBR, although I think you will probably run into the restriction that the Boot Camp mechanism has, of not being able to boot "Windows" drives that are external.

Holding down Option key at boot should present the volumes that the Mac thinks can be booted.

P.S. 20/20 hindsight is to keep the optical drive if you remove it from Mac. Places like OWC have external enclosures you can put it into. That way it is around on these rare occasions that you need it. :-)

Mar. 3, 2011

item.130596

Brian Ailey

I am trying to update the firmware in a Seagate Momentus XT hard drive from SD23 to SD24. I have downloaded the update, burned the image to a CD and have booted from the CD. It boots into the black/white DOS screen but I can't get past the instructions. What command do I use or what function key do I press during boot to get to the firmware update application?

Thanks

item.130660

C. R. Oldham

Brian Ailey writes

"I am trying to update the firmware in a Seagate Momentus XT hard drive from SD23 to SD24 [...] it boots [...] but I can't get past the instructions."

Push the Escape key at the instructions. No, it doesn't say that anywhere.

Just as a data point for anyone planning on purchasing this drive, it appears that drives in the fulfillment channel still have the old firmware on them. I just bought one from Amazon to put in a mid-2009 unibody MacBook Pro, and it shipped with firmware SD23 on it. The firmware upgrade went without a hitch.

I have 2 of these drives now and they are very fast--the speed increase is noticeable. I'm going to put one in my 2008 MacBook as well.

Mar. 4, 2011

item.130663

Tom Straus

I updated my Momentus XT several days ago. After the text screen, which explains the process, just hit Esc, and it will take you to the install screen. Be sure to turn off your Mac after doing the update. Then restart, as the instructions tell you.

The update got rid of the "blip" sound that used to be there, and startup is now blazingly fast.

item.130705

Josh Livingston

Seagate Momentus XT ordered last Friday from NewEgg had SD24 firmware installed.

Mar. 5, 2011

item.130837

Neil Laubenthal

Regarding the info re. the Momentus XT vs. an SSD vs. a standard drive - I would really like the SSD, but the cost is still pretty high; upgrading from my current Momentus 7200.3 drive to the Momentus XT would be much cheaper obviously.

Has anybody seen both of these upgrades side by side? I'm trying to gauge where the Momentus XT falls in between the 7200.3 and the SSD. I'm assuming it's much closer to the 7200.3 than to the SSD; is that correct?

Mar. 7, 2011

item.130914

Bill George

I've taken the plunge and downloaded the Seagate Momentus XT hybrid firmware upgrade. I created the CD from the ISO, rebooted and updated. There is nothing to it, and the difference is, as reported upstream dramatic.

All the halts are gone.

Thanks to all.

Apr. 5, 2011

item.132953

Henry Hillock

Replaced my 500GB Seagate Momentum in my MacBook Pro 15" with a 640GB WD Scorpio Blue.

Having problems with the drive constantly spinning down and up. Anyone else experience this?

Thanks!!

Apr. 6, 2011

item.132998

Skot Nelson

Re:

Replaced my 500GB Seagate Momentum in my MacBook Pro 15" with a 640GB WD Scorpio Blue. Having problems with the drive constantly spinning down and up. Anyone else experience this?

You'd have to define "problems" I guess. Does this mean it's doing it at times when you think it shouldn't?

I have the same drive, and noticed no substantial difference between it and the 320GB one that came with the system.

I may buy another one to throw in an external case tonight, actually, though I may opt for a 750GB drive.

I certainly don't love editing video on either one of those drives when I'm away from home, but that's not specific to the Scorpio Blue: it's just work that's better suited to faster drives.

Apr. 8, 2011

item.133147

Henry Hillock

The problem was that the drive would spin down but then spin up again. It would repeatedly do this over and over again like it was trying to sleep but couldn't. The drive used to be in an external enclosure and didn't have this problem. Any way I went and got a Seagate Momentus 750GB drive instead and it is working great in the MacBook Pro.

Guess it was a combo of being in the MacBook Pro and it being a WD Blue 640GB. I have seen reports of this problem with WD Blue drives though in MacBooks.

Apr. 13, 2011

item.133352

Mark Wistey

Warning to those seeking faster/bigger drives in 2008 MacBook Pro's: the 3Gbps SATA causes frequent stalling, and an occasional 30-second spinning wheel with all applications unusable. (Google "Scorpio Blue Macbook Pro freeze".) The only solution appears to be to downgrade the MacBook's EFI firmware to 1.6 to disable 3 Gbps, but Apple stores refuse to do this. My shiny new Western Digital Scorpio Blue drive has made my. Laptop. Useless. For. Games. Or. Presentations.

Apr. 14, 2011

item.133397

MacInTouch Reader

Is this for a MacBookPro5,1 machine as identified by System Profiler?

item.133400

Grandy Pollo

Re: Mark Wistey's note:

Warning to those seeking faster/bigger drives in 2008 MacBook Pro's: the 3Gbps SATA causes frequent stalling, and an occasional 30-second spinning wheel with all applications unusable. (Google "Scorpio Blue Macbook Pro freeze".) The only solution appears to be to downgrade the MacBook's EFI firmware to 1.6 to disable 3 Gbps, but Apple stores refuse to do this. My shiny new Western Digital Scorpio Blue drive has made my. Laptop. Useless. For. Games. Or. Presentations.

Replace the drive and restore from the backup you did prior to the swap.

item.133428

Scott Aronian

I have a late 2008 MacBook Pro which uses firmware MBP51.007E.B05 (EFI 1.8)

The 750GB Seagate (ST9750420AS) from OWC has been working without the issues described by Mark Wistey. In fact it is the fastest internal drive I've ever had in this computer. The Link Speed is 3 Gigabit, as is the Negotiated Link Speed.

Next Page...


MacInTouch Amazon link...

Talk to MacInTouch     Support  •  Find/Go