A Larger Hard Drive

Originally published 05 May 2000 as a Mac Daniel column for Low End Mac.

Q: I have a Power Mac 6100 (or Performa 611x) and am running out of hard drive space. My hard drive holds 350 MB. Should I purchase an external hard drive or a Zip drive for my current system?

A: If I were you, I'd get a second internal hard drive (assuming you don't have a CD-ROM). Any low profile 3.5" 50-pin SCSI drive will work just fine and should work with the cables already in your CD-free 6100. (Watch out for half-height drives; they will overheat within the 6100s limited space. They won't even fit in most newer Macs, or a lot of older ones such as the LC.)

If you do have a CD-ROM drive, you don't have any free internal bays, so you may need an external. I don't have any specific brand recommendations, but again, any SCSI drive will work (though Ultra SCSI drives require very expensive cables and terminators to work properly with the native SCSI on Macs, so I don't recommend them). Ask the company you're buying from if they have the proper cables for making it work with a Mac.

Another alternative if you have a CD-ROM is to replace your old hard drive as follows:

  1. With the power off, open your computer case.
  2. Disconnect the SCSI and power cables from the CD-ROM. You do not need to remove the CD-ROM drive itself.
  3. Make sure your new hard drive is set to an ID that doesn't match your old drive (always set to zero by Apple) and that termination is deactivated. The drive should come with instructions for this, or you can check the manufacturer's WWW site.
  4. Set the new drive on top of your CD-ROM, then connect the power and SCSI cables.
  5. Turn on your computer. It may be a bit tricky pushing the power button, but you can do it.
  6. Format the new hard drive. If it's huge (over 2 GB), you may want to partition the hard drive. In fact, with some versions of the Mac OS, you will need to partition any drive over 2 GB.
  7. Once the drive is formatted, drag the icon from your old hard drive onto the icon for the new hard drive. This will copy every single file to the new drive, including those on the desktop.
  8. When that's done, double-click on the new drive's icon, and then on the folder containing the contents of your old drive.
  9. Drag every file and folder except Trash and Desktop onto the icon of your new hard drive.
  10. Rename your new hard drive to match your old hard drive.
  11. Shut down the computer.
  12. Disconnect and remove your old hard drive.
  13. Set the new hard drive to SCSI ID zero and turn on termination.
  14. Install the new hard drive in the old drive's bay.
  15. Connect the new drive and CD-ROM to SCSI and power cables.
  16. Put the lid back on your computer.
  17. Turn it on.
  18. Open the folder that contained all the items from your old hard drive. Then open the Desktop folder and drag everything in it to your desktop.
  19. Trash the folder that contained the contents of your old hard drive.
  20. Everything should work exactly as before, except that you'll have a whole lot more drive space and probably a faster hard drive.

It may sound like a lot of steps, but it's a very simple procedure. And once this is working, find someone with an old Mac and an even smaller drive. See if they might be interested in your old 350.

A Zip drive is very convenient for transferring large files from one computer to another, but doesn't take the place of another hard disk. Zip drives are slower and only hold 100 or 250 MB per disk, and they have the additional inconvenience of swapping disks if the data you want isn't on the disk currently in the drive. If you have a lot of files you don't access very frequently, this might be a worthwhile option, but I wouldn't recommend a Zip drive as primary storage — it's simply too slow and small.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson