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How do I get a crashed Powermac G4 hard drive to mount?

3508 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: Mar 23, 2013 11:07 AM by patrick.dc RSS
chak_133 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 5, 2013 11:09 AM

I have a Western Digital 20GB Ata hard drive that has crashed badly. Despite reading other forum posts here and trying out the useful suggestions, I have been unsuccessful in remounting my hard drive. This has denied me access to a precious archive of work e-mails in my macmail mail-box, and other home office work data including Safari bookmarks tracked via the now non-existent user preferences folder.


This is all information that I would really like to recover without sending to a data recovery company. The loss of data access has been stressful for me over the last several days.

Fortunately, I always stored my text edit, word, and other raw documents on a subsidiary drive. However, and this is unfortunate, backups of my "home folder" fell of the radar due to some significant health issues over the past couple of years. Now, I'm paying the price for that loss of focus.

I'm running a Powermac G4 AGP machine with 1.5ghz fastmac processor, 1.75gb ram, OSX 10.4.11. This has been a good computer for my home office work including e-mails, web browsing etc. The main drive in a two drive setup has been a 20gb Apple branded hard drive Western digital drive that was reported full before the crash. This was after the console log file in the system folder reported large gigabyte file logs.

No major data has ever been stored on this hard drive, only the OS, yet it would fill up. This has happened in the past and I have been able to delete these files, then restart the computer thus clearing hard drive space. I've done this for the last two years.

Two weeks ago when the computer reported low hard disk space, I had a several safari windows open. The computer then froze and the entire computer became totally unresponsive. I had to force power off the computer to get it to restart.

Since then, despite using disk utilities like Techtool, Disk Warrior, Prosoft Drive Genius, Prosoft Data recovery and other  software demos like Remo recover, Total Recall, Stellar Phoenix, and Virtual Lab the drive has never been "seen" by the OS to let the data recovery software access it.

I've also used techniques like Safe boot, Singe user mode, Target disk mode, plus mounting the drive in a Wiebetech Firewire 400 external enclosure, and still I've never managed to get the drive to be recognized by the system, let alone remount. All I got was the circle with a slash through it or the mac smiley icon that alternates with a question mark.

The 20Gb WD was the primary ide drive in a two drive setup that also has a Maxtor diamond Max Plus 9 60Gb ATA133 Hard drive which was my subsidiary drive for data storage. I have since mounted this drive when it was made the only drive on the ide cable (the Maxtor has 10.4.6 on it that I can boot from successfully). (If the Western Digital is either the primary or secondary drive on the joint ide cable, the Maxtor then fails to mount).

The crashed hard drive symptoms are:

On startup the Western Digital disk makes several whining noises like it wants to startup, and also sounds like it is trying to access the drive data platters, then it goes quiet. After making the drive the only drive on the ide cable, and rejumpering the drive accordingly, it is only making two whining or "coughing noises" like it wants to start, then goes quiet. In neither case, does the OS ever register its presence.

In the firewire enclosure the drive either starts with the first type of sound and then reverts to periodically making the second type of coughing sound or it just makes the "coughing sound".

Crashed Drive Description is:

WESTERN DIGITAL 20GB TRIDE 655T0022 WC93300Y5H7YA EIDE HARD DRIVE. Made August 18, 1999.

MDL (Model) is WD205BA-40AK.

Firmware is CRNBLKMO.


Has Apple logo and came with Sawtooth Machine 450Mhz that was upgraded to 1.5ghz via Fastmac processor and 1.75Gb CL2 Crucial Ram.


Any ideas or suggestions would be most welcome to get the drive to mount and then copy of my home folder data.

Thank you.

PowerMac, Mac OS X (10.4.11), G4 AGP Radeon 8500
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (114,705 points)

    Hello, those Disk Tools you mention, did any of them see it at all?


    Particularly, with DiskWarrior... if it shows in DW, hold Option key when clicking Repair Disk, to Scavenge the Directory to a second Directory that can be used for copying or cloning.


    If DW doesn't see it at all, then Data Rescue for one MAY be able to see it...



    (Has a Free Demo to see if it could or not, but you'll need another drive to recover to).


    If not then Professional Data Recovery is needed in my experiences.

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (114,705 points)

    Aw, sorry to hear, good luck though.

  • patrick.dc Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey, I'm no genius with this stuff, but have you thought of putting the Western D into another G4?  What condition is your system board? The battery and all that stuff.?

  • Glen Doggett Level 4 Level 4 (1,780 points)

    sorry for your [data] loss.  this may best be left to a professional service.  the more you attempt to mount and use the drive, the more you risk damaging the drive beyond the possibility of recovery.


    That said, I would never actually try this myself, and I do not recommend this at all, but there is an "old-wives tale" that you can very temporarily bring a failing hard drive back to life for one short-lived last hurrah if you put it in a zip-lock bag in a freezer overnight.  I would not suggest that you risk destroying the drive with this unproven method, and I am hesistant to even mention it.  Google this topic and decide for yourself, please do not blame me for putting this idea in your head when it does not work.


  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (114,705 points)

    I'm not sure whether posting links of my research and specially to a professional data recovery company that I have no affiliation to is permissible...

    Hi, sure, if you did have any association with them you'd have to include a blurb that you may receive compensation from the link, other wise no disclaimer is needed.

  • patrick.dc Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Any new luck on the WD HDD?


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