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Is a WD My Book Studio Desktop 3TB Hard Drive - FW 400/800, USB 2.0, Apple Time Machine Ready external hard drive bootable with my Powerbook G4 12” PPC 10.5.8?

838 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Jun 3, 2013 12:03 PM by Mr. Fred Garvin RSS
Mr. Fred Garvin Calculating status...
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May 30, 2013 6:13 PM

Sirs or madams,


Is my Powerbook G4 12” PPC 10.5.8 'bootable' with a Western Digital My Book Studio Desktop 3TB Hard Drive - FW 400/800, USB 2.0, Apple Time Machine Ready external hard drive? Western Digital says officially no, but that it MIGHT be. I primarily live in China and bought a Clearlight s400+ external hard drive enclosure with a 320GB disk drive a few years ago in China. My computer 'boots' fine from it, but since I got it in China all the paperwork, etc. is in Chinese; my Chinese isn't quite sufficient enough yet to read it. But there are references to something called "SATA", whatever that is.

My level of computer 'under the hood' knowledge is extremely low. I've been told that SATA has some relationship as to whether or not an external hard drive will boot a computer via the Firewire connection, something relating to 'interface', which I assume is how separate electronic gadgets work, or don't work, with each other.

I frankly don't care much for computers, the internet, or their related gadgets such as all these fancy phones. I longingly reminisce about the days when there were no such things. I use a computer & the internet because I have to, and unfortunately unlike a car where one doesn't have to have 'under the hood' knowledge to operate it, just knowledge of the steering wheel, brake, gas, etc., one seemingly must know a ridiculously great amount of 'under the hood' knowledge, including jargon, to operate computers.

So, please try to respond accordingly; thank you.

If this particular external hard drive won't, for certain, be bootable with my computer, can you advise as to what readily available brand/model would be in the 3TB range for a similar price, roughly $150ish??

Thank you very much.

PowerBook, Mac OS X (10.5.8), Powerbook 12" G4 PPC 10.5.8
  • BGreg Level 6 Level 6 (17,500 points)

    Serial ATA, or SATA, is the interface between the hard drive and the electronics in the external case that is used most commonly today, and in recent years.


    What you care about is that the hard drive case electronics support Firewire, as a PowerBook can only boot from a Firewire device. A PowerBook cannot boot from a USB device. As long as the hard drive is formatted correctly, it can be booted via a Firewire cable connection.


    That said, Western Digital external hard drive cases aren't known for stout case electronics. The hard drives inside are fine, however, there are examples where the case electronics have gone wonky. If the case comes with a 3 year warranty, that suggests some level of vendor confidence, however, if it only has a 1 year warranty, I might look for another solution. 


    If I were in the US, I would look at what OWC has for cases, and put my own Western Digital black drive (which usually have a 5 year warranty on the drive, 3 years on the case).  Many of OWC cases use Oxford chipsets, which work well with macs. Sorry, this section may be too under the covers .....

  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (62,035 points)

    I really like Newertech's Voyager Firewire mounting stations at OWC.  If you have a SATA hard drive, it will connect to your Mac.  Now 3 TB may not be immediately readable by 10.5.8.  Disk Utility though can format it to a readable format for the Mac.  Here's why.

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (29,585 points)

    I vote for going with OWC drives, too. I had a WD Studio Mac Edition with the same port layout you describe but a smaller 750GB SATA drive. Was nothing but trouble on both my old G4 MDD and the iMac Quad-Cor i7 that replaced it. It stalled, locked up both computers, overheated---you name the problem and I got to 'enjoy" it.


    I stripped the bare drive out of the WD enclosure and placed it in an OWC enclosure; now I have 100 percent reliable function, and the fanless metal case is seldom above room temperature. Same internal drive--different and better enclosure with high-end electronic bits.


    This is a good time not to get too budget-constrained. The OWC drives are more expensive but their reputation around here is stellar. Remember, the reason those "name brand" externals you see on sale every week at the office superstores are so cheap is that they are, well, cheap.



    A founder of a company I worked for had a saying, "Why not start with what your are going to end up with anyway?" He knew that buying cheap first and then finding that didn't work was more expensive in the long run.

  • BGreg Level 6 Level 6 (17,500 points)

    If I were wanting a 3TB external drive today, I would consider this OWC case.  The case is a Firewire 400 speed case ... you can get the same case with Firewire 800, which is coincidentally twice as expensive.  I'd put into it a Western DIgital Black 3.5" 3TB drive, which comes with a 5 year warranty.


    The drives that OWC puts in their cases are all name brand, and typically comes with a 3 year warranty.  If you aren't inclined to muck about putting your own hard drive in the case, I wouldn't hesitate to go with any of the OWC cases with installed hard drives. Again, I'd look for those with Oxford chip sets, just because I have several and they have all worked well with our PowerBooks.


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