4 Replies Latest reply: Nov 2, 2007 6:53 PM by D07
D07 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
My internal hard drive is dead. Rather than replace it I have a brand new LaCie 500GB external that I want to partition and boot from. I haven't been able to find directions / thoughts on the following so any help would be greatly appreciated:

1. Is this a good / bad idea? Should I just bit the bullet and replace the internal hard drive?
2. Can I set up the external to boot if it doesn't already have Tiger loaded (e.g. how do I load Tiger onto it?)
3. How do I set the iMac to look to the external to boot?

Many, many thanks.


iMac G4 1.25GHz, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (64,880 points)
    Welcome to Apple Discussions!
    (I was born in Palo Alto!)

    If you have a Firewire hard drive it should be able to boot your Mac.
    However, usually external hard drives are best served as backup drives because of their reliability. So really if your external is just a backup drive, I would not install anything else on it, and use it as your point for recovery to a new internal drive.

    You can force the machine to recognize the external hard drive as a boot volume using the Startup Manager:


    To make it boot an iMac G4, you need to make sure it is Apple Partition Map formatted (which it would be if you formatted it from your iMac G4 to work with just the iMac G4). If you never formatted it with Disk Utility, then it likely won't be able to have Mac OS X installed on it, as most external hard drives are formatted for the PC by default and are not Mac installer friendly. Unfortunately formatting will erase your hard drive contents. So the questions I have to ask, is the La Cie your soll backup? And was it formatted for the Mac?
  • D07 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thank you for the reply. It's very, very helpful.

    I actually bought my external for backing up my MacBook Pro, so it actually doesn't have any backups from the iMac (which I already had backed up to the MacBook). I am planning to use the external with Time Machine to back up the MacBook very shortly!

    The drive is formatted in HFS+, so I'm assuming I could partition it for the iMac and connect via FireWire 400 until I get a new internal drive. Your thoughts on how to load Tiger to the LaCie would be great. I'd also appreciate your perspective on whether you think Leopard will run fast enough on the G4 to be worth it. And hopefully I'm not trying your patience, but how easy is it to put in a new internal for the iMac myself?

    Many thanks again for your extremely helpful comments.
  • a brody Level 9 Level 9 (64,880 points)
    Dual PowerPC/Intel Mac formatting gets a little more hairy:


    If you limit your drive to just backing up your iMac G4, or just backing up your MacBook Pro, that would be easier, and get another drive to backup the other.

    This user tip covers the differences:

  • D07 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Sorry for the slow reply. Thank you again for your help.