5 Replies Latest reply: Jan 29, 2013 8:01 PM by Daniel Hess
Daniel Hess Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I had an iBook G3 in college (2002, exact model @ http://bit.ly/VGVpSh), and when it died I purchased a new Mac and shoved the iBook in a box (About 7 years ago). It died from the logic board/display issues that all those dual-USB iBooks had. I actually had one, or maybe even two, logic board(s) replaced under warranty, but it eventually went out again, and I just bought a whole new laptop. I know I have a ton of photos from college on there, and that's really the data I'm now after! I can get the screen to work most of the time by placing a clamp under the 'Option' key on the left half of the keyboard. New problem though, as fired it up to take a stab at finding my data; I'm getting a flashing question mark when it boots up, which a little research shows is indicative of hard drive failure... My photos!!! So I've messed around with the computer for an hour or so, and haven't had any luck.


First and foremost, does the flashing question mark mean that data's dead and gone for good, period? Or could the drive itself be fine, but the controller/cables be bad? Sadly, ten years later I don't have the install CD, so that's not an option. I used a random OS9 disc I found online, but it wouldn't boot off that either; I'm guessing because it's not the original OS CD for this model... I also can't get the 'Firewire target' to work. The oldest computer I have in the house is an Intel 2ghz core duo 2 (exact machine @ http://bit.ly/LqDkzw) running 10.6. I'm guessing the new machine/OS won't do the Firewire target mode, as I've been unsuccessful when I've tried. I just read there are different Firewire 400 vs Firewire 800 cables, so I guess I could just be using the wrong cable as well..? I found an old Firewire cable to even try this in the first place, but I have no idea if it's 400 vs 800. Or would a bad hard drive preclude the Firewire target mode anyway?


I've also tried random things like Ethernet connections, but no luck. I'm guessing the probably-wide OS gap won't allow them to communicate anyway.


I found a bunch of these laptops on ebay for $45, So I guess I could just buy one used, and swap the hard drives? That way, if the HD it self’s ok, moving it to a new home might help (plus it'd fix the logic board issue). Downside is that the hard drive swap doesn't look easy at all, and I could end up messing up the HD even more.


I've never used a data recovery business, but is that possibly my best bet? I have no idea how much they cost, but I think a friend said his data recovery cost like $250. In all honestly I think I'd pay $250 for my old memories, I'm just not sure where to go from here. If anyone has suggestions on fixing it, or ANY suggestions on who’s a good merchant to handle this, I'd greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks all!

  • bund Level 3 Level 3 (765 points)

    Please make sure that you followed the instructing for using the firewire target mode.

    Connections between PPC and intel machines may be tricky sometimes.


    If you havn't got your original install media for your ibook you can try to use a free Linux rescue tool to recover your data.


    You can buy expensive Mac Tools like Diskwarrior or DataRescue.

  • edex67 Level 4 Level 4 (3,250 points)

    You could also use an external HDD caddy to try and access the drive. I wouldn't recommend DataRescue (but only on anecdotal evidence from people I know) and the tools seem too expensive as bund said.

  • dalstott Level 4 Level 4 (2,590 points)

    I use the external caddy as edex67 has suggested you try. This is probably the cheapest and easiest way to recover the pics providing that the hard drive is working. The only catch is you must remove the drive in order to attach to the adapter. Since you are not trying to resurect the iBook, the drive removal would be easier as disassembly would not have to be as cautious. Below links to disassembly and a source for an adapter.





  • Daniel Hess Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I think the external drive caddy hits the 'cheapest/most-likely-to-be-succesful' sweet spot! I just ordered one, thanks for the input! I'll post an update once I give it a shot. Thanks again, everybody.

  • Daniel Hess Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Quick post-mortem, I tore the ol' iBook down maybe a week ago. The step-by-step tear-down guide made it a breeze, so thanks for that! I hooked the universal drive adapter to the HD ... and no dice. The HD clicks once or twice, gives a low humming attempt at spinning up, then stops. I tried everything, it's a dead drive. So it looks like 'pro' (expensive) data recovery is my only option. I don't regret getting the drive adapter though, as that thing's super handy, so I'm sure I'll use it in the future.


    Thanks for the help, all!