December 2009 Archives

Replacing a Hard Drive in an Intel iMac

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This may be perfectly obvious to some people, but in my 25+ years experience of tearing apart electronics, I never encountered this and I was stumped. The hard drive in Teddy's iMac failed and needed to be replaced. With a little online research I was able to determine that any SATA drive would do the trick. I found a few videos on YouTube that showed the (difficult) process of taking apart the iMac, and they were very helpful. The confusion came when I installed the new drive and was left with a tiny 4-prong wire and nowhere to connect it. 

The left image below is the original drive. The little blue square circuit board (top, center) has a tiny 4-prong port on it from where I disconnected a wire going to the underside of the logic board. As you can see in the second photo below, there is no little square to attach the wire to.

Original SATA hard drive from Intel iMacReplacement SATA Seagate hard drive for Intel iMac
Original Hard DriveReplacement Hard Drive

I did some more research online but couldn't find anyone who specified what hard drive they used as a replacement in their iMac. I did choose a different brand (Seagate instead of Western Digital) but that really shouldn't have made a difference. I went to bed confused and angry.

Today at work, Michael Michel, one of our PC technicians popped-in to my office to say hello and chat about music. I was reading some hard drive forums at the time so I told him about the problem I was having. His first question was, "Can you tell if the little circuit board goes through the drive casing?" I didn't know. Then he asked, "Is it the same color as the main circuit board?" I did a Google image search and found a photo of the drive. Sure enough, the color of the small square had a blue tint to it that the rest of the circuitry did not. Michael explained that this generally means that it wasn't part of the hard drive, but was added later, probably by Apple. He further suggested that it was probably a heat sensor, glued on and since the hard drive was dead anyway, there was no harm in trying to pry it off.

Of course, he was exactly right. 

When I got home, I pried the square off the old hard drive, stuck it to the new one, plugged in the tiny wire, and (painfully) closed up the iMac. I should mention that Michael is a PC tech, not a Mac tech, and that he solved this problem for me based only on my description of what I saw the night before. 

Michael Michel is today's Higglytown Hero.

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