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  1. #1

    Member Since
    Jan 12, 2012
    HD crashed in old Mac Mini; new 500GB drive being seen as 3.7TB. Firmware problem?
    Hi everyone. This is my first post here. I've been handed a Mac Mini that had a failing hard drive which was preventing the OS from booting. The bottom reads:

    FCC ID:BCGA1114 IC:579C - A1114 FCC ID: PPD - AR58XB6 - M IC:4104A - AR58X86

    The plan was to extract the drive and replace it with a new one, reinstalling the OS from disc. The Mac itself was abused with a ton of dust and soot by it's owner but before taking things apart it was able to run Linux without stability problems. The old hard drive on the other hand is... well, I'll come back to that.

    I purchased a new 500GB Hitachi hard drive to replace the old one and swaped it out with no trouble. I followed this video to do it.

    After booting up from the original install discs I was not given a drive to select from during the install, but did see the Hitachi listed when I ran the Disk Utility app, but it showed the drive as being something far different in size than it actually is. When I tried to format the disc to a Mac OS (Journaled) partition it immediately produced an I/O error.

    I'm about to take it back apart and hook the new drive up to another computer to confirm whether or not the new drive is faulty but in the mean time I was wondering: Is it possible the firmware for the BIOS in this old unit needs an update to support a drive of this size? And if so, is it possible to apply such an update from a boot disk?

    On the side, I have one other question:

    In the past I've pulled hard drives from Macs to rescue data from failing systems by mounting the drive in Linux and copying the files in the Users folder to another drive. However, this particular drive does not appear to have a Users folder at all. Even revealing the hidden folders does not show a Users folder. So I was wondering if there is any possibility that this folder or the standard contents of such a folder might be stored somewhere else. Searching the drive manually is very tedious because, being on its last leg, the drive takes something like 20 seconds just to open a folder and see what files are inside of it; you almost feel like it's going to give you an I/O error but it doesn't. I'm also wondering if, in the slimmest, slightest most remote chance that this system actually had a virus, impossible as that may sound. I'm only asking just to see if anyone has ever heard or read of something like that happening before, say, if it were never updated in the 6 or so years since it was first purchased.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2

    dtravis7's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 04, 2005
    Modesto, Ca.
    iMac 2010 27" QuadI7 OS10.13 iMac 2008 OSX10.11, MBP Late2011OS10.13 , iPad Pro 10.5", iPhone 5s,
    That is a strange one. The Core Solo Mini is basically like the first 1.66Ghz Core Duo one except with a Single Core Intel CPU which is like one core of a Core Duo. I would guess that otherwise the chipset and Logicboard is the same.

    I own the 1.66 Core Duo model. Most I have upgraded to is a 320GB SATA. So I have no idea what a 500GB drive would do, but it should work. You are using the DVD that came with that Core Solo? If so it's some version of 10.4 Tiger I am wondering if that maybe is the issue, but I do know of people running Tiger with early mac Pros with 1TB drives.

    ONE thing you might check. Some older Macs had issues with newer SATA 3 drives, but all SATA drives I have seen have a Jumper setting to put it back to SATA 1.5. Can you give me the model of the Hitachi drive so I can check Jumper settings for you? That very well could be your issue!!

    Edit, Turns out that is your issue according to a few Mac support sites. Only issue is from all I have been able to find, Hitachi drives do not have the 1.5 Limit jumper but you use a utility to set it at either 1.5 or 3.0. Only issue I see is the utility runs on Windows! You might have to put the drive in a PC and run the utility and set it to 1.5 and put it back into the Mini.

  3. #3

    Member Since
    Jan 12, 2012
    Hey cool! Thanks a TON for your help. My own computer dual-boots Windows/Ubuntu so I should have no problem running that utility. Just have to find a download link for it somewhere (shouldn't be a problem). You are a miracle worker.

    Edit: Found a CD image for the tool here and it says it runs on "Windows, Linux and other operating systems" which makes me think I should have no problem booting it off the Mac itself. Can't hurt to try.

  4. #4

    Member Since
    Jan 12, 2012
    Well the utility did not want to boot on the Mac but I didn't have a problem getting it to boot on another PC. Unfortunately this particular drive (a Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500) is not able to be switched using the utility app. Really the only thing it would allow me to do with the drive is enable/disable S.M.A.R.T. So I'm on the hunt for another hard drive that will work with this older Mini. Any suggestions?

    Alternatively I'm still wondering if there might be a firmware update available for the system that would allow it to work with SATA 3.0 but I don't know for sure if this Mac might have such an update available. Is this a possibility?

    Thanks again for your help.

  5. #5

    Dysfunction's Avatar
    Member Since
    Mar 17, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Way... way too many specs to list.
    The SATA 3 bus is a different design, firmware alone won't make a 1.5Gbps bus 6.0 sadly enough
    This machine kills fascists
    Got # ? phear the command line!

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