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How to Recover Data from Old PowerBook G4 Hard Drive

Thanks to the Author on iFixit who wrote a detailed pdf paper on Steps for Powerbook Hard Drive Replacement

PowerBook G4 Aluminum 12" 867 MHz Hard Drive Replacement

I am writing this to contribute my technical knowledge to help assist with recovering the data from your old hard drive

Step 1: Replace with New HD and get the Powerbook Running

I bought the 320 GB HD from iFixit Site.

A Screw Driver Set from Radio Shack that includes Philips #00 and Hex Torx Bits and Screwdrivers

Removed the old Hard drive and kept is separately. I kept my OLD HD Safely aside for recovering data later.

(Note: SATA Drives (from Best Buy) is not appropriate here)

Used the Powerbook G4 Mac OS Install Disks 1 and 2 to load the OS and the Software

Do not Use Key Chain or any form of Encryption

Now the Power Book was up and running

Step 2: Recover Data from OLD Hard Drive

a) Bought a HD Enclosure from MicroCenter Store ( any other store is okay )

b) The HD Enclosure has to be compatable with 2.5 " IDE HDD ( Stay away from SATA )

Macally PHR 250CC enclosure is a good one

inland ProUSB 2.0 Enclosure is also nice

c) Attached my old hard drive to the Hard Drive Enclosure, and connected to my Powerbook using USB Cable

d) You have copy files from External (Old HD) to Powerbook Local New hard drive

Mac OS has a specific command on copying files.. The Copy Command (Drag and drop ) may not work while copying files off the external drives. One has to use cp -R Command using Terminal. This very fast speed of moving data via USB

Step (e) describes the use of the cp -R command

e)To use the cp -R command , follow these steps:

Open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/).

Type: cp -R

Important: You must type a space after the "R", so that the result is "cp -R ". The command does not work without the space.

Drag the folder or file you wish to copy from the Finder window into the Terminal window. This will automatically type the item's pathname for you, and the required space should automatically be typed after it.

Drag the desired destination folder from the Finder window into the Terminal window. The pathname is automatically typed.

Press Return.

Quit Terminal.

f) Now you should have successfully copied data from old hard drive to new.

Step 3 (Optional if you used Keychain and Encryption)

a) Remember the password of your old Powerbook

b) Browse Externally attached Old Hard Drive, One will find a large image file under one of the user names.. The file extension would be .Sparseimage. This can be as large as 60 GB or so depending on your data.

c) Please copy this large sparse image file to your local hard drive using the cp -R command as discussed in Step 2 Section (e)

d) Now you have the Username.sparseimage file on your local drive. Double click it

. It would prompt for your password. Please enter your OLD Password (before the Crash)

e) You should see a Disk Icon

(Sparse Image Disk) on your desktop.. Now this may give you happiness as you look at your old data

COPY Your data from your local Sparse image disk to LOCAL DISK

f) As I had large Garage Band files it was faster for me to copy file from the SpareImage Disk to LOCAL using the cp -R Command.


1) Hope this helps

2) Thank you iFixit for this nice site.

3) Remember the apple store Genius Technical kids may not know much .. If they say nothings can be done... Do not panic or believe them... Remember you can get smart at this.



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