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#3625 - 09/13/09 12:33 PM USB/Flash drives
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
As everyone knows who's been around these here parts over the past decade, I run an iMac DV SE with 256MB RAM, 15GB Quantum Fireball HD (about 50% is still available).

I note that there are a lot of USB qua solid-state drives available in the marketplace for very attractive prices; eg, 16GB for under $40. However, most won't run on any Mac OS.

I know little to nothing of these drives, but it would seem to be an extremely cheap and therefore attractive solution to replacing my hard drive when it goes bad. So ...

Query: Assuming that I could find such, could I format a USB drive for Mac OS 9 (say 9.2 or Classic) or Mac OS X (say 10.5) or Mac OS X + Classic (say 10.2) and use it as a boot volume for my iMac? Or is there something in the electronics that would prohibit such? Or am I completely misreading the possibilities of using USB drives?


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#3629 - 09/13/09 01:06 PM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: grelber]
knoodles Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Aptos, CA
Unfortunately only Intel Macs can boot from USB. Yes you can format a flash drive using any of your Mac OS's. I've done it many times in 9 and 10 mainly with free generic ones my wife picks up for me at seminars she attends for work. They hand out 512MB and 1GB ones like they used to hand out keychains and other junk. It would make a good backup device although USB 1.1 on your iMac would make for very slow transfer rates. A better option would be a firewire pocket drive or full size external drive. $75 to $85 at OWC.
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#3632 - 09/13/09 01:50 PM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Online
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
If you look long and hard enough you can find Firewire thumb drives, Micromat uses one for their Protege. But those puppies are not exactly cheap and their capacity is very limited. Micromat makes do with a special stripped down version of OS X on the Protege.

Knoodle's solution is the one I arrived at several months ago. I was upgrading the 160GB hard drive in a friend's older MacBook Pro with a shiny new 500GB drive. As my fee for the upgrade I kept the 160GB drive and mounted it in an OWC Mercury On The Go enclosure. Formatted it, installed OS X and a variety of disk and system repair utilities and it is now my general purpose Emergency drive. With the help of a $15 powerbrick it will even boot my MacBook Air so I can run diagnostics and disk repairs if necessary.
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#3633 - 09/13/09 01:59 PM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: grelber]
alternaut Online

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Registered: 08/04/09
In fact, your DV-SE can boot into Mac OS 9.x (not Mac OS X, sorry) from a USB flash drive, but it will only do so using USB 1, and, as knoodles said, that's slow. The small external HD option is preferable, albeit a somewhat bulkier one. laugh
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#3881 - 09/16/09 02:58 PM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: alternaut]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Was just going to chime in with that also. The only macs that can boot OS 9 have USB 1.1 hardware. DOES work, just very very slow. USB hard drives and flash drives work.

Only works on certain imacs and iirc a few ibooks. Either way you can't upgrade the USB by adding a 2.0 card. So, no joy.

4 yrs ago I would have loved to have found an affordable large firewire flash drive, but Kanguru was the only brand going and they made theirs with solid gold enclosures apparently. Small wonder they never caught on...
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#4090 - 09/20/09 11:46 AM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: Virtual1]
alternaut Online

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Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Virtual1
Only works on certain imacs and iirc a few ibooks.

There were some other PPC models as well, the operational variable being dual-channel USB.
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#4139 - 09/21/09 10:31 AM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: alternaut]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
dual channel usb yes. happen to recall the other models?
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#4174 - 09/21/09 09:20 PM Re: USB/Flash drives [Re: Virtual1]
alternaut Online

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Not really, sorry. The KB article linked to above states that dual channel USB was introduced with the slot-loading iMacs and the PowerMac G4 (AGP Graphics). Unfortunately there is little documentation about which models sported it and when it was discontinued. That said, I vaguely recall that it was around for at least one year.

Btw, you may be able to Boot PowerPC Macs via USB 2.0 drives as well.
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Moderator:  alternaut, cyn