Intel iMac hard drive failure

Just after returning from Christmas vacation my iMac (Intel Core Duo 1.83GHz, 17") started showing spinning beachballs. And the system log started accumulating error messages similar to those described on this blog. The hard drive was dying.

Luckily I'd run a SuperDuper backup the night before starting vacation.

It was also lucky that I had an early-model Intel iMac. Supposedly newer models are much harder for amateurs to service.

Thank goodness for John Wood's iMac_Disassembly web page. If it weren't for him I'd either be running from an external hard drive right now or shipping the iMac off for a very expensive (not under AppleCare) repair.

Using the photos and instructions on the disassembly page I was able to swap out the failed 160GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 for a 320GB Western Digital WD3200AAJS, purchased from NewEgg. Required tools:

  • A #0 Phillips screwdriver for the memory slot cover
  • A T-8 Torx driver for the top case
  • A small Allen wrench (not sure about the size) for the screws securing the LCD panel to the back case
  • A sharp knife and a spot of rubber cement for moving the temperature sensor to the new drive
The whole job took about an hour and a half, not because it was difficult, but because I am a coward :)

There were two minor differences between my iMac and the one Mr. Woods took apart. Mine had two "hooks" at the top of the front plate, and I bent one of them slightly before discovering it was there. And in addition to the black tape overlying the sides and bottom of the LCD panel, I had perforated foil tape running along the top edge.

Everything's up and running again, and now I have lots of free disk space :) Time to do another backup. Of course in the meantime I've been doing development under Leopard on the MacBook; so it's tempting to follow that backup with an archive-and-install of 10.5 onto the iMac...