Putting an iMac Hard Disk in a Firewire Housing


My sister has a tray loading iMac which will not power up. She is planning to replace it with a new G5 iMac and does not want to repair the old one.

To get her data off the old iMac I am proposing that she takes the old drive out and puts it in a Firewire external housing. After copying off the data I think that my sister should scrap the old iMac drive and install a 160Gb drive in the housing to use for backups.

QUESTION 1: Will the 3.5" ATA 66 drive from the iMac work in an ATA 100 Firewire external housing and are there any issues with DIP switches?

QUESTION 2: Prices of firewire housings vary greatly. Is there a big difference in quality across the range and is a housing with a power supply better than one powered from the bus?

I will be grateful for any other comments or advice.

Thank you
I did a similar procedure last year when my slot-loading iMac died. My understanding is that any case of the right size will pretty much Just Work™. The manual that came with my enclosure did mention switches, but it never became an issue for me. I'm not completely sure of the details, I'm afraid, but I don't think it'd pose any show-stopping problem.

I'd personally go with one with a power supply, for one simple reason: It might boot your old iMac. My iMac couldn't boot with the hard disk in there, apparently because it wasn't getting enough power to drive all the parts. But without the hard disk, it boots like a champ. So after I did the disk transplant, I could boot it up just fine, and it was like nothing ever happened. I doubt I could have done that with a bus-powered model, since it would put just as much strain on the iMac's power supply as the internal model (if not more). But it depends on how you think you'll use it. If you might want to use it on the go in a laptop, than certainly bus-powered is the way to go.

I don't have a whole lot of experience, but my impression is that the reliability doesn't vary all that much. More expensive drives usually have more features, like USB2, FireWire 800, etc.

I ended up buying a MacAlly PHR-100AF, mainly because it was the cheapest one out there. There are pros and cons, however:

No fan, so it's quiet
Uses FireWire
Read/write LEDs

No power switch (so to turn it off, you need to unplug it)
Does not support software-based spin-down (so whenever it's on, it's spinning)
Needs a different power supply if you're using large (300GB+, I think) drives in it)

If you can get one that supports sleep mode, so it will spin down when not in use, I say shell out a few extra bucks. My model has no fan, so it's quiet, but the fact that it's always spinning kind of defeats that purpose, since the spinning itself is a little loud. Bummer. And a power switch seems like a bit of a no-brainer. I still can't believe any company would produce such a thing without one....yeesh. These are features you probably won't see advertised, though, so be prepared to do a little research.

I'm very happy with my enclosure, though. I only use that drive occasionally, to back up my Mac mini's data or to boot my old iMac, so its flaws aren't big issues to me. But if I were to use it for an everyday drive, I'd want a better (more expensive) model.