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Home > Apple Frequently Asked Questions > How Can I use extended capacity ATA drives on my older G3 & G4 machines?
How Can I use extended capacity ATA drives on my older G3 & G4 machines?

How Can I use extended capacity ATA drives on my older G3 & G4 machines?



SpeedTools ATA Hi-Capacity Driver
(Now MacOS 10.5 "Leopard" Compatible)

The Intech ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver software was created to allow the use of extended capacity ATA drives (drives greater than 128 Gigabytes in size) on older (Pre-Mirrored Door) G4 and G3 Macintoshes running MacOS X versions 10.2 and later. Without this software installed, any extended capacity drive which is connected to the native ATA bus on older Macintosh models will be limited to only 128 Gigabytes. Later model G4's and all G5's and Intel Macs do not suffer from this limitation.

Important Limitations:

If you plan to boot from this drive under MacOS X or if you plan to use this drive under BOTH MacOS 9 and X, please download a copy of our SpeedTools ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver User's Guide file. There you will find a full explanation of the issues involved and several recommendations for eliminating possible problems.

Additionally, if you boot your Macintosh from another source (such as a MacOS software installation CD/DVD or a disk repair utility CD/DVD) the SpeedTools™ ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver will NOT be available to load and your drive will be limited to 128 Gigabytes until you reboot from a MacOS X installation which has the ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver installed. For maximum safety and compatibility, please read the SpeedTools ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver User's Guide file for details on safe partitioning strategies. Safe partitioning is a very simple procedure and will insure against any possible scenario which would prevent you from getting to your drive's data.

Common Questions:

Intech has been pleased by the great amount of interest we've received about this product. Based upon the feedback we have been getting, there seems to be a few key questions which are regularly asked:

Q. Will I be able to recover my Hi-Cap boot drive with a repair utility if I need to boot from an emergency CD/DVD?
A. Absolutely. All you need to do is follow the simple "safe partitioning" guidelines listed in the SpeedTools ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver User's Guide file.

Here is how it's done: After you've setup your drive according to our guidlines, if your drive fails and you need to boot from another source to repair it, that first bootable partition will be FULLY accessible to any and all repair utilities. After you've repaired the boot volume, boot from it and now you can repair the rest of the drive. In short, disk repair just requires this one additional step.

Q. Will this driver fix capacity limitations with older FireWire cases or PCI ATA Cards?
A. No. For this driver to work, you will have to connect your drive directly to your computer's ATA bus to get the full capacity of the drive.

Q. Is an ATA drive which is installed in a FireWire or USB case supported?
A. No, only drives which are connected to the Apple built-in ATA bus are supported.

Q. Will I get the full speed of the drive?
A. There is no performance penalty for using this driver whatsoever.

Q. The "Safe Partitioning" guidlines in the 'User's Guide' pdf file recommends I setup a 127.99 GB first partition and allocate the rest of the drive in a second partition. Can't I create a smaller (less than 127.99 GB) first partition to boot from and allocate the rest to a second partition?
A. Yes, this will work. But it is riskier: Intech does not consider any partition scheme which causes a single parition's volume to span the 128 GB addressing "barrier" to be ideal. To understand why, consider what will happen if you have a volume which spans this barrier and for some reason the Intech Hi-Cap Support Driver does not load. The volume which spans the "barrier" will still mount and appear to function as normal. However, when a read or write request is made which is beyond this barrier, it will fail. This means you would likely never even be aware of the situation until you actually see such an error. In theory, whichever application program made the failed request should be able to elegantly handle a data transfer error, but you never know for sure. This is why we at Intech think any partition strategy other than the one we recommend is not the best choice.

Utility Features

  • Enables full capacity of ATA drives greater than 128 Gigabytes.
  • Fully Bootable - unlike some FireWire and USB devices.
  • Eliminates the need to buy a costly PCI ATA Card or FireWire enclosure.
  • Compatible with most S.M.A.R.T. utilities - unlike FireWire and USB devices.
  • (See Intech's S.M.A.R.T. Guard™ utility for example)
  • Perfect for Macs which don't have a PCI slot (like Cubes, iMacs and eMacs).
  • Free Updates for Life! (via download).

System Requirements

Learn More


Download SpeedTools ATA Hi-Cap Support Driver User's Guide
(PDF)




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