Worrying noise from iBook

My beloved G3 iBook (running Tiger) is making a funny noise, like a grating humming sound. It’s not very loud, although the volume ebbs and flows a bit (apparently unrelated to anything the machine is doing at the time). The sound seems to be coming from where I understand the hard disk to be (to the left of the mousey thing), and can be heard any time the machine is opened and switched on. It doesn’t seem to be related to the fan or speakers.

Things I have tried, with no perceptible effect:
~ unplug from mains and run from battery
~ repair disk permissions
~ verify disk (which found nothing to repair)
~ power down for an extended period
~ close all apps
~ open different combinations of apps
~ press gently on various bits of casing to damp any vibration

Can any of you charming, helpful, omniscient forum readers suggest any other avenues of enquiry, please? Do you think my hard disk is on the way out, or could there be a more benign explanation?

In case the worst is already happening, I have backed everything up and have had a quote from Apple for a replacement MacBook, but I really don’t want to have to upgrade my machine if at all possible.

In view of everything you’ve done, I’d say that’s a very good guess. Here’s an article on replacement of the IDE drive: xlr8yourmac.com/G3-Zone/IDE/ That may cost less than a new MacBook, but you could also buy one on time payments. Then donate the G3 to a nonprofit and take a tax deduction.

Siren, are you in reach of an Apple Store, where you can physically take it for inspection? If it was me, that would be my first recourse.

Sounds to me like what we call “platter noise”. Which is usually followed down the road by the “clicks of death”.

HD are usually rated by “hours of use”. If it is an iBook G3 then it is probably towards the end cycle of rated hours and is dying a slow death.

Replacing a HD in a laptop can be a bit daunting but if you are comfortable in doing so can be relatively inexpensive to do.

Here is a list of “guides”

Or you can use this as an excuse to purchase a new Macbook which would run Leopard/Snow Leopard, cider applications, dual booting, and be around 70 billion times faster. If you used an iBook this long then a new Macbook could last you many years so the investment all though expensive upfront would be worth it with the ability to run updated software and hardware and of course new features available to new hardware (like using the GPU to offload CPU workload which = faster processing [available with Snow Leopard 10.6]

Depends on what you would like to do. I would be very careful and back up to a another HD frequently while your current HD is mimicking the sounds of the final death throes.

It could last another 6 months or year or it could give you the clicks of death in minutes.

Thank you, Druid, Hugh and Wock. This morning, the noise is worse than yesterday, and I’ve had a few occasional whirling pizzas for the oddest things. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a goner!

Druid and Wock – Thank you for the links to DIY replacement advice. I have never seen such a scary-looking operation in my life. It looks like hard disk replacement would require total disassembly of every single thing in the machine! Probably not worth the hassle on a machine this old. Particularly scary is the advice that to reassemble it, you just do the same hideously complex process in reverse…

Hugh – I’m an hour and a half’s drive from my nearest Apple store, and I don’t think my iBook would survive the journey. What I need is an Apple air ambulance service… Besides, I’m afraid they might laugh at my poor old obsolete machine. It’s probably not worth resuscitating.

Druid – I wish we could get tax deductions on charitable donation of unwanted goods here in the UK, but I don’t think it’s on offer. I might then have an incentive to declutter, and get rid of some of the books on which I seem to have squandered my life’s savings and what should have been my pension provision!

Thank you, all. Looks like I’d better grit my teeth and take the plunge on buying a replacement. Such a shame. Especially since I have a few metal allergies so I have to buy the “old” white MacBook which I’m not too keen on (my husband has one) and not the shiny new aluminium one, in case aluminium becomes a problem with continued exposure, or in case they have used my dodgy metals in manufacturing the casing (Apple, while very helpful on the subject, can’t make any guarantees on the presence of some of them). Ho hum.

Siren, Sweetness.
The problem sound more organic than mechanical. I suspect youre using [i]'SKUNK'[/i] in your spliffs. Its probably too strong for you. Go for something more suited to your sophisticated, but refined palate. And! Augmenting it with a cheapo Rioja won`t help matters.

Have a gander at this: marijuana-picture.com/types_ … juana.html

the HD replacement (and mac service in general) isn’t as bad as it looks. But please don’t try it if you are at all nervous about it from watching the instructions.

As to dealing with the corpse… Consider selling it. Those of us who are more comfortable with this type of work will pay for machines with simple problems like this. If you were near me I (and you rejected my offer to fix it for you) I would certainly off you some kind of $$ for it. There is quite a market for parts and used “inexpensive” systems. Considering the popularity of the iBook you should be able to get a decent amount to put toward a new system. Just remember to wipe the drive before you deliver the system to the recycler or new owner.

How about a first-generation Mac SE?? Any market for those parts?? I keep thinking I’ll make a planter out of it or something. I started out in 1985 with a friend’s Mac (512KB version, I think??). My first Mac ever was the SE. I still have some of my old games I could play on it, like Wizardry or Bane of the Cosmic Forge.

Oops, sorry, off topic. All good advice to Siren about her poor iBook. Sad to see old friends go, I understand! I just got a new Macbook, the very basic version of it. Couldn’t afford more, but even the very basic MacBook is awesome compared to my old iBook G4 (which my husband is using). I’d consider a refurb if you can’t afford a new one. Intel chips are amazingly fast by comparison to what you’ve been using. We have a first-gen Mac Mini that is still way faster than the iBook.

Best of luck and my regards for your loss. :frowning:



Since we are on memory lane I have the following in various places.
• Mac Plus (precursor to the SE)
• Mac SE with 2 page external Radius display
• Mac SE/30 with the extra internal floppy and IOMega external “Back Pack” drive (all of a whopping 40MB).
• Mac IIFX with an 040 co-pro over clocked to 55Mz, the extra 64MB RAM and a NUBUS video output card.

To my shame I do not have the IIci. I whish I had never stopped using macs, but …

Forget performance for a minute and let’s discuss the nostalgic value of hanging onto “your old friend”. I have fond memories of the first server I built and the hacks I had to put in the 0.7 version of the linux kernel. That system was bullet proof. I wish I still owned it. As you can tell from the above I seem to hang on to systems long after their usefulness, but I can tell stories from each. You may want to use the iBook for a memento and display it in your personal museum just like a photo of a loved one.

Or not. I may be odd.

Ok. I am odd.

No odder than the rest of us Mac-heads. My mother bought a Mac Plus, on my recommendation. I was using the Mac that was out before the Plus (512K), but it wasn’t mine. Bought the SE and paid $3000 for it!!! I could not imagine ever using the 4mbs of ram that came with it!! My next computer was a IIsi (OMG, a color display!!!), then a PowerMac 8200??? (oh, the speed of it!) can’t remember exactly the model name. Had a Duo laptop that I bought used that worked for about a month! Had a Powerbook laptop after that. I still remember opening the box and how incredibly happy I was. An iMac (Blueberry, still being used by my sister’s grandson, running mostly Bugdom), the iBook (my husband loves it), my MacBook. Seems like I’m missing one in there somewhere. Had a LaserWriter, still have my Selectwriter downstairs and it still works (makes some noise, though). Have three iPod shuffles, an 80gb iPod, I’d love to have an iPod touch or iPhone. Because of me, everyone in my family owns Macs. I’ve used PCs at places I’ve worked, used to do a bit of db creation in Access, hated Windows. When I have to use a PC with XP or Vista on it, I remember why I still hate Windows and it makes me love my Mac(s) even more.

And all of this has nothing to do with Siren’s poor iBook. Sorry… I think it is great Siren’s iBook G3 has lasted so long!!

Aw, it’s so sweet reading about everyone’s old Mac collections!

Update on the iBook’s slow demise… I relayed your comments to my husband, whose eyes started to shine with excitement. Stripping apart a machine! Fitting a new, bigger hard drive! Restoring his wife’s beloved iBook to something exceeding its former glory! Wow!

Sadly, I had to quash his enthusiasm. I remember the last time he rebuilt a PC. His language was so… imaginative… that I considered taking the children to a hotel for a week until the job was done. I think we still have a collection of little screws that are (apparently) unimportant but which (strangely) cannot be disposed of.

Actually, I am being grossly unfair. :slight_smile: He is perfectly capable of doing the disk replacement, and is perfectly confident of doing it successfully and putting the machine back together afterwards. But I am not convinced that this is a worthwhile expenditure of effort for a G3 machine, because (a) I keep seeing Leopard-only apps which I can’t run; (b) I wonder how long developers of existing apps will continue to develop for Tiger, which is effectively obsolete; © on a machine this old, who knows what might go wrong next, so the hard disk replacement might be wasted; (d) as Apple’s new machines all seem to be made of metal, maybe I should grab a non-metallic one while they are still available.

So a new white MacBook seems, regretfully, to be the best solution. I’m using a different machine until any replacement arrives, in the hope of saving my iBook’s energies for a graceful transition and then a full disk-wipe thing. And now I shall start a different thread, asking for advice on a sensible spec for my new machine.

Thank you, all, for your help, support and sympathy! :smiley:

Just a thought from someone whose first Mac was the publicly not lamented IIvi — I loved it, but boy, was it slow! —

For my MacBook Air, I have a “keyboard protector” thingy made of transparent plastic of some sort. It covers the whole of the working surface except for the track-pad. You might think of one of those on a new MacBook. I guess the track-pad of the white MacBooks is metal … I can’t remember and my wife’s is 8000 miles away.

This thing doesn’t give the best typing experience, but I’m used to it … I have one on my MBP too, but that only covers the keyboard, and it’s even worse, but I’m used to that now too. But if you combined one of these with using a mouse, you wouldn’t need to touch the metal at all except when opening and closing the machine.

Just a thought …


Edit: Another thought … surgical gloves? :slight_smile:

Especially handy when replying to vic-k, Wock, or Jaysen.


The new macbook and macbook pro are built out of a solid aluminum body and the price of the plastic older models is not really cost prohibitve.

But I may have a suggestion if you are sensative to aluminim.

Surface protection film.

Example surfaceguard.com/products.html

You know when you get some new electronics how they have that clear film that is low tack. It is used to prevent scratching on new surfaces. That is surface protection film.

Well simply buy a roll locally or on line and use a pair of scissors and cut sections to overlay on metal surfaces. That way you can use most appliances or things like a NEW MACBOOK without coming in direct contact with the metal surface.

The film can be removed with no sticky residue and as a bonus it protects the surface from most common scratches making the resale value greater. Also this means you do not need to wear gloves or any other protective garments but can work in your own comfort and you are protecting your investment as well. (just don’t cover vent holes or areas that dissipate heat like the bottom of the laptop.)

So simply put. You have reason to purchase a NEW Macbook or Mackbook Pro, the means to protect yourself from coming in direct contact with any metal surface (surface film) and and the motivation to spend the money.


I love the surgical gloves idea - or I could use yellow Marigolds! Covering the metal work with plastic or film is a good idea, though, which I’ll bear in mind (might be useful for other things, too). But I have talked myself into an appreciation of the money-saving virtues of the cheaper MacBook model, which I know (from using my husband’s) won’t require me to wear full protective gear just to open the lid! Thanks, everyone.

So a comment on “money saving” and mac books…

The aluminum model has a distinct advantage over the plastic model if you live in an area that leaves you prone to … gravity intervention. I (a still over weight lard ball) fell on my MBP (which is aluminum) while it was in an under protected state (cheap bag). It survived all 220+ lbs of my giant backside landing on it. My brother in laws daughter (all 75 pound of her) sat on he white book and it was effectively destroyed. No matter how you stack it my falling would have placed more force on the MBP.

Now there are always ways to “mitigate” this events. I bought a Tom Bihn protective case (worth every penny) and the brother in law is no longer leaving his mac in the couch. My point is that life happens and if you are dependent on your system (as I am) then having it be a bullet proof has possible may not be a bad idea.

But if the metal bothers you … not sure. I just think the trend to cheap plastic is one of the reasons that laptops fail so much. [size=70]I have to replace more for drops and falls than outright hardware failure. Just a thought.[/size]

Happy shopping.

And by that he means: Boot up using your installation disk, choose Disk Utility from the tools menu, select the drive, click the “erase” tab, click the “Security options…” button, and at the very least, opt to zero out the data. This will physically remove everything from the drive, as opposed to just removing the top-level links to the data. It is very easy to restore data off of a quick-format disk these days. If you had important personal information on the disk (anything you wouldn’t put on a postcard), 7-passes doesn’t take too long and that is safer. The only reason you should ever need 35 is if you stored classified information on the disk, or anything else that came with a stack of confidentiality papers thicker than a Photoshop manual.

One security practice we had when either “junking” old drives or setting machines aside for new owners was to take out the HD’s and take them to an old buddy of mine that is a welder. Nothing like watching an acetylene torch burn a hard drive into slag. Of course our data was a little more sensitive then the average home users was. :slight_smile:


I threw out some old ones recently and destroyed them thusly.

Reading that came as a relief. Looking at the photo, I thought you`d SHOT it. :open_mouth: