back to article 'Upgraded' Apple iMacs lock out hard drive replacement

Expanding on its efforts to remove all user control over the innards of its iDevices, Apple appears to have made it difficult to swap out the hard drive in its latest line of iMacs without finding yourself listening to screaming, interminable fan noise. In a posting on his company's blog, an Other World Computing rep says that …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Chris 171
    Thumb Down

    Thats nice of them

    All part of the 'magic' I guess.

    1. Ilgaz

      I thank them really

      Such stories makes me sure to give up the idea of upgrading all my macs and suggest Macs to business people.

      Win 7+openbsd virtual for me it seems.

      Supposed to be "pro" workstation user (G5 quad) here, we had just 2 alternatives to upgrade the GPU. Blamed PowerPC and lazy companies, now it is all Intel, still 2 or 3 alternatives for GPU upgrade. That is a workstation. I was interested in GPU upgrade because Apple shipped Leopard with buggy GPU drivers and never fixed it despite numerous bug reports.

      iPhone poisoned them...

  2. banjomike

    I am so TOTALLY shocked.

    I would never have dreamed that Apple would do something like this. Their devotion to user freedom and open-source is legendary. Legendary as in absent. I don't remember ANY Apple device that really encouraged end-user upgrading tinkering. For example, any device with batteries etc

    1. Black Betty

      Apple ][ perhaps? Loved mine.

      Built my own boards, and my ROMS saw more of the barber than I did. (UV steriliser was free erasure)

      Then came two abortions and the Mac. And I stuck with my ][s until the 386 showed up.

      The hardware side was beyond me, but at least I could still do what I wanted to do, the way I wanted to do it.

    2. DrXym

      Well they have contributed to open source

      Webkit, BSD, Clang & LLVM would all be obvious recipients of Apple development. That said, it's well known that their relationship has often been pretty rocky with contributions back to the community coming in enormous undocumented patches and so on.

    3. ps2os2
      Thumb Down

      IMACS & Drive Upgrading

      This somehow doesn't surprise me on the IMACS. If they carry this forward to the other lines they are going to be in a real uproar.

      I have added am internal drive to mine but for all intense purposes I use fire wire for all external drives. Apple has dropped fire wire from its "air" computers. They are also putting too much emphasis on USB2 for my taste. If they drop firewire then I am dropping Apple simple as that. USB2 does not give me the speed that I need PERIOD.

      I suppose its windows sigh, and nobody from APPLE gives a flying as they think they have the fanboys to squalk and put everyone down that doesn't agree.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair

      As others said an iMac is not really meant to be a tinkerable device, for tinkering purposes there's the Mac Pro for, horses for courses and all that. Now there's also the Thunderbolt port which brings the PCI-E bus to external devices, so in the near future you'll be able to to all sorts of tinkering, plug in graphics cards, RAIDs, etc without even having to open the case.

      In any case the only thing Apple has done here is use an extra pair of wires to report the internal temperature of the drive, as by some accounts (hardmac, or mine in other posts here) reading this info over the main SATA bus would impact the performance. An external temperature sensor is also not ideal.

      So it appears this has a useful purpose, and when it's better understood I think it'll be very easy to override and add your own disks. Until it is, there's also the workarounds already suggested.

      As for Apple's open source I suggest you look at . You may be surprised.

  3. Doug Glass

    It's a good thing ....

    ... Apple doesn't make condoms. Or do they?

    1. nyelvmark

      Upgrading condoms

      I'm sorry to tell you this, but all those "add 2 inches in week" ads are bullshit. You are therefore very unlikely to ever need a condom upgrade.

    2. dssf

      What would that en(d)tail if Apple made cons?

      Remove the con and there is automatic contraction and snap-back? OWWWWW.... Or, removing the con causes painful withdrawal symptoms and emergency addict(sh)un?

  4. Erik4872
    Thumb Down


    I've been a Mac user for a long time, and my day job is doing systems engineering for a VMWare/Windows/Linux mixed environment. Macs are great machines to have at home for general productivity/goofing off/websurfing.

    The funny thing about this is that 90% of all iMac buyers are never going to run into this problem. Apple seems like they desperately want out of the computer business and want to finish becoming a music/movie disributor and phone provider. Part of that strategy seems to be getting people to think of their computers as unserviceable appliances.

    The oldies among us will probably remember the days of triple-digit percent margin on computer hardware, and Apple hardware waa near the top of the margin list. (I think the original Mac IIfx sold for $9000 1990 dollars, IIRC, without a monitor or keyboard!) Now that everything's turned out by the millions cheaply, I guess that's the justification for not building in upgrade capability...since you'll just trash it in 2 years and buy a new one. Back "in my day," computer equipment waa a major investment and users demanded that they have the ability to upgrade if needed. Now, not so much - iMacs are still high-margin, but not in the realm of insanity. Apple probably took a decision something like, "the iMacs are for students and consumers, if they want expansion they'll buy a Mac Pro."

    Way to alienate the "prosumers" who like the way the iMac looks...

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Well said sir!

      As Mac owner by night and Solaris admin by day, I'd like to add my tuppence worth.

      All those having a laugh and saying "what a load of crap Apple are", just don't get the target audience for this kit. The kit is designed to be kept simple so when Fred takes his busted Mac to the store it takes about 3 secs to find the problem because they know that Fred will never have tinkered on the inside and they know exactly, down to the component, what's inside the box. They can cut manufacturing costs and bump up profits, that means more money for the shareholders. At the end of the day Mr Jobs lives for two things, making a shitload of cash for him and his shareholders and ensuring his company stays in a niche market, supplying highly prized and highly priced kit to those willing to pay.

      Now I'm not saying that's good or bad, just that them's the facts!

      Think on this, all those laughing at Apple kit and the "mugs" that buy it, are you perfect at everything you do? Can you strip out the engine your car, right down to the components, clean it and it put back together and have it running better than before? Could you completely rewire your house? Could you select, buy and apply the correct types and shades of make-up for your wife's or girlfriend's skin tones and hair colour? Could write a 10,000 word essay on the abilities of a horse to learn to count?

      No neither could I and what's more I will hopefully never have to and so it goes with a very large percentage of Mac owners and tinkering with the guts of their desktops. So next time you think you know everything there is know about everything, remember that the world is billion shades of grey and not everyone has to do, say or think things the same as you do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        3 out of 4

        "Think on this, all those laughing at Apple kit and the "mugs" that buy it, are you perfect at everything you do? Can you strip out the engine your car, right down to the components, clean it and it put back together and have it running better than before? Could you completely rewire your house? Could you select, buy and apply the correct types and shades of make-up for your wife's or girlfriend's skin tones and hair colour? Could write a 10,000 word essay on the abilities of a horse to learn to count?"

        I get your point but I can do 3 out of the 4 on your list :D

        You seem to be missing the point though. Apple use standard parts in a standard way, but put some extra magic in the OS to stop you using other standard parts.

        1. ThomH


          That's not quite the issue here; Apple have built a temperature sensor and the firmware necessary to report back from the temperature sensor directly onto the drive, have created a proprietary connector to allow drive + sensor to talk back to the rest of the system and have set things up so that any failure by the drive to say that it's safe results in the fans spinning up to the maximum extent possible.

          This hinders third party upgrades, so is a negative step in the eyes of a group of their potential customers. Any individual who would have swapped out the base build drive for something larger after purchase and who now instead opts to pay for a build-to-order upgrade will have to pay more than they did previously per the industry-wide rule that build-to-order upgrades cost quite a lot more than buying the better part and performing the same task yourself (often even if, hypothetically, you were then unable to realise any value from whatever bit you remove).

          Conversely, it possibly shrinks the total size of the sensor + the drive (or, more probably, the cost of the two together), and iMacs haven't been designed to contain user serviceable hard drives at any point that I remember. Most iMac purchasers already treat it as an appliance and attempts to upgrade are rare — the RAM is user serviceable and very trivial to access, everything else is hidden. Upgrading some non-user-serviceable parts of the iMac is easier in this model than the last (including the CPU, notably), but that doesn't make for an interesting story.

          So: Apple have taken a step that upsets some of its customers, but not most. It's news but it's not really the end of the world and it doesn't say much about Apple beyond reinforcing whatever you already thought about them.

        2. Zippy the Pinhead

          The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

          "Apple use standard parts in a standard way, but put some extra magic in the OS to stop you using other standard parts."

          How standard is that hard drive and the firmware inside it? That would be called PROPRIETARY.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well said sir!

        "The kit is designed to be kept simple so when Fred takes his busted Mac to the store it takes about 3 secs to find the problem because they know that Fred will never have tinkered on the inside and they know exactly, down to the component, what's inside the box."

        Although manufacturers are often quite at pains to point out that, for various products, opening the case invalidates the warranty. So they probably won't need to fix Fred's problem if he's a tinkerer. Of course, this leads to the slippery slope of vendors insisting that not using the illegally bundled Windows voids the warranty, even if the keys were falling off the keyboard, or that jailbreaking the device and/or using your own software is "illegal".

        "Could write a 10,000 word essay on the abilities of a horse to learn to count?"

        I think we've all lost you on this one.

        Anyway, the points about stripping your car's engine hold only for any one person, but not for the social group or possibilities around or for a particular person. So I might not know how to strip and rebuild an engine, but I could go to a garage and pay someone to do it, if the manufacturer doesn't forbid me from doing so. Similarly, if I want a larger hard drive without completely replacing my computer - and even Mac users must be aware that hard drives get bigger and you can buy them separately - if the job of replacing it is a bit much, there might well be a relative, friend, acquaintance, associate or service provider who can do the job without having to ask the vendor's permission first.

        Of course it suits a corporation that all dollars go to and through itself and aren't shared around the "consumer's" community, but to say that "it's OK because we'll chuck it out after two years" is just another example of the contempt that the spoiled, impatient, indulged, "empowered consumer" shows for the actual cost and effort of making these things and for the environment that has to offer up all the resources to push unnecessary upgrade upon unnecessary upgrade just so that some corporation can please a bunch of analysts and shareholders.

        A computer purchased in the last five years should really still be usable, in my opinion, especially if the vendor isn't petty and money-grabbing and will let you upgrade the RAM and hard disk. Even if you're disappointed with the level of special effects and bling and think that your computer would be better off in the hands of some relative or other, it should not be inconceivable for a modern computer to do good service for a decade.

        1. Mark Serlin

          Fit your own hard drive...

          "there might well be a ... service provider who can do the job"

          What, like the Apple Store?

      3. DrXym

        @The Fuzzy Wotnot

        "Think on this, all those laughing at Apple kit and the "mugs" that buy it, are you perfect at everything you do? Can you strip out the engine your car, right down to the components, clean it and it put back together and have it running better than before?"

        No but I can change a tire or a battery or a bulb or the wipers or the oil or top up the fluids if I want. And even if I couldn't or if the job were more involved than I would be comfortable with I can still drive the thing to a mechanic of my choice to do it. And in the process of servicing my vehicle I could purchase parts from virtually anywhere that sells them - Halfords, Tesco, Kwikfit and so on. Hell I could even walk into the local scrapyard and grab parts from a similar model.

        Now imagine a car where the bonnet is sealed shut with special latches to prevent you from opening it. Imagine if its filled with proprietary parts and connectors that cannot be purchased in any store. Imagine if 3rd party parts cause the car to malfunction such as cause it to overheat. Imagine that using an unauthorized garage (one which has purchased special tools to pop the bonnet) will void your warranty. Imagine if the official garage requires you drop your car off for a week and when you come to pick it up you get someone elses refurbished car not your own one.

        That is the Apple model. I doubt anyone objects with them producing appliance like devices. However the reality is they deliberately go out of their way to prevent you servicing your device, even for trivial things like changing a battery. All of this is great if you're a shareholder who enjoys watching people throw away a perfectly functional device because the battery is dead. It's not so good for anyone who has an ounce of sense in their head and doesn't want to be fleeced by a model which absolutely runs against to the consumer's interests.

        1. Zippy the Pinhead
          Thumb Up

          Well said sir!

          "Now imagine a car where the bonnet is sealed shut with special latches to prevent you from opening it. Imagine if its filled with proprietary parts and connectors that cannot be purchased in any store. Imagine if 3rd party parts cause the car to malfunction such as cause it to overheat. Imagine that using an unauthorized garage (one which has purchased special tools to pop the bonnet) will void your warranty. Imagine if the official garage requires you drop your car off for a week and when you come to pick it up you get someone elses refurbished car not your own one.

          That is the Apple model."

          You nailed it on the head!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Shades of grey...

        "remember that the world is billion shades of grey and not everyone has to do, say or think things the same as you do."

        Apple had best heed the above advice.

        "Think on this, all those laughing at Apple kit and the "mugs" that buy it, are you perfect at everything you do?"

        No but I do the best that I am capable of.

        "Can you strip out the engine your car, right down to the components, clean it and it put back together and have it running better than before?"


        "Could you completely rewire your house? "


        "Could you select, buy and apply the correct types and shades of make-up for your wife's or girlfriend's skin tones and hair colour?"

        You got me on make-up and hair. I knew I should have taken cosmetology instead of Electrical, Building Construction, and Electronic Data Processing.

        "Could write a 10,000 word essay on the abilities of a horse to learn to count?"

        Any particular breed of horse or all equines in general? IMHO such an endeavour would be a HUGE waste of time but if someone were to pay me enough to make it worthwhile then I'm game.

      5. The Fuzzy Wotnot


        Missed the point, my point was that very few people would have or even wish to do all or any parts of these. I can manage the second one and parts of the first and third, I'll even have a go at the fourth for a laugh when I really have nothing else to do. The third is just asking to spend the night sleeping out in my car!

        My point was, which I will grant I fail to qualify, people who enjoy tinkering with machines would most likely never buy a Mac to expressly tinker with it. If you're into tinkering you'd buy the bits and you'd build and tinker with it, as you know what you need and how to go about it. Most people buy a Mac do so on the need to have the machine as a usable tool, an application provider, not a tech toy to learn how a PC works. Of the half dozen people I know with Macs, none of them would have the slightest interest in even finding and using the command line. So long as it boots, the GUI arrives and the apps work, all is right with the world.

        OK, here's different one. If my kids want to learn how a car engine works and wish to play with bits of it, I wouldn't buy them a brand new BMW or a Merc, I would buy some knackered 15 year old plus Ford Fiesta, knowing there are bucket loads of places to get dirt cheap parts and knowing that there is no warranty of any kind when I bought it, so it's ours to play with as we wish.

        The Mac is not really designed for tinkering with so it's no good decrying it's ability to allow you to tinker with it. It's designed to be a closed tool, used by those who need to have PC that works as it was designed 95% of the time.

        1. ThomH

          @The Fuzzy Wotnot

          While I agree with your point — which I take to be that Apple shouldn't be condemned for making a computer as an appliance given that there's a market for computers as appliances and lots of people want them only as appliances — I think possibly the offence here is that Apple are adding and removing features that some people want without any sort of notice and with no regard to that particular audience.

          So it's characteristic of their control tendencies and it further evidences which segments they're actually interested in selling to. It's also a sign that they don't mind deviating from industry standards if they think something is to be gained for their target audience. So I think it plays both ways. I can see why it offends a lot of El Reg's readership but I don't agree with a lot of the motives that are assumed to be behind it, or that it imputes much upon Apple's customers.

        2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

          Fuzzy Whotnot

          Circular argument. It's OK and not worth reporting because Macs are not designed to be tinkered with. That is because they are sealed shut and contain non-standard parts. Which is OK and not worth reporting because they are not designed to be tinkered with. etc...

          That's why reporting is is *good*: so that people know that you can't tinker with (or repair) your macbook, should you wish to. It's good to know that sort of things *before* you buy.

  5. R Cox

    Hard disks get hot.

    To be fair, the iMac has about the most complicated hard disk replace of any macintosh I have seen since the 12" powerbook. The iMac is definitely designed to be a disposable unit. As far as connecting cooling tot he hard disk, that may be an idea whose time has come. The hard dive is one of the few components that seems to be a primary producer of heat, and Apple does not appear to use the most effecient models. I have had many hard disks fail due to over heating.

    1. Ilgaz

      They choose overheating/hot disks

      I have seen 75 celsius drive first time in my life on a Mac Mini core duo, it was Fujitsu. Replaced with a good Seagate drive (similar price) and same setup produces 45 celsius at most.

      One of the most trivial things you can do is getting HD temperature via smart signaling. Doesn't need a special "cable", it is all built into IDE standard. I am absolutely stunned they got such an idea in 2011 to begin with.

      1. Zippy the Pinhead


        That's my point exactly. Hard drives already report temp through IDE and SMART so why exactly is this special connector really needed? Its there for revenue enhancement!

    2. Anton Ivanov
      Thumb Down

      Yes, and your point is?

      Hard disks also come with a S.M.A.R.T. temperature sensor nowdays which is considerably more precise than any external ones. Using an external sensor for it is actually an example of bad design.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Anton Ivanov re SMART temperature

        As far as it's been shown Apple is not using an external sensor in this case, it's reporting the temperature from the drive's built in sensor via a separate pair of cables.

        According to an article at Hardmac this is done for performance reasons as polling the drive for it's SMART temperature via the main SATA bus would affect the drive performance. As the Mac uses the temperature for fan control it needs to do frequent polling.

        I have tested this claim myself on my Mac and posted results showing a drop in of about 13MB/s in sequential reads if I poll the drive's SMART temperature sensor just twice per second. For full details please check my other post, last seen in page 3 of this thread.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge


          "I poll the drive's SMART temperature sensor just twice per second"

          2Hz? Why so often?

          The thermal time constant of a HDD with all of that metal must be of the order of high tens to hundred+ seconds, so I expect you could poll every 10-20 seconds and have sufficient margins for control system stability.

          I expect that would lead to <1% loss in speed, and you get the disk's health as well.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            @Paul Crawford

            Well there is a lot of metal, but the metal is mostly aluminium which has a very high heat transfer coefficient. Plus the drive electronics are usually at the bottom, with an exposed cirtcuit board not enclosed by the metal of the drive. Finally there's also the fact that the hard drive gives off heat by itself (moving spindles, electronics) as well as receive from the surrounding environment packed with very hot things like CPU's, GPU's, power regulators (the iMac has a built in power supply) and other interface chips.

            My guess is in order to control the speed of the overall "network" of fans, the system will be doing fan control decisions at a rate close to 2Hz or even faster, so it's ideal to have up to the moment temperature information from all the sensors.

            Temperature in computer systems doesn't increase linearly, it tends to be a sigmoid function and a lot can happen in 10s during the rising interval of that.

            @Zippy the Pinhead

            If you want SMART monitoring you can install the free SMART reporter utility from here:


    3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      @Hard disks get hot

      Yes, they get hot and need cooling, but at my desktop here I can look at their temperature using my RAID card as it simply asks for the SMART status.

      Any 'pro' machine that is not monitoring the smart status is basically a failure, as it provides warning of disk problems (but not always) before you begin to lose data, so why not use it for the temperature?

      And before anyone asks about the loss of control when the OS crashing (on a Mac, never! they scream) you just have the fan controller with a watchdog timer - no OS updates for X seconds and fans go to maximum speed. Simplez!

      Fail, for Apple pissing on its professional customers.

      1. Zippy the Pinhead

        @Paul - fixed it

        "Any 'pro' machine that is not monitoring the smart status is basically a failure"

        "Any personal computer that is not monitoring the smart status is basically a failure"

        There fixed it!

  6. Chris 3

    As a fanboi...

    .... that annoys me intensely.

    1. Lionel Baden

      as a anti apple fanboi

      .... that pleases me intensely.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    I'm a Mac. I have no user-serviceable parts inside.

    And I generate lots of "fan noise".

    1. Smokey Joe

      I see what you did there

      Oh yes I do


  8. Turtle

    Thanks for another enjoyable article!

    Thanks for another enjoyable article! I look forward to reading more of these, too!

    : )

    1. Havin_it


      I notice this user's last 3 posts have been along these lines. Turtle, are you still a human, or have you turned into some curious sort of praise-bot?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Are you serious? It's a freakin' turtle - just because it posts here doesn't mean it's human.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    If you must have a Mac ...

    Buy a £200 (or less) bog-standard PC and Hackintosh it. The more generic the hardware the better (just make sure you have a Broadcom wireless card). Then plug in a nice big monitor and Bob's your auntie.

    Works just fine. Upgrade its hardware as much as you like (disks, memory, anything you fancy). Never failed in nearly 3 years, even after OS X updates (though I am sure they'll fix us there eventually). After all, Macs are just Intel PCs with an EFI bootloader.

    Who says UNIX knowledge is worthless?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually, I might just do that..

      Since I switched to OSX by means of a Macbook Pro I have been on one side happy with substantially less management overhead than Windows to keep the system safe, and with less faffing around to have a usable desktop (but I still prefer OpenSuSE for a mix of desktop and server - it's a matter of preference).

      What I also *really* liked was that the Macbook came with a sheet that told you how to take it apart and swap parts. Not that you need it, but it's nice to find upfront you can actually take the lid off the bottom and change things such as RAM and the HDD for something else like an SSD (which I may do in the near future).

      However, if a desktop (which should be much easier to take apart) contains proprietary parts for the bits that are pretty much standard elsewhere that tells me that I will pay a lot extra just for the brand - and non-standard parts are not as exposed to the world as regular bits are so flaws may last longer before they are discovered. Not good - which means Apple has just lost a hardware sale from me. Time to start digging for hackingtosh info - cant be hard..

      1. nyelvmark

        Another first for Apple

        An anonymous coward wrote:

        >>What I also *really* liked was that the Macbook came with a sheet that told you how to take it apart and swap parts. Not that you need it, but it's nice to find upfront you can actually take the lid off the bottom and change things such as RAM and the HDD for something else like an SSD (which I may do in the near future).

        Oh my god, that's so innovative that I'm flabbergasted. You can actually remove covers and CHANGE the hard disc and the ram? And furthermore, there's a PIECE OF PAPER that tells you how to do it? Perhaps it even has a diagram showing you which end of the screwdriver to hold?

        Now I can see why Apple is so successful. Come on, other computer manufacturers - wake up and smell the muesli!

        1. Havin_it

          Bit harsh?

          >>>Oh my god, that's so innovative that I'm flabbergasted. You can actually remove covers and CHANGE the hard disc and the ram? And furthermore, there's a PIECE OF PAPER that tells you how to do it? Perhaps it even has a diagram showing you which end of the screwdriver to hold?

          Well, personally I've never come across a laptop that came with teardown instructions. Is that common?

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


            I know it was not shipped with the laptop, but IBM and latterly Lenovo have complete service guides for all Thinkpad models on the Internet, freely available, and easy to find.

            Want to know the part number for the screw that holds the power socket into the case for your 1998 vintage T20? It's all there. And the strip-down guides are not just the easy to open doors and hatches, but removing every component that has an identified part number down to bare plastic cases, ribbon cables and screws.

            That's one of the main reasons why I choose them for my workhorse laptops. The other reasons being easy availability of spare parts and general robustness.

            1. Anton Ivanov

              So has HP

              I have had to teardown/fix my NC4000 more than 3 times so far - hinges replacement and drive replacement. I have lost count how many times I have half disassembled an Evo110 I use for experiments. So Lenovo/IBM are not the only ones with full teardown guides (I have had to use their guides to fix my S10e once).

              It is the norm in "proper" laptop manufacturers. Not just Apple. Just google for them.

          2. uncredited

            Tear down instructions

            My cheap Fujitsu laptop came with instructions on how to open it and upgrade/change both hard disc and and RAM in seven different languages and so did the Dell I have at work (although the language count differs slightly) so my guess is it's quite common.

          3. Zippy the Pinhead


            Is it common? No.. but usually you can find what you need online.

            Then again in most instances the internals of laptops are pretty standard.. you just remove parts in order and put them back in reverse.. That isn't really to hard and has been done for centuries by watch and clock makers.

            Besides.. who needs an instruction manual? lol

      2. Jason Hall

        Hackintosh Air?

        Just finally had the spare time to mess with this myself.

        Have a read of the Register article on this. It's pretty good.

        I just followed these instructions

        And now have a nice little Acer Aspire Netbook running Snow Leopard.

        Works wonderfully - although I haven't had chance to mess with the various kexts available for it. (ie no sound yet). Wifi is working through a USB dongle at the mo - although there are ways around that I hear.

        1. DrXym

          Most laptops can be torn down

          Most laptops have hatches which provide simple access to things like memory, hdd, wifi. Even my HP Mini 210 which has no hatches can be popped open to insert more memory. It was a bitch to do but it was serviceable.

          Business models tend to be far more serviceable. Things like Thinkpads can be stripped down to their component parts and there is plenty of documentation to do it. A business might have a pool of laptops and if one goes kaput they might like to use it for spares for the others. If another one goes wonky, e.g. hard disk fails off they can cannibalize the dead one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Jobs Horns

          Hack Air

          One way around the wireless problem in an AAO Hackbook is to replace the atheros with a broadcom wireless card.

          It sits under the keyboard.

          If half height, might need some cable-tie persuasion to stay down.

          As for the suggestion of a £200 PC as a hackintosh, tried that. Didn't work. Wouldn't even boot.

          HDs are the only component of old LCs and G3s that seem to go.

          No doubt soon enough though some clever clogs will be selling a SATA to Mac adaptor :)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ Sir Wiggum

            "As for the suggestion of a £200 PC as a hackintosh, tried that. Didn't work. Wouldn't even boot."

            Change the motherboard -- the range of hardware OS X wil happily support is very narrow but there are lists of compatible boards out there,

            Mine booted no bother with a bog-standard EFI kernel loader and after I got the kext I needed for quartz support on graphics all was fine. Sound, wifi, the lot.

          2. Anton Ivanov

            Why SATA?

            Get a samsung spinpoint PATA 2.5 in.

            I have my G4 powerbook upgraded with that. You will be surprised how fast that machine really is.

    2. The First Dave

      @If you must have a Mac

      Obvoius to see that you are not a die-hard Mac fan, if you think that nearly three years is a long time - very few real Mac owners would suffer any failure in that time period either, most will have stories of thirteen if not thirty-year old machines still running.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No ...

        But for a quick hack that I never expected to work at all (never mind work perfectly) three years is rather good. I expect to squeze at least another 5-7 years out of it.

  10. William Boyle

    Why I don't buy Apple products

    This is just another reason, as far as I'm concerned, to boycott Apple products. On my Dell D630 (and old D600) laptop, removing 2 screws allows the drive to be removed by sliding out of the case, and easily replaced. In fact, I have 2 drives for it, with different operating systems. To me, this is sensible.

    And in case you are interested, my phone is an unlocked Nexus One Android phone running the latest Gingerbread OS. Unfortunately, it will be a cold day in Heck when I can get my wife to give up her iDevices.

    1. Ilgaz

      Just replaced HP laptop HD

      When we opened up the HP drive bay, noticed some extra stuff there. I said "eek some apple trick" but it turned out to be a special rail mechanism (with antistatic foil) to make sure drive never touches the body directly, to have better hard disk temps.

      That is the HP for you,

    2. Joe Montana

      Laptop drives

      The annoying thing about the macbook pro hard drives...

      The first unibody models, had the battery and hard drive easily reachable under a clip on cover at the bottom.

      With subsequent models, you now have to undo 10+ very tiny screws to get the bottom plate off just to change the battery or disk... Big step backwards.

      1. paulf

        Re: Laptop drives

        Upgrading the RAM in my Mid-2010 MBP was straight forward, and that's easily the equal of hard drive replacement on that model WRT complexity. It took 10 minutes to do a dry run opening the back before I ordered the RAM to make sure it was as easy as claimed.

        When the RAM arrived it took 15 minutes to open it up, remove the old RAM, fit the new RAM, and put the back together. No screws lost, and no screws have come loose since.

        Perhaps it could be easier, but its hardly complicated.

      2. Synonymous Howard

        @Laptop drives

        Have to disagree about the 10 very tiny screws .. no problem undoing them and adding more memory or swapping the HDD for an SDD .. and the screws make the back firm and rigid (missus) to go with the rest of the superbly manufactured hardware design.

        MBP unibody - best ever laptop I've used in 20 years of mobile computing and I'd get a Macbook Air if it had a backlit keyboard.

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Yet you buy Dell ...

      Where Dell's non-standard, re-wiring of desktop PSU ATX connector still causes difficulties if not plumes of smoke and wallet emptying.

      Plus Dell went through a phase of "promoting Linux" but it being a nightmare to find that support.

      Perhaps Dell have got better? I wouldn't know, they took themselves off my list of suppliers to consider a long time ago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I often smoke those cutting edge PII and PIII Dell systems when I mistakenly change a PSU for a standard ATX one...

        FFS it was about ten years ago.

        Kudos to Dell for actually attempting to carve out a new market with Linux. It's a nightmare to support though because the users who buy a machine preloaded with Linux are geeks, therefore any problem they need support for is going to be a bastard of a problem.

  11. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Caveat Emptor

    That sucks. Oh well.

  12. heyrick Silver badge

    Yet another reason to buy a real computer

    That doesn't mean Windows, I'm not a fanboi. It means any machine that, within design parameters, permits you to modify and alter the configuration as your needs evolve. To prevent you upgrading the harddisc in this way demonstrates a lot of the control-freakery that Apple exemplifies. And, let us not forget, Apple branded hardware = premium, custom kit = greater premium, not to mention possible problems getting the parts in several years...

  13. Muscleguy

    Hard, not impossible

    Well I did a drive swap on a RevB iMac and I've done one on this G5 iSight iMac AND got it back together again. But I agree that the tower Macs were wonderful. At work I once swapped the drive bay from one to another to enable the installation of more drives on the second. It was a doddle.

    I'm sure there will be a workaround found, someone will hack the firmware for eg. As for the previous machines and the HD fan, no problem on this beast, prized the sensor off and then put it on the new drive with no problems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo

      Tower Macs

      The towers are still very expandable. Hard drive, memory and card upgrades are a doddle. Had mine 3years and still as snappy and well built as they day I purchased it.

      The iMac really isn't designed to be user serviceable. Someone said they are becoming appliances. Well personally I think the iMac has always been an appliance.

      Also remember there is a thriving parts market for Apples if you know where to look. I bet someone will sell an adaptor for a few quid.

      What would be a bigger concern is if they move to this connector for the Mac Pro laptops where users do routinely upgrade their hard disks. Has anyone checked the insides of the new Mac Pro's to see if Apple are doing this in these models?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Nope, HDDs stil swappable in 2011 MBPs

        The post is required, and must contain letters.

      2. DrXym


        I have a dual CPU G4 and it was very easy to get inside and change things. Added an extra drive and swapped out the crappy DVD-RAM for a DVD-RW with no trouble. I recall that there was even a little 3rd party economy going on selling CPU upgrades & daughterboards but I never bothered with them because they were so horrifically expensive. To switch out my CPUs would have cost more than junking the box and buying a new one.

        One of the nice things about PCs is that there are standard case and board layouts and if you stick with the standards you can literally upgrade your PC one thing at a time. My first PC started life as a 486SX, then a DX2 and then a DX 4 and eventually became a Pentium through CPU, board and HDD upgrades. Case, keyboard, cards remained fairly static over the years but the machine itself was faster each time. It enjoyed a long life cut short when ATX form factors took over from AT.

        While PC standards exist, it is highly annoying that some manufacturers like Dell choose to ignore them but at least there is that choice. When a Dell reaches end of life it's as useless in its own way as Apple computers are since they use proprietary case layouts.

    2. Zippy the Pinhead


      So in 2 years when this Hard Drive is no longer made, and Apple says to replace the entire unit because I want to move to a larger drive.. I should find this acceptable? And I would have to install a firmware patch which would void the hard drive warranty?

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. P Zero

      The awkward moment when

      Apple blocks your app for duplicating functionality.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns


      Easier fix - don't buy an iMac, in fact don't buy anything from Apple at all until they get the message.

      Why do some people seem to think it is somehow better to have to jump through hoops bypassing Apples restrictions than to just buy something that allows you to configure or upgrade it however you like out of the box

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Why do some people seem to think it is somehow better to have to jump through hoop"

        Because they're really easy hoops, any person with an ounce of intelligence will know what to do.

        Apologies if that puts you out of the game.

        After jumping through said hoops (if you need to) it rewards you with a fucking great machine that's the best of of both worlds: Unix with all the things other Unixes doesn't have like decent applications for productivity, media, graphics, stable 3D drivers with OpenCL, etc.

      2. bobbles31

        Why do some people think?

        That techies are the only people that buy computers. I have 3 siblings and both parents all have hd pcs and now have laptops. Only i have ever upgraded any machine and only my own machine. On that small sample 1 in 6 people actually have the technical ability and motivation to upgrade.

        Maybe and this is a wild guess, apple have figured out that by making machines for the 5out of6 people they can stop worrying so much about upgradeability and instead focus on things that people really want like small quiet stylish pcs.

        Fanboy disclosure statement:

        I own

        1 x ubuntu pc

        2 x win pc

        1 x imac(whisper quiet due to lack of upgrade)

        1x win laptop

        1 x iphone

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Queue the usual fanboy excuses...

          You don't have to give the end user the big middle finger in order to make it pretty or quiet.

          PC laptop makers have been doing this for years. It simply requires acknowledging the fact that a user might have misjudged what they initially needed and don't want to toss an entire rather expensive machine into a landfill just because it is a little bit out of spec.

          Of course the cult of willful ignorance will lead to people not having enough taste to realize they are eating dirt and can have something better.

          Creating a machine that can't be maintained is just greed and engineering laziness on Apple's part. If they were really all that the fanboys claim, then they could create upgradeable gear without compromising any of the "finer points".

          Storage and memory are 2 things that are constantly getting bigger and cheaper and are designed specifically to be easy to change.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: That techies are the only people that buy computers.

          having had harddisk failures in past - being able to change them is rather useful, even if it requires someone else to do it for you in case of non-techies.

    3. Ilgaz

      Enjoy while you can

      If such passivism and fanboyism stays in Mac community, OS X Lion could be app store only OS and good luck getting it accepted in app store.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @llgaz and others like him

        I have to admire the persistent FUD from the anti-mac people.

        OSX Lion is not closed, you can put in whatever you want. Get that into your fucking closed heads.

        The day the Mac is closed is the day I burn my Mac, and post it on Youtube.

        Yes, I'm that confident.

        iOS has a closed app store model for entirely different reasons. I'm sorry you're all too stupid to understand them, but hey Google - the once bastion of openness - is already giving some clues, just look at the amount of apps they've been throwing out of their market. Figure it out.

        1. Captain Save-a-ho

          Taking bets on when we can check Youtube

          "The day the Mac is closed is the day I burn my Mac, and post it on Youtube."

          What was that about never say never? I know some folks who held similar sentiments about Token Ring back in the day...just sayin'.

        2. Ilgaz

          How many Macs do you have?

          I have 5 Mac Minis, in each room, a G5 Quad, an Apple TV, Apple Airport extreme and 2 iPhones wonder around in home with an iPad.

          As a FUD spreader, I wonder how many Apple devices you have and how close you follow OS X internals along with the "signed" binaries and the fact that there hasn't been a single Mac without Trusted Computing Platform since first G5 Macs.

          Next time, think twice about who may post a comment to some Apple BS story. Each of these stories generated by some idiot suits there makes sure there will never be a UNIX desktop in enterprise environment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Oh is this a game now? How many Macs do I have? Well do retiring Xserve clusters count? Even without them, I have more than you so don't worry I'm plenty into Macs (and Linux and (Free|Open)BSD). I never bought into the Apple TV thing though, so you win there.

            But if you're a Mac user I don't get why you are poisoning your own water spreading this nonsense about them closing OS X to outside applications. This is pure FUD from the anti-Mac crowd, it's even been dismissed in writing by Steve Jobs himself. What more do you want?

            Plus there's the fact that Macs sold after 2006 don't actually come with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) anymore, so I'm not sure how you claim it is a Trusted Computing Platform. Maybe you're simply not up to date on these matters? Well there's plenty of literature, you can start with

            Closing OS X would be just the kind of disaster that Apple doesn't need, and why would they? To make a couple of million out of a desktop app store? Even the iOS store doesn't make that much. They're making their billions elsewhere, I'm sure you're aware.

            "Each of these stories generated by some idiot suits there makes sure there will never be a UNIX desktop in enterprise environment."

            I'm sorry I can't parse the full meaning of this phrase, but if I can add anything is that these stories are not generated by idiots, but by a sharp nosed media industry trained on the scent of greenbacks and nearly 120 comments on this story show how effective the strategy is. As for Unix in an enterprise environment again I'm sorry but I already work in one (>500 employes, >200 Unix and OSX boxes), so "never" might not be the right word, maybe you've just not tried to look hard enough.

        3. M Gale


          "just look at the amount of apps they've been throwing out of their market. Figure it out."

          Hang on, what? You mean the illegal ones like rip-off game copies? Or malware? Unless you're suggesting that Sega and Nintendo both are licensing the gigacrapload of ROMs you can download?

          If Google were removing apps based on "we just think it's crap", then most of the Papi-something games wouldn't be there. If they were removing them based on some Appley "you're making something we do better than we do it", then you wouldn't see the media players and home screen replacements would you?

          Google, "once bastion of openness"? I think you've been reading Matt Asay articles and taking them to be Gospel. Google have always been a Linux shop and they seem to be doing quite well as far as their GPL obligations go, but they are a search and advertising company and their secret searching sauce has never been open.

          Plenty of things you could bash Google for but, in trying to defend Apple's awkward practices, you could pick a much better point than "GOOGLE ARE KEEPING THEIR LATEST OS UNDER WRAPS UNTIL IT'S READY. THEY MUST BE TURNING INTO MICROSOFT." Christ, talk about FUD. If the infamously zealous EFF don't have a problem with this.. hell, if Linus bloody Torvalds doesn't have a problem with this, then why do you?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC @M Gale

            @AC 18:24

            The HDD fan control was posted in a update after my comment. Did you read the article? It said "Update" as a title.

            @M Gale

            Yes exactly, one of the points of the closed app store is to prevent malware as Google has been demonstrating. While malware is tolerated for normal computers where we can run anti-virus etc, it's becomes a much bigger pain on small battery powered devices where doing the same would greatly impact on runtime.

            As for openess at Google that's not what I meant. I think you'll find other examples, such as them banning AGPL projects from Google Code.

            1. M Gale

              Re: Banning AGPL projects.

              To quote a Mr Chris DiBona:

              "Basically the answer is when I, Fitz, Greg or the team think it is popular enough. I know you guys think we don't like it for nefarious reasons, but what you're missing is we dislike -all- new licenses that are unpopular. They lead to bifurcation of the open source development world and that is a high price to pay. "

              So AGPL was apparently banned not for being open-source, but for (at the time at least) being an obscure branch of the GPL that next to nobody really new or cared about. What do you know though, two years, some harassment from the FOSS crowd and an acceptance by the OSI later and we have this:


              Google Code now accept any OSI-approved open source license. That includes the Affero GPL. Now, have you and Mr Asay got any more examples of how Google is really Microsoft in disguise, or are we all done here?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @M Gale

                Wow, the giant has moved, and the request ticket was only updated 11 days ago :

                I guess they saw that their tactic didn't work, projects that did want AGPL moved to SourceForge or went on their own like MongoDB. But I don't really care why as long as it's sorted out. Thanks for letting me know.

                Next on the list is putting SPDY through the proper IETF procedures and issue a RFC. The existing documentation is super poor.

                I know they say it's not ready yet for an RFC but that doesn't stop them from using it on Chrome right now to give them an unfair performance advantage when using Google's services. That's very Microsoft in disguise.

                Until then I don't think they need to sneakily enable SPDY 9 out 10 times the Chrome browser is launched. For testing purposes 1 out of 10 would be enough, plus they have their massive internal network to test it on.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Did you ... read the article?

      I had to ask, since the article does mention HDD Fan Control as a possible work around.

      I think the point of the article isn't that there are workarounds for this "feature" - but rather that one needs to use a workaround at all on what is generally considered a user serviceable part. This isn't a move to make support easier (since replacing drives would void the warranty), but rather to ring up their customers for a premium on an upgrade.

      How long would a PC maker stay in business if they did something like this?

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh dear

      "Another report from El Reg full of cheap shots, but no useful tips on how to solve the problem."

      The problems are, in order of diminishing responsibility, the vendor's policies (or how to sell commodity hardware at a premium by curtailing the customer's rights) and consumers who put up with this because shiny stuff makes a statement about their lifestyle.

      "Well I'm here to help, to sort this out just download the very useful HDD Fan Control tool [...] (it's donation ware)"

      Thank you for allowing us to buy more stuff to fix the stuff we've already bought! Consumers get more chances to consume products, and for this the market thanks you, too!

      Saint O'Leary (the patron saint of nickels and dimes) will be along shortly to bless you, my child. He will, of course, demand a small fee for the blessing, but you're probably OK with that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 11:05

        The customer's rights don't mean Apple having to lose their flexibility to address the technical difficulties posed by innovative designs. Would you be happier with just having desktop computers in industry standard ATX boxes?

        I'm sorry but that would actually be limiting customer right's of choice. Not even Dell does that, I just need to look at my now dead XPS 720 desktop with proprietary power supply to see it.

        In this case however you CAN use your own disks, it's fine, there's been workarounds found already and it's only been about 2 days since the news broke out. Sites like hardmac and even OWC have concluded that Apple is just sending temperature information out of band instead of tying up the SATA bus. (hardmac and other posts here have shown there's likely to be a substantial performance impact in doing it over SATA instead of the way used by Apple)

        As for the tool that was only one option, probably the easiest to install. It's donation ware so as the name implies you don't have to buy it.

        There's also a free tool called smcFanControl and even open source around so you can build your own.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Apple really pushing the hackintosh market

    only solution if you like Os X now

  16. E Haines

    Most upgradeable Mac of all time

    It's not "arguable" that the Power Mac G5 was the most upgradeable. Clearly, the Mac Pro is. The Power Macs required fiddling with wires when installing/removing hard drives, whereas with the Mac Pros you just slide a tray in. (Also there are 4 drive bays instead of 2.) Furthermore, it's possible although not straightforward to change the CPUs in a Mac Pro, but the CPUs in a Power Mac G5 are not going anywhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hardly relevant

      Considering there aren't any CPUs you can plug into the G5's socket. Not anymore anyway.

  17. Adam T


    Any info on whether SSD BTO are the same?

    Quite fancy getting one of these, but not a chance if I can't replace the drive. What a silly notion.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    well if they stop user-replaceable RAM upgrades, I'll never buy a Mac again...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    steve jobs and co

    the company that has been making computer devices into very expensive doorstops.

    so anyone else is happy to even touch a mac machine now? it amazes me that after all the time they spent into making the machines user friendly and to be moddable they took the step back and do not want any one to mess with their stuff any more....yes their stuff since you only lease it from them.and not own it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      +1. Upgrading the memory and/or hard drive in a MacBook (not Air) is ridiculously simple and user friendly. Too bad Apple makes it so hard to upgrade the drive in the Mac Mini and iMac. No easy way to drop in a small, cheap SSD.

  20. Joe User


    It's nice that someone has created a workaround for the problem, but you're missing the point (or deliberately ignoring it): Apple shouldn't have done this in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The point

      Why should they have not done if it makes their systems better?

      Can't they improve on things anymore? You'll be telling me next that the EFI BIOS is also a control attempt by Apple. Well let me pre-empt that already by telling you that it's 100x better than the crappy old IBM PC BIOS.

      Do you even know what's involved in replacing a drive on the iMac? It's very complicated. These are seriously fully packed machines. If you can figure out how to get to it the rest is very easy.

      Finally read my other comment below.

      1. corestore


        I've just upgraded the drive on my 27" iMac and it was a piece of piss. Sucker to pull the glass off, 8 x Torx screws and a couple of cables and the LCD is off, couple more screws and the drive is out. Worked first time no problems, job done in less than 15 mins.

        'Very complicated'? Fah!


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Because you're taking it.

          No way you did it in 15 mins.

          But anyway you did all that and can't install a fan control app? Do you just have superhuman physical skils?

          1. corestore

            Of course...

            ... I installed the bloody app!

            /Applications/Utilities/ -k F1Mx -w 22f8 does it for me.

            Was there anything about my post which made you think I didn't install the app? Or did you just make foolish assumptions?

            As for 15 mins, next time I do it I'll put a bloody video on Youtube! The only bit that's remotely fiddly is getting back in the LCD torx screws that sit next to the glass magnets; the magnets are bloody strong and the screws want to stick to the magnets not go in the holes. So had to grab a haemostat and pop them in their holes that way, then tighten them up.

            I've been in the IT business for twenty years, so wind your sceptical patronising neck in already. I'm NOT claiming the average user could do it in 15 minutes, but then the average user wouldn't dream of trying to upgrade their iMac! But it can be done.


      2. Dazed and Confused

        You can't do that here

        Making nice comments about EFI I mean, it's used on Itanium platforms and we all know how much stick the poor Itanium gets here.

        1. david bates

          Not seen EFI yet...

          but supporting PCs for about half a dozen friends and family the very last thing I want is a user friendly version of BIOS. I want text based. I REALLY want command line based. I want it to scare the crap out of them if they stumble into it.

          That way they dont play. They break Windows...I dont want them breaking the BIOS (sic) as well...

          1. M Gale

            Well to be fair...

            ...fixing a screwed up BIOS setting is usually as simple as "load optimal defaults? (y/n)"

            Yon venerable old PC bootstrapping mechanism has come a long way since 1980. They even detect hard drives themselves!

            Though, I do miss the IDE low level format option.

      3. M Gale

        EFI 100x better

        Well, it could be. I mean, it's a Hypervisor. It could theoretically give you the Xbox-style ability to pause current OS and just flick to another one in the middle of something, like how you can press the green button and stop your running game to go to the system menu.

        However, what is EFI's main use in Apple machines, asides making it awkward to just bung OS X on an Intel x86 PC? Come on, Boot Camp? Having to reboot the machine to start up some other OS? How is that different to every other PC in the world?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think about it

    Typical El Reg commentards, quicker to the trigger than their neurons can fire:

    Do you really think Apple would go to all the trouble of making a custom drive firmware just to keep people from replacing it themselves, and then leave a door wide open by using standard connectors and letting people control the speed of the fans from software?

    The iMac is really tight and it gets really hot, it's no surprise they had to *innovate* here and add to their >10 temp sensors already inside.

    If you put your own drive then just use HDD Temp Control (free, donation ware) or the fantastic iStat (paid, but really good) to control the fans.

    Or as you're all experts write you own code to do it, here's some source code to get you started:

  22. The Unexpected Bill
    Thumb Down

    That's pretty dumb...

    Many hard disk drives produced over the last decade have an onboard temperature sensor whose data can be gleaned by communicating with the drive through SMART. Practically all drives produced in the last five years do.

    So why would Apple need to monitor the drive's temperature in any other way? A company that has the ability to design its own CPUs and other custom logic should know better than this.

    Beats me--they did the same thing (with a temperature probe coming from the circuit board, no changes to the drive itself) in the Time Capsule, and I *know* those drives reported their temperature via SMART.

    All in the world this will do is leave owners of these machines high and dry after Apple has forgotten they ever made such a thing and nobody sells custom adapters any longer. And no, I don't dislike Apple products--but this is still a very *stupid* thing to do.

    1. Dick Head

      According to ""...

      ...(they reported the original problem some years ago) this is the reason:

      "Here is also an explanation of the reasons that pushed Apple to introduce that system in the 2009 iMac. As we sais earlier, the iMac checks very often the temperature of the hard drive. If it was doing so with the SMART system, it would shrink the disk bandwidth and would freeze the disk for a very short time at every check.

      Therefore Apple decided to do it with an Out of Bandwidth system, outside of the data channels of the disks. At first the company used connectors added to most hard drives and used for programming and testing the disk. That solution had one drawback as each manufacturer had its own connector. The 2011 model uses a new system. All the information now goes through pin 11 of the power supply connector, which is normally used to light-up a LED during disk activity. In prodder to change the use of that pin, a specific firmware was needed, which explains the reason that only disks sold by Apple in the iMac don't have any problem."

      ...which is a reason, though I couldn't say whether it is a good one.

  23. Eddy Ito

    One step closer

    It's just another push toward the higher end line so folks don't buy the cheaper model and upgrade it. Just look at the margin jump on the 21.5 iMac for the next model; $300 for 500GB more hdd (being generous it has a value of $40), slightly better video card ($15) and 200 MHz (probably same chip just clocked to full speed). So if you were buying the parts it would cost an extra $55, when Apple buys the parts it's probably a lot less so the margin on the upgrades is what, 90%? Who wouldn't want to push their customers to the better model?

    Car manufacturers do the same thing, "Oh you want an automatic? That only comes with the FU model package; but you also get 2 more speakers, a shiny bit of tin on the exhaust, all this extra sporty looking plastic and two tone seat covers with genuine Gnaugahyde inserts. Hey, it's just an extra $37... per month... on an 84 month loan... with 30% down." Of course, there are a lot fewer people who are willing to do a tranny swap on a brand new car than would trade up a hdd.

  24. David 45

    Apple paranoia strikes again

    Control freaks (like Jobs himself), coupled with the most outlandish hype for their relatively ordinary, over-priced products gives me the signal to steer well clear.

  25. Getter lvl70 Druid

    My Take on the Subject

    This is something I have railed about privately for years is the lack of serviceability of most electronic products. People do not get them repaired, they just throw them away and replace with new because it's easier. Take flat panel televisions, for a few years there they used 85watt capacitors instead of 110watt capacitors so they burned out and wouldn't fire the actual panel up. $20 +labor part replacement and it's working better than before oddly enough. (sat in my closet for a long time because I couldn't bring myself to throw away a $700 HDTV after only two years).

    How many ended up in the landfill?

    How many non replaceable battery powered items end up there? How many iMacs will end up there after the HD dies and it makes more sense to purchase a new one than pony up $300-400 to send your machine to be repaired? This is not an Apple-only issue, it's rampant throughout the world. Replace rather than repair, it's going to hurt us all eventually.

    Please note I am not a treehugger, this just happens to be one area where some things do not make sense to me. I have been told that Apple is ahem, green, but in what way? Manufacturing items in this way just adds to the disposal issue. I've seen people with multiple dead iPods (iPodi? What is the plural for iPod?) in drawers or boxes.. where do you think they will go come spring cleaning time?

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Thumb Up

      @Lvl 70 Durid...

      Completely agree. What would the Cenarion Circle think? BTW get to level 85, yo.... Get with the times :P

  26. Spiritfire
    Big Brother

    Bye bye Apple

    Yeah, this has finally done it for me. When it's time to upgrade my iPhone and iPad, I'll be getting a Droid and some other tablet. When my MacBook dies, I'll go with something else. For years I've used both Windows and Macs, and love my iPhone and iPad. Apple's latest Gestapo stranglehold on their hardware and software really insults those of us who actually know what we're doing.

    "It just works" doesn't work for me any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good for you

      Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

      Have fun in your Windows paradise.

  27. Roger Stenning

    Huh. Why am I not surprised?

    Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone's at all shocked with this.

    The writing was on the wall for tinkering with Jobsian-created kitwith the first idiotPhone - if you missed this, it's when they decided that you couldn't be trusted to even change a battery safely, without a degree in mechanical and electonic engineering and, oh yes, certification from Apple that maybe, just maybe, you could be trusted with a tool kit to actually open the damn thing to perform that battery swap.

    So, just another example of Jobsian control freakishness, then.

    Not a major surprise to any of the rest of the world, then, is it?

    Flames, because I'm sure to have pulled someone's plug *veg*

  28. GuyC
    Jobs Halo

    Why tinker with perfection?

    You have been told that this is the ultimate machine, why the question that you might know something they don't. This is the ultimate machine, how could a mere mortal improve it? the way we're in the business of making money, not IT kit

  29. karlp

    *sigh* - Silly People

    Reg: I don't care for the tone of this article. It's nothing but a cheap shot with no thought as to why this may have happened.

    Let's look at this logically for a second.

    1. It's an AIO. What goes on inside shouldn't concern you much (although how reliable it is as a whole should).

    2. If you don't agree with #1 buy a Mac Pro, a linux, or win7 box. The iMac (and probably the portables) will not be for you.

    3. Steve Jobs (or an SVP, etc) did not sit around some table musing about ways to screw people out of money and come up with fitting a custom HDD. Thats just silly.

    4. What actually happened is engineers made a call that a more accurate HDD temp sensor system made a measurable impact in service life. (thus making the entire unit, which is what we are concerned about in an AIO, more reliable)

    5. This is not about money to such a degree that they are actually spending more money to do this. (If it isn't a bog standard drive with bog standard cables/firmware, it is costing them more. Guaranteed.)

    6. Someone somewhere along the way brought up the point that this would stop, or at least seriously hamper, customers from being able to pop the case and change the drive. - To that end they would have looked at overall statistics and realized that 90%+ of all users used External HDD's when it was time to upgrade, and also talked to applecare who said opening the machine voided the warranty. (whether they look the other way on a regular basis or not is a different matter).

    7. Another reason I wouldn't get too hung up about it; Chances are very good that the rest of the line (With the exception of the MP, where this sort of thing actually matters to an appreciable percent of their customer base) is going this way as well. I anticipate a not-to-distant future where every part of the system is soldered down and compacted as much as is physically (as in, the laws of physics) possible. An upgrade will be changing the entire logic board.

    7b (Edit). And you would be remiss if you don't think the general computer marketplace isn't looking at what Apple is doing here. Good bad or indifferent the sales figures and stock numbers are telling a story, and that is that people are willing to spend good money on highly integrated, non serviceable products. (assuming the support is there for when things go wrong). This is the biggest case for Thunderbolt in my mind. It gives us a good, fast, low level external I/O capable of real work. Allowing it to fail may doom us to a period of highly integrated, low or zero expansion systems with no high quality low level external I/O options.

    8. Even if you don't agree with anything I said, within 16 months someone will have an elegant hack for it.

    Calm down people, it's not that big of a deal. It's actually understandable, and if you look at it from a realistic viewpoint it is probably a reasonable decision.

    Karl P

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Apple's engineeers 'making a call'

      But can we trust them to make the right call, considering the history of thermal issues that MacBook and iMacs (basically laptop parts in a screen housing) have had and then later had silent recalls in the form of extended guarantees, EFI and software updates which alter fan behaviour, and new hardware revisions which finally fix the problem?

      Their inventing a new standard is most probably just more flailing round in this area. Every other laptop manufacturer manages to make do with the SMART standard. I assume management decided that a little bit more lock-in forcing customers to buy a bigger hard drive from Apple was also an added benefit.

      (An iMac owner but not a member of the iCult.)

    2. John Miles

      re: . if you look at it from a realistic viewpoint it is probably a reasonable decision.

      having a non-standard interfaces on a commodity item like harddisks from economically, technologically and long term support perspectives strikes me as bizarre

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Seemplz no?

    With a PC you will have to upgrade the hard drive.

    With an iMac you can server it, Time capsule it, ... so the hard drive really is supplemented by other storage options.

    (My Mac Pro is 5 years old - a circa 2006 model and luvin it. None of my previous PCs managed to endure so long without a major bellyflop that meant serious removal and replacement of innards so, yes, I expect PCs to really need that option?)

    Seemplz - tseetch


      Longevity increases the likelihood for a needed upgrade.

      > With a PC you will have to upgrade the hard drive.

      No you don't. You can use any number of external options including the same sort of "Time Capsule" approach. PCs have been able to do this since the pre-Next days.

      Although for a single machine n00b household, all of that stuff is kind of stupid and ultimately sub-optimal for the class of user that Apple is supposed to cater to.

      If you bought a machine 8x more than it needs to be, then it better last a long time.

      If you are expecting to keep the thing longer than a PC is supposed to be able to last, then of course it should be upgradeable so that you can accommodate future needs. This should be obvious even if you don't consider the fact that Macs have always been more anemic in what they actually include in this regard (RAM & disk).

    2. Getter lvl70 Druid


      I have an AMD Athlon64 4000+(circa 2006) powered pc around here in daily use by one of my kids, in a godawful see-through case with neon lighting that I thought was cool at the time. This particular case started as an AMD Athlon 2800+ before that but other than video card upgrades and RAM addition, has happily transitioned from Windows XP, Vista Business (have to specify that - Vista Home was the MS killer), and now Windows 7 Professional x64.(*)

      (*)Just as fecal matter rolls down hill, so do workstations in this house in roughly two to three year time periods. As I upgrade, everybody else gets one step better. Exceptions are video cards, RAM upgrades, and the occasional hard drive replacement to stay up with the home network. (yeah we have family CounterStrike2 LAN battles and play EverQuest together) Laptops/tablets - need before greed lol.

    3. M Gale

      Err... can add a NAS box to any network. Doesn't cost much, almost certainly less than a Time Capsule, and you can use it on any computer INCLUDING Macs! (Well, for now anyway)

      However, a gigabit network link still has nowhere near the throughput of a SATA cable, and Apple are still being shitty by making you buy a speshul Apple hard drive for WTF prices.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wonder if you brought cheap PCs

      buy ones of comparable quality/cost to Apple and it will go on and on

  31. Melvin Meatballs

    Buy a bigger drive to start with..

    ..all but the cheapest allow 2Tb FFS.

    or buy one of them external jobs.

    or stop storing so much crap.

    "but I bought it, so I have a right to do what I want with it..."

    yeah, but you don't have a right to expect Apple to make it easy for you.

    anyone who has time or desire to faff around with upgrading isn't Apple's primary market.

    stop bloody moaning and get on with life !

    1. Neill Mitchell


      So what happens if the hard disk fails (and being mechanical devices they do)? You just gonna pay Apple super inflated prices or landfill the system?

      Apple apologists amaze and baffle me.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on Rik, stop your click bait

    "Expanding on its efforts to remove all user control over the innards of its iDevices"

    That's it Rik, Apple is doing this simply to make it harder for the users to change a hard drive, like they even were going to try on a new iMac. Gimme a break. The iMac is a consumer device that was designed to be an appliance: Use it until it breaks, then toss it. When they start doing it on the Mac Pro's then maybe you have something of a point other than the one on the top of your head, but I suspect that we will see more of this and from other manufactures too. Did Apple put the temp sensor in the hard drive or simply are they using what the drive manufactures already have in there and Apple's firmware turns it on? I want an upgradeable machine too, but I recognize the iMac for what it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Use it until it breaks, then toss it".... whether you want to or not. But it's YOUR property.

      >"The iMac is a consumer device that was designed to be an appliance: Use it until it breaks, then toss it"

      How is that not *exactly* the same thing as deliberately removing user control over its innards? It is _deliberately_ designed in the exact same way that /a lot/ - I don't say Apple are the only ones - a LOT of modern appliances are designed: intentionally not possible for the user to upgrade/maintain/repair, deliberately and on purpose in order to *force* us to throw these devices away and buy new ones rather than extend the lives of the ones we have already bought.

      >"Did Apple put the temp sensor in the hard drive or simply are they using what the drive manufactures already have in there and Apple's firmware turns it on"

      Both/Neither. They used the temperature sensor that the drive manufacturers already put in there, but they deliberately invented a new, proprietary and incompatible interface for it, not for reasons of improved performance or any benefit to the actual consumer/user you refer to (just how many times a second do you need to sample the HD temperature anyway?), but solely in order to obtain monopoly control over the secondary market. It's *exactly* Microsoft's "Embrace, extend and extinguish" technique, and Apple are exactly as bent when they do it as Microsoft are when they do it.

      Your entire argument depends on you having already implicitly accepted the assertion that, even after you buy something, the manufacturer somehow still has rights over it to tell you what you can or cannot do with your own personal property. The fact that you don't even realise that is actually a very seriously loaded assumption is the only reason Apple's stance appears reasonable to you, and a sign of exactly how far down you have swallowed the corporate kool-aid.

  33. Dave 126 Silver badge

    T i t l e

    Surely an easy workaround is to place a new fan controller in there? It doesn't cost much to have a controller that varies current supplied to the fan motor with respect to the output of a thermocouple. Pennies.

    I use PCs because of my CAD background (that, and my experience of changing the autoexec.bat and config.sys files just to play one computer game or another...), so point-blank can't consider getting a Mac (yes there is Bootcamp, but still, where's my middle button?). Macs do have a lot going for them- my bosses G5 Mac Pro is still fit for purpose and comes out of sleep instantly, something I've never known a Windows machine to do- but this hard-drive malarky does sound a bit shit.

    But then, I'm the kind of person who hops over those railings at traffic junctions that cause the pedestrians to walk fifty yards out of their way for no good reason.

    It made my heart sink the other day, when an article contained "Apple store employees beat customers with iron bars" and the first umphteen comments were the same old antifanbois/promac comments. It was if the commenters hadn't even registered the phrase "beat customers with an iron bar"!

    : D

    [i paraphrase cos I can't be bothered to copy/paste]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fan control

      For noise and because there are dozens of fan and sensors on today's systems both the the fans and temperature sensors all have to be controlled and report back to the operating system, usually via a very complicated system called ACPI (which is almost a virtual machine in itself)

      This is true in Macs and PCs, but Macs tend to have more fans and sensors simply because they tend to have smaller cases and show a little more concern for noise levels.

      So your simple controller idea has not cut it for at least the past 10 years I'm afraid.

      I can understand you were shocked by the Apple Store incident report, but as usual the news love a bit of hysteria and China provides the ideal environment to claim just about anything. The whole thing was badly reported, lacked a lot of credibility and we'll never really know what happened.

      I've lived in Zhuhai, which is not far from Hong Kong and Shenzen , plus travelled many times to Shanghai so know most of these cases are nothing but scams to get money.

      1. Vic

        Re: Fan control

        > a very complicated system called ACPI

        ACPI is a very simple interface. Most computer systems are at least as complicated as APCI.

        > (which is almost a virtual machine in itself)

        No it isn't.

        > So your simple controller idea has not cut it for at least the past 10 years

        If your assertions about the need for this system are correct, then that simple controller idea is indeed making a comeback: if Apple were just adding ACPI thermal management to HDDs, there would be no need for modified drives or proprietary interfaces.


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I beg to differ.

          From the ACPI glossary:

          ACPI Machine Language (AML)

          Pseudocode, interpreted by a virtual machine within an ACPI-compliant operating system, providing a layer between the underlying hardware and the documented interface presented to the OS.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            Really people you're downvoting my straight rebuttal of Vic's mistaken statements, where I just posted evidence directly from the ACPI docs?

            I also happen to know a few things about the inwards of the beast as I've worked on the FreeBSD implementation of it, oh man ACPI is not a pretty sight.

            You 3 downvoters must be more deluded than I thought. But I still love you all, keep them coming.

  34. Tom Reg

    Or 7 wire HDs will be released by Western Digital or Seagate

    There are likely real reasons (like saving electricity) for that 7 wire lead. Perhaps other computer makers will care as much for the wallets and ears of their customers to ship computers that are as quiet and energy saving as possible.

    All the windows boxes here seem to use way more power than the macs.

    1. M Gale

      Get a couple of multimeters.

      Wire them up to measure volts/current so you get an accurate reading, Do it carefully because the mains supply in any country is rather nasty. Then try shoving an Ubuntu Live CD in them Windows PCs. It's bloody amazing how much difference using a half-decent OS without a shedload of bloatware bolted on can make to your power consumption figures.

      Really, try it some time. The fans on my PC and laptop both thank me with joyously low revolutions whenever I switch that damned Microsoft monstrosity off in favour of Canonical's distinctly more svelt baby.. and Ubuntu is supposed to be a kitchen-sink distribution too!

  35. Prag Fest
    Thumb Down

    Give it a rest

    Its an iMac, you put it on your desk, plug it in, turn it on and you have a computer. The typical target consumer of this product has no interest in changing internal components.

    If thats not for you, custom build your own box and tinker until your hearts content. There are hundreds of other products you can choose from.

    I despair of these dreadful articles and foolish comments, utterly, utterly missing the point.

  36. Arctic fox

    "Unless you enjoy eternal fan noise"

    And if you wish to enjoy eternal iPhan noise then you only have to browse this type of thread!

  37. honkhonk34

    I see the mac defense force is out in strength today!

    But there's a few undeniable aspects to this:

    A. This cable connector is propriety, not standard. for any third party to use it infers licence fees, which is a deal breaker. you won't see other companies bringing out compatible drives in any great numbers or models, if at all.

    B. The features offered through this extended connector are already available through SMART, which is an industry standard for hard disk drives and has been for several years.

    C.This action clearly reduces market competition for replacement or upgrade parts without the use of unsupported hardware or software; a reduction in market competitiveness is generally well proven to be bad for consumers.

    D. Comments about the eventual hack are moot. Either you agree with the concept of a new propriety connector (and all that implies) or you don't.

    E. I expect to be down voted for posting this, so I'll clarify that I am an Information Analyst, working with a wide variety of operating systems on a regular basis, and that I hold no bias in what I'm sure many readers perceive as the Microsoft vs Apple battle. All operating systems have pros and cons; that is irrelevant to the point in hand: this propriety connector is unnecessary considering widely used standards which supply the same features, and it is bad for consumers. That is the important thing here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Information analyst?

      So that makes you qualified to know about cables? I'd think you'd need to be an electronics engineer for that.

      There's no hack or concept to agree here. Apple gives you an API to control the speed of your fans. It's all kosher.

      You don't know what the cable does so you don't know if SMART is enough or not.

      The cable connector is standard it just uses more pins, that's why people can still plug in normal hard drives into it. But what you also don't know is if there's a standard for those pins or not, you're just taking OWC and this article's word for it, which is not enough.

      So essentially you're just giving out unqualified opinions. Is this what Information analysts do? Maybe I should apply for that.

      1. 42


        I have been a hardware and comms tech for 30 years and I agree 100% with the poster. There seems no injustcice that apple does that cannot be defended by deluded fanboys.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Well I upvoted you.

      Because you said that it's about controlling the secondary market and not about any conceivable benefit for the end user, and that's the truth.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Apple death...

    This type of stuff will lead Apple to it's death. One reason why I no longer buy Apple products is this greedy lock in, we want everything, mentality that Jobs has instilled in the company. It started with the first ipod with the battery and shop lock-in. They got a taste of it and now it's nearly in everything. Screw that.

    There are other choices of equal or greater value than Apple thankfully and those are the ones I will be taking. Next up an android phone, a w7 media center. Once the phone goes I will no longer have anything Apple and I'm finding I can do more without restrictions..

    1. Alex Johnson 1


      Death? Since the iPod launch the stock troughed at $6.56 in April 2003. It's now almost $340 - a 5,100% gain - and is the second most valuable publicly traded company in the world. You can draw some conclusions about profiteering if you want (though I think you would find it more useful to analyse it on the basis of having a much better appreciation of what customers actually want than the competition), but they're clearly doing something right. Good luck with W7 and Microsoft's famous public service ethos.

      By the way I've had four iPods and four iPhones, as well as two MacBook Airs with sealed batteries. None of the batteries has ever gone flat before I replaced the device. At no time have I ever felt that the hassle of carrying a spare battery was worth the gain of being able to change it. I never bought spare batteries for previous Mac laptops. The battery in the MacBook can be replaced by Apple. They charge the same for this as they used to charge for spare removable batteries: maybe they are more expensive than Dell's (don't know, don't care) but they are clealy not using this as a method to gouge. While yes, it may be an inconvenience to give up my laptop as if and when to get the battery replaced, this pales next to having the solid inflexible chassis and smooth thin lines that having a sealed unit allows. The only time I ever removed the battery in older phones was because some moronic engineer thought that the space underneath the battery was a good place for memory cards. I have not replaced the hard drive in a Mac since 1997, and haven't thought of doing so since 2001. It has always worked out as simply better to sell and buy something new. You may disagree and protest at how much you value the flexibility, but Apple's financial results suggest that people like me are in the vast majority.

  39. Lyle Dietz

    Try again.

    So Apple have changed the 'standard four-wire SATA power connector'. Well, looks like everyone else has too, because no SATA drive I have ever clapped eyes on has had only 4 pins on the power connector.

    1. DryBones


      I was wondering about that. I looked hard at the picture, and couldn't figure out what bit of proprietary kit they were showing. I was asking myself "4 pins? Are they talking about the old trapezoidal Molex that was only briefly on drives with SATA I/O connections? The SATA data connection has 7 pins, I think. The current power one looks to have more along the lines of 18..." Far as I'm aware nowadays there's a narrow SATA connector for data, and a wide SATA connector for power, has been for a year or two, if not more.

      Someone got some better pictures or a fuller explanation? Right now it's kind of seeming like some folks in New Zealand got iMacs via air freight but are still waiting for (new!) PC motherboards from 3 years ago that have the Molex->SATA adapter to arrive by ship. No scorn here, too bloody confused about what's being gone on about. Eh, it's after midnight, no big.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Temper Temper.

    I can't get over how nasty some Apple fanboys are getting.

    I guess that's what happens when they can't think of an excuse for their saviours nonsense.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The only nonsense here is the one you and others are pulling out of your ass.

      If you don't want a Mac don't buy it, don't excuse it over this drive upgrade shit which 99% of you would never do anyway ( and if you did there's an app for that)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Calm down dear.

        Thank you for demonstrating my point so ineloquently.

  41. Bob 18

    SSD, Anyone?

    HDD's will be replaced soon by SSDs, and then this whole cooling stuff will go by the wayside anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      define "soon"

      current cost of 1tb ssd drive = ~£2500

      current cost of 1tb hdd drive = ~£35

      that's a big gap that's not gonna get closed in the lifetime of this or the next generation of imacs

    2. M Gale

      SSDs? No heat?

      You ever held a thumb drive while it's being written to? There's a little thing called a Charge Pump - I think some newer flashes have a similar but more efficient device called a Boost Converter. The primary purpose for either is the same: The input power isn't high enough to write to or erase information on a flash chip, so a charge pump is used to step things up a little. This generates heat. The high voltages required I think are the reason that Flash memory has a limited write cycle, and why reads are a lot faster than writes.

      Stick a crapload of those chips together in a little 3.5" enclosure and I can almost guarantee that heat levels will rise.

  42. Darkwolf

    Eventual solution...

    First of all, right now, my g/f has an older mac that was running fine until the power supply failed. Unfortunantly I can not replace this with an off the shelf replacement (about $40) because Apple decided to use a non-standard pin out. The cost for a replacement? $200 (give or take)

    For this particular issue, eventually someone will come up with a solution that will involve an adaper on the Mac power plug.

    This adapter will split the plug into two parts, one of which will handle standard harddrive power, while the second will connect to a modifed chip that will emulate the apple firmware, and have a built in heat sensor that will allow for fan speed adjustment in the event of high heat being detected.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not just Apple

      The power supply on my Dell XPS 720 desktop also failed and no standard PS would fit in the case plus it had proprietary connectors, Dell also wanted to crazy money to replace it.

      Unfortunately it all happened just a couple of months after the three year service contract expired.

      It's now sitting gathering dust. 'Tis a shame, because it's an impressive machine and had two GPUs (now moved elsewhere). Fortunately I didn't pay for it as it was a work machine.

  43. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Has Steve got a dept for posting on Reg now?

    Many posts about it being a consumer device so why would you want to upgrade it?

    My TV is a consumer device, it runs on Linux, has expansion ports and can be upgraded by me.

    My DVD player is a consumer device, I can update the software on it to improve divx playback.

    My MP3 player is a consumer device, I can easily replace the battery on it and many years ago upgraded the firmware so I could use drag and drop instead of the bundled software to load files.

    The fact that more and more 'consumer devices' are able to do this really makes that argument weak.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Journalists gone wild

    They now seem to troll every forum or company blog for any story that they can spin as Apple being "more closed" or "controlling". Then quickly publish it without any solid grounding, just look at this article 1/4 of it at least are actually updates which minimise the impact of the original story.

    We've seen how blown up the whole Locationgate was. Now they found that Apple used a few more control pins in one connector inside a machine not even that many people have and even fewer would have any desire to open. There's even a workaround.

    Why the pins are used is not even understood, but surely anyone with a little EE skills can find out very easily what they do. Once we had criticial piece of information maybe there would be a story there, or maybe not. But why before?

    It's a real shame this is now price that comes with success. When Apple only had it's little corner of the market no one cared what silly connectors they used, but now use two extra pins and wow it's a sign of upcoming doom and for some even fodder to their delusions on how the Mac OS will be closed to applications outside of Apple's store. How insane is that?

    Too bad the same scrutiny was not here for Microsoft when they colluded with Intel over secret opcodes in processors that gave Windows an unfair advantage. Now that was something that really did impact a lot of the industry. If you don't believe it read up on the infamous secret Appendix H: "Virtual Mode Extensions in the Pentium processor". These extensions speeded up memory management and running older 16-bit code, and were used in Windows NT well before the information was public.

    But I guess the gravy train had different departure stations then.

    1. Ilgaz

      Apple always used standards once they are mature

      The "Apple" hard disks were basically SCSI disks because IDE standard wasn't good enough and has put considerable load on CPU:

      Same for Flrewire, it is just fancy name for IEEE1394, there are still people who doesn't get it.

      ADB was there, perfect for Apple and documented. It was gone once USB matured.

      Thing pissing people off is undocumented, unneccessary 2 pins while SATA is the standard with SMART. Apple never, ever came up with stuff like that. Famous ADB later uncovered to be some IBM documented/published standard.

  45. raving angry loony

    coffin, meet nail.

    I was a Mac fanboi for years. This, however, will definitely put the nail in that particularly rank smelling coffin. I stopped buying their iPod line a few years ago when they went completely off the deep end with controlling how I use the thing. This will put an end to my buying ANY Apple product. When my current brood of systems runs out of steam (admittedly, they still seem to have enough oomph to keep me going for a while) I'll probably just buckle down and start building my own silent systems. At least then I can continue to use industry standard parts rather than catering to one organizations increasingly bizarre and convoluted attempts to go back to the bad old days of everyone having their own proprietary interfaces.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Detailed explanation (with photos)

    And here we go, full detailed description of this topic including photos:

    I'll quote this interesting insight:

    "As we said earlier, the iMac checks very often the temperature of the hard drive. If it was doing so with the SMART system, it would shrink the disk bandwidth and would freeze the disk for a very short time at every check.

    Therefore Apple decided to do it with an Out of Bandwidth system, outside of the data channels of the disks."

    So maybe there was a valid technical reason after all umm people? No need to be rushing for judgement and summary execution before all the details are on the table. After so many recently I'd think people would have grown more critical of reality as painted by journalists.

    1. John Savard

      Valid Technical Reason?

      There is no need to check the temperature of the hard drive so frequently as to have a significant impact on its bandwidth. Checking twice a second should be quite enough, unless it is getting close to a temperature where action might need to be taken.

      It would be nice to think that Apple products have the most advanced hard drives in the world, better protected against overheating than any others, but given Apple's history of lock-in and high prices, it won't be easy for me to believe that.

      1. Ilgaz

        Had to pay for Apple service

        When I noticed the hard disk doesn't really sound/act right on brand new Mac Mini, I have checked its temp via smart.

        76 celsius and I wasn't even compiling something or (god forbid) defragmenting. Apple has chosen such a bad brand/model that I couldn't wait, turned off and went straight to Apple service with a seagate drive in hand. Same usage pattern, drive is 45 c max.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: and would freeze the disk for a very short time at every che

      sounds like what is known as "premeditate optimisation" in the software world - result is usually you spend lots of resources (coder's time) saving milliseconds that have no real impact on perceivable performance and unmeasurable impact on actual performance as other things just swamp savings anyway

      and since physical HDD can't keep up with the electronics anyway - I suspect it is just BS

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ok you doubt it, fair enough

        I setup a test on my Macbook Pro 2009 with a Seagate ST95005620AS 500GB drive (yes I did the upgrade myself). I used Xbench's disk test to test this, first as normal without temperature polling and then with the tempmonitor tool polling the SMART temperature every 0.5 seconds as you've suggested. Here are the results:

        ** Without SMART polling **

        Disk Test 38.95

        Sequential 103.15

        Uncached Write 115.25 70.76 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Write 109.66 62.04 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        Uncached Read 75.37 22.06 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Read 129.66 65.17 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        Random 24.01

        Uncached Write 7.10 0.75 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Write 201.73 64.58 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        Uncached Read 74.47 0.53 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Read 137.48 25.51 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        ** With SMART polling every 0.5 seconds **

        Disk Test 33.73

        Sequential 84.80

        Uncached Write 71.10 43.66 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Write 90.67 51.30 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        Uncached Read 79.94 23.39 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Read 104.53 52.53 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        Random 21.05

        Uncached Write 6.09 0.64 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Write 155.31 49.72 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        Uncached Read 83.08 0.59 MB/sec [4K blocks]

        Uncached Read 135.03 25.06 MB/sec [256K blocks]

        So, to me and on the system I have right now, there is a clear difference in performance - especially in sequential access of large blocks - even when just polling the drive for SMART temperature every half a second. Yes, I did run it a few times with similar results.

        Can I then suggest that you do your own tests before dismissing the idea?

        @AC 00:12

        I think you're the one telling tales here, I've been in the software industry for over 20 years and not once have I seen "premeditated optimisation" used as a phrase. Google apparently doesn't know either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: I've been in the software industry for over 20 years and not once have

          I guess it was a typo and refers to "premature optimization" - I am surprised anyone in the software industry hasn't heard of that.

          and as the tests - you need to confirm it isn't an artefact of the OS/"DIsk Make" that is causing the issue

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC 10:17

            Well if it is, it's a big typo from "premeditate" to "premature" no wonder I didn't see it. But even if it's that I don't think it's the case here.

            Yes of course I do need to confirm that. That's what I'll do later today, on a completely different Linux machine so that I meet the strict requirements of the El Reg peer review process for comments.

            But meanwhile it already is showing up on one OS and one disk make, so it is an indication. Like I said I suggest people do their own tests before assuming and stating there is no slowdown caused by SMART temperature readings.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Doesn't it strike you as strange

              Instead of kicking back to the drive manufactures and asking why something like SMART temperature checking needs to actually stop/interfere with the drive operation when there is plenty of bandwidth, Apple create something new and non-standard?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @AC 12:02

                I suspect the answer to that lies within the the actual SATA specification, for example how are the drives expected to handle a SMART request when they have disk transactions pending in the NCQ queue?

                Or, as I don't think drives run asynchronous OSs, they might have to stop everything they're doing, poll the temperature sensor (which may take time, eg to stabilise on a reading) and reply before going back to doing it's main thing.

                I can have a look later to figure out what's going on, or some other knowledgeable commenter might feel free to answer that.

                One thing I do know is that not everything is a question of bandwidth. Would you prefer that Apple broke the SATA protocol instead of adding two wires to the drives?

    3. Ilgaz

      SATA is 6000000 bits/sec, temp is 4 bit

      Is SATA 6 gbit? Gigabits right?

      Apple, like any big brand gets to choose their parts right? It is a known thing that some brands (not naming) are known to do real stupid things like choking when being queried via SMART but it is not a problem for Apple, they could just make 40% margin instead of the bragged 50% and choose a proper hard disk to install their shiny imacs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You're still around in this thread. People move on from this you know. But top marks for persistence.

        "It is a known thing that some brands (not naming) are known to do real stupid things like choking"

        Some brands? Have you noticed how the worldwide disk market is right now? With all the purchases there's just Seagate and Western Digital left (plus Fujitsu and Toshiba as smaller player in the 2.5" market). I've already figured out it SMART chokes all Seagates I threw it at. Is Western Digital a good one then?

        Remember Apple has to choose a manufacturer that will at least be around for another year. They're not refreshing the iMac before then.

        As for the 2 extra wires, it turns out it's just 1, pin 11 of the power supply cable. Incidentally this pin was used for "staggered spinup, activity indication, or nothing" so almost a general purpose thing. Crazy how stories develop isn't it?

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Hard drive temperature?

    Where did Apple get it's idea that high temperatures were causing hard drives to fail prematurely anyway? Certainly it's possible if you really cook them, but Google has been running its data centers for years at higher than normal temperatures, citing better longevity.

    If the drive is running that hot, use the drive's own built-in temp sensor to manage it, choose a manufacturer of drives that run cooler. (WD drives usually run lukewarm at best while Seagates seem to really cook) Or a third solution, sacrifice a little bit of form for function and design some decent cooling into the case design and hardware layout.

    A proprietary solution for hard drive cooling in this instance is like fixing a leaky oil pan by constructing an elaborate system to catch the drips and pump them back to your engine.

    1. MrT
      Thumb Up

      It might not be the drive they're worried about...

      ... the position of the HDD in a 27" iMac is just above the exact centre of the screen - they might not want any component to create a dramatically different hotspot in case it affects the display panel. The HDD and SDD bays are surrounded by other electronics so already in a warm area.

      Agree about WD drives cf Seagate though - Barracudas run hot and of the ones I've used they fail quickly when they start to let go - Steve Gibson's SpinRite had a merry time trying to save data on one as the sector errors spiralled. OTOH, the WD drives have usually run cooler than Samsung as well as Seagate - the only WD drives that I've found to be poor value were the Passport portables - due to insufficient shock protection more than cooking themselves.

      Stopping, cooling down and restarting causes more failure in HDDs - Google's datacentre would be running theirs 24/7 so running them hot and continually would probably free up the bearings for smoother running.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Yin Yang

    -Apple makes elegant, usually fluidly-functioning machines, which are marketed as making everyone's life easier, greener, etc. "It just works"

    -Apple also makes it a pain to upgrade anything, locks down everything, doesn't include an SD card slot on the iPhone (unforgivable), and wants to think for you. In reality the 'green' image is as much hype as Priuses being green, when you factor in the manufacturing, recycling, and where the materials are sourced from.

    Both the Windows and the Apple world have increasingly draconian DRM, so there's no real escape from big brother, whatever you choose.

    -PCs are the small-block Chevy of the computing world--add what you want, tinker with what you want. Just don't expect the same elegance as a pre-chewed, lemon-scented, sanitized Apple solution. Want to have someone think for you? Add Windows 7. Want to be a 1%er? Install your favorite rebel Linux distro, or hack up your own from the open-source community. Want the best of both worlds? Stick with XP or Ubuntu.

    Want to get a good night's sleep? Have a couple beers and turn off the new idiot box.

  49. Gkpm
    Dead Vulture

    The Register's new style of reporting

    Breaking news:

    The sky is falling!

    Update 1 (hours later):

    Something is definitely falling from the sky but but meteorologists say it may just be a dense form of dihydrogen monoxide. Still this can cause perfuse your skin and clothing and cause massive discomfort.

    Update 2 (hours later):

    To avoid the dense dihydrogen monoxide you can set yourself on fire which will hopefully vaporise the substance before it perfuses into your skin. It's also been mentioned you avoid this with an umbrella.

    In a final email to El Reg a travel agent writes "This will not affect our holiday programs and the issue has no impact on our holidays in the Maldives, where it's not raining"

  50. Kleykenb
    Jobs Horns

    Even fanbois

    Even fanbois will eventually have to come to the inevitable conclusion : Apple is trying to rip it's customers off through hardware lock-in.

    I've got a bunch of hardware from Apple but I definately won't be buying any PC or portable they bring out that does not allow at the very least easy replacement or upgrade of the disks and memory.

  51. Anonymous Coward


    Surely as a true Apple devotee, you'll always have the latest offerings, and love them all; nothing you own should ever get old enough to need (and I can hardly bring myself to type these words)... internally upgrading...

  52. MrT

    Don't replace the original drive...

    ... I mean, unless it's broken - the article mentions that the SSD bay is still usable, (This issue has zero impact on adding a drive to the SSD bay.") so leave the original drive in place, upgrade to a nice fat SSD and bung OSX on that. The fan controls are happy, the original drive stays in place.

    It's still not a 15-min easy job though, as the SSD bay is not a slide-in thing like a laptop HDD - it's well buried inside the iMac, next to the HDD - there's a picture at with the bay highlighted. Needs a SATA male-to-two-female splitter plus a left-angled SATA connector cable, and then the way to partially remove the logic board to access the free port.

    Which makes it "as easy as really complicated pie" (NexGadget)...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Mr T -- Leave the original drive in place?!?

      So you have a failed original drive, you suggest leaving it in place. Ahh the fan is nice and quiet... K-chunk! K-chunk! K-chunk! (too bad the dead drive is making that gawd awful sound)

      This is assuming the drive didn't have an electronic failure that makes the fan ramp up anyway...

      1. MrT


        ... because in the first line I said "unless it's broken" - eyes open!

        I'm saying leave the (unbroken, still functioning) drive in, just doing minimal stuff - move to using the SSD. As I read it, the problems arise out of removing the Apple HDD. If OS-X is like other *nix/BSD installs, the only thing to bother about will be to make sure any swapfile partition goes on the original HDD, rather than accepting the default partition option. If you're up to adding your own SSD in one of these, doing a custom install of OS-X won't be a hassle.

        The article is about upgrading the hard drive, not repairing it after a component failure - the OWC source shows that removing the original HDD isn't necessary if all you want is to use a faster SSD.

        If it's broken, Apple have tried to make sure that the only route for most is to replace with another Apple HDD - no comment on the lock-in policy - and whilst there are other options and work-arounds for the tech-savvy users, most Apple PCs will be bought by non-tech consumers who also buy the AppleCare Protection Plan like they would for a washing machine or TV. In that case, if the drive fails, most users will take the iMac back to the store for repair.

  53. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Thumb Up

    The iMac Advantage.

    an iMac... All the disadvantages of a laptop and a desktop rolled into one.

    All the advantages of a laptop and desktop rolled into one... nah.. doesn't work that way now, does it?





  54. Tringle

    Why all the fuss?

    Apple stuff is for fashion victims anyway. So, with the odd exception there stuff is regularly binned when the new shinier must have version comes on the market. Cost of ownership is irrelevant.

    I don't buy the PCs always fail nonsense - if more fail it's because there are almost an order of magnitude more of them in the world.

    I have just replaced my 9 year old Dell lappie, which was still working just fine thank you, but the battery was getting very poor; time to change the whole thing. Our 7 year old HP is serving faithfully in my daughter's study, and I'm writing this on my 3 year old HP. The new Acer lappie is just fine too. They are all flawlessly networked together even though they use XP, Vista and 7 repectively. And all three of them cost less that one shiny fashion statement.

    Apples are like Ferraris; they look fabulous, but when you get down to it they aren't value for money.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Re *sigh* - Silly People

    '3. Steve Jobs (or an SVP, etc) did not sit around some table musing about ways to screw people out of money and come up with fitting a custom HDD. Thats just silly'

    And you actually believe that statement you have just written. ?

    Apple is the the king of proprietary connectors. Yes you can normally get round most with dongle/converters etc. but why should in in the first place ?

    How long before the new improved/longer life/quieter (whatever marketing bull they will come up with) iHardDrives end up in all models ...?

  56. Ari 1

    information toaster

    For a regular user, a computer is basically a toaster or microwave oven that shows information instead of toasting bread or heating food.

    Seriously, how many of you know what components are inside a microwave and how they interact (I bet precious few know what the "power" setting actually does, how it modulates the power). Okay, some may know that a magical device called a magnetron has something to do with it (seeing as how we're all a bunch of nerds), but how many understand how the magnetron actually works (hmmm.... is that a traffic increase on that I see?).

    More to the point, does it help?

    Up to a point, maybe (understanding the power modulation lets you heat the food without getting that disgusting microwaved surface texture, if you have the patience). But most people won't care for those little differences, and they shouldn't have to. They spend their days perfecting their skills as auto-mechanics, doctors, store attendants, or possibly rocket scientists. The computer is a tool to use to reach a goal such as assisting with their jobs, relieving tension through playing a game (or hardcore pornography...).

    The regular user only wants an information access and manipulation tool. Getting it in one package, working, with enough of everything to run well is all they care about. 1GB RAM Vista (or 7) machines are NOT what people want. Cables and crap? nope. Upgradeability? Some people THINK that they need/want that. Usually so that they can buy a wildly underspecced machine with the aim of upgrading it in a year or so. They come back in two or three years, by which time the CPU socket on the motherboard they bought isn't supported anymore, so no new CPUs are available, but I can sell you an old one which is 15% more powerful, on the cheap. That still leaves their computers as old and weak, often with cheap PSUs marginal HDDs and such. The upgrade bill (with work) is half the cost of a new machine. Possibly more.

    This is not economical for most users. Results in horrible computers, a horrible user experience, the user can never do what they WANT to be able to do because even when new their machines are horribly underpowered due to their misguided attempts at saving money. I'm not saying that cheaper machines are inherently bad, only that for the general user they are usually bad. I run a 9 year old small form factor machine (Shuttle) running Linux, and it runs great AND is pretty. My mother runs a computer that is at least twice as powerful and hates every minute of using it because it won't support what she's trying to do. Cheap machine, didn't listen to advice...

    Face it. The only people for whom easy upgradeability is really an issue is a few nerds like us. We are something like 2-5% of the market. And at least a part of these nerds are experienced enough to rip apart even the toughest all-in-one. I mean, hell, we change our own iPhone/Android phone screens. I've replaced capacitors in two failing Samsung LCD monitors.

    We, the tinkerers and nerds, will fiddle with stuff no matter what, and figure it out. The rest of the users would be best served by a decently powerful all-in-one. What Apple have done well is market their particular AIO machines as being much more than good enough for any normal user. Those users want an information tool into their home, and think of it like their food cooling device (fridge), their food warming devices, their audio/video playing and displaying machines, and their transportation machines.

    Users are task focused, that is, they want to complete tasks of their own choosing. They have no interest in the process that makes that task possible, only whether the task is or is not possible (a binary approach to understanding the problem).

    1. M Gale

      How a Microwave oven modulates its power.

      Most of them don't. While some more advanced microwave ovens can indeed operate at "half power" or whatever, more operate just by running the magnetron at 100% power with say, a 50% duty cycle. In simple terms, it switches itself off and on.

      And Apple are still being shitty. The first thing your average consumer will notice is when it breaks and instead of a bill for £50 plus £20 labour, it'll be £200 + £30 labour and the special hard drive will take two weeks to order from Apple. Just because most consumers couldn't give a shit about what goes on inside their machines, doesn't mean that those of us who make it our business to know about what goes on inside a computer should not point at shitty practices and say they are shitty!

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Thumb Down

      Information Toaster.

      I hear what you're saying and agree with what you say about us.

      But come now, think of two end-users, one with a tower setup and one with an iMac/AIO set up. If a fault occurs, who'd be down longer?

      Don't buy AIO crap.

      It's like buying a lappie. You have to expect it to fail and when it does, you have to expect that there's probably very little you can do about it. But at least, in the case of a lappie, the tradeoff is portability.

      An AIO should *never* be your main machine, be you nerd or non-nerd.

      In fact, I would argue, an AIO should *never* be bought at all.

      Jobs Horns

      Apple's approach is pre-industrial.

      > Seriously, how many of you know what components are inside a microwave and how they interact

      That's great. You could call the microwave the Macintosh of the cooking world. It is a device that seems to offer greater ease and efficiency but it's really much more of a bother because of a near total lack of standardization. Every microwave is different. You can't just shove something in and forget about it like a proper oven. You have to keep futzing with it and baby sit it much like a poorly designed GUI.

      This willful ignorance approach actually makes a microwave more bother to deal with than a stove, oven, grill or even an open fire. Even for foods specifically designed to be cooked in a microwave, you can't trust in a standard simple recipe. You have to baby sit the thing to make sure you don't end up with bits still frozen and other bits carmelized.

      Industrial standardization doesn't just benefit the tinkerer. It benefits everyone. Everyone uses stuff that's been put together and sooner or later people might need something serviced. Making the front or back end of things more difficult really doesn't help anything.

  57. TonyHoyle

    This just makes you buy a new computer more often

    Drives fail.. that and the CD drive are the only bits left with moving parts and those wear out. Having no ability to replace the drive instead of a quick repair job the cost of ownership just went through the roof.

    It's simply not true to say that most people don't replace them. Maybe they don't do it themselves but when it 'breaks' they do take it to a shop that does it for them, or ask a techie friend. Now the response will be 'Oh it's one of those.. only apple can do that. What, your apple store is 200 miles away? Tough break...'

    You can bet the replacement will be *expensive*. This is the company that expects you to pay £200 for a battery (and considers battery failure in 6 months to be normal wear and tear.. yes I have had that conversation.. all it did was make damned sure I'd never buy a macbook again).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not sure what you're referring to?

      Apple was the first (or one of the first) companies to tout high laptop battery longevity. Starting a couple years ago, they said a MacBook battery should be able to go through 1000 charge cycles before it loses 20% of its capacity. That's almost 3 years of daily charging and it will still have 80% capacity. Maybe you are referring to older MacBooks that might have had worse battery chemistry or charging electronics. But I think they are quite good now. Significantly better than typical PC laptops using cheap Li-ion cells.

      1. M Gale

        Batteries charged in an hour and a half will not cycle 1000 times.

        "Starting a couple years ago, they said a MacBook battery should be able to go through 1000 charge cycles before it loses 20% of its capacity."

        That's about the standard figure for any Li-Ion or Li-Poly battery, and you can guarantee you won't get anywhere near that. Not unless it's charged so gently you're waiting until next week to use the thing. Think of the 1000 charges as being like a hard drive manufacturer promising "1000 gigabytes" or USB 2.0 promising "480mbit/sec". Theoretical but never-actually-reached maximums.. or just plain old marketing bullshit in the HDD manufacturer's case.

  58. This post has been deleted by its author

  59. Jay 12


    You'd be very surprised how changing a 3yr old hdd will give you a performance boost. Being the only mechanical part with moving thingummies in it they are bound to fail. Just cause 'there's an app for it' when you need to upgrade doesn't mean you won't need someone at some point to swapsie the main drive. If I owned a mac I would prefer not to use the monopoly (apple care) and use the cheapest provider of parts and labour as there are several shops out there selling cheap hard drives.

    Hey ho let the thumbs down commence from the rabids.

  60. honkhonk34

    One thing I don't get

    Is the whole "nobody really upgrades/maintains it anyway" crossed with the "if you don't like it don't buy a mac"

    it's ignorant and narrow minded for a couple of reasons, such as the fact that individual consumers aren't the only people who buy apple products. many institutions and businesses do and maintenance and upgrade costs are important to their choices of products; this isn't merely anti-apple people having fun (though I'm sure a few are), many of their business sector customers have a valid reason to be worried by such actions, so not only is saying "nobody would care" highly opinionated, it's also not correct.

    as far as "if you don't like it don't buy a mac" - as I said, I'm an Information Analyst, an aspect of my job is discussing within the team about solution practices for the organization hiring us; I know from first hand experience that difficult to maintain gear is anathema to senior management, so within the business sphere the result may indeed be a reduction in apple product purchases, should something as simple as replacing a HDD become more costly or awkward.

    I think some people have forgotten that being an individual consumer still only makes you part of a greater whole; although individually this might not seem to be a contentious issue there are other perspectives which one should be aware of and respect.

  61. tempemeaty

    Apple just lost a customer for life...

    Computer parts don't chose the best time to have issues. When you're working on a PAID PROJECT with a DEADLINE and suddenly need a hard drive in the middle of it YOU DON'T F%$#ING HAVE TIME TO LEAVE IT AT THE MAC STORE!

    Well that does it. The money I've saved for a Mac will go to better use elsewhere. Idiots(Apple).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh please cut the drama

      You can still replace the drive, fans will be a bit noisier but you can use the fan control app to control it. Certainly will not keep you from doing your important project.

      Or if that still doesn't please you wait until the people figure out how to do it, there's been more developments to this story.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Moral of the story.

      Never use a piece of kit you cannot depend on for anything critical.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

        That would take us back to pen and paper, I think.

        I just keep a backup machine. Worked already for me.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Business critical

      Go to the Mac store before you can carry on working? If a machine is business critical surely you'd have a backup of your boot drive. And if you do you can boot the Mac straight from Firewire (or presumably the new Thunderbolt socket). You can then carry on until you actually do have time for repair.

      1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

        Re: Business Critical

        Well, the whole point is he will have to go to the Apple store at some point.

        What's the turn around time at at an Apple store?

        Turn around time fixing something at my place? Fairly quick. The time to restore a backup if it's a HD crash after replacing it. The time to change a component.... Isolate the fault, get the part from the cupboard or the shop down the road, fix it. All within a couple of hours. Barely any travel time, if at all.

        All-in-one's are just plain fail. (I'm not restricting this to iMacs).

        They are just WAY TOO PAINFUL.

        Just remember the last time anything went wrong with your lappie. And remember, that was not (likely) your main machine. What did you do? Throw it away? Or send it in and wait and wait and wait.

        (For this reason, I try to buy lappies that are easily err... dissectable).

    4. Chad H.

      If you're working on a paid project with a deadline

      What the heck are you doing playing with the Gizzards of your machine? Get the some USB sticks, CD's or online storage and get back to work. Heaven forbid you get some redundancy at the same time.

      1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

        "What the heck are you doing playing with the Gizzards of your machine?"


        ... fixing it? It's not like it's rocket science or anything, y'know...

        1. Chad H.

          Fixing it implies its broken

          But it isn't broken, its an upgrade in this case.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Rules of Apple fanboi existence

    Rule #1 - Apple is perfect.

    Rule #2 - If Apple is ever shown to be less than perfect, see rule #1.

    Rule #3 - If the "obvious lie" persists, defend Apple's stupidity until your dying breath.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rules of the hatebois existence

      1. Not read anything because you obviously always know best

      2. If the problem turns out to be void, keep insisting that there is one or make it appear like it as huge issue that will affect the whole of humanity.

      3. If problem doesn't really exist and insistence has been futile turn hate talk to those who disagree with you

      4. Do this until one day you figure out it's a bit stupid to keep on doing it.

  63. John Savard
    Jobs Horns


    It isn't totally surprising that they would do such a thing.

    But it isn't unsurprising. While they do not go out of their way to make upgrading easy, and they occasionally obstruct it, this is a new low even for Apple.

  64. Anonymous Coward

    The article radically misstates the UK legal position

    The author writes "Should you want to upgrade your iMac's internal drive with a larger one, or should that drive happen to fail, you are S.O.L".

    Yet if a part is no longer a consumable, then it becomes part of the durable whole, and that actually greatly increases Apple's liability to the purchaser, under British consumer law. Assuming no physical abuse of the computer, and assuming a purchase cost of £1k (which is relevant), then should the hard drive fail, Apple are liable fully for a) performing a full repair of the computer, or b) the entire computer value less a pro-rata deduction for wear, for up to six years, under the UK's Sale Of Goods act. Any clauses from Apple which attempt to exclude or limit its liability, are void. Any remedies are subject to the 'reasonable man' test. Whereas were the hard drive replaceable, then assuming it failed within four or five years, Apple might be reasonable in saying "it's a consumable and no hard drive lasts longer than this - replace it yourself, buddy".

    1. James Hughes 1

      I know about the 2 year European warrantee on all things electrical

      But not heard of this one - any links?


      1. Jamie Kitson

        Google is your friend

    2. Alex Johnson 1


      It will be replaceable: it will be a servicable part by Apple and its service centres. The only thing is you may have to pay more for it than might otherwise have been the case. Maybe that's you "SOL" but you won't need to throw out the whole machine. If that time is less than "reasonable" you may have a claim under SOGA but I don't know where you get six years from: that's the statutory period, and I don't think anyone would expect that this was a reasonable period to expect every component of a computer to have to last. Price is relevant, but it is not determinative.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ Alex Johnson 1

        So empathetic of you to say FAIL and I'm 'SOL' for worrying about money.

        You're right - it's a proprietary servicable part. You've got me there. Yet if the replacement cost *is* very high, and/or becomes necessary unexpectedly soon, then it becomes relevant in terms of SOGA remedies available, as it makes it financially imperative for the purchaser, that it behaved as a durable the first time around (commensurate with its replacement - and thus implied initial cost - and any unreasonable additional financial difficulty in making the more durable parts of the computer function again).

        You underestimate the power given the consumer. I believe the fact of the Apple lock-in, and its pricing, forms part of the contract such that it *is* subject to SOGA durability rules, as it does impose what may be an unexpected additional liability on a likely uninformed consumer; I believe these factors *are* relevant to what remedies a small claims judge might be minded to give. A 'consumable' it is not.

        As for 6 years, it is relevant - I had a £2+k Mac in 2001 - likely claimable-on for 5 to 6 years, and the hard drive 4. Perhaps in your part of town that's chickenfeed, but where I live that's called seller liability. I'm much more right than I'm wrong and you know it.

  65. Mickey Finn
    Big Brother

    Re: 1984...

    In 1984, Apple made a film which suggested that they were the antidote to fascist totalitarianism...

    In 2008, I bought my first Mac, a MacBook Pro, I was fed up with the unreliability of Windows, its constant viral attacks, its bloat and all the other stuff we just love about that product.

    In 2009, I bought a 27" iMac, and loaded a program which warned me about internet activity... I was surprised at how frequently they attempted to phone home.

    By the beginning of 2011, both had needed significant repair, something which had never been a problem with my PC's be they home built or manufactured and sold as built.

    Here they have demonstrated that they have not understood Orwell's message, and are using the book (of the film) as a manual.

    I won't ever buy another Apple product... Natch.

    Problem is... Where to next...

    Menuet on a PC maybe?

  66. whats the point of kenny lynch?
    Thumb Down

    ever heard of external drives?

    you can get a 4TB external drive for about 50p, why would you want to piss about with the imacs internal drive?

    ever heard of a warranty? if the hard drive fails, you send it back to apple and they fix or replace it.

    why all the moaning?

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Why all the moaning?

      "if the hard drive fails, you send it back to apple and they fix or replace it."

      That's why. Geez.

      1. Chad H.


        Thats what you do with warranty repairs anyways.

  67. Deek_Kay

    A different bit of history is probably more relevant.

    You DO remember, don't you that late last fall the same blog made virtually the same complaint about Apple's new SSD drives and the connectors they used. Just weeks later, Samsung announced the same type drives in a wider range of capacities for the general market, and they are now using them in their own laptop line. Other manufacturers will surely follow if they haven't already, because the drives are phenomenal.

    I suspect that history is about to repeat itself with these new HDDs.

  68. Jamie Kitson

    Old News

    From reading the links it seems that this has been true (and solved) of iMacs since 2009...

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul Crawford

    "Fail, for Apple pissing on its professional customers."

    Fail for Paul Crawford because the iMac isn't a 'professional' machine, and has never be touted as such. If you want a 'pro' machine look at the Mac 'Pro'...

  70. PeterM42

    Macs - SHMACKS! (or is that SMUCKS!)

    It seems that Apple have taken yet one more step in ensuring thet their proprietary systems remain undesirable and potentially unusable.

    As someone who has been in the computer industry since 1967, I note that the "proprietary" Windows+Intel (or AMD) system is the most "open" and useable of all computer systems ever invented. Umpteen million users says it all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fixed it for you

      I note that the "proprietary" Windows+Intel (or AMD) system is the most "open" to viruses and malware of all computer systems ever invented. Umpteen infected machines and botnets says it all.

      1. Ilgaz

        Buy a proper case, install SELinux

        A truly securable case, a proper boot configuration (better off with linux bios), a hand configured kernel running SE Linux.

        I dare you to install malware on that machine.

        1. M Gale

          And in the spirit of Joe and Jane Public...

          ...SE What?

          chmod what?

          modprobe wtf?

          This is shit. Give me my Windows back.

    2. M Gale

      50 million screaming Christians can't be wrong?

      Sorry, just channelling Marylin Manson there. Umpteen million users use Windows not because it's the "most open" or "most usable" but because it has the "most games" and "Microsoft Office" and it's "what everyone else has". That is the be-all and end-all of Microsoft Windows. Its usability, frankly, stinks compared to even Linux distros these days (okay, you could go for some awful Slackware-based embedded thing just to be awkward but I'm thinking Ubuntu, Mandrive, Fedora, etc). It's also inefficient, bloated.. and I don't think "open" means what you think it means. Perhaps you meant "accessible", in which case I'll agree - so long as you're willing to fork out stupid amounts for an uncrippled version of the OS every couple of years.

      By the way, did you know that if you buy that PC in a shop as a complete unit with some OEM Windows on it and your motherboard develops a fault, that Microsoft will demand you buy a new copy of Windows because to them the motherboard is the computer? They've threatened various small repair shops with four-figure fines over this already. The guy I bought my latest PC from mentioned this to me, as well as saying how he's told Microsoft to get stuffed and hasn't received any legal love letters over it YET (touch wood). Perhaps I should mention the crapload of patents that Microsoft still insist that the Linux kernel violates, despite not telling anybody where or how and just using their insistence that it does as a way of extracting settlements and frightening people into staying away from a REALLY open system?

      Microsoft may have their OS on the most machines, but I would never, ever describe them as "open". Not to the slightest extent. That's before we get into "Open Source". Also, 1967? Crikey, hello gramps. Is that a punchcard I see in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?


      Alan Bradley: Excuse me

      Richard Mackey: Yes... Alan

      Alan Bradley: Given the prices we charge to students and schools, what sort of improvements have been made in Flynn... I mean, um, ENCOM OS-12?

      Richard Mackey: This year we put a "12" on the box.

    3. Ilgaz

      Thanks to IBM PC design team

      When you read history of IBM PC, you can see they have chosen all the parts from mass market and the parts that has competition/multiple rivals.

      Sadly it also brought us x86 "standard" but the rest is OK. PC designer guys are way underrated because the product they came up with showed A:\ prompt in green :)

      Just imagine the task of convincing Big Blue to use off the shelf stuff.

  71. Cyberspice


    Meh. Apple bashing again.

    The iMac has a thunderbolt port and firewire. You're not expected to get a pair of suckers, lift out the glass, drop the flat panel and change the hard drive yourself. Connect a large external drive. If the drive fails within warranty get Apple to replace it.

    If I run Linux I will build a computer or use a pc laptop. However my throw in the bag and take anywhere laptop is a 2008 Unibody MacBook. I've had a similarly specced Dell for the same period. Over that time the motherboard, keyboard and harddrive (twice) has been replace on the Dell. The Macbook is fine. Both have covered about 100K miles in my backpack.


      No. An Atari 800 is not "stylish".

      > The iMac has a thunderbolt port and firewire

      Been there. Done that. Tried that for a dying Mini that violated the cultural mythology that surrounds Apple and the quality level of it's products.

      NOT having something that is not spread across the whole table in a bunch of discrete little boxes with a bunch of cables and possibly walwarts to match is actually one of the nice things about the whole IBM Clone approach. Being able to change my own hard drive or RAM on a PC laptop is not something that really requires any compromises for the extra maintainability or cost effectiveness I get out of it.

      Apple fanboys have low expecations. Really they do. Then they make excuses when people with more taste state the obvious and inevitable.

      The nice thing about PCs is they are flexible enough that you can create something better. (even better than what's typical for WinDOS or Macs)

      1. Ilgaz

        Also the OS with external drive

        Just because there are some idiots who would unplug drive without ejecting/unmounting (single keypress), Apple devs decided better to disable ram cache for external drives.

        As OS X is UNIX and built on same philosophy, it really hurts to have the excellent BSD caching mechanism being disabled, especially in creative business.

  72. John Fielder
    Jobs Horns

    Swings and roundabouts

    This is why Apples do not crash as often. Is it worth it? Personally I can put up with a few crashes in return for being able to ft my own parts, or at least being able to shop around for someone to fit them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You still can fit your own parts

      There's is no actual claim in this story that says you can't use your own hard drive in the iMac should you want to.

      If you read it again you'll see there's at least two ways of doing it already, and it's only been two days since the story came out.

      So you don't have to put with the crashes.

    2. Ilgaz

      In fact the exact opposite

      You can build own PC or modify it easily with the parts you can buy from any shop and not voiding warranty of any kind. Need silence? Buy fans from companies who builds them for decades. Need cool hard disk? Plug a cheap 32Gb ssd and use it for OS/apps and 2 TB for data.

      I have seen some of the worst hard disks on Apple computers. Fujitsu for example. You can rarely find an OEM to use them on badly ventilated configurations since they get hot. Really hot.

      1. M Gale

        To be fair...

        ...this old G3 Power Mac thingy I have here has a Quantum Fireball in it.

        However the power supply was what blew, and it's a godawful no-name Chinese thing with a 20 volt line and an odd pin-out so you can't just bung a PC ATX supply in it without some serious tinkering. Apple G3 power supply? Oh that's about £250 unless you want to risk Fleabay. £1 per watt, just to get a system with the approximate power of a Pentium 2 running again. Bargain!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Your hot iigaz

        As you nickname says, I I gas

        Maybe you plugged the drive into your pipeline by mistake?

  73. Mark Serlin
    Thumb Up

    Upgrade the mac? Me??

    The main reason I bought the iMac is so I WOULDN'T have to do any IT support on it for my wife & kids (who clock up 95% of its use). It needs a bigger disk & more RAM? It can go back to the damn shop. I've spent 15 years building, upgrading and troubleshooting PCs from win98SE on up, and I'm bored of it. Nowadays it's sit down, wake-from-sleep, do some stuff, leave. Period.

    And don't get me started on how useless, lazy, needlessly expensive and just plain crap ALL the car mechanics around here are. My biggest nightmare is finding some monkey to service the car every year without trying to con me over "rusty brake discs", "worn shocks", "rusty-looking exhausts" and all the other scams they use to try to bump up the bill for the MOT for no good reason. I'd rather drive it down to the main dealer and have it serviced by someone who knows what's what and doesn't have to run to the local library for a Haynes manual!

    Just in case I feel the need to get the screwdriver out, I still have the Shuttle XPC I built and the old Dell laptop I can play with. But we are talking cold day in hell here!

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      *Exactly* my point

      Thank you - that's exactly my point too. I need the damn thing to just work. About the only job I'll do on it is a re-install from scratch when the next OSX comes out, because this was the first time/year I ever used OSX and its uninstall is rubbish. But that's it. Lid open - work, ready - close lid. I give it a reboot in the weekend because it's part of my backup/maintenance routine, but that's about it..

      Having said that, one of the legacies of over 2 decades of MS use is the need to KNOW a machine is safe, so as part of the maintenance I do run Kaspersky. Never found anything, partly because I only use the machine via a non-admin account..

  74. J 3

    Workarounds... what for?

    "Workarounds to the 2009 annoyance soon surfaced, but the fact that they were needed at all was an insult to users who prefer to get inside their machines and swap a component as straightforward as a hard drive."

    Mac users, able to do that? That's too small a demographic...

  75. vincent himpe


    Should stay out of their hardware. Consumer hardware should be welded shut and then filled with epoxy resin. Sorry if i sound sarcastic but i have seen too many times the end results of some self proclaimed computer 'guru' (read:dimwit) that attempted to 'upgrade' their hardware and then come in whining about it doesn;t work and they want to swap it under warranty

    1. M Gale

      This is what warranty tags are for.

      ...and if your place isn't using them, they should be.

      Once the warranty has expired of course, the consumer can clip that tag off with some side cutters and hack at the guts of the things without wrecking a nonexistant service agreement. Little easier to remove than a boatload of epoxy, don'tcha think? Cheaper too!

  76. Tidosho

    Yet more brand locking!

    Ahhh, this is getting old, and annoying. Apple brand locking worsens, yet again! I've been fixing Apple hardware for years, and have seen gradually how things have got smaller. More components are soldered in (CPU on all their notebooks and iMacs, and on the Air everything is! RAM, SSD, CPU)

    The shit gets thinner, more non-standard and more overpriced every year. I prefer a standard form factor machine I can upgrade completely, not some proprietary built-around-itself shit like the iMac. The only good thing about Apple crap is me and my job, I'm a vacuum rework specialist, so when all the Airs and iMacs come in for repairs and upgrades with soldered in components, I'm quids in because I'm cheaper than Apple and have all the reflow equipment under the sun!

    The only fully upgradeable machine in Apple's line up is the Mac Pro, but probably not for long. The fannybois will still be ripped off by His Arrogant Sweary Jobsness, but then complain when their machine is dog slow 3 years later because the HDD and CPU is non-upgradeable!

    All this trouble for "single sheet aluminium"? Sacrificing upgradeability and repairability for looks is a stupid mugs game, a game I've never been stupid enough to play because I have sense as well as experience in the computer repair industry!

  77. Tidosho

    Apple users = Mugs

    Add to that Apple only switched to Intel so dumb Mac fanboys would pay thousands more for a Mac that will run Windows when a standard more upgradeable PC cost three quarters less!

    They then turned round and said us standard PC users couldn't run OS X. Arrogant greedy bastards, trying to steal PC market! The OS X86 Project soon stuck a 4 finger salute up to that crap! Mac OS is basic compared to Windows anyway. Compare the Control Panel to System Preferences to see!

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This story is now dead, it's a non-story, it has expired

    Hardmac has published a further update.

    Turns out the two "extra" pins are in fact just one, pin 11 of the perfectly standard SATA cable which is labelled for use as "staggered spinup, activity indication, or nothing". Pretty generic umm, maybe we'll even see some sort of standard around this same purpose in the future.

    This pin is used to transmit temperature information because Macs need to poll this frequently. Traditional SMART calls to the disk drive for temperature choke the drive and kill performance (as my own results elsewhere in this thread have also shown)

    Feel free to entertain your conspiracy theories on why Apple needs to frequently poll temperatures if you wish. That way lies madness to be honest.

    Should you wish to replace the drive with your own then just short pins 2 and 7 on the power supply cable and you'll be sorted. No noisy fans, no software needed. If you've made it as far as opening the iMac this should be easy for you.

    So this story is well and truly dead. If you feel you need to post more on how this thing makes Apple closed, then I'm sorry but you have serious issues.

    Go find something else to pick on.

  79. Anonymous Coward

    And as for opening up and upgrading iOS devices?

    But Uncle Billy died in 1988...a whole ten years before iMacs... So No, it's not designed to be chnged by skellingtons.

  80. Dave 13
    Thumb Down

    Magic=proprietary guts+marketing money

    It seems the acme of corporate tech magic is to take commodity parts (memory, CPUs, hard drives) and wrap them up in mystery and 'magic'.

    Take the iPad, iPhone, iMac, Macbook, and any other Apple product and you can see they charge astronomical prices for commodity parts. The difference in price between the 16GB and 64GB iPad is $200. Would you pay $200 for a 48GB of flash? Going price is about $60 on eBay.

    If you can't open it/upgrade it, you don't really own it.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like