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Ask Max: G4 With Dead Firewire Ports

Asked on 10/29/2008:

I have a G4 and all the Firewire ports seem to have gone dead. Tried everything suggested in Mac forums: reset the power control (the one by the battery), reset the vram and pram, turned it off overnight, unplugged, removed the battery, etc. I've heard this is a fairly common issue on G4s and G5s. Any insights?


I would certainly not call the loss of FireWire a common issue, but I have seen it before. The B&W G3 had many FireWire issues because it used an add-on card that suffered power surges. Throughout the years I have seen FireWire fail on the logic board, and there is little that can be done to revive it. Before you write off the FireWire ports, check Apple's Support pages and see if there is a Firmware update for your system. This is the software on the logic board and it can often resolve these issues. You should also test whether it is a software issue by trying to use some of the FireWire features that do not rely on the operating system on your hard drive. If you have another Mac computer, boot up your problem Mac holding down the [ T ] key. This will boot it into Target Disk mode - which makes your Mac into a FireWire hard drive. Connect the two Mac computers with a FireWire cable and see if it shows up on the other computers Desktop. If it does not work, then it is probably dead FireWire, but if it does, then you may need to reinstall your OS on the problem Mac.

If your FireWire ports are in fact dead, then you can buy a LaCie 107355 FireWire 400 PCI Card to replace the internal ports.

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