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Ask Max: Hard Drive Addressing limit

Asked on 07/26/2006:

Is there a software solution that will enable me to use the full 200 GB limit on an internal IDE drive in a G3 Yosemite with both OS X/Classic and OS 9 native ?


This is a common question as hard drives get bigger and cheaper. The size limit problem is caused by hardware. The chip on the logic board that controls the ATA drive bus does not know how to see more than 128 GB. This is simply because 120 GB used to be the biggest ATA drive conceivable at the time the G3 B&W was made. Because it is a limit of the hardware, and the hardware has no updatable firmware, your only option is to change the hardware. The cheapest way to do this is by getting an ATA controller card that fits in an open PCI slot. Instead of the hard drive connecting to the original ribbon cable, a new cable included with the ATA Controller card will connect up to the hard drive. Then the drive will have to be reformatted to use all 200 GB of drive space. Sorry it is not as easy as a software download, but you will get an extra 80 GB and much better performance from that hard drive with a ATA controller card.

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