Ask Max: Replacing a hard drive in a G4 iMac
Jacob, my 17" LCD iMac recently experienced a hard drive error and now it says the hard drive is not mounted (btw this is the 800 MHZ model.) Any ideas on the best solution for this? I'm concerned because I know that these models are "heat sealed" and can't really be opened by conventional means, so that means just installing a new HD myself might be out of the question. I'm also concerned that sending this thing off to get professionally repaired will be more of a financial hassle than it is worth. Thoughts?
It does take significant work getting into the guts of a G4 iMac. It would not be impossible for you to do the job but I would not recommend it unless you have the proper tools and thermal paste. Here is a link to a take-apart article if you want to give it a try.
You should check to see if your drive is truly dead or just damaged. If Disk Utility will not fix the drive you can try Disk Warrior. Disk Warrior has saved many of my drives and is a great tool to keep around.
The other alternative would be to make an external FireWire drive your replacement drive. Any Mac compatible drive would work but I like LaCie drive. With an external FireWire drive on and connected you will be able to install an OS and set it as your default boot dive. Everything will work as normal even though it is on the external drive.