External hard drives & USB power on G4 iBook

in Genius Bar edited January 2014

I have an iBook G4 12" (1.33Ghz, 512Mb ram), and want to get an external hard drive to back up my photos etc.

I have been lookign round on amazon and others, and I would prefer to have one intended for a notebook, i.e. small. A lot of the ones i have been looking at are USB 2.0, and are powered from the USB ports.

I am pretty sure that my iBook won't be able to power a hard drive from its USB port, so is there a way to get round this? Someone at work said you could increase the power output through the USB port with some software, but I didn't really believe him. And failing this, would the firewire 400 port be able to power one?

Thanks a lot,



  • Reply 1 of 2
    You can't boost the power a USB port delivers because the current in there is limited by the mainboard. So your colleague was wrong. If you want to back up your data, get a firewire drive and not a USB one. USB is way slower than firewire. If you get a 2.5" external drive, the firewire port will be able to power the drive with only the FireWire cable connected. LaCie makes fine drives for that ("Rugged", "LaCie Brick mobile" or "LaCie Mobile Drive" series, www.lacie.com).

    One thing to consider is that mobile drives cost twice as much as the comparable desktop drive. Or the other way round: for the same price you get much more capacity from a 3 1/2" drive. Most of those external 3 1/2" drives nowadays have USB and FireWire ports.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    When I upgraded my wife's stock MacBook drive, I put the old one in a USB 2.0 enclosure. It came with this funky USB cord that came with two plugs (on the computer end) in order to siphon power from both ports. Just to test, I plugged it into just one port, and it still supplied enough power to use the external drive.

    YMMV, but it is possible. This of course was a notebook drive, the full 3.25" drives in all likelyhood will draw too much current for the USB ports to supply.
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