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Powerbook Wallstreet Hard Drive Upgrade
Replacing The Original 4GB Drive with IBM's Travelstar 20GB model
by Mike
Published: 8/21/2000
(Updated Feb 2008 - removed offsite links that were no longer working)


Important Note on OS X: I originally created this article before OS X was released. For some Macs like the PowerBook G3 Wallstreet, Beige G3 and iMac 233-333mhz, Apple notes that OS X must be installed on a partition/volume fully within the first 8GB of the drive. If you're installing a larger drive in a Wallstreet, you can use the custom initialization option in Drive Setup (or OS X's Disk Utility) and create a 1st partition of 8GB or less - Otherwise the OS X installer will only show a grayed out disk (not selectable as a target for install). Apple posted a TIL on this in 2001. (Note: I've not done this personally (my WS is no longer working), but if you have OS X already installed on your currrent drive, you can clone (using Carbon Copy Cloner, or similar utility) your original boot drive to the new blank (formatted) drive (i.e. a new HD in a portable Firewire case, then swap drives) to avoid using the OS X installer. A clone to a blank drive will usually also have the Boot OS files at the start of the drive. I've not done that personally but have had some early iMac and Wallstreet2 owners say it worked/was bootable. If the system files are not within the first 8GB of the drive however, it usually will not boot on those older macs models mentioned using the original onboard IDE interface.)

Notes on Large Drives/Limitations: This article was written before >100GB notebook drives were made, but you can use larger drives in a PowerBook Wallstreet, although since the onboard IDE does not have native 48bit addressing, if you use a drive larger than 128GB (binary, 137GB decimal) it will only format to appx 128GB. Intech sold a driver to address that but as it's loaded from the HD, they recommend using 'safe partitioning' (i.e. creating partitions of a size supported natively by the machine) - otherwise if left as one partition the HD would be unusable if booted from an OS X CD, Disk Repair CD, etc. One other note - some have reported problems with some notebook drives that drew more power (startup/spinup draw) that the Wallstreet could source. (Remember like all Powerbooks, the wallstreet uses standard IDE (aka Parallel ATA) drives, not SerialATA (SATA) models. Later Intel-CPU based Mac notebooks use SATA 2.5in drives however.)

Magnetic Sensor Note: Many PB Wallstreet owners have reported that after installing an IBM Travelstar drive the PowerBook would not wake from sleep after closing the lid. (Note - a toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB owner also reported this problem in the drive database here so some other brands may also have this issue.) Only PB Wallstreet owners (not later Lombard or Pismo models) have reported this issue based on reports in the Drive Compatibility Database over the years, but check there for later reports on other brands of drives. (All the late 2001 IBM travelstars should be fluid bearing models now - but even they are not immune to the problem based on the latest reports in the database in Fall 2001.)

The issue is reportedly due to a magnetic sensor near the edge of the case above the hard drive. (One reader said "Passing a refrigerator magnet close to the sensor will reset it.) A Japanese FAQ ( had photos on the insulation/shield that is said to fix the issue. I just verifed this issue on a wallstreet 2 model. A reader sent a translation of the Japanese site info on the "shield":

(mail from 2001)
"Mike, I notice that you have been warning users of the magnetic interference between some IBM Travelstar HD's and the magnetic sleep sensors in some Wall Streets. You correctly refer to Y. Yamamoto M.D.'s site, but I wanted to let you know that the suggested fix is to tape down a "magnetic shield" by doing the following:
- heat a knife/olfa cutter blade with a lighter to degauss it
- hold it with a set of pliers, or you'll get burnt!
- tape it down with electric tape in the red area shown at
(Link no longer works as of 2003, but a reader sent another image source, see the photo of where to put the shield - area shown in this photo.-Mike)

In Nov. 2002 a reader sent another source of a shield (from a WS2 owner's drive db report):

" I found a company, Amuneal Manufacturing Corp,, that makes custom magnetic shielding enclosures. I sent an email describing my problem and they sent me a free sample of their .004" shielding foil. (Note: you can get rolls of adhesive backed Foil tape at home improvement centers also (Lowes, Home Depot, etc)-Mike) I cut off a smallstrip and wraped it around the end of the drive. Sleep now works like a charm!
Steve Meeks "

Make sure the foil does not contact any circuit areas/traces but I don't remember anything in that area. A tap on the side cover at the right edge of the housing adjacent to the keyboard may help the system wake from sleep for those that have the problem and have not made a shield. (Also a refrigerator magnet waved over that area is also said to 'unlock' the sensor.) BTW - in 2007 Wallstreet2 owner sent a link to a page with notes on using adhesive back foil tape (available at Lowes/home improvement centers) to easily make a shield. (previous link to article/photo removed as the source had vanished)

Note: I mention to -not overtighten the HD mounting screws- in this guide. Snug is all that is required. Two PB owners wrote that screws that were too tight were causing problems with their hard drive upgrades.

(Original Article Follows:)

As long-time readers know, my favorite (and most used) Mac of all time is my PowerBook G3/250 (Wallstreet), which readers of the site donated back in the summer of 1998. I have used it daily since then and consider it my most valued possession. For some time now I've been meaning (needing) to upgrade the the original 4GB hard drive, as I've often had to remove applications and files from the drive as I installed new programs. Once the Newer Tech PowerBook G3/466 CPU Upgrade arrived (reviewed here), this was the final push I needed to upgrade the drive, since I need to install many programs for that review. I have to say I've been very pleased with the results with the IBM Travelstar 20GB drive. The added space alone has made this Powerbook even more useful than before, as well as increasing performance.

Replacing the internal drive on the Powerbook is a lower cost upgrade than buying an expansion bay drive or portable Firewire drive. And since it's internal, you always have access to the extra space without having to swap out bay devices or carry along cables and external drives. Don't get me wrong, I love my portable firewire drives, but if I had to choose one drive upgrade for a Powerbook, I'd go with a larger internal drive.

Remember before proceeding to remove the old drive you should backup your files to CDR, Tape, or external drive (SCSI, Firewire or Expansion Bay drive). I used a firewire PCcard to backup the old drive to a VST portable firewire drive.

For this article I used one of the (from 2000) IBM Travelstar 20GB, 2MB cache model drives purchased from Transintl. (Update: As is always the case, over time prices drop significantly and you can get larger drives for less. Check sources like OWC for their latest pricing and models. They even have an upgrade search engine where you select your mac model, upgrades desired, etc.)

Note: The Wallstreet series allows taller drives (up to 3/4" high) than either the Lombard (1999 model) or PowerBook Firewire (reviewed here), which are limited to 12.5mm maximum drive heights. (Note: PowerBook Firewire owners should see this article which covers hard drive upgrades for that model, including tests of the IBM 32GB, 5400rpm drive.) The IBM 20GB drive I used is only 9.5mm high (the original 4GB drive was noticably taller). There are up to 60GB 9.5mm high drives now as noted in the site FAQ.

IBM Travelstar 20GN Specifications: (as of 2000 purchase date for review)

  • Model No: DJSA-220
  • Capacity: 20 GB (unformatted, formatted size 18.62 GB)
  • Cache: 2MB (Upper 173KB used for firmware)
  • Rotational Speed: 4200 RPM
  • Interface: ATA/5 (UltraDMA/66)
  • Media Transfer Rate: 13.6-25.36 MB/sec
  • Latency (avg): 7.1ms
  • Seek: 12ms Avg, 23ms Full Stroke
  • Height: 9.5mm
  • Warranty: 3 years

(Link to IBM Travelstar 20GN page from 2000 removed as it's an obsolete drive now).

Before getting into the details of how I replaced the drive, the following is a list of tools required for the drive swap. The Powerbook G3 manual shows how to remove the drive assembly, but doesn't cover how to actually replace the drive in the bracket. As always, if you are not qualified to do upgrades or repairs on a Powerbook, I recommend you have an authorized service center perform this upgrade for you. Be aware you will void the warranty by replacing the hard drive and should you damage anything in the process, you will be responsibe for the cost to have it repaired. This procedure took less than one hour total (not counting installing the OS on the new drive), so the cost should be minimal to have a dealer swap the drive out for you.

Tools Used:

* Small Phillips Screwdriver
* Cup to store small screws during assembly
* Anti-static wrist strap (recommended)
* Torx T8 screwdriver

Of course you'll also need a 2.5" notebook hard drive (19MM max height for the wallstreet series). Consult a vendor of notebook drives if you have any question on compatibility or fit. (BTW: I'm disappointed in the quality of the photos for this article, which are not as good as those in the past.)

Next Page: Removing the Original Drive
Yes - show me!

No, take me back Home.

Index of PB G3 Wallstreet Hard Drive Upgrade Guide

Intro | Removing Old HD | Installing New HD | Benchmarks

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