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 Post subject: APM and AAM settings for Western Digital 2.5” hard drive
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:59 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:35 pm
Posts: 17
Location: Germany
Greetings to all forum members and guests!

A friend of mine has an Apple PowerBook G3 Pismo. Approximately three weeks ago, the originally installed hard drive started making alarming noises which lead me to believe that hard drive failure is imminent. A new Western Digital Blue WD1200BEVE (120 GB, Ultra ATA/100) has been ordered from an online vendor and my friend should be receiving it any day now. My friend isn't much of a techy person, so I'll be replacing the hard drive for him.

Replacing the hard drive on the Apple PowerBook G3 Pismo is not a “pop in, pop out” affair. It involves removing the processor heat sink and the processor card. Because I can't access the hard drive with any DOS/Windows utilities after it has been installed in the PowerBook, I would like to make sure that the replacement hard drive's APM (Advanced Power Management) and AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) settings are such that the drive doesn't wear out prematurely because it parks the heads after only a few seconds of inactivity, and that it doesn't make any annoying clicking sounds during normal operation.

The problem is that once the new hard drive is installed, I can't just boot from a bootable DOS/Windows CD or DVD and run a DOS/Windows utility program to change the APM and/or AAM settings because the PowerBook G3 has a PowerPC processor. Western Digital's wdidle3 utility for modifying the APM setting of Western Digital drives requires a DOS environment. Also, my friend's PowerBook only has Mac OS 9.2.2 as its operating system, so I can't run any OS X utilities that might exist either. I haven't looked into whether it would be possible to connect the PowerBook to a Mac running OS X via FireWire and start up the PowerBook in so-called “target disk mode”, and then perhaps be able to access the PowerBook's hard drive with OS X drive utilities that way.

There are numerous reports on the Internet of laptop owners complaining about their laptop hard drives constantly making annoying clicking sounds. After tweaking their hard drives' APM and/or AAM settings they were able to make them go away. There is also the issue of a rapidly increasing load cycle count, which is apparently due to a very aggressive APM setting, which parks the drive's heads after only a few seconds (4-8 s) of inactivity. Depending on how the drive is used, this can cause the drive to reach the manufacturers rated load cycle count in short order – not a desirable situation.

My plan is to connect the Western Digital WD1200BEVE to one of my desktop PCs using the appropriate adapter, and then adjust the drive's APM setting using Western Digital's wdidle3 utility. I'll probably use Crystal Disk Info to adjust the AAM setting. I would like the settings to be such that they won't need changing in the future because the drive is constantly making the annoying clicking noises laptop owners have reported. I also want to make sure that the APM setting is such that the load cycle count will not rapidly close in on the manufacturers rating for this parameter. Saving battery power is definitely not a priority.

My initial intention was to shut off the idle timer altogether using wdidle3; this is apparently possible using the /d command. This means that the drive could never independently park its heads during normal operation of the computer. My thinking is that the operating system will take care of the PowerBook's power management, including parking the drive's heads when the computer goes into “sleep” mode. Or should I set the idle timer to activate after something like five or ten minutes?

Scott, having heard what my considerations are, what are your recommendations regarding the APM and AAM settings? I don't have any experience in this area whatsoever, so I could really use some help. I would also like to know which programs you recommend for adjusting the APM and AAM settings.

Forum members, I would also appreciate your comments, as I would like to draw on your experience as well.


Kind regards,

Daniel


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 Post subject: Re: APM and AAM settings for Western Digital 2.5” hard drive
 Post Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:03 pm 
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I've installed a lot of laptop drives over the years and so far I've never seen the need to modify any of those settings. Newer drives are also much quieter than the drives that were available when that system was new, so if anything the system should be much quieter with a new drive even with the drive at the default settings. In any case I'd recommend running the drive at the default settings to see if a problem exists in the first place before attempting to change them.

I have also never ever worried about wearing a drive out. Barring any sudden failures (which can happen at any time and should be expected) a hard drive will last far longer than it will be useful. However because every drive will eventually fail, and that failure may come without warning, I would always insure that backups are current. Scott.

PS: You didn't say where you got it or what the drive cost, but from what I see of the limited 2.5" PATA offerings on NewEgg, I would have gone for a 250GB drive instead of the 120GB since the prices are about the same...


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 Post subject: Re: APM and AAM settings for Western Digital 2.5” hard drive
 Post Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:43 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:35 pm
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Location: Germany
Scott, thanks for the advice.

What you couldn't have known is that I'm located in Germany, so unfortunately NewEgg isn't an option for me. The hard drive was purchased from an Amazon.de Marketplace seller, simply because that was the cheapest deal available.

Still, your price comparison applies to the German market as well, where the Western Digital WD1200BEVE and WD2500BEVE are also similarly priced.

The problem is that the PowerBook G3's maximum hard drive size is constrained by the 137 GB limit. There is a driver that is part of Intech's Hard Disk SpeedTools for MacOS Classic that can be used to overcome this limitation. However, after looking at the complications this driver entails, I decided not to pursue this solution, as my friend wouldn't like the complexity the driver adds to hard disk management.


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 Post subject: Re: APM and AAM settings for Western Digital 2.5” hard drive
 Post Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:16 am 
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I suspected a BIOS/OS limitation may be the reason for the size choice, and I agree about not wanting to mess with a complicated preloaded driver (nor would I even *consider* one that cost $60!). Note however that in most cases where a >137GB drive is installed in a system with that limitation the drive would simply appear as a 137GB drive to the system, with the rest remaining invisible. Given that they are about the same price you get a few more GB to use now, and you would be able to fully use the drive if it were ever reinstalled in another (newer) system, installed in an external USB enclosure, etc. Just a thought...

Let me know how things go after the install regarding any noise or other issues. Thanks, Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: APM and AAM settings for Western Digital 2.5” hard drive
 Post Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:35 pm
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Oh dear, it's been almost three years now since I started this thread. Scott, I'm really sorry about not replying to your request for information regarding the installation process of the new hard drive.

The least I can do to honor the time and effort you put into giving advice on this forum is to give you feedback in return. Of course, another thing I can do is to buy your books, which I do. I purchased Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 22nd Edition almost as soon as it was released. I feel really ashamed about failing to provide you with the requested information in a timely manner, but now I don't want to let my pride get in the way of making up for my negligence.

Your idea of purchasing the larger 250 GB drive was a good one, but I decided that in this specific situation it was not the best solution, because my friend doesn't have much of a clue about technical matters. Therefore there was always a slight possibility that the larger hard drive might have caused confusion for him in some unforeseeable scenario. I know this sounds weird to us technical folks, but I know this person well enough to judge that it is best to avoid even the most innocuous technical complication. If it would have been my laptop, I definitely would have followed your advice and returned the smaller capacity hard drive and purchased the larger capacity one instead.

After reading so much about the idle timer issue that affected the WD Scorpio drive that I had purchased, I finally decided to turn off the idle timer completely using Western Digital's wdidle3 utility. The drive must be connected directly to the PATA interface of a computer in order to do this. I ran wdidle3 off of the Universal Boot CD. Before disabling, wdidle3 showed the timer status as “Idle3 Timer is enabled and set to 8.000 seconds.” This is the default setting. After disabling, wdidle3 showed the timer status as “Idle3 Timer is disabled.”

I didn't make any changes to the AAM or APM settings; just left them at their factory defaults. I did read out the AAM and APM settings with CrystalDiskInfo. “APM Level” was “0080h [ON]” and “AAM Level” was “80FEh [OFF]”. These settings were identical before and after disabling the idle timer. So apparently the idle timer setting is independent of the AAM and APM settings.

Now on to the installation of the new hard drive.

The first thing that needed to be done was to mirror the contents of the old hard drive onto the new hard drive in such a way that the new hard drive would be able to boot Mac OS 9. (When I say “Mac OS 9” in this post, I specifically mean Mac OS 9.2.2.) I installed the new hard drive in an external 2.5” hard drive enclosure. It's a no name enclosure with the model number HD-227-COMBO. Click on this link for details. I chose this enclosure because it was the only one available at the time that was reasonably priced and also had a FireWire 400 port, and therefore it could be used for booting an Apple Mac OS from an external hard drive in the future. (As far as I know, the PowerBook G3 Pismo only supports booting from an external drive if the drive is connected via FireWire.) It uses the Prolific PL-3507 chip set.

After I had connected the hard drive to the PowerBook via FireWire for the first time, I ran the Drive Setup utility that is part of Mac OS 9. Drive Setup immediately recognized the new hard drive. I chose Mac OS Extended as the file system type and then invoked the initialization procedure. Everything went smoothly.

Next, the old hard drive (still installed in the PowerBook) had to be cloned onto the new hard drive. For this task I used the program SilverKeeper from LaCie. The version used was 1.1.4 for Mac OS 9. There's not much to report here; the program did the job without any problems.

During the first attempt at cloning the old hard drive onto the new one, a glitch occurred – the old hard drive wasn't working reliably anymore, and I was worried if the cloning process would even complete successfully – that prompted me to abort the cloning process and start over. I decided I would delete everything on the new hard drive. This presented me with the first problem. I found it impossible to get rid of the partitioning structure (apparently Mac OS 9 creates several hidden partitions on the hard drive) that was present on the hard drive using standard Mac OS 9 deletion procedures. It might be possible, but I couldn't do it. So I connected the drive to a Windows machine via USB and ran Parted Magic off of the Universal Boot CD. Parted Magic offers several different hard drive erasing routines. I used one of the quicker variants to erase the drive. Then I again connected the drive to the PowerBook via FireWire. I thought I could now once again use the Drive Setup utility to partition and initialize the drive. But, this time Drive Setup did not recognize the drive. I unplugged and replugged the drive into the PowerBook's FireWire port several times. Nothing. I plugged the drive into the PowerBook's other FireWire port. Same result. For some reason, which to this day remains unknown to me, Drive Setup would not recognize the drive after I had erased it.

I decided to try the program Silverlining Pro from LaCie, version 6.5.8 for Mac OS 9, to see if it was possible to partition and initialize the hard drive with this program. And … it was! Silverlining Pro immediately recognized the external hard drive! I didn't have any problems partitioning and initializing the new hard drive with this program! Brilliant!

I then cloned the old hard drive onto the new hard drive for a second time. This time the cloning process proceeded without any problems.

Next, I booted the PowerBook using the Mac OS 9 installation now present on the new hard drive, just to make sure everything was working fine before installing the new drive in the PowerBook. Mac OS 9 booted from the external hard drive without any problems, so all was well.

I then removed the new hard drive from the drive enclosure and installed it in the PowerBook. Then I booted up the PowerBook several times to see if everything worked properly, which it did. So the job was completed successfully and my friend is using the PowerBook with this hard drive to this very day.

Idle noise levels of the old and new hard drive were more or less the same. I should mention that the old hard drive, a Toshiba MK8025GAS (HDD2188), only ran at 4200 rpm, while the new Western Digital hard drive runs at 5400 rpm. I listened to the new hard drive while it was idling, and it sounded ever so slightly louder than the old hard drive, but the difference was barely discernible in a very quiet environment while concentrating on the hard drive's sound only. During operation the Western Digital was quieter than the old Toshiba hard drive. So effectively, under normal operating conditions, the faster spinning Western Digital hard drive is quieter than the slower old hard drive.

My friend noticed a remarkable difference in the computer's speed with regard to hard drive related operations after the new hard drive was installed. I doubt that this was solely due to the difference in rpm of the two drives. I suspect that the old hard drive, which was making intermittent grinding noises, had experienced a progressive loss in operating speed because of the defect that had befallen it. So the drive probably became slower and slower, and because this was a gradual process, it wasn't easily detectable by the user.

I should mention one more thing. My friend uses Claris Organizer 2.0 for organizing his appointments, notes, and the like. One day he asked for my help because he was no longer able to open the Claris Organizer file that contained all of his appointments, notes, etc. This problem first appeared after he had used the search function to search for something in the notes category of Claris Organizer, but the search was aborted by an I/O error. (I can't reproduce the exact error message here, because unfortunately my friend did not document it.) So now, when he tried to open his Claris Organizer file, an error message appeared which basically said that the program had been terminated unexpectedly because error 2 had occurred. My friend had a copy of his Claris Organizer file, but it was old and therefore didn't contain the information that he had saved recently and which he needed most. I tried all sorts of things to get this file to open in Claris Organizer 2.0, but it was to no avail. He ended up having to make do with his old Claris Organizer file. This happened before I installed the new hard drive.

After installing the new hard drive, I decided to try and see if I could open the Claris Organizer file that had persistently refused to open while the system was still on the old hard drive. Unbelievably, the file now opened without any problems! My friend then switched back to using this Claris Organizer file and has been using it up to the present time without it ever having caused problems again! How is this possible??? I conjecture that the old hard drive had developed a read error such that some of the bits that comprised the file in question could no longer be read reliably from the hard drive. For some reason, SilverKeeper, the program I used for the cloning process, was able to read the file completely and the file was written without error to the new hard drive. However, somehow this explanation doesn't satisfy me. How could it be that Claris Organizer 2.0 wasn't able to read the file properly but SilverKeeper was? I just don't know what happened that allowed the file to be opened again. I would be delighted if someone could shed some light on this mystery.

I hope this lengthy and detailed description will be helpful to at least one of the Classic Mac aficionados out there.


Kind regards,

Daniel


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