Your iMac is slow, frequently freezing over a short period of time. The spinning beach ball of death! You know something’s going on and sure enough, your computer dies and you find out you need a new hard drive! There used to be a time when buying an Apple computer meant having a working computer for many years. Well, not anymore…
After my hard drive died, the second one since purchasing my iMac in 2010, I made an appointment at my local Genius Bar to see if I could get it replaced. This time I was told my computer was now considered “vintage”, and they do not service it anymore. I guess they’re hoping that by labeling it vintage, I will spend another $1800 on a new computer. The truth is, I can’t afford to pay for expensive labor even less purchase a new computer. I also can’t afford to be without a computer, my only option then, is to replace the hard drive myself. But which hard drive should I get? I sure would like to stay the hell away from another Seagate drive (the brand that came stock with my iMac and the same drive Apple used later as a replacement). Also, I have never replaced an internal hard drive before. So here comes Google…
After doing some research, I found out that Segate’s 1TB, 2TB and 3TB Barracuda internal hard drives have a high annual failure rate. Apple was aware these drives were defective as my first hard drive was replaced through one of their hard drive replacement programs. I don’t need any more proof. I’ve now had two 1TB Seagate Barracuda drives die on me, I’m definitely ready to try a different brand. Or so I think. Backblaze.com, a cloud backup company, reported earlier this year that the 3TB Seagate Barracuda drives in their data center had an annual failure rate of 43.1%. Not good! On the other hand, all their 4TB hard drives (WD, HGST or Seagate) had the lowest annual failure rates. Their Seagate 4TB Desktop HDD.15 hard drives had a low annual failure rate of 2.6%. This Seagate model is also the cheapest option within the 4TB drives (the HGST 4TB drives priced a little higher, had an even lower failure rate, but not enough of a difference to be a big factor according to them). This is the only reason I’m giving Seagate one more chance. At least this time I have some sort of data to backup my decision. So here comes Amazon…
Along with the 4TB Seagate drive I purchased from Amazon, I ordered an upgrade kit from OWC. OWC has an installation video on youtube that proved to be extremely helpful. The installation was not as hard as I though, you just have to follow each step carefully and make sure you make the right connections. It took me about an hour, but I was able to do the installation myself, upgrade to a 4TB drive and stay under a $200 budget. The OWC kit came with the necessary installation tools and a thermal sensor cable that “eliminates fan noise and maintains proper system fan control”, a known problem with this iMac model. This sensor cable got rid of the horrible fan noise problem I had since Apple replaced my hard drive. The OWC kit also “fixes firmware incompatibility issues with third party hard drives”. This means you can install whichever hard drive brand you prefer.
If you are looking for a hard drive replacement for your Late 2009 iMac (I have the 27 inch model), you have several options: the Seagate ST4000DM000, WD Green WD40EZRX, HGST Deskstar 0S03664, among many others (just make sure you get the OWC kit). If you do buy a Seagate, go for the 4TB model (stay away from the Barracuda models).
It has only been a few weeks since I installed the 4TB Seagate HDD.15 internal hard drive in my “vintage” iMac. Only time will tell if this one will last…
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I also have a 2009 iMac with a failed hard drive. Took it to the Genius Bar and they said I need a new hard drive. I went to EveryMac.com punched in the serial number to find out the specs. Then clicked “upgrade” which sent me over the OWC with a list of compatible upgrade options. I chose a Toshiba 4TB internal HD (PH3400U-1I72) as recommended by OWC. I also bought the in-line thermal sensor by OWC. Installed everything with the help of the OWC videos. Booted to the optical drive and my brand new Toshiba HD was not recognized by the system. I then borrowed an external enclosure for the drive and I borrowed a MacBook with functioning OS. I formatted the Toshiba drive with the MacBook then re-installed the Toshiba drive into the 2009 iMac. Booted to the optical drive again and still the brand new drive was not recognized. I AM STUMPED.! Any advice? Is there some special firmware that needs to be on the hard drive? Does it need to be formatted in some special way?.
I’m sorry I can’t be of any help, you should get in touch with OWC. I’m sure they can provide you with a better answer. Let me know if you were able to find what was wrong with your drive.
All the best.
Did you get it working? I had the same issue which made me think that the efi or the chipset in iMac 11,1 is not supporting drives larger than 2TB.
Not sure how it worked for newdirt.
My 4TB Seagate drive is still A-Ok after two and half years. My iMac originally came with a Seagate drive, so not sure if that had anything to do or I just got lucky. Don’t know enough about computer components to be honest, so it’s just a wild guess.
Sedd. What drive did your computer came with and what drive did you get as a replacement?
It came with a Seagate 1TB. I had tried a 3TB which did not work. I wonder if there was an efi upgrade in the mean time that enables to go over 2TB. I can’t recall the time I tried it. Anyways I ordered both the thermal solution and a 6TB hdd. I will know if it works next week.
Yessss! It works. I placed a 6TB Toshiba drive just the same model as offered by OWC. I also upgraded my existing SSD from 256GB OCZ Vertex 4 to 525GB Crucial MX300.
It works like a charm. Not sure though if was a helper but … My system used to boot from my SSD that I had installed replacing the DVD Writer. I put the new SSD in an external case and installed a fresh OSX Sierra on it. Then I simply replace both the SSD and the HDD.
After the first boot on the SSD with Sierra, OSX told me that it cannot recognise the HDD and it needs to be initialised. So I simply formatted it to GUID, OSX Journaled and it works like a charm. Now copying back all the data I had in external WD Studio II drives into my new and biiiig 6TB Toshiba HDD. Sure, I will keep the WD Studios as backup storage.
Sweeeeet. That’s a massive drive! I’m glad you were able to make it work.
My 2009 imac just failed too. I’m thinking of doing the same, is your harddrive still working good after 6 months?
Hi Philippe. Yes, the hard drive is still up and running. No problems so far!