SCSI hard disk replacement options

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Most classic macs use a hard disk drive as their main mass storage medium. The majority of 68k Macs uses SCSI hard disk drives of a kind not in production any more. There are several options to replace a defective SCSI hard disk drive. Here you will find some suggestions.

The choice should depend on the use to be expected for the device.


  • For frequent use with heavy writing load, where write access performance is important, try a SCSI-IDE converter with a new silent IDE harddisk (2.5" or 3.5"). Keep in mind that the throughput of a modern drive is usually throttled by the slow host adaptor or bus speed, not the drive itself.
  • If you need very low noise, or low heat (as in a fanless Mac), but with top performance, try a Solid State Disk (SSD) or industrial Compact Flash (CF) card and adaptor. Some CF adapters mount two cards, however the IDE bus in the Mac may not recognise two separate cards.
  • A striped RAID can provide even faster performance. Unless you are using a high-performance drive controller, it will still be limited to the host Mac's speed
  • In any other case a recent CF card in an appropriate adaptor should do well in a vintage machine. (Use for virtual memory is debated)
  • A MicroDrive would give you the benefits of a small footprint, low power consumption and fast write speeds. It would combine the disadvantages of both CF cards (less reliable) and usual hard disk drives (moving parts), also.
  • If price matters, consider an external SCSI enclosure filled up with used SCSI server hard disks. With a long cable you can hide the drive in a place where the noise can be contained. Some host 68 or 80 pin drives internally, yet interface to the host with a 50 pin cable. Even if not, a single 50 pin to 68 or 80 pin SCSI adaptor should allow you to connect to a Mac much more economically than buying adapters for individual drives. You gain a cheap supply for high speed drives. This especially applies to people with access to server farms, where usable drives get swapped for new ones based on a fixed schedule.
  • A SCSI RAID array would be a very flexible, high performance, and relatively expensive external solution. Typically used with servers, these boxes have an intelligent RAID controller onboard, and interface to the host via a single cable. Other advantages are as described in the above entry on SCSI external boxes.
  • And, a more hypothetical case, if the price should not matter at all, have an UPS buffered RAM-disk and stream the data to a NAS.

Always have a working backup of your important data!


If you are interested in a solid state storage solution, go to the page about using flash memory.

If want to use an IDE drive, go to the page about SCSI-IDE converter.