Mac Sata Drive

I installed a second SATA drive in my Mac Pro G5. I cannot get it to be recognized. In Disk Utility it does not show up. However, when I do a System Profile (About this Mac), the SATA section shows it being there, but just with minimal info compared to the other SATA drive, which has been formatted and has content. Feb 08, 2021 Mac SATA Hard Drive. Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) hard drives are widely used disks. All thanks to its attributes like quick data transfer through higher signalling rates, native hot swapping, reduced cable size & cost, and much more.

  1. Best Ssd Drive For Imac
  2. Imac Internal Hard Drive Replacement
  3. Sata Mac
  4. Mac Sata Drive Cable

Hard drive capacity is limited not only by how densely bits can be packed on a magnetic platter, but also by the number of sectors and tracks and drive surfaces in the drive itself and the number the computer’s operating system is designed to handle.

One benefit of Apple adopting SCSI for its hard drives way back in 1986 is that it doesn’t have a maximum drive size, unlike the IDE/ATA drives used in the PC world.*

That’s because SCSI is an intelligent interface that hides the physical details of the hard drive from the computer. With “dumb” interfaces, the computer’s operating system has to know the physical location of information on the hard drive – which sector of which track of which side of which platter to access to launch an application or read a data file. With SCSI, the drive has its own processor, so the operating system only has to ask it for data, not know where it is stored. The SCSI processor handles all those housekeeping detail, and this is also true of FireWire.

Back in the era of 8 MHz computers (the speed of the four earliest Macs and a couple later ones), a smart interface like SCSI made a world of difference. By the time CPUs hit 33 MHz (the clock speed of the PowerBook 150 and Performa 630, the first two Macs with IDE, both introduced in July 1994), not so much. And by the time Apple was putting a 233 MHz G3 CPU in the Beige Power Mac G3 (late 1997), that overhead was insignificant.

Parallel ATA Size Limitations

Today’s SATA drive interface is descended from Parallel ATA, which is descended from Western Digital’s IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) interface – also released in 1986, the same year as SCSI. IDE has a drive controller integrated with the hard drive, no longer requiring a separate hard drive controller card. Because the intelligence to manage an IDE drive came from the computer’s CPU rather than a dedicated onboard processor, IDE was less expensive to build and use than SCSI, which is probably the chief reason it was quickly adopted in the cost conscious PC world.

The original IDE specification supported 22-bit logical block addressing, which supported a maximum drive size of 2.1 GB (2.0 GiB). The first ATA specification increased that to 28-bit addressing to support drives up to 137 GB (128 GiB). That remained the limitation until Ultra ATA/100 (a.k.a. ATA-6) arrived with 48-bit addressing in 2002, in theory supporting drives up to 144 petabytes (128 PiB), although it will be a long, long time before drive of anywhere near that capacity become a reality.

Maximum Drive Capacity

  • IDE, 2.1 GB
  • ATA-1 through ATA-5 (Ultra ATA/66), 137 GB
  • ATA-6 (Ultra ATA/100) and newer, including SATA, 144 PB

Real World Limitations

From the beginning, accessible hard drive capacity has also been limited by the computer itself. The original PC BIOS supports up to 1,024 cylinders of up to 63 sectors and up to 255 heads, giving a theoretical limit of 8.4 GB (7.8 GiB). The early ATA specification supports 65,536 cylinders of up to 255 sectors and up to 16 heads, for a theoretical maximum drive size of 127.5 GB.

Problem is, when you combine the two, you get a real world limitation of 1,024 cylinders, 63 sectors, and 16 heads, which works out to 528 MB (504 MiB). That is a fixed limit locked in place by the combination of the computer’s BIOS and the drive’s ATA version. Back in 1986, 500 MB must have seemed like an incredible amount of storage space because the largest PC hard drives in those days were about 40 GB.

Some older PCs with an Award or AMI BIOS have a capacity limitation of 36 GB (33.8 GiB), and “traditional” ATA has the 137 GB/128 GiB limitation noted above, so it can be problematic adding drives over 128 GB to older PCs as well as most pre-2002 Macs.

And then there’s the operating system, which may have even lower capacity limitations than the drive itself and the PC’s BIOS support:

  • MS-DOS and Windows 95 (original version) top out at 8.4 GB.
  • Windows 95 (revision 2) and Windows 98 can use 128 GB/137 GiB.
  • Windows XP requires Service Pack 1 for drives over 128 GB.

More recently, as hard drives have passed 2 TB capacity, we’ve run into another capacity problem. Old BIOS-based PCs and older Macs have a 2 TB ceiling, and the workaround is a PC or Mac that uses EFI and runs a 64-bit operating system.

Mac Size Limitations

Early versions of the Classic Mac OS (prior to 7.5.2) have a 2 GB limit per partition, so higher capacity drives need only be partitioned into multiple 2 GB (or smaller) segments. For Macs running System 7.5.2 through 8.0, the limit is 4 GB (specifically 4,063 MB) per partition, and PCI-based Macs can access up to 2 TB partitions.

The Classic Mac OS can run into problems when run from a partition larger than 8 GB, and on early Macs that support Mac OS X, the boot partition not only needs to be smaller than 8 GB, it must also reside within the first 8 GB of space on the hard drive.

Prior to the Quicksilver Power Mac G4, introduced in Mid 2001, Macs had the 137 GB/128 GiB limitation noted above as detailed in How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My PowerPC Mac?. Although Apple doesn’t specify ATA versions in its technical specifications and Quicksilvers are widely reported as having Ultra ATA/66, yet with Mac OS X 10.2 and later, the Quicksilver 2002 supports big drives.

Mac OS X Maximum Drive Capacity

  • OS X 10.0-10.1.5, 2 TB maximum volume size
  • OS X 10.2-10.2.8, 8 TB
  • OS X 10.3-10.3.9, 16 TB
  • OS X 10.4 and later, around 8 exabytes (8 million terabytes!)

On to SATA

SATA supports 48-bit addressing, so there is no realistic limitation on drive size.

* Apple began moving Macs to ATA in 1994 yet continued to use SCSI hard drives on its pro-oriented machines until 1997, when the Beige Power Mac G3 became the first pro model to ship with ATA by default. And starting in 1999, no new Macs shipped with SCSI ports by default, although some Power Macs could be ordered with a SCSI PCI card. Mac OS X doesn’t even include SCSI drivers, although contemporary SCSI cards often have built-in firmware support so they can even function as boot drives, while older ones may have OS X drivers but are not bootable since they require those drivers to function within OS X..

Further Reading

  • Parallel ATA, Wikipedia
  • Hard Drive Capacity Limits, Hardware Secrets, 2007
  • Why the 2 TB Ceiling?, Maximum PC, 2010
  • How Big a Hard Drive Can I Put in My iMac, eMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook?, Low End Mac
  • Macintosh Operating System: Maximum Volume Size, Apple (archived)

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It is not unusual for people to think that Mac files aren’t compatible with PC hard drives. Although some macOS app files (Pages, Numbers) won’t automatically load, you can still transfer the information.

This guide takes you through the process of recovering data from a Mac HDD to a PC.

Situations When You Need to Recover Mac Hard Drive Data to a PC

If your macOS computer died, you likely recovered the HDD or SSD from the system to retain your files.

Since Apple devices can be expensive, you might have replaced the MacBook, iMac, or Mac Mini with a Windows PC.

You might also want to put your files on an existing PC you have at home.

💡 Apple and Windows have more compatibility than many people realize. You can transfer document files, spreadsheets, and other information between these two devices.

When you know how to transfer files from Mac to a PC external hard drive or internal system, you’ll have 100% information access all of the time.


Ways to Recover Data from a Mac Hard Drive to PC

Although the reasons why you might need to transfer files between a Mac and a PC are numerous, the methodologies available for this task are not.

If you need to recover a Mac hard drive on Windows, these are the five best choices to use.

1. Retrieve Files from an HFS+ Hard Drive

Software recovery tools can help you access the information on your Mac HDD, take the information to the cloud or onto another system, and transfer it over to your PC.

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Each software package uses the same structures in different ways to accomplish this goal. That’s why Disk Drill is a superior solution.

It streamlines the process by offering an intuitive user interface that feels like the apps you’d use on a Mac.

💡 Pro Tip:
Disk Drill for Windows supports allocating existing files stored on HFS+ drives.

Use the following steps to perform this operation:

  1. Attach the HFS+ drive to the Windows PC.
  2. Launch Disk Drill and select the HFS+ partition on the connected drive.
  3. Select the Allocate existing data scanning method and click Search for lost data.
  4. Click the Show scan results in Explorer option which attaches the HFS+ partition to Windows Explorer as a read-only partition.
  5. Use native OS methods to copy your files.

2. Recover Files from a Non-HFS+ Hard Drive.

If your Mac drive is non-HFS+ formatted, it’ll take a little more time to complete the transfer process. You may be using the APFS file system which is not natively compatible with your Windows PC.

Step 1: After verifying the disk condition, you can start the recovery process from your root drive.

Step 2: This action causes your PC HDD to become the storage device you’ll connect to transfer the information. (SSD recovery requires additional steps, including the creation of a byte-level backup, to recover the data for transfer.)

Step 3: You’ll choose the hard drive you want to recover.

Step 4: Select the scanning method, and wait until Disk Drill delivers a solution.

Step 5: Implement the instructions provided by Disk Drill to retrieve the files from the HFS+ hard drive. Once you’ve completed the steps, the transfer to PC is complete.

💡 You may also have success with MacDrive which is a third-party app that enables data to be transferred between Mac and Windows computers.

3. Transfer Data from a Mac to a PC using an External Hard Drive

If you have a Mac hard drive that isn’t functioning well, you can send the files to an external drive. The easiest way to accomplish this goal is to use a USB flash drive, but you might have more information than what it can handle.

Prepare drive

The USB drive can go between macOS and PC successfully. It might be faster to complete multiple copy transfers if your systems allow it. The external drive’s file system should be exFAT or FAT32. Your best results will come from formatting the drive on the macOS system using Disk Utility.

Follow these steps:

  1. Connect the external drive to your Mac.
  2. Start Disk Utility on the Mac.
  3. Click “View” in the top-left corner of the window and select “Show All Devices“.
  4. Choose the desired drive from the panel on the left side of the screen.
  5. Click the “Erase” button at the top of the window.
  6. Give the drive a name and select GUID Partition Map for the Scheme.
  7. Specify the exFAT format as this is compatible with macOS and Windows.
  8. Click “Erase” to format the drive.

Transfer files

Once the drive is formatted you can perform the copy and transfer your files.

  1. Connect the external drive to your macOS system.
  2. Open the drive, select File, and select New Folder.
  3. Type “Exported Files” and hit Return.
  4. Select the files you wish to transfer or choose “Select All”.
  5. Copy the data to the external drive.
  6. Disconnect the device from your Mac and connect it to the Windows machine.
  7. Open Windows explorer and copy the files from the external device to Windows storage.

4. Use a Portable Hard Drive Operations Connection

Did your Mac fail? You can still transfer files from Mac to a PC external hard drive without a power source if you have a hard drive reader.

The best option is a dual-bay external hard drive docking station. This product serves as the power source so that the physical disk can spin for reading purposes.

You can connect the docking station to your PC. Some models require an external power source and come with an AC adapter.

⚠️ This procedure will not be possible with newer Macs that are equipped with an internal SSD that cannot be removed from the device.

Older Macs do have drives that can be removed, but they may not be visible in Windows Explorer since they have an HFS or APFS file system. Consider using one of the previously described solutions to get the data off the Mac drive.

5. Use the CleverFiles Data Recovery Center

When you don’t have a power source or a readable disk from a portable docking bay, laboratory services can help you access your Mac data to put it onto a PC. You’ll get back the lost information for a reasonable and competitive cost.

The CleverFiles Data Recovery Center provides this service with a fast turnaround and emergency response. That means you can get the access you need without risking further damage to your hard drive.

SSD recovery might also be possible in some situations. You can always contact the CleverFiles team to see what could happen with your equipment.

6. Network the Mac and Windows Computers Together

You may be able to transfer files between your Mac and Windows PC by creating a small local network consisting of the two machines.

  1. Connect the two computers using a standard Ethernet cable. You can use a USB-to-Ethernet adapter if either of the machines does not have an Ethernet port.
  2. Turn on File Sharing on the Windows computer.
  3. On the Windows machine, right-click on folders you wish to share and select Share with and Specific people. Then follow the onscreen instructions.
  4. Turn off the Internet Connection Firewall. If left open, leave TCP port 445 open to enable sharing connections.
  5. On the Mac, select Go > Connect to Server and browse for or enter the network address for the Windows machine in the Server address field.

7. Sync your Mac and Windows Machine with a Cloud Client

Using cloud services like iCloud or Google Drive enables users to sync data between two or more computers. Your systems can easily be configured so when you create a file and upload it to the cloud client, the second computer automatically receives the update.

In Conclusion: How to Get Files from Mac to PC

You can recover the files on your Mac by sending them to a PC. This option can happen immediately or several months after you’ve recovered the HDD from a failing Apple computer.

👌 These options work well if all you need is a simple file transfer between macOS and Windows for your personal or professional needs.
  • Solutions such as Disk Drill ensure that you can retrieve Mac files on PC quickly and accurately.
  • You can also use the CleverFiles Data Recovery Center if your Mac drive has corruption or physical damage to attempt file access.
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Although you don’t have many options, these solutions are proven to work. If you need to transfer files from Mac to PC, these steps accomplish that goal.


To restore Mac data on Windows, start by downloading Disk Drill for Windows.

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  1. Connect your Mac hard drive to your computer as an external storage device.
  2. Select the HDD in question to scan it.
  3. Wait until the software locates your missing information.
  4. Find the files in question to preview them on the chosen drive.
  5. Recover and save the information to your PC hard drive or external storage.

The easiest way to transfer files from a Mac hard drive to a PC is to use a tool like Disk Drill. It eliminates the need to have Windows recognize the HDD as a backup device, especially if it has HFS+ formatting.

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The best hard drives that work with Mac and PC are mechanical external HDDs. This technology provides the right combination of portability, reliability, speed, and power to ensure positive results.

You can also use any hard drive that comes formatted in FAT32 or ExFAT. The FAT32 formatting includes a 4 GB per-file limit.

Sata Mac

You must connect your Mac drive to your Windows PC. After launching HFSExplorer, select the File menu. On the next screen, you must choose “Load File System From Device.”

Mac Sata Drive Cable

These commands automatically locate the Mac drive so you can load it. You’ll see the contents of your HFS+ drive in the window that appears.