Meet iFixit: Mitra’s Upgrade Success Story

May 19, 2009 Meet iFixit, Repair Stories, Site News — Miro

Mitra works for iFixit as a Visual Designer. Most of the website graphics on our site have been shaped or created by her genius. She is the first person to write an article for the “Meet iFixit” series — personal blog posts written by iFixit employees relating some of their tech-related experiences. The following article is written solely by her, with a couple of edits here and there by yours truly. Enjoy.


Last week I finally got enough motivation to fix my old 15″ PowerBook. The process was more fun and interesting than I expected. My repair story started in January of 2008 when I made the choice to update my computer system. My 2004 15″ PowerBook was making strange clicking sounds and the battery was dead (I had to keep it plugged in all the time). It was time for a faster machine and I needed a bigger monitor. I decided to get a 24″ iMac and retired my old laptop for use on special occasions.

In December my laptop totally died. It would display a panic message and then freeze when I tried to turn it on. From that point, it took 4 months to convince myself that I could fix the PowerBook. I started by using the ID your Mac help guide to figure out what kind of laptop I had. Next I consulted a few tech savvy friends to confirm my suspicion that the hard drive was the cause of my problem. Then I went about getting everything I needed to make the repair.

To fix my computer I bought a replacement hard drive, a battery, and a tool kit. I used the step by step iFixit guide for hard drive replacement, and an OS operating system CD. I was a little nervous getting started.

I used a cupcake baking pan to organize the screws as I took the laptop apart.

There were a few moments when I wondered if it was ever going to turn on again. Looking at the inside of my computer was strange.

I swapped the hard drive and put the pieces back together. I swapped out the old battery and installed the OS. It was easy.

It took about 30 minutes to replace the hard drive… And installing the software took 3 hours. I’m happy to have a working laptop now. Thanks to everyone who helped!


  1. Love the muffin tin idea ;-) way better than my jumble of plastic bowls…

    Comment by Errol Sayre — May 19, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

  2. […] I like to fix things…. and wrote about my first computer repair experience for ifixit…. The blog post is, “Meet iFixit: Mitra’s Upgrade Success Story“ […]

    Pingback by How I fixed my computer…. « Foreverbird’s Blog — May 20, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  3. A variant of the muffin tin organizer; plastic ice cube trays. Number the compartments with a Sharpie fine point marker pen to link with your tear-down notes.

    Comment by Dr. Bergnine — June 11, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  4. Thanks for that. It is really good stuff.
    I really like to read

    Comment by HoadiadiomLob — June 17, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

  5. I actually printed out the guide and taped the screws to the appropriate section. To there was no question where something went and I didn’t need anything besides some scotch tape. As I put it back together, I removed the screws from each section and for once, didn’t have any leftovers or redo’s.

    Comment by Stuart — July 16, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

  6. A year and a half ago, iFixit helped me swap out the hard drive on my last revision 15″ Aluminum Powerbook G4. The version of Powerbook I had did not have those difficult tabs over the optical drive bay like some previous versions of this same laptop.

    My 1.67 GHz 15″ Aluminum Powerbook G4 has a long half-life. It runs the same Adobe CS4 apps that are running on my 4-core Mac Pro. My Powerbook G4 can take advantage of the new cheap and fast firewire 800 external SATA hard drives, thanks to the Firewire 800 port.

    So, I’m able to post pone my PowerPC-to-Intel transition, on the laptop side of my workflow, thanks to my last-revision-G4 Powerbook, running a newer 2.5″ 7200 RPM internal Ultra ATA drive.

    Comment by Robert Scott — July 16, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  7. I too have a 15’AL Powerbook G4(my baby). I have added memory, swapped the hard drive(I also used a plastic ice tray for my screws, plus I used a marker to color the screws).
    I also have a PC laptop but I always come back to my Powerbook. Nice to know I have reliable laptop.

    Comment by Christine Dinges — July 16, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

  8. Hi,
    I used a 15″ Titanium PowerBook G4 from 2002 until last year. Through its life, I added more RAM, an Airport card, I changed the inverter board (bought from iFixit, of course), etc.
    I didn’t mind the peeling paint, the new battery, the marks of the keyboard on the LCD, or that it wasn’t as fast as my G5 tower… It serviced me very well until… it fell from a cart when I was giving a lecture.
    The LCD died, but what still amazes me is that everything else worked! So, I used it for a while with an external monitor (a horrible Dell) as a Mirror. Impractical? Perhaps, but it allowed me to make the transition to a MacBook Pro. I am using the old 80-GB drive in a USB/FireWire enclosure as a handy backup.
    My PowerBook G4 was a geat machine while it lasted. Glad that Mitra gave hers another chance!

    Comment by Miguel Cervantes-Cervantes — July 16, 2009 @ 11:52 pm

  9. I have used the iFixit guides for years to attack iBooks, MacBooks and Powerbooks and found it invaluable. Well done Miguel. I used to do plastic containers and then printout / stick it on with Scotch tape idea but then I hit on a better one. I printed out the most important pages showing the screws to remove and pasted this on some heavy thick cardboard. I have a number of them labelled with the model I am working on. I can get all the most important pages on one large sheet. As I remove the screws, I press them into the cardboard in the right place. Then when I rebuild, I just remove them and screw them in. You know exactly where they have come from / go, and you sure know if you have any left over.
    Well done on your rebuild. I think there is a fault with the 15″ Powerbook drives as I have a stack of them in my collection, including one from my daughters. It had the hardrive replaced under Applecare when my wife had it, and the replacement lasted just on two years! Luckily I had set her up with a good backup regime just one week before it died!

    Comment by Howard Pettigrew — July 17, 2009 @ 12:14 am

  10. Like Mitra’s, the Hard Drive on my 2005 12″ G4 started making funny noises, so I decided it was time. Thanks to the wonderfully detailed Ifixit worksheets and the complete toolkit from their store, I was able to open up the G4 and discovered a 30GB Hard Drive from Dec 2001! Hmm, wonder where this came from. Out it came, to be replaced with a WD 80GB HDD, just a tad closer to the original specs. Buttoned it up and am using the old drive as a clone to the OS. Still makes noises, but where it’s rarely used, a good backup.

    Thanks Ifixit for making the job EEEEZZZZ

    Comment by Ted Ellis — July 17, 2009 @ 4:23 am

  11. I upgraded the drive in my 17″ MBP to 500GB in about the same time. I used little Pyrex dished and scraps of paper to label their location. I mirrored the HD to a Seagate FreeAgent external drive. iFixit is an awesome resource…. I ordered the itty bitty screw driver set and my new fave tool…. THE SPUDGER.

    Comment by Stan — July 17, 2009 @ 7:47 am

  12. Congratulations on the fixit easy to use guides. The powerbooks are really easy to replace hard drives in the g3’s and G 4’s the challenge is replacing hard drives on the G 4 ibooks, a whole lot more screws to remove and other exciting things, takes at least 4 times as long to replace ibook hard drive and much more likely to pull connections off motherboard. ifixit does help but seems like a lot of variablity in those ibooks from one to another.

    Comment by Michael — July 17, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  13. I’ve replaced the HDD in my old 12″ G4 I-book twice. I thought about all the screws that were going to be taken out of the laptop and how to keep them sorted out. I used the small “snack” size cheap zipper sandwich bags. I put all of the screws from each step into a different bag and marked the step # on the bag with a bold marker. It worked perfectly and made me less nervous about working on the laptop, as mixing up the hardware and then being unable to re-assemble was my biggest worry.

    Comment by Jerry Flannigan — July 18, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  14. My thanks to iFixIt. I just repalced the hard drive in my 14″ iBook G4.
    It took me 2 1/2 hours and I had to repair one cable (speaker) that I pulled apart. I used the iFixIt screw guide, taped to my table, with tape over the screws (we have a cat). I thought about using an egg carton for the screws but it didn’t have enough compartments to hold the different sets of screws.
    Thanks again for the great instructions and the tools!

    Comment by Gary Powell — July 19, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  15. Why didn’t you clone your hard drive? That would have saved you a lot of time re-installing all your hardware. super duper does a great job of cloning your old hard drive directly onto your new one with no long re-installs! go to, click on Super Duper and download!

    Comment by Doug Lepine — July 19, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

  16. TY for this good blog post. I enjoy this website much.

    Comment by anti aging moistruizer — August 10, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

  17. I had upgraded my jan 2009 MBP with a 500GB I also was told that a 1TB 2.5″ 12mm drive will fit in the same place.any one herd that???

    great with the fix to Mirta.

    Kristyanna from Dunsmuir, CA

    Comment by Kristyanna — October 9, 2009 @ 7:45 pm


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