The Next Do-It-Yourself Mac

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What You'll Need:
PCI ATA/133 RAID controller card
Two ATA drives of the same size
Magnetized Phillips screwdriver
Hard-drive power splitter

When you work with a lot of large files, such as video or audio, you run out of hard-drive space. You also need fast hard-drive access. Make your life easier with a fast hardware RAID drive set. You can add one to a pre–mirrored-drive-door Power Mac G4 in less than ten minutes.

You'll need a PCI ATA/133 RAID controller card (from SIIG, Acard, or Sonnet) and two ATA drives of the same size (some cards let you join four equal-size drives into a RAID). Most PCI ATA/133 cards support drives as large as 250GB each.

While you can format two drives as one RAID in OS X's Disk Utility, a hardware RAID gives you a faster set of drives. All hardware RAID cards offer RAID 0, also called striping, which splits the data flow to both drives, making the RAID almost twice as fast as a single drive. Some cards also have RAID 1, called mirroring, which duplicates your data on both drives. You get no speed improvement, but your data is immediately backed up.

To install the card and drives in your Power Mac, you'll need a magnetized Phillips screwdriver and a hard-drive power splitter (available at Radio Shack).

Before you unplug your computer, touch the metal on your computer's PCI slots to discharge static electricity. Then unplug the computer and open the side door.

On the bottom of the enclosure, you'll see your computer's internal drive. To the left of the boot drive, you'll see two drive carrier sleds screwed to the carriage. Unscrew these sleds A and lift them out.

Take your hard drives and set both of their jumpers to Master. Then screw the hard drives to the drive sleds B. Once attached, return the drive sleds to their respective slots and secure each with a screw.

The PCI ATA controller card has DIP switches on the circuit board to turn the RAID function on or off. Set it to On (the picture shows the setting for a SIIG card).

Some cards have settings for RAID 0 and RAID 1. Once you've set the DIP switches, plug the card into one of your available PCI ports and secure it with the small slot screw.

Attach two ATA cables to the card. Run the cables to each drive. Attach the drive at the Master position (the end of the ribbon). Lightly fold the ribbon so it bends into a 90-degree angle about one inch from the PCI card connection -- this way, the ATA ribbons won't block the airflow to the computer's main fan.

You'll find an open power connection hanging in the center of the computer. Use the power splitter to send power to both drives.

Close the Power Mac case carefully. Plug in the power and start up the computer. Open Disk Utility. Format the new drive set and assign it a new name. Your RAID is now ready to store files. -- anton linecker

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