During the last few weeks Apple has released two significant updates for Macs with ATA (IDE) hard disk drives. You may need one (or both) of these updates to correct problems that can lead to data loss or cause your Mac to fail to recognize its hard drive, resulting in the dreaded "flashing question mark" when you start your machine. Although these problems aren’t common, it’s better to avoid trouble now than to be forced to deal with it later. To use either of these updates, you’ll need Disk Copy 6.1 or better (or Aladdin’s ShrinkWrap 3.0) to use Apple’s disk images.
Drive Setup 1.3.1 — The release affecting the largest number of people is Drive Setup 1.3.1, which updates the ATA (IDE) hard disk driver. (A driver is software your computer uses to communicate with your hard disk.) You need Drive Setup 1.3.1 if you have a Performa or Power Macintosh in the 5400, 5500, 6400, or 6500 series, a Performa 6360, or a Twentieth Anniversary Mac.
Drive Setup 1.3.1 updates your ATA (IDE) driver to version 3.07. If you have one of the machines listed above and aren’t sure what version of the driver you’re using, select your hard disk in the Finder, then choose Get Info from the File menu. The version of the ATA (IDE) driver will appear in the "Where" line in the Get Info window; if the version is less than 3.07, you need Drive Setup 1.3.1.
Updating your disk driver is fairly simple, and complete instructions are in the Drive Setup 1.3.1 ReadMe. As always, you should back up your hard disk before updating your driver or system software. Once you’ve updated, be sure to delete any older versions of Drive Setup on your computer, replacing them with Drive Setup 1.3.1.
You can use Drive Setup 1.3.1 on any Apple hard disk in a PowerPC or 68040-based Macintosh, although you shouldn’t use it on a PowerBook 150 or on some machines with a Macintosh Processor Upgrade Card. See the Drive Setup ReadMe (above) for complete details.
1.2 GB Firmware Utility 1.1 — Of more narrow scope is the 1.2 GB Firmware Utility 1.1. This update corrects a problem in the firmware of a limited number of 1.2 GB ATA (IDE) hard disks. If you have a drive of a smaller or larger capacity, don’t worry about this update.
This problem only affects 1.2 GB ATA (IDE) drives with a firmware version of 1.37 or below. If you have a 1.2 GB ATA (IDE) drive, you can use the Device Information section of Apple System Profiler (which is available from Apple, and ships with recent versions of the Mac OS) to see what firmware version it uses.
The 1.2 GB Firmware Utility 1.1 comes as a bootable floppy disk image, so you must make a physical floppy disk from the firmware utility disk image. Once you’ve made the floppy disk, you must turn off your Macintosh and disconnect any external SCSI devices, then restart from the (unlocked) firmware floppy disk. The floppy disk has a small application ("ATA_Serial_Num") which you can run to see if your hard disk firmware needs to be updated. If so, the program automatically updates your firmware; otherwise, it tells you your drive doesn’t need to be updated. Full details are available in the ReadMe file, and (as always!) back up your drive before updating.