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Connecting iBook in Target Disk Mode to XP via Firewire

by Julian on March 16th, 2005

Dec 2008: The following post from 2005 is out of date; I no longer have the iBook, the new MacBooks don’t have Firewire (why?!) and I run Vista under Fusion. However, I still get the occasional link from the AppleInsider forums, so it remains here for posterity. I hope it helps you.

Jump straight to the solution…

My work XP machine (running MacDrive) is have problems connecting to my iBook drive in Target Disk Mode (see this previous post why I want to do this). Here’s the geeky history:

  1. Boot up iBook in Target Disk Mode, plug it in
  2. MacDrive eval has run out, but I can see the iBook as a drive in My Computer, although cannot access it due to eval limitations.
  3. Thinking it’s fixed, I purchase MacDrive 6.0.5. Install and reboot.
  4. MacDrive no longer sees the iBook, now there’s a yellow ! next to the disk in the device manager, that says “Unknown vendor and model ieee 1394 sbp2 device”. Additionally there’s a ! under SBP2 IEEE 1394 devices.
  5. Looking at a number of mac forums, I ‘repair’ the iBook drive, using DiskUtility, DiskWarrior and fsck.
  6. However, MacDrive still does not ‘see’ the drive, and the yellow exclamation points remain.

Mediafour’s response is “This indicates a driver or communications problem in Windows…”, and then essentially to remove and reinstall the 1394 drivers. After this didn’t work, they said “Please see the following FAQ for suggestions on resolving Firewire interface problems”. (Original FAQ link is dead.)

Still no joy. However, I can now see the drive about 50% of the time using this process:

  1. Connect firewire cable to PC
  2. PC detects device, but shows exclamation mark next to drive
  3. Uninstall IEEE host controller
  4. Do not restart (it doesn’t seem to make any difference)
  5. Control Panel -> Add Hardware
  6. 50% of time, device is detected but exclamation point returns, other 50%, device is detected immediately, or the Add Hardware wizard takes some time (during which the device is shown as “Disk Drive”)
  7. Even if the device is working, a tooltip in the system tray shows (during add hardware) “a problem occurred during installation …”
  8. If the device works, then ‘safely remove hardware’, and remove cable
  9. repeat ad infinitum

So, still no joy. I spend hours hunting for a solution; perhaps it’s an IRQ clash with the videocard? I really don’t want to be messing with a Windows reinstall, as this is my work PC. Nothing in the BIOS to change. Maybe it’s PCI latency? I download Powerstrip, and adjust the latency of the firewire controller (see this article). Still no solution.

Thinking it might be a Windows XP SP2 issue, I trawl the Microsoft support site, and try the following:

  1. Uninstall MacDrive
  2. Install hotfix for “885222: Performance of 1394 devices may decrease after you install Windows XP Service Pack 2″. No joy.
  3. Install hotfix for “811077: An IEEE 1394 Hard Disk May Not Be Recognized After You Restart the Computer”. No joy.

The Solution?
Getting desparate now, I take a look in the registry. I find a solution that works all the time. But it’s not nice: After ‘safely removing’ the drive, I delete all the entries within HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetEnum1394. Reinserting the firewire cable, the PC detects the drive. This is great, as at least I have a solution.

But I don’t like loose ends, so I carry on the hunt for a proper solution:
Good page with lots of info: http://www.bustrace.com/products/delayedwrite.htm … 
Think this might be the problem, until I read the problem was fixed in SP2…

I resort to calling the Microsoft SP2 hotline, to get hold of hotfixes 885464 and 887170. You can only get them by calling for some reason.

Neither of these hotfixes work. I install MacDrive again, so I can copy some data back.

I turn my attention to getting a new external firewire drive for backups, and wait for a return call from Microsoft…

Some time later…

So I still have this issue with firewire; If I’ve connect my iBook (by Target Disk Mode) to my work XP machine, ‘something’ doesn’t seem remove it correctly from the system. On the hunt for more answers, I stumble upon this article about XP SP2 and firewire. (Link dead.)

So I take a look at the unibrain driver page, and install the ubCore drivers. (Original link dead.) Other articles I’ve read have said that they’re supposed to be pretty good, so my hopes are high.

But what on earth is happening now? The PC no longer detects the iBook’s drive AT ALL, but does detect its CD drive. I can even right-click eject it. Interestingly, I have no problems disconnecting and reconnecting this ‘CD drive’ to the PC. But still no hard drive. Because of this, I switch back to the Windows drivers.

To be complete, I test a new external drive, Tony’s iPod and his brand spanking new PowerBook:

The Powerbook exhibits exactly the same behaviour as my iBook, but the iPod and the external drive behave perfectly.

So it seems to me to be some weird combo of the IEEE 1394 drivers and something with Target Disk Mode. Who’s fault will it be?

A few days later, I posted:

Continuation of the iBook/XP Firewire saga

Well this is interesting. I’ve been on the phone to both Microsoft AND Apple tech support at the same time, about this whole “connecting iBook in Target Disk Mode to PC” scenario.

MS were saying that this is the first occurrence of such a situation. I find that hard to believe, though perhaps it’s due to a weird combination of hardware and software.

Apple weren’t much help; it’s not a “supported feature”. But, surely it should work? The iBook/PowerBook just becomes a fancy external drive. It must work? The guy suggested seeing a Mac Genius down in London. Perhaps I’ll do that next time I’m down there.

Think I’ll contact MediaFour/MacDrive about this again, see if they know more…

I never did visit a Mac Genius or contact MediaFour, but in the end I didn’t need to. The hack I’d found worked for the very few occasions that I needed to connect the mac like this. Please let me know if you find/found a solution, and I’ll update the page. Thanks.

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2 Comments
  1. cam permalink

    great post julian. not the ‘ideal solution’ but works like a charm! not to much hassle for a daily sync.

  2. Mario permalink

    Strangely, I’m unable to delete the registry keys. There’s also a way to setup an IP network with the firewire cable (similar to how you would do it with an ethernet cable) according to LifeHacker – but I haven’t been able to get that to work either :-)

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