• Hello, Guest! Welcome back, and be sure to check out this post for more info about the recent service interruption and migration.

Help: IDE to Compact Flash not working

Tom2112

Well-known member
I have an IDE-to-CF adapter to replace my Performa 630CD's IDE hard drive.
  • I'm running System 7.6.1 and using Drive Setup v1.7.3
  • it works as expected with my 32MB CF card (but 32MB is NOT enough space)
  • it doesn't work with my 4GB CF card ("initialization failed" error from Drive Setup)
  • it doesn't work with a CF-to-SD card adapter, no matter what size SD card I use. (I've tried 1GB, 16GB, 32GB) (Drive Setup doesn't even detect the drive's presence)
  • I have tried using the Update Driver function of Drive Setup and rebooting, but that doesn't help in either case.
  • I have tried the Drive Setup program from System 7.6.1, OS 8.1, and OS 8.5 (wouldn't boot from that disk tools disk on my non-power-PC-Mac)
This is the IDE-to-CF adapter I'm using:
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0026OYEEQ/

This is the 4GB card I'm using:
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VY7HYM/

It was recommended by a YouTuber that successfully upgraded his with a 4GB CF card:

Does anyone know what the magic formula for getting this to work would be? Do I need a 2GB CF card? Size seems to be the significant difference between working and not working...
 

MOS8_030

Well-known member
Have you tried partitioning the 4 gig CF card onto 2 gig (or smaller) partitions?

Also, speed may be a factor. Some CF cards write speeds are pretty slow even compared to old HD's.
 
Last edited:

mg.man

Well-known member
I've had strange issues using various IDE > CF adapters in the past. One way I've gotten them going is to prepare the CF card in a PowerBook with a PCMCIA > CF adapter - which seem to be better supported by the Apple utilities. This is probably not much help if you don't have a PB or PCMCIA adapter... 🤔

FWIW, 7.6.1 should be fine with >2Gb partitions...
 

Byrd

Well-known member
Confirming I also had issues with a Q630 using a high quality PC Engines CF to IDE adapter and an 8 or 16GB CF Sandisk card - no format, crash, third party tools didn't work any better. I suspect a smaller 1GB or 2GB CF card would work, but defeated the purpose of having lots of storage, so ended up putting in a 60GB 2.5" IDE HD in adapter and it's fine.

Make sure you check the drive is forced to Master configuration - it doesn't support Slave or CS.

The Q630 was Apple's first IDE implementation in a Mac (or maybe it was the PowerBook 150?); clearly pretty buggy and not compatible working with later IDE standards.
 

jessenator

Well-known member
Make sure you check the drive is forced to Master configuration - it doesn't support Slave or CS.
IME the system wouldn't boot at all or would hard freeze after POST with those settings (my adapter was mislabeled), but YMMV.

I'm also of the mind to try sm smaller partition size. I can't find the supporting documentation, but the cut-price/early implementation of ide/ata is certainly the limiting factor. It's a slower IDE bus speed than any other implementation in the Mac lineup, IIRC, and as said, it had some quirky behavior.

Try 2 GiB partitions, and if that doesn't work I would try another CF card. Something like Cisco-branded (they're on eBay all day). Your smaller card is working, so the current one is the x factor.
 

LaPorta

Well-known member
The 2GB partition would be my suggestion as well. At the end of the day, I used a different solution: ran a SCSI2SD off the CD-ROM SCSI bus in my 630. Totally avoided the problem.
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
Thanks guys. I tried setting smaller partitions. I tried various sizes, even under 1GB, just to be sure. But no luck. Oddly, it seems to "load the driver" onto the drive, then creates the partition, then reports "failed to initialize". If you reboot and try different card and the reboot and go back to the failed card, it shows the partition created on the drive, but still won't initialize it and mount it as a drive. I thought maybe it was that old "no non-Apple branded drives" thing that we see with older SCSI drives. But from what I read the Drive Setup app from the Mac OS 8.1 disc doesn't have that limitation. I even tried booting from an 8.1 disk tools floppy, but same results - initialization failed.
I'm gonna try a different brand card and get a smaller one too (2gb or less).
 

jessenator

Well-known member
Try to find a replacement card with faster read/write speeds.
^^^^^ This
https://www.ebay.com/itm/323869342010 I've heard from others that these in particular are good used buys.

I have some SanDisk cards that are rock solid now constantly used as drives, but might pick up one or two to see how they compare. My SanDisk CF cards are the Extreme line and are rated UDMA 7 | 120 MB/s with that 'video' rating of 20 (which I think is 20 minutes of 1080p footage at 29.97 or something, IDR). That perhaps might be overkill, but it's what I have on hand ATM.

I originally bought them for my Nikon which shoots continuous 10 FPS at 16 MP and needs the bandwidth. YMMV, but I've shot with a $#!@y CF card in my Nikon and it dropped frames—not write them—and would sometimes just corrupt the RAW files.

I just remembered that I also bought some cards that looked highly rated, but they overheat or just plain don't work in my Macs; Kingston re-badged Transcend I think they were... They work well in my camera, but don't work as drives well. SanDisk is the OG CF maker, and if you can find them, I'd go with them (properly rated of course), over any other brand.
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
I don't think getting a faster card is going to help. The 32MB card that I have that works is the slowest card I have (type 1 at 4x). The others I have are 133x, and they don't work. BTW, those x speeds are in the same units as CD-ROM multipliers - 150kb/s. So a 4x would be 600kb/s, a 133x would be approx 20MB/s. The ATA-1 standard, which came out just about the same time as the Performa 630CD, only offered a maximum transfer speed of 8.3MB/s - and that's assuming that the Performa's early IDE implementation even supports PIO mode 2. If it doesn't, you're looking at a more likely 5.2MB/s or 4.2MB/s. It's no wonder why Apple was fond of the SCSI interface, it certainly was faster back in the day.

But... a faster rated card would indicate a better-quality/more-reliable card ... so who knows? The 32MB card I have that works is a SanDisk. The 4GB that doesn't work is a Transcend (which used to be a good name in flash storage, but now... who knows?)

I did manage to pick up a USB-to-CF adapter. So I'm going to try to partition/format the cards on my Mac Mini... we'll see how that goes.
 

rieSha.

Active member
Some cards report themselves as fixed disks, others as removable media. Try to get one that reports as fixed disk. Often, the "industrial" branded ones can be switched between fixed and removable with a utility binary available from the "industrial" brand.
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
rieSha, nice! I did not know that. I will check that out.

Also, I tried formatting the 4GB and 32GB Transcend cards in my Mac Mini (using iPartition), but that didn't work either. Oddly enough, the Drive Setup util showed the partitions and the names I had named them on the Mac Mini, but it still wouldn't initialize and mount the disk.
 

mg.man

Well-known member
I tried formatting the 4GB and 32GB Transcend cards in my Mac Mini (using iPartition)
Be careful... "newer" Macs use different partition schemes... if you used GUID, that definitely won't work... I'm not sure, but you might need to use a "PC" partition map (MBR)? I'll try to check how my PB1400 is set up - it uses a CF adapter in a 2.5" HD form factor...
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
Thanks. I'm aware of the different file systems on modern macs. That's why I used iPartition, so I could specify HFS, not HFS+. I also tried 2GB and even 1GB partitions, but that didn't work either. It seems to be either an issue with the brand of card, or a volume size issue with the size of card.
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
Ya know... sometimes I wonder why I persist at banging my head against a wall...

I found an old 160GB IDE HDD sitting around. So I popped it into my Performa, expecting to have similar difficulties as with the compact flash cards, but lo and behold it initialized and formatted without a hitch. In fact, I created a 2GB partition on it as boot, installed OS 8.1, then created a 100GB partition and copied a TON of stuff over to it. It's sitting humming along like a champ now. I don't know if the compact flash would have been faster or not (SCSI would probably beat both the IDE HDD and the compact flash), but this isn't really about speed. I just wanted a large amount of easy-to-use storage. The manufacture date on the 160GB drive is 2003. The date on the original Apple drive is 1994. It was a 250MB drive. Not even 10 years and the easily available sizes multiplied over 600 times! I believe the Performa is only seeing 128GB of the 160GB drive because of the limitations of the ATA-1 standard, but that's OK. I guess I can live with 128GB of storage on a computer from 1994. LOL

Now I wonder how long an 18 year old spinning-rust drive will last...
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
Ease-of-use tip for fellow Performa owners: tie a small loop of string (or in my case, paracord) to the front latch of the drive sled. It makes it 1000% easier to get that drive out when you need to. They're such a PITA to get out if you don't feel like removing the floppy first.
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
OK, the comedy - of sorts - continues!!!

I got in the mail today two new compact flash cards. One was a 32GB SanDisk Extreme card rated at 120MB/s and UDMA7. The other was the exact same card as Gruz used in his YouTube video - a Verbatim 4GB with no bragging rights at all (at least none printed on the card or the packaging.

The high quality SanDisk didn't work. Same problems as with all the other cards (except the 32MB card).

Guess what happened with the almost-generic Verbatim 4GB card? It worked! As soon as the Performa booted, it recognized that there was a blank drive attached and asked me to name it and initialize it. I did, and BOOM: working compact flash drive! I did NOT use the Drive Setup tool. In fact, the Drive Setup tool was absolutely no help at all. If the OS doesn't recognize the drive and prompt you to initialize it, Drive Setup isn't going to help either.

So... after giving up on it and forgetting that I hadn't received my Amazon order of two additional cards until they showed up today, the card that works is the one I thought was least likely to work! (I've never had good experiences with Verbatim branded media.) I should have trusted in the Gruz!

For those just joining us, here are cards that are known to work and not work:

WORKING CARDS:
CF Cards - WORKING.jpg

Cards that definitely do NOT work:
CF Cards - Don't Work.jpg

Here's a link to the Verbatim 4GB card on Amazon ($13). They offer a 16GB one, but it is listed as "Premium", so who knows if it will work or not. (Note: the same Amazon page offers a "Premium" 4GB card too. The one I have is NOT the "Premium" one.)
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009X3MNU/

By the way: I tried a Compact Flash to SD adapter (pictured above), which did NOT work no matter what SD card I put in it (even a SanDisk 1GB SD card). That specific CF-to-SD adapter is known to be crappy. I would have liked to try the one from iFlash (http://www.iflash.xyz), but I wasn't going to spend $28 just to get one, and I wasn't about to take apart my working (upgraded) iPod Mini that has one in it just to test it out. Though the iFlash adapter is known to work better than the Chineseium one pictured above.

Sadly I spent over $100 on CF cards that I have no other use for in order to get something working. Frankly, I would have been better off buying an old IDE HDD. It would have been cheaper and almost certainly would work (mine did). The drive I used is a Maxtor 160GB DiamondMax 16 (part # CP157287-01, manuf date: 30APR2003) You can find them on www.newegg.com for $37 and get a LOT more storage for your money.

So if you have a use for CF cards and need any very gently used ones, let me know! LOL
 

DracheMitch

Well-known member
Byrd was the only one that mentioned it, but the 630 is known for having a buggy IDE implementation.

I have 3 of the SanDisk Extreme 32GB cards that you show as not working, and they work great for me, both in a CF to latptop IDE adapter and in a CF to PC Card adapter. I've only used the cards in PowerPC machines, though (Pismo and TiBook).
 

Tom2112

Well-known member
Yeah, DracheMitch, I agree. The 630's very early IDE implementation is no doubt the issue, not the cards. I'm sure I could use these cards in a variety of later devices.
 
Top