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Use FireWire Target Disk Mode to Save a Dying Mac

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 1/25/2010

You can use FireWire Target Disk Mode to turn your Mac into an external hard drive for another computer. If you have a Mac that’s about to crash and burn, use this technique to copy the old Mac’s files over to the new one.

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    How to Use the Firewire Target Disk Mode

    FireWire Target Disk Mode is a powerful way to transfer data on Mac computers. You can use this technology to salvage the data on your dying Mac desktop or laptop. Turning the computer into a simple hard drive lets you transfer data with ease, which is valuable in multiple circumstances. If you want to transfer data from your laptop to a desktop Mac, copy data from an old computer to a new one, or transfer data quickly between laptops, you can use this mode to do it. Of course, you can also use it to get important data off of a dying Mac, which is what we’re discussing here.

    Let’s say you have an older Mac and you just purchased a new one. You want to transfer your data directly from your old computer to the new Mac quickly and painlessly. Here’s how you can transfer what you need in 6 easy steps:

    1. Shut down your old computer and start the new one.

    2. Connect the two computers by connecting their FireWire jacks using a 6-pin FireWire cable.

    3. Turn on the old computer and press the T key immediately after the chime.

    4. On the new computer’s desktop, notice the new hard drive. It’s your old computer!

    5. Copy the files you want, being careful not to gunk up your new machine.

    6. When you’re finished, turn off the old computer and then disconnect the cable.

    Remember, this nifty trick isn’t just for transferring data from an old computer to a new one. You can also enable FireWire disk use for your iPod and use your iPod as a second hard drive or transfer files between laptops at conferences and meetings.

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