back to article 'Upgraded' Apple iMacs lock out hard drive replacement

Expanding on its efforts to remove all user control over the innards of its iDevices, Apple appears to have made it difficult to swap out the hard drive in its latest line of iMacs without finding yourself listening to screaming, interminable fan noise. In a posting on his company's blog, an Other World Computing rep says that …

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Anonymous Coward

@ Sir Wiggum

"As for the suggestion of a £200 PC as a hackintosh, tried that. Didn't work. Wouldn't even boot."

Change the motherboard -- the range of hardware OS X wil happily support is very narrow but there are lists of compatible boards out there,

Mine booted no bother with a bog-standard EFI kernel loader and after I got the kext I needed for quartz support on graphics all was fine. Sound, wifi, the lot.

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Anonymous Coward

No ...

But for a quick hack that I never expected to work at all (never mind work perfectly) three years is rather good. I expect to squeze at least another 5-7 years out of it.

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So has HP

I have had to teardown/fix my NC4000 more than 3 times so far - hinges replacement and drive replacement. I have lost count how many times I have half disassembled an Evo110 I use for experiments. So Lenovo/IBM are not the only ones with full teardown guides (I have had to use their guides to fix my S10e once).

It is the norm in "proper" laptop manufacturers. Not just Apple. Just google for them.

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Why SATA?

Get a samsung spinpoint PATA 2.5 in.

I have my G4 powerbook upgraded with that. You will be surprised how fast that machine really is.

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Why I don't buy Apple products

This is just another reason, as far as I'm concerned, to boycott Apple products. On my Dell D630 (and old D600) laptop, removing 2 screws allows the drive to be removed by sliding out of the case, and easily replaced. In fact, I have 2 drives for it, with different operating systems. To me, this is sensible.

And in case you are interested, my phone is an unlocked Nexus One Android phone running the latest Gingerbread OS. Unfortunately, it will be a cold day in Heck when I can get my wife to give up her iDevices.

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FAIL

Laptop drives

The annoying thing about the macbook pro hard drives...

The first unibody models, had the battery and hard drive easily reachable under a clip on cover at the bottom.

With subsequent models, you now have to undo 10+ very tiny screws to get the bottom plate off just to change the battery or disk... Big step backwards.

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Just replaced HP laptop HD

When we opened up the HP drive bay, noticed some extra stuff there. I said "eek some apple trick" but it turned out to be a special rail mechanism (with antistatic foil) to make sure drive never touches the body directly, to have better hard disk temps.

That is the HP for you,

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Megaphone

Yet you buy Dell ...

Where Dell's non-standard, re-wiring of desktop PSU ATX connector still causes difficulties if not plumes of smoke and wallet emptying.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATX#Issues_with_Dell_power_supplies

Plus Dell went through a phase of "promoting Linux" but it being a nightmare to find that support.

Perhaps Dell have got better? I wouldn't know, they took themselves off my list of suppliers to consider a long time ago.

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Go

Re: Laptop drives

Upgrading the RAM in my Mid-2010 MBP was straight forward, and that's easily the equal of hard drive replacement on that model WRT complexity. It took 10 minutes to do a dry run opening the back before I ordered the RAM to make sure it was as easy as claimed.

When the RAM arrived it took 15 minutes to open it up, remove the old RAM, fit the new RAM, and put the back together. No screws lost, and no screws have come loose since.

Perhaps it could be easier, but its hardly complicated.

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@Laptop drives

Have to disagree about the 10 very tiny screws .. no problem undoing them and adding more memory or swapping the HDD for an SDD .. and the screws make the back firm and rigid (missus) to go with the rest of the superbly manufactured hardware design.

MBP unibody - best ever laptop I've used in 20 years of mobile computing and I'd get a Macbook Air if it had a backlit keyboard.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah..

I often smoke those cutting edge PII and PIII Dell systems when I mistakenly change a PSU for a standard ATX one...

FFS it was about ten years ago.

Kudos to Dell for actually attempting to carve out a new market with Linux. It's a nightmare to support though because the users who buy a machine preloaded with Linux are geeks, therefore any problem they need support for is going to be a bastard of a problem.

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Caveat Emptor

That sucks. Oh well.

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Silver badge

Yet another reason to buy a real computer

That doesn't mean Windows, I'm not a fanboi. It means any machine that, within design parameters, permits you to modify and alter the configuration as your needs evolve. To prevent you upgrading the harddisc in this way demonstrates a lot of the control-freakery that Apple exemplifies. And, let us not forget, Apple branded hardware = premium, custom kit = greater premium, not to mention possible problems getting the parts in several years...

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Hard, not impossible

Well I did a drive swap on a RevB iMac and I've done one on this G5 iSight iMac AND got it back together again. But I agree that the tower Macs were wonderful. At work I once swapped the drive bay from one to another to enable the installation of more drives on the second. It was a doddle.

I'm sure there will be a workaround found, someone will hack the firmware for eg. As for the previous machines and the HD fan, no problem on this beast, prized the sensor off and then put it on the new drive with no problems.

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Jobs Halo

Tower Macs

The towers are still very expandable. Hard drive, memory and card upgrades are a doddle. Had mine 3years and still as snappy and well built as they day I purchased it.

The iMac really isn't designed to be user serviceable. Someone said they are becoming appliances. Well personally I think the iMac has always been an appliance.

Also remember there is a thriving parts market for Apples if you know where to look. I bet someone will sell an adaptor for a few quid.

What would be a bigger concern is if they move to this connector for the Mac Pro laptops where users do routinely upgrade their hard disks. Has anyone checked the insides of the new Mac Pro's to see if Apple are doing this in these models?

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Nope, HDDs stil swappable in 2011 MBPs

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Towers

I have a dual CPU G4 and it was very easy to get inside and change things. Added an extra drive and swapped out the crappy DVD-RAM for a DVD-RW with no trouble. I recall that there was even a little 3rd party economy going on selling CPU upgrades & daughterboards but I never bothered with them because they were so horrifically expensive. To switch out my CPUs would have cost more than junking the box and buying a new one.

One of the nice things about PCs is that there are standard case and board layouts and if you stick with the standards you can literally upgrade your PC one thing at a time. My first PC started life as a 486SX, then a DX2 and then a DX 4 and eventually became a Pentium through CPU, board and HDD upgrades. Case, keyboard, cards remained fairly static over the years but the machine itself was faster each time. It enjoyed a long life cut short when ATX form factors took over from AT.

While PC standards exist, it is highly annoying that some manufacturers like Dell choose to ignore them but at least there is that choice. When a Dell reaches end of life it's as useless in its own way as Apple computers are since they use proprietary case layouts.

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@Muscleguy

So in 2 years when this Hard Drive is no longer made, and Apple says to replace the entire unit because I want to move to a larger drive.. I should find this acceptable? And I would have to install a firmware patch which would void the hard drive warranty?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Troll

The awkward moment when

Apple blocks your app for duplicating functionality.

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Jobs Horns

@metavisor

Easier fix - don't buy an iMac, in fact don't buy anything from Apple at all until they get the message.

Why do some people seem to think it is somehow better to have to jump through hoops bypassing Apples restrictions than to just buy something that allows you to configure or upgrade it however you like out of the box

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Anonymous Coward

"Why do some people seem to think it is somehow better to have to jump through hoop"

Because they're really easy hoops, any person with an ounce of intelligence will know what to do.

Apologies if that puts you out of the game.

After jumping through said hoops (if you need to) it rewards you with a fucking great machine that's the best of of both worlds: Unix with all the things other Unixes doesn't have like decent applications for productivity, media, graphics, stable 3D drivers with OpenCL, etc.

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Enjoy while you can

If such passivism and fanboyism stays in Mac community, OS X Lion could be app store only OS and good luck getting it accepted in app store.

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Anonymous Coward

@llgaz and others like him

I have to admire the persistent FUD from the anti-mac people.

OSX Lion is not closed, you can put in whatever you want. Get that into your fucking closed heads.

The day the Mac is closed is the day I burn my Mac, and post it on Youtube.

Yes, I'm that confident.

iOS has a closed app store model for entirely different reasons. I'm sorry you're all too stupid to understand them, but hey Google - the once bastion of openness - is already giving some clues, just look at the amount of apps they've been throwing out of their market. Figure it out.

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Coat

Taking bets on when we can check Youtube

"The day the Mac is closed is the day I burn my Mac, and post it on Youtube."

What was that about never say never? I know some folks who held similar sentiments about Token Ring back in the day...just sayin'.

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Why do some people think?

That techies are the only people that buy computers. I have 3 siblings and both parents all have hd pcs and now have laptops. Only i have ever upgraded any machine and only my own machine. On that small sample 1 in 6 people actually have the technical ability and motivation to upgrade.

Maybe and this is a wild guess, apple have figured out that by making machines for the 5out of6 people they can stop worrying so much about upgradeability and instead focus on things that people really want like small quiet stylish pcs.

Fanboy disclosure statement:

I own

1 x ubuntu pc

2 x win pc

1 x imac(whisper quiet due to lack of upgrade)

1x win laptop

1 x iphone

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How many Macs do you have?

I have 5 Mac Minis, in each room, a G5 Quad, an Apple TV, Apple Airport extreme and 2 iPhones wonder around in home with an iPad.

As a FUD spreader, I wonder how many Apple devices you have and how close you follow OS X internals along with the "signed" binaries and the fact that there hasn't been a single Mac without Trusted Computing Platform since first G5 Macs.

Next time, think twice about who may post a comment to some Apple BS story. Each of these stories generated by some idiot suits there makes sure there will never be a UNIX desktop in enterprise environment.

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Jobs Horns

Did you ... read the article?

I had to ask, since the article does mention HDD Fan Control as a possible work around.

I think the point of the article isn't that there are workarounds for this "feature" - but rather that one needs to use a workaround at all on what is generally considered a user serviceable part. This isn't a move to make support easier (since replacing drives would void the warranty), but rather to ring up their customers for a premium on an upgrade.

How long would a PC maker stay in business if they did something like this?

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Linux

Queue the usual fanboy excuses...

You don't have to give the end user the big middle finger in order to make it pretty or quiet.

PC laptop makers have been doing this for years. It simply requires acknowledging the fact that a user might have misjudged what they initially needed and don't want to toss an entire rather expensive machine into a landfill just because it is a little bit out of spec.

Of course the cult of willful ignorance will lead to people not having enough taste to realize they are eating dirt and can have something better.

Creating a machine that can't be maintained is just greed and engineering laziness on Apple's part. If they were really all that the fanboys claim, then they could create upgradeable gear without compromising any of the "finer points".

Storage and memory are 2 things that are constantly getting bigger and cheaper and are designed specifically to be easy to change.

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Anonymous Coward

re: That techies are the only people that buy computers.

having had harddisk failures in past - being able to change them is rather useful, even if it requires someone else to do it for you in case of non-techies.

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lolfud

"just look at the amount of apps they've been throwing out of their market. Figure it out."

Hang on, what? You mean the illegal ones like rip-off game copies? Or malware? Unless you're suggesting that Sega and Nintendo both are licensing the gigacrapload of ROMs you can download?

If Google were removing apps based on "we just think it's crap", then most of the Papi-something games wouldn't be there. If they were removing them based on some Appley "you're making something we do better than we do it", then you wouldn't see the media players and home screen replacements would you?

Google, "once bastion of openness"? I think you've been reading Matt Asay articles and taking them to be Gospel. Google have always been a Linux shop and they seem to be doing quite well as far as their GPL obligations go, but they are a search and advertising company and their secret searching sauce has never been open.

Plenty of things you could bash Google for but, in trying to defend Apple's awkward practices, you could pick a much better point than "GOOGLE ARE KEEPING THEIR LATEST OS UNDER WRAPS UNTIL IT'S READY. THEY MUST BE TURNING INTO MICROSOFT." Christ, talk about FUD. If the infamously zealous EFF don't have a problem with this.. hell, if Linus bloody Torvalds doesn't have a problem with this, then why do you?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC @M Gale

@AC 18:24

The HDD fan control was posted in a update after my comment. Did you read the article? It said "Update" as a title.

@M Gale

Yes exactly, one of the points of the closed app store is to prevent malware as Google has been demonstrating. While malware is tolerated for normal computers where we can run anti-virus etc, it's becomes a much bigger pain on small battery powered devices where doing the same would greatly impact on runtime.

As for openess at Google that's not what I meant. I think you'll find other examples, such as them banning AGPL projects from Google Code.

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Re: Banning AGPL projects.

To quote a Mr Chris DiBona:

"Basically the answer is when I, Fitz, Greg or the team think it is popular enough. I know you guys think we don't like it for nefarious reasons, but what you're missing is we dislike -all- new licenses that are unpopular. They lead to bifurcation of the open source development world and that is a high price to pay. "

So AGPL was apparently banned not for being open-source, but for (at the time at least) being an obscure branch of the GPL that next to nobody really new or cared about. What do you know though, two years, some harassment from the FOSS crowd and an acceptance by the OSI later and we have this:

http://code.google.com/p/support/issues/detail?id=3785

Google Code now accept any OSI-approved open source license. That includes the Affero GPL. Now, have you and Mr Asay got any more examples of how Google is really Microsoft in disguise, or are we all done here?

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Anonymous Coward

@llgaz

Oh is this a game now? How many Macs do I have? Well do retiring Xserve clusters count? Even without them, I have more than you so don't worry I'm plenty into Macs (and Linux and (Free|Open)BSD). I never bought into the Apple TV thing though, so you win there.

But if you're a Mac user I don't get why you are poisoning your own water spreading this nonsense about them closing OS X to outside applications. This is pure FUD from the anti-Mac crowd, it's even been dismissed in writing by Steve Jobs himself. What more do you want?

Plus there's the fact that Macs sold after 2006 don't actually come with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) anymore, so I'm not sure how you claim it is a Trusted Computing Platform. Maybe you're simply not up to date on these matters? Well there's plenty of literature, you can start with http://osxbook.com/book/bonus/chapter10/tpm/

Closing OS X would be just the kind of disaster that Apple doesn't need, and why would they? To make a couple of million out of a desktop app store? Even the iOS store doesn't make that much. They're making their billions elsewhere, I'm sure you're aware.

"Each of these stories generated by some idiot suits there makes sure there will never be a UNIX desktop in enterprise environment."

I'm sorry I can't parse the full meaning of this phrase, but if I can add anything is that these stories are not generated by idiots, but by a sharp nosed media industry trained on the scent of greenbacks and nearly 120 comments on this story show how effective the strategy is. As for Unix in an enterprise environment again I'm sorry but I already work in one (>500 employes, >200 Unix and OSX boxes), so "never" might not be the right word, maybe you've just not tried to look hard enough.

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Anonymous Coward

@M Gale

Wow, the giant has moved, and the request ticket was only updated 11 days ago : http://code.google.com/p/support/issues/detail?id=336

I guess they saw that their tactic didn't work, projects that did want AGPL moved to SourceForge or went on their own like MongoDB. But I don't really care why as long as it's sorted out. Thanks for letting me know.

Next on the list is putting SPDY through the proper IETF procedures and issue a RFC. The existing documentation is super poor.

I know they say it's not ready yet for an RFC but that doesn't stop them from using it on Chrome right now to give them an unfair performance advantage when using Google's services. That's very Microsoft in disguise.

Until then I don't think they need to sneakily enable SPDY 9 out 10 times the Chrome browser is launched. For testing purposes 1 out of 10 would be enough, plus they have their massive internal network to test it on.

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Re: Oh dear

"Another report from El Reg full of cheap shots, but no useful tips on how to solve the problem."

The problems are, in order of diminishing responsibility, the vendor's policies (or how to sell commodity hardware at a premium by curtailing the customer's rights) and consumers who put up with this because shiny stuff makes a statement about their lifestyle.

"Well I'm here to help, to sort this out just download the very useful HDD Fan Control tool [...] (it's donation ware)"

Thank you for allowing us to buy more stuff to fix the stuff we've already bought! Consumers get more chances to consume products, and for this the market thanks you, too!

Saint O'Leary (the patron saint of nickels and dimes) will be along shortly to bless you, my child. He will, of course, demand a small fee for the blessing, but you're probably OK with that.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 11:05

The customer's rights don't mean Apple having to lose their flexibility to address the technical difficulties posed by innovative designs. Would you be happier with just having desktop computers in industry standard ATX boxes?

I'm sorry but that would actually be limiting customer right's of choice. Not even Dell does that, I just need to look at my now dead XPS 720 desktop with proprietary power supply to see it.

In this case however you CAN use your own disks, it's fine, there's been workarounds found already and it's only been about 2 days since the news broke out. Sites like hardmac and even OWC have concluded that Apple is just sending temperature information out of band instead of tying up the SATA bus. (hardmac and other posts here have shown there's likely to be a substantial performance impact in doing it over SATA instead of the way used by Apple)

As for the tool that was only one option, probably the easiest to install. It's donation ware so as the name implies you don't have to buy it.

There's also a free tool called smcFanControl and even open source around so you can build your own.

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Thumb Up

Apple really pushing the hackintosh market

only solution if you like Os X now

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Most upgradeable Mac of all time

It's not "arguable" that the Power Mac G5 was the most upgradeable. Clearly, the Mac Pro is. The Power Macs required fiddling with wires when installing/removing hard drives, whereas with the Mac Pros you just slide a tray in. (Also there are 4 drive bays instead of 2.) Furthermore, it's possible although not straightforward to change the CPUs in a Mac Pro, but the CPUs in a Power Mac G5 are not going anywhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Hardly relevant

Considering there aren't any CPUs you can plug into the G5's socket. Not anymore anyway.

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SSDs?

Any info on whether SSD BTO are the same?

Quite fancy getting one of these, but not a chance if I can't replace the drive. What a silly notion.

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Pint

Money

well if they stop user-replaceable RAM upgrades, I'll never buy a Mac again...

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Anonymous Coward

steve jobs and co

the company that has been making computer devices into very expensive doorstops.

so anyone else is happy to even touch a mac machine now? it amazes me that after all the time they spent into making the machines user friendly and to be moddable they took the step back and do not want any one to mess with their stuff any more....yes their stuff since you only lease it from them.and not own it

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Anonymous Coward

SSD

+1. Upgrading the memory and/or hard drive in a MacBook (not Air) is ridiculously simple and user friendly. Too bad Apple makes it so hard to upgrade the drive in the Mac Mini and iMac. No easy way to drop in a small, cheap SSD.

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Flame

@Metavisor

It's nice that someone has created a workaround for the problem, but you're missing the point (or deliberately ignoring it): Apple shouldn't have done this in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

The point

Why should they have not done if it makes their systems better?

Can't they improve on things anymore? You'll be telling me next that the EFI BIOS is also a control attempt by Apple. Well let me pre-empt that already by telling you that it's 100x better than the crappy old IBM PC BIOS.

Do you even know what's involved in replacing a drive on the iMac? It's very complicated. These are seriously fully packed machines. If you can figure out how to get to it the rest is very easy.

Finally read my other comment below.

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Bollocks

I've just upgraded the drive on my 27" iMac and it was a piece of piss. Sucker to pull the glass off, 8 x Torx screws and a couple of cables and the LCD is off, couple more screws and the drive is out. Worked first time no problems, job done in less than 15 mins.

'Very complicated'? Fah!

Mike

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Anonymous Coward

Piss

Because you're taking it.

No way you did it in 15 mins.

But anyway you did all that and can't install a fan control app? Do you just have superhuman physical skils?

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You can't do that here

Making nice comments about EFI I mean, it's used on Itanium platforms and we all know how much stick the poor Itanium gets here.

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Of course...

... I installed the bloody app!

/Applications/Utilities/smcFanControl.app/Contents/Resources/smc -k F1Mx -w 22f8 does it for me.

Was there anything about my post which made you think I didn't install the app? Or did you just make foolish assumptions?

As for 15 mins, next time I do it I'll put a bloody video on Youtube! The only bit that's remotely fiddly is getting back in the LCD torx screws that sit next to the glass magnets; the magnets are bloody strong and the screws want to stick to the magnets not go in the holes. So had to grab a haemostat and pop them in their holes that way, then tighten them up.

I've been in the IT business for twenty years, so wind your sceptical patronising neck in already. I'm NOT claiming the average user could do it in 15 minutes, but then the average user wouldn't dream of trying to upgrade their iMac! But it can be done.

Mike

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