Graphic Arts IT Guy Q & A

ImageI have a MacBook and a couple of PCs. I also have an external 1TB drive on my Mac. I can mount the Mac’s internal hard drive on my PCs but I cannot mount the 1TB hard drive. How can I get the 1TB hard drive to mount on my PC? 

One of the cool things about Macintosh computers is that they have always been able to read data on Windows drives and floppy disks. In the past there were utilities that enabled Windows computers to run AppleTalk protocol and read Macintosh volumes.

Mac OS X includes Samba, which allows users to run SMB (Server Message Block) protocol. SMB was developed by IBM, but has been highly modified by Microsoft. The open source Samba has reverse–engineered SMB to provide a version for non–Microsoft systems.

By running SMB on your Macintosh, you can share your files with your Windows neighbors. Go to System Preferences ––> Sharing and check Windows Sharing. Then PC users can add your Mac to their Network Places or “map” your drive as a network drive by adding \\yourIPaddress\volumename.

The problem with external drives is that they are not automatically included in the SMB shares. When you enable “Windows Sharing”, a configuration file is written to the Unix file system. Most configuration files are stored in the “etc” directory and there you’ll find the “smb.conf” file.

So, in order to get your external drive in on the SMB fun, open the Terminal (Applications ––> Utilities ––> Terminal) and at the prompt enter “cd /etc” and press enter in order to “change directories” to the “etc” directory. You need to be an administrator to edit the file, and you should begin by backing up the file. Enter “sudo cp smb.conf smb.bak” at the prompt to make a copy of the file. “sudo” is a special command that lets you act as an administrator for a short period of time.

Check that you’ve made a copy by listing the files with “ls –la” and Return. You should see both the original and the backup. Now edit the file with “ed”, “vi”, or “pico”. With pico the display is similar to most text editors and the commands are at the bottom of the file. Enter “pico smb.conf” and scroll to the bottom (with Control V) and add the following to the bottom of the file:

path = /Volumes/LaCie_d2_156_GB
valid users = tmitra
writeable = yes

In the example above my “Share name” is “LaCie”—this is the name the PC user will see. The Macintosh name of my drive is “LaCie_d2_156_GB”—note that I have replaced the spaces in the name with underscores. The “valid user” is the name of a user on my Macintosh and “writeable” means that I can read and write to the drive.

Now on the PC go to “My Computer” and choose “Map Network Drive” from the Tools menu. Then, in the dialog, enter the Mac’s IP as the server and the share name:

Then enter your username and password and the volume should be mounted. You can then copy files to and from your PC—and share them with the Mac.

Recently while burning a CD I got an error and my friend said it might be the hard drive. How do I know if my hard drive is about to fail?

Writing CDs can fail for a number of reasons—sometimes because the CD is faulty and often because a file on your drive is suspect. There are a few preventive maintenance measures you should add to your routine in order to minimize the risk of the latter error. The first is to periodically run “Repair Permissions” using Disk Utility (Applications ––> Utility –> Disk Utility) and also run “Verify Disk” from the same Disk Utility. However, you cannot run Disk Utility from the drive your system is on. You can run Disk Utility from an Installer CD for 10.3 or 10.4 by skipping the installer and choosing Disk Utility from the Utilities Menu.

The good news about your drive is that all modern hard drives use S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring and Reporting Technology). Disk Utility can read the S.M.A.R.T. report. If your hard drive is about to fail or has bad blocks, then your hard drive will report the problems to Disk Utility. You will see a warning in red to tell you that failure is imminent.
Timothy Mitra, IT specialist (IT Guy)
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