Wednesday, August 08, 2007

LifeDrive Resurrected

When it was less than a year old, my Palm LifeDrive died. Recent news of a hack to replace the LifeDrive's Hitachi MicroDrive with a 4GB Compact Flash card piqued my interest, so I tried it out.

First I checked out the threads on, then followed the instructions on, under "Howto replace microdrive with compactflash in Palm LifeDrive"

All the instructions require some version of Unix. Since I use Macs mostly, and Mac OSX is Unix-based, I followed the Mac OSX instructions, which I could enter in the Terminal window.

Something the Wiki doesn't mention in the Mac OSX section is how long it takes to copy your old drive (which I pulled from my replacement LifeDrive in this case) as an image file. I didn't time it, but it took about an hour to copy the 3.8GB image onto my hard drive. It gets placed in the Root directory of the drive. Copying the image back to the CF card took around an hour and a half. Pretty long, but my SanDisk Extreme USB 2.0 Reader's blue light kept flashing, assuring me that it was still working.

I used the plain SanDisk 4GB, model number SDCFB-4096-A10, one of the cards known to work, and it went well. Strangely, when I put the MicroDrive back into my other LifeDrive, it works a lot faster than it has been, almost as fast as the new CF card. I plan to run some informal tests to see which is faster, but right now I'm just making sure it's going to work. I'd also like to try upgrading my other LifeDrive with a faster card to see if there's a performance difference between this "regular" card and something like an Extreme III.

So far, I'm pretty happy to have a resurrected LifeDrive. I just hope it doesn't die again due to some software bug. There have been no crashes, and both music and MyBible software works great. I did have to reset it recently to get it to recognize my WiFi AP, but now it works just fine. MissingSync seems to have no trouble.

It's a shame that the LifeDrive doesn't support SDHC, because I have a 4GB SDHC card that I'd love to use as a backup; but with any luck, I won't need it. Then again, the LD with a microdrive still crashes with too much frequency, so I have to keep using the new CF system to see if it's worth the effort. For now, my more reliable Palm T3 remains in the cradle while I give the Resurrected LifeDrive a real-world test.

No comments: