A company is developing a little bit of kit to enable hard drive replacement: the cBreeze (site in German).
It's beginning to look like the latest round of iMacs from Apple may be a poor choice for some users due to the fact that:
"As noted by OtherWorld Computing, Apple has implemented a new temperature sensor system on its latest iMac models that significantly hampers the ability of users to replace their original hard drives in the case of failure or a desire to upgrade. Without the custom 7-pin hard drive cable and proprietary firmware included on stock hard drives in the new machines, the new iMacs' fans spin to full speed and the machines fail to pass the Apple Hardware Test."
They have lots more info on it here, but the basics are that if you use a new iMac, and it's internal Hard Drive fails you can't really replace it on your own. It has a proprietary connector and custom firmware right on the drive itself.
More from them:
"From our testing, we’ve found that removing this drive from the system, or even from that bay itself, causes the machine’s hard drive fans to spin at maximum speed and replacing the drive with any non-Apple original drive will result in the iMac failing the Apple Hardware Test (AHT).
In examining the 2011 27″ iMac’s viability for our Turnkey Upgrade Service, every workaround we’ve tried thus far to allow us to upgrade the main bay factory hard drive still resulted in spinning fans and an Apple Hardware Test failure. We swapped the main drive out (in this case a Western Digital Black WD1001FALS) with the exact same model drive from our inventory which resulted in a failure. We’ve installed our Mercury Pro 6G SSD in that bay, it too results in ludicrous speed engaged fans and an AHT failure. In short, the Apple-branded main hard drive cannot be moved, removed or replaced."Hard drives always fail in time.
It's like buying a new car and finding out that only the dealer can make an extra key for you...wait...my car is already like that...umm...
Apple has locked out another option for the customer (who should have the option of voiding their warranty if they so choose) who wants to replace a failing, failed or too limited in capacity or specs internal hard drive. Apple has effectively tacked on an extra bit of profit for themselves (replacing an internal hard drive) at the expense of customers for so far, what seems no valid reason.
Hopefully in time, the reason for this will make sense but as it stands right now it just seems rather unfair.