2009-2012 MBP SATA Cable Failure

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Apples555, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. Apples555 macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2012
    I've read here and there of a relatively common problem with the 2009-2012, and possibly other, MBPs. What happens is one of the two SATA cables fails and causes problems communicating with the HDD or optical drive.

    My 2010 2.4 13" MBP had intermittent BSODs in Windows and panics in OS X until it completely stopped booting 2 years ago. A new (actually used) HDD cable fixed the issue completely. The issues happened most when traveling.

    Now the machine is occasionally not starting (the sleep light just stays on forever), again often associated with movement. I traced the problem to the optical drive SATA cable. Disconnecting and reconnecting it fixes the problem, so the optical SATA cable is likely on the way out as well.

    What causes these failures? Is it heat? Gravity pulling the connector out? Unibody rubbing off insulation? Instead of buying new cables every few years, I'd like to isolate the issue. I've never had important internal cables fail like this in any other computer I've owned.
  2. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    From what I've understood it's mechanical just wear and tear from the cable scraping against it's surroundings. Both a mechanical disc drive and CD drive contain moving parts so they will vibrate during operation and if something is squeezed stuck between them and the frame around them, the part will end up being scraped as a result of the vibration.

    A bit annoying, but a rather minor fix that you have to do every few years. The HDD cable issue is however fixed by replacing the HDD with an SSD (which naturally doesn't vibrate as it completely lacks moving parts).
  3. Apples555, Apr 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017

    Apples555 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2012
    The reason I think it's something different is that when I first started getting symptoms of the HDD cable failing about 4 years ago, I bought an SSD and put electrical tape the entire length of the cable and everywhere the cable could contact the unibody. Same for the optical cable. It didn't seem to stop the cable's deterioration, which makes me think something else is involved, such as heat.

    My other guess is that the connector itself wears as the laptop moves around, and needs some type of anchor (such as tape). But then the connector for the trackpad would also wear, and it hasn't (so far).
  4. Sanpete macrumors 68020

    Nov 17, 2016
    Could be lack of good seal leading to oxidation of metal conductors. (Just a guess.)
  5. Apples555 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2012
    Could some cushioning on the side of the cable touching the unibody help? I'm thinking of some soft material with glue on the underside.

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