2011 iMac hard drive crash imminent

Discussion in 'iMac' started by SoAnyway, Sep 24, 2014.

  1. SoAnyway macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011
    So my 2011 iMac's hard drive seems to be showing signs of imminent failure and I'm looking for solutions. So far I have:

    1) Obviously bring it to Apple and have them replace it. The thing is that Apple Care expired nearly 3 months ago. I bought the extended service and never had any issues until now. I called the nearest Apple retail store and they said it could cost $200-$300 to replace the drive. I've heard the Geniuses being nice from time to time and doing something like this for free because it's so close to the warranty just expiring. Can anyone confirm?

    I am a little reluctant to do this because of the cost and the fact that I need to schlep it all the way over to the store. Also, I would have to go with what ever drive they give me and they said that they can't install a drive I give them like an SSD.

    2) I could perform the operation myself and install what drive I want. I'm not afraid to do this but I know that there's an issue with the 2011 iMac where the fans go full blast by installing any off-the-shelf drive. Anyone know of a fix for this issue?

    This is the worst possible time that this could have happened and I'm currently between a rock and a hard place. :(
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Just wondering…

    What evidence do you have that indicates an "imminent failure" is on the way…??
  3. Kyle-K macrumors regular


    Aug 23, 2014
    Geraldton, Western Australia.
    Why do you think this?

    If you don't feel comfortable doing the repair yourself or or would like to use a hard drive or SSD of your own choosing.

    You could have a "Apple Authorized Service Provider - AASP" do it for you.

    I recommend watching the OWC instructional videos and checking iFixit repair guides. to see what's involved in doing this repair yourself first.

    This issue which has been present with the last couple of generations of iMac's can be solved in many different ways depending on the generation of iMac you've got. The 2011 iMac you have two options external temperature sensor (Is what I would recommend.) or you can solve this issue with software.

    The external temperature sensor can be purchased from OWC for your iMac model. Also if you're not aware the 2011 iMac models also have an unused SATA Port available on the logic board which OWC also sells a cable for.

    Your iMac model supports up to 3 internal drives 1X 3.5 and 2X 2.5 drives if you also choose to replace your optical drive.
  4. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011

    You're right that I truly can't say that I know for sure that the hard drive crashing is imminent because it could be something totally different.

    However, I have noticed that the iMac is has been feeling far too sluggish in performance that usual. For example, programs and files aren't as responsive when I access them.

    There is also a momentary "freeze" that I experience. For example, I have magnification turned on for the Dock and when I mouse over it from left to right, the magnification effect froze for several seconds.

    I've been experiencing far too many beach balls while performing normal tasks in addition to the overall unresponsiveness.

    Last and least, I've been hearing the HDD make some funny noises. For example, it has been making this clicking like sound like it would when the computer wakes up from sleep randomly. On top of that, I heard the hard drive make this ticking like sound after a start up and the boot up process freeze at the login screen. That ticking sound is very familiar because it's the same sound I've heard in the past when a drive has died on me.
  5. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011
    From my last post:

    It's not that I don't feel comfortable doing the repair myself, I said in my original post that I would totally do it myself.

    I'm a little reluctant to bring it to an AASP because this iMac is only 3 months outside Apple Care and I would like to have Apple take a crack at it first. The reason for this is I don't expect a component failure just 3 months outside Apple Care and see if the stories were true of the Geniuses going ahead and taking care of the issue without charging for it since it was under warranty not too long ago.

    I've seen the video and looked at the guides because I've been wanting to add an SSD to this iMac for a while and wanted to know how to go about it.

    The single biggest issue is the fan issue. I know about the software solution but I don't want to run extra software when I don't need to. I also know that OWC shorted the connectors to deal with the issue but that's not something that I'm willing to do because I really put the iMac through its paces and don't need this thing overheating on me.
  6. Kyle-K macrumors regular


    Aug 23, 2014
    Geraldton, Western Australia.
    I was giving you your other option than dealing with Apple directly. Just in case you didn't feel comfortable which you didn't Soundshore in your original post.

    Then you're going to have to take it in there, Knowing them more than likely to reject the repair. (I'll check later today to make sure there's no extended repair program for this model.)

    Excellent, then that's what I would probably do. As it sounds like you're comfortable with doing the repair yourself.

    As I said it's not really an issue it can be corrected three waze.

    Then you need to do it in hardware which is what I recommended above anyway.

    OWC is not who recommends the shorting that is from an apple service manual and is what Apple recommends if you want to install a SSD. (Personally I wouldn't do it either.)

    What I recommended above is the external temperature sensor sold by OWC which is compatible with hard drives and SSDs and doesn't involve shorting to pins on the logic board.

    OWC External Temperature Sensor for 2011 iMac Models bottom left available with tools and without.
  7. Kyle-K macrumors regular


    Aug 23, 2014
    Geraldton, Western Australia.
    Actually still got some time. there was but it appears to have expired. See here for the original story on MacRumors. But my response to the symptoms you posted about your hard drive will definitely have to wait till later today.
  8. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    This is one of the reasons I'm hesitant to get a new iMac. If the hard drive fails a 3.5 years, it's major surgery to get a new one in there, what with the glued chassis.

    OP, it doesn't sound like a hard drive failure to me, either. Having your dock magnification freeze is evidence of this, as it doesn't seek the hard drive for that (it's already loaded into RAM).

    You could always back up all your data and do a fresh install of OS X. It will likely cure your issues as they sound software oriented to me.

    Good luck!
  9. AtomicGrog macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2011
    Recently swapped out the HDD in my 2011 27" iMac for a SDD... have no issues with it, fan wise, temp wise etc.

    Some background:

    I'd previously installed a SSD internally around 2012 in addition to the HDD and used it as boot/apps drive. Much faster as would be expected - was something like a Samsung 830, 256GB.

    The HDD was then demoted to being solely used for my user data and the server storage for the OSX server components.

    All was fine till around 3 weeks ago when I heard the HDD starting to 'ping' and a few times the HDD went offline and then re-appeared a few mins later.

    Being proactive I then copied over the data from the HDD to the SDD (it fitted with a little pruning and compression) and then swapped out the HDD for a SDD (with a 3.5" caddy to make it fit.) - was a 256GB Samsung 840 EVO.

    After I formatted the drive, restored the files and re-logged back in.. all is good :)

    Things I note:

    (1) There was no heat sensor on the drive, just the Sata and Power.
    (2) I can see via 3rd party fan control software that the new SDD has temp sensors, presumably via the sata connection. It seems to track well :)
    (3) OSX doesnt natively enable trim on non standard apple SDD devices, you'll need to run a 3rd party trim enabler.
    (4) It's not that painful to do... (a) remove the screen with the 4 cables, keep it very clean - watch for magnets around the screws... (b) HDD bay is then fully exposed, 2 screws and 2 cables to disconnect and it comes away (c) re-installation was a complete reversal, just watch the fiddly connectors.
  10. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011


    I can totally see why you would say that this could be software related instead of it being a hardware issue. If that's the case, how can a clean install fix explain the noises I hear originating from the hardware, the clicking noise which I presume is from the HDD for example?
  11. Altis macrumors 68030

    Sep 10, 2013
    It's really hard to say without witnessing it myself, as you can imagine, but hard drives can make funny noises when they are being controlled by nutty software.

    In any case, the sooner you make a backup of your data, the better (regardless of the issue).

    If a clean install works, then you're back in business with no money lost! If it persists, then you may be in for a hardware fix.

    Besides, 3-4 years is a long time without a fresh install. If it is hardware, though, then a good reason to get an SSD. :cool: You may feel that you won't have confidence in the drive, in which case you may just want to replace it.

    PS. The Apple store is still worth a try given that it's still pretty new and you bought AC (despite it being expired).
  12. Nyy8 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2011
    New England
    If you do, do a clean install it may push a failing drive over the edge. Extreme Amount of Disk Activity is needed to install an OS.

    You seem pretty convinced that drive is failing, I would make sure to have a backup first then do the clean reinstall.
  13. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011

    I have had this iMac since early August 2011 and actually fresh installed OS X a few times. I fresh installed 10.6.x, 10.7.x, and most recently, 10.9.x. So I'm at a point where I don't know what it could be on the software side unless there's something on it that's truly screwing with everything.

    But yeah, I have backed up all my data with Time Machine so I have everything ready in the case of absolute catastrophe.

    I'll probably give Apple a try first and hope that the Geniuses are super nice and don't charge me for repairs considering it hasn't been that long since it was very recently under warranty. Even if they charge me, I just hope that any repairs aren't expensive. I just bought a 15" MacBook Pro and I don't want to have to spend more on computers this year.


    I really don't know if I want to invest the time in a clean reinstall at this point. If anything, I may try Apple Hardware Test and see how that goes.
  14. jji7skyline macrumors 6502


    Aug 10, 2011
    I own a mid 2011 iMac and this is what I would do.

    Most people are not aware that there is, in fact, an unused SATA3 port on the logic board of the 2011 iMacs that were used for built-to-order iMacs with dual drives.

    Since you seem pretty keen on an SSD, you can buy one and use double sided tape to attach it to the optical drive, then plug in the SATA3 data cable. You may need a splitter for the SATA power cable though. Ifixit has a guide and kit for this, although you'll probably be able to buy the kit for cheaper online.

    Once you have the SSD installed, you can install OSX on it and start transferring the files on the hard disk to an external backup drive.

    You will be able to do this for under $300 depending on what size SSD you get. If you're on a budget, 120GB is plenty for just apps if you store all your documents, photos, etc on an external drive. Otherwise, if you want to keep your documents and music on the SSD, a 250GB drive would be neccesary. A 500GB would be best if you own a large movie collection and want to store that as well.

    Then, once your drive does fail, you can choose to either keep it there, or buy a new drive ($60 for a 1TB WD Blue these days), install it, and also install a fan control utility. This way, the fan should only be running full speed during boot-up.

    EDIT: You mentioned that you bought new stuff recently. If possible, find the guy you bought from, or at least go to the same shop. Apple stores tend to be nice to people who buy stuff regularly.
  15. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    To the OP:

    What follows is my opinion only. Regarding what I'm about to say, others' opinions will vary considerably.

    I doubt you are having a hard drive failure.

    Rather, I attribute the "sluggishness" you report to several possible things:
    1. The hard drive could be getting full
    2. The hard drive could be hopelessly fragmented
    3. If you're using Mavericks, well, THAT's the reason for the slowdown.

    Especially #3.
    Are you in fact using Mavericks?
    Think back to the time -before- you installed it. In your recollections, was the computer running faster back then?
    Did the slowdowns appear -after- Mavericks was installed?

    In my estimation, Mavericks runs best (or acceptably) on systems where the OS is installed on either an SSD or a "fusion" drive (SSD+HDD).
    Mavericks running on an HDD-based Mac -- particularly if RAM is at "the installed minimum" -- can be quite sluggish, and you'll have to get used to the spinning beachballs.

    How much free space is left on your hard drive?
    This, too, can impact performance with any version of the Mac OS, which needs some free space in which to write temp/swap files.

    Finally, defragmentation.
    There are going to be replies that say you don't have to worry about fragmentation on the Mac. Let those folks say whatever they wish.
    It's not "file fragmentation" that can impact performance with an HDD, but just as much, "free space fragmentation" that builds up over time. When temp/swap files are written, if the drive has go looking "here, there and everywhere" to find free disk space in which to write its files, it's going to slow things down -- hence, the beachballs.

    Run a defrag program to defragment files, and it will group all your files at "the head end" of the HDD, and leave a large "contiguous" area of free space "at the end".
    Much less work for the HDD as it handles routine operations.

    Again, this is my opinion only.
    Others will tell you to ignore it....
  16. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011
    Just an update.

    I ran Apple Hardware Test and it detected an error, the code it gave was:

    4M0T/4/40000003: HDD-1267

    I'm guessing this is related to the HDD but I won't really know for sure unless I bring it in.

    I've backed up all critical data off the boot volume but I have the 1TB drive partitioned and I need to make a backup of my work files on the other partition. I do have the raw files backed up and I could part with the work files but it would be a lot of time that I'll have to reinvest into those. Looks like I'll be shopping around for a new external hard drive.
  17. SaSaSushi macrumors 601


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    According to what I've read, the 4MOT code refers to a fan problem. In this case, the HDD fan and the number represents the RPM.
  18. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011

    I wish it were the fan and perhaps that's what Apple Hardware Test is reading the issue as but I am hearing very unusual noises from presumably the HDD, which is far more concerning to me.
  19. SaSaSushi macrumors 601


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Well, it's quite possible you're dealing with a crashed HD after all, but I'm just letting you know what the AHT error code refers to.

    I hope you get it sorted out soon.
  20. SoAnyway thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2011
    An update...

    I just came back from my local Apple Store from bringing my iMac in. They diagnosed it and the HDD was indeed the issue. I left my iMac with them to repair and they are going to take care of it and I should have it back within a week.

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