Changing Hard Drive & Recovery

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ugodigital, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. ugodigital macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2015
    Hello Everyone,

    I'm in the process of installing a new hard drive on my wife's 2012 Macbook Pro (OS X 10.7 Lion). The device starts up, but we are experiencing the "spinning wheel of death" which I assume is from a dying HD. Swapping the drives is not an issue for me, but my questions revolve around reinstalling the OS & software/application recovery.

    Although she says that there are not any files, docs, etc worth keeping if lost in a fresh install, I would like to have the computer return to it's current state after I replace the hard drive, keeping the files, docs, & installed applications in order. So here are my questions:

    1) She is not currently running Time Machine, & we do not have an external drive right now to backup everything. Is this necessary to proceed, based on what I am looking to do from the explanation above?

    2) Could I bypass question 1 by Cloning the current drive, then re-installing once the new drive is configured?

    3) Can I bypass questions 1 & 2 by launching the Disk Utility menu once the new drive is installed, repair/erase the new disc, then reinstall OS X (& would this return the computer to it's last configuration without doing 1 & 2)?

    This is fairly new to me, so I appreciate any insight & I thank you in advance!
  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    You could just install the new drive run Internet recovery and install OS X from there.
  3. ugodigital thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2015
    Thank you, Gav2k!

    Will I run the internet recovery from the utility menu at startup?
    Also, will this restore her current applications?
  4. Mik3F macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2011
    Internet recovery will just install the OS itself.

    You would then have to install the Apps afterwards.

    If you don't have many apps to install then a fresh install would be my chosen method
  5. BradHatter macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2014
    I hate to say it, but what if it's not the drive? I use a tool named Scannerz to check stuff like that out (you can see it at but unfortunately it requires that a system be at least working or have one of its Phoenix volumes available to boot from. Since you have neither, I think the point in that case may be moot. Another very likely candidate is the SATA cable, and if it's the problem the problems can be as bad and they'll persist if a new drive is put in because the problem isn't fixed. A less likely cause is the mother board, but it's still possible.

    If I were you, assuming you have another system available, I'd put the wife's machine into target disk mode, connect it to the working system, and see if disk utility finds any problems and if it does, try to correct them if possible. Disk Utility can fix indexing problems but it can't detect bad blocks on an HDD or SATA cable problems. If these problems are present Disk Utility will probably go into spinning beach ball mode periodically an eventually report some type of error.

    You might try these resets, if you haven't already:

    SMC reset:
    NVRAM reset:

    They might work, but don't hold your breath. Another thing to check would be how much free space she has on the drive. If there's too little of it the system won't be able to swap out or load/operate properly and your effects may be similar.

    Just an opinion, but you might want to get a new backup drive and start doing backups once in a while. You may also want to consider getting a testing tool like Scannerz, TechTool Pro, or Drive Genius because they can all test that sort of thing and I believe they all have the ability to create an emergency boot volume for you to use before you run into problems.
  6. ugodigital thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2015
    Thanks BradHatter.
    I did not consider the SATA cable as an issue. I'm also (fairly) confident that it's not the mother board. This system works, but I am dealing with delays (spinning wheel) every 30 seconds/minute.

    -Disk utility reported no errors when I ran the test.
    -She has approx 70% of disk space available
    -She does not run multiple/complex programs (Final Cut/audio editors/etc) for it to be a RAM issue (CPU looks typical)

    This is what led me to believe it is the hard drive
  7. BradHatter macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2014
    The hard drive is a good if not excellent guess. A few years ago it wouldn't even occur to me to think of a SATA cable as one of the regular suspects, but over time, dealing with MacBook Pro's has taught me to not overlook them.

    Usually with a SATA cable you start getting weird, one-off lock ups and spinning beach balls that seem to just occur at random, but I suppose if the cable was really bad it might act just like a bad hard drive.

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6 February 16, 2015