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Going absolutely bonkers trying to Restore Mac Pro using Recovery, Bootable USB, TRIED EVERYTHING! Please help :/

luciobar1980

macrumors member
Original poster
May 23, 2016
34
35
Ok, I have a Mid 2012 Mac Pro that my old workplace gave me when they closed their doors. I hadnt't turned it on in a while so today I got to thinking about restoring it to factory fresh and selling it.

1) Tried booting into Recovery mode using every possible combination. Command-R, Option-Command R, Shift Option Command R. Nothing, boots up like normal.

2) Tried booting into Safe Mode (or whatever it's called) by holding Shift. Nothing.

3) Tried reseting the PRam and Vram and SMC and god knows what else and trying all the above again, several times. Nothing, boots like normal.

At this point I decided to update the OS to High Sierra, thinking maybe there was something corrupt in the OS that wasnt allowing it to go into recovery mode. I upgraded to High Sierra, repeated everything above, nothing, still cant get into Recovery Mode.

4) Created a bootable USB drive using the official Apple method via Terminal. Went as planned, seems to have created the Bootable Install USB successfully. In Disk Utitilty is reads as Bootable. So I go to Startup Disk, select that drive. Here I thought, ok, this is definitely going to work. NOPE, boots like normal!

5) Create bootable USB via an application (forget what it's called at the moment) but it's one of the apps that somewhat automates the process. Choose the USB from Startup Disk. Computer boots normally.

I've also tried 2 different keyboards (in case the any of those key combos didn't work for some reason) and created the Bootable USB using 2 different USB sticks.

I'm really grasping at straws here but here are some likely far-fetched ideas:
1) Is it possible that there is some security software embedded deeply into this machine that is blocking any of these recovery attempts?
2) Is there some hardware problem that is preventing keyboard inputs from happening pre-login?? This wouldnt really explain the bootable USB not working though. Unless for THAT to work the PRAM must be reset which hasn't actually been successful because the keyboard input isn't working. (I'm talking in riddles, I know, bear with me)

As you might be able to tell, I'm at my wit's end. I've basically deleted all apps and personal data off the computer but I feel it isn't right to sell the computer in this state, at least without disclosing it. Or having to disclose it is going to give someone an excuse to totally lowball me on the asking price.

Any help is very veryyyy much appreciated!!
 

LuisN

macrumors 6502a
Mar 30, 2013
544
482
Torres Vedras, Portugal
Ok, I have a Mid 2012 Mac Pro that my old workplace gave me when they closed their doors. I hadnt't turned it on in a while so today I got to thinking about restoring it to factory fresh and selling it.

1) Tried booting into Recovery mode using every possible combination. Command-R, Option-Command R, Shift Option Command R. Nothing, boots up like normal.

2) Tried booting into Safe Mode (or whatever it's called) by holding Shift. Nothing.

3) Tried reseting the PRam and Vram and SMC and god knows what else and trying all the above again, several times. Nothing, boots like normal.

At this point I decided to update the OS to High Sierra, thinking maybe there was something corrupt in the OS that wasnt allowing it to go into recovery mode. I upgraded to High Sierra, repeated everything above, nothing, still cant get into Recovery Mode.

4) Created a bootable USB drive using the official Apple method via Terminal. Went as planned, seems to have created the Bootable Install USB successfully. In Disk Utitilty is reads as Bootable. So I go to Startup Disk, select that drive. Here I thought, ok, this is definitely going to work. NOPE, boots like normal!

5) Create bootable USB via an application (forget what it's called at the moment) but it's one of the apps that somewhat automates the process. Choose the USB from Startup Disk. Computer boots normally.

I've also tried 2 different keyboards (in case the any of those key combos didn't work for some reason) and created the Bootable USB using 2 different USB sticks.

I'm really grasping at straws here but here are some likely far-fetched ideas:
1) Is it possible that there is some security software embedded deeply into this machine that is blocking any of these recovery attempts?
2) Is there some hardware problem that is preventing keyboard inputs from happening pre-login?? This wouldnt really explain the bootable USB not working though. Unless for THAT to work the PRAM must be reset which hasn't actually been successful because the keyboard input isn't working. (I'm talking in riddles, I know, bear with me)

As you might be able to tell, I'm at my wit's end. I've basically deleted all apps and personal data off the computer but I feel it isn't right to sell the computer in this state, at least without disclosing it. Or having to disclose it is going to give someone an excuse to totally lowball me on the asking price.

Any help is very veryyyy much appreciated!!
Extract the HDD and put it in an external case. Erase it with another computer.
 

Brian33

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2008
917
98
USA (Virginia)
I'm just guessing from things on this apple support page-- but this kinda sounds like your situation:

External Boot
Use this feature to control whether your Mac can start up from an external hard drive, thumb drive, or other external media. The default and most secure setting is ”Disallow booting from external media.” When this setting is selected, your Mac can't be made to start up from any external media:

However, if that were turned on you apparently should have gotten a message when you tried to select a new boot drive. SO maybe its this:

Firmware password protection
Use a firmware password to prevent anyone who doesn't have the password from starting up from a disk other than your designated startup disk. To set a firmware password, click Turn On Firmware Password, then follow the onscreen instructions. Learn more about firmware passwords.

But then it should ask your for the firmware password!
 
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luciobar1980

macrumors member
Original poster
May 23, 2016
34
35
Extract the HDD and put it in an external case. Erase it with another computer.
I'm just guessing from things on this apple support page-- but this kinda sounds like your situation:



However, if that were turned on you apparently should have gotten a message when you tried to select a new boot drive. SO maybe its this:



But then it should ask your for the firmware password!

Reagarding the HDD removal option. I do believe there is another hard drive in the machine. What would happen if I just disconnected the main hard drive and booted the machine up with the USB in there?

Brian33: Thanks for your theories there. Yeah, so if it has a firmware password I cant turn it off without accessing Recovery? And looks like the Startup Security is only available by holding the Option-R which wont work for me.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
Jul 30, 2003
10,686
2,895
Delaware
Remove ALL the internal drives, then try booting to your "bootable" installer.
If you can boot to that, set it as the default boot drive (you should have the Startup Disk pref in the Apple menu)
Shut down. Insert a hard drive. If you just want to completely erase the hard drive (nothing that you want to keep), then reboot. Should safely boot to your bootable installer again. Open Disk Utility. Erase the hard drive. Shut down, add another hard drive, boot, and erase that hard drive. Repeat, until all internal drives are wiped.

Important -- when ALL internal drives are removed, and you try to boot to the bootable installer - do you get a password box? If you don't EVER get a password box, then you probably don't have a firmware password.

When testing boot with other keyboards, are those wired USB keyboards (NOT wireless)? Wired USB will give you your best chance. If you have only windows keyboards (with a Windows key), be sure to remember that the Windows key will be used as Command, and the Alt key will be seen as Option, so, for example, the Recovery system should boot from Windows-R, and not Alt-R, and the boot picker screen would boot with Alt, not Windows.
 
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luciobar1980

macrumors member
Original poster
May 23, 2016
34
35
Remove ALL the internal drives, then try booting to your "bootable" installer.
If you can boot to that, set it as the default boot drive (you should have the Startup Disk pref in the Apple menu)
Shut down. Insert a hard drive. If you just want to completely erase the hard drive (nothing that you want to keep), then reboot. Should safely boot to your bootable installer again. Open Disk Utility. Erase the hard drive. Shut down, add another hard drive, boot, and erase that hard drive. Repeat, until all internal drives are wiped.

Important -- when ALL internal drives are removed, and you try to boot to the bootable installer - do you get a password box? If you don't EVER get a password box, then you probably don't have a firmware password.

When testing boot with other keyboards, are those wired USB keyboards (NOT wireless)? Wired USB will give you your best chance. If you have only windows keyboards (with a Windows key), be sure to remember that the Windows key will be used as Command, and the Alt key will be seen as Option, so, for example, the Recovery system should boot from Windows-R, and not Alt-R, and the boot picker screen would boot with Alt, not Windows.
Ok, removed all the hard drives, power on, and I get nothing. I get the starting sound but then no output to monitors.
 

luciobar1980

macrumors member
Original poster
May 23, 2016
34
35
Ok, I finally was able to do it. So without any drives in the machine the computer botted up off the Bootable USB. Whenever the main OS (SSD) drive was in the machine it would boot to that, no matter what. SO, I booted with a secondary drive (HDD) in the machine, installed the OS to that. Then loaded the OS, erased the original OS drive (SSD) drive, repeated the process and installed the OS back to the original SSD. In other words, whenever the main (SSD) drive was in there the computer would boot into the OS no matter what.

Thank you guys so much for the help, especially DeltaMAC!
 
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