HDD fail and question about new SSD solution

Discussion in 'iMac' started by historyteacher, May 12, 2018.

  1. historyteacher macrumors member

    May 23, 2010
    Hello all,

    So yesterday after work my iMac (2012 27”) somehow reset itself to the options to boot a new Mac. I attempted to go through the steps to restore from TM backup and also as a new clean install. Both options were not able to find the internal HDD. I am assuming that is a bad thing.

    I would like to try to get some more life out of the unit, but do not have the skill set to open it up and replace all that Jazz.

    Wanting to get an external enclosure (probably USB 3 due to price of thunderbolt) and use and SSD for a boot drive and get a second external HDD for storage.


    1. Recommendations on drives and

    2. How do I format a new SSD to have it be ready for a clean Mac install without having access to Disk Utility?

    3. Will I be able to pull select files off of TM backup (photos, itunes, videos) without doing a full restore? I was thinking a clean install would be best.

    Thanks for all your help and feel free to advise on an overall better solution if it exists.
  2. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Ah, but you do have access to Disk Utility.
    You should be able to boot to the recovery partition (if that part of your drive is still working) by starting while holding Command-r
    You should boot to a Utilities menu. One of the choices will be Disk Utility. If your new drive is connected, it should appear in the list in Disk Utility. Choose it, and then erase, using Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format.
    If that doesn't work, or you can't boot to the Utilities menu at all, try internet recovery, which is booting with Option-Command-r. You should see a spinning globe during boot, and not the usual Apple icon. If you don't see the globe, you might have pressed those 3 keys too late, so shutdown and try again. The Internet Recovery will boot to a similar Utilities menu, but boots to Apple's remote servers.
    The process then is the same - open Disk Utility, with your external drive connected. Choose the external, and erase, using Mac OS Extended (journaled) for the format. You can also name your drive whatever you like at that time.

    Samsung T5 has a good reputation for use as an external USB boot drive.
    There's lots of other possibilities - I think everyone has their favorites.
  3. historyteacher thread starter macrumors member

    May 23, 2010

    Thanks so much for that reply! I have seen the menu before (holding command + R) but I did not realize that disk utility was available there. That should get me up and running. Thanks!
  4. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    I can heartily recommend Samsung's T5! They come in four capacities: 256 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB. I have been using Samsung T-series external SSDs since the first one, T1, came out several years ago. They are fast and they are reliable. Some people who use one as a boot drive simply velcro the small T5 to the back of their iMac so it is out of the way. I don't use any of mine as a boot drive; I have different uses for them -- backup and supplementary drives.

    Can't answer the question about Time Machine, as I don't use it and never have.
  5. historyteacher thread starter macrumors member

    May 23, 2010
    Hey all,

    Wanted to say thanks again for all the help with my new iMac SSD!

    Computer is back up and running and I can tell the difference now using an SSD. Feels good to bring life back to a 2012 machine rather than dropping $$$ on a new one.

    Follow up question:

    My computer feel like it is still trying to access the internal HDD. Upon start up, it takes the machine a bit to "find" the SSD (and I do have that set to the startup volume in settings). Once it "finds" the drive it boots quite quickly.

    Also, I am getting a HDD fail error every time the computer restarts about 5 minutes into the computer being turned on. Any other setting I am missing to basically tell the computer to stop looking at the internal HDD?

    Thanks again all!
  6. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    If the internal hard drive is causing problems at boot, then your only real fix will be to open up the iMac, and disconnect the hard drive, or better yet, remove it completely.
  7. historyteacher thread starter macrumors member

    May 23, 2010
    Hmmm...well I was afraid of that. Unfortunately, I don't trust myself enough to take this bad boy apart and get it back together again. Guess I will just deal with some random error messages from time to time.

    Appreciate your quick response!
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    Did you do this after you installed the SSD?
    1. Open System Preferences
    2. Click "startup disk"
    3. Designate the new SSD as the boot drive?
  9. historyteacher thread starter macrumors member

    May 23, 2010
    Yes. I did do that. Funny thing is, when I head to that startup disk menu I get the spinning beach ball for a while. Is that the HDD trying to do something? I do have the new SSD selected.
  10. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    The Startup Disk pane checks for bootable partitions, so part of that process would be attempting to mount any connected drives, so any existing boot drives can be added to that pane, if possible. The "dead" drive, still connected, would likely cause that beach ball that you experience. Good thing is - you don't need to go into that pane all the time.
    Again, the only way to prevent your system from reading the "dead" drive is: disconnect, or remove. And you know what is involved with doing that.
    Or, you can just be aware of those times when the drive bus might called, such as with the Startup Disk pane. All you can do (until it gets annoying) is wait it out :cool:
  11. milleron macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2014
    This is an enlightening thread. I'd never have considered replacing my HD with a USB-connected SSD. I'd have thought that no matter how fast the drive, the USB connection would cause intolerable latency.

    I actually paid an Apple-certified service center to do it. Apple, itself, charged (hold onto your seats) $178 just for an Apple-branded 1TB Seagate drive that I could have bought off the shelf for $50 -- and it took them five days to get one in stock. Apple required the Service Center to charge another $50 to determine that the HD was bad, even though I brought incontrovertible evidence with me. The other charges for opening the computer brought the total to $370 for a job I could have done myself on any PC for $50.

    So I say to you geniuses on this thread "NOW you tell me." At any rate, I'm apprised of this far-better solution the next time the HD fails. Mine went out 2.5 months after Apple Care expired, by the way, and the 27" display developed a multicolored vertical line 5 weeks after Apple Care expired. Sheesh.
  12. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Well why didn't you ask is more the question?

    Best to go back to PC's maybe. And if your whatever Mac has USB3 or faster, an external SSD will run up to 85=90% of the speed of an internal.
  13. milleron macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2014
    Sorry to have offended you. I was being facetious when I said "Now you tell me," more in the vein of "the joke's on me." And don't worry, I'm never going back to PCs. I was just rueing my luck in paying for Apple Care and then having two major repairs pop up within weeks after it expired. And to add insult to that injury, Apple made me pay quadruple for the drive. That hurts, no matter how firmly one is entrenched in the Apple world.
    But, like I said, I'm very glad to know about this option, so thanks to those who explained it.
  14. tubeexperience, Jun 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018

    tubeexperience macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2016

Share This Page