HDD fried...looking for advice (SOLVED 4/23/16)

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by stera8, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. stera8 macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    I'm working on a 2012 Mac Mini 16GB ram and 500GB HDD. El Capitan has been loading slowly in the past and I feel it should have loaded quicker, even when Yosemite was installed, it was slow to boot.

    Tonight, my computer froze on Safari with multiple tabs open. However, I was able to move the mouse. I power down the computer by the button and turn it back on. The issue occurs that it is not a static screen on my monitor. Eventually it goes to boot up and makes it through. 10 minutes later this happens again.

    I tried to boot up now and it eventually boots to fill the apple bar and then the computer shuts down.

    I first tried to reset NVRAM/PRAM and this does not work.

    I go into Recovery Mode and look into disk utility. The hard drive does not even show up. A few more restarts and the hard drive shows up. I run repair disk and I receive "Error: Disk Utility can't repair this disk...disk, and restore your backed up files".


    Next step is in recovery mode, I try to install El Capitan again. It does not locate the hard drive to install. It locates my external but not my internal.


    I read how I can use First Aid and erase it. Possibly it will then recognize. I am currently going into Disk Utility and it does not appear again. I went into Install OS X and my external hard drive shows automatically when I plug it in. Finally I was able to do First Aid and I receive an Error Code 8.



    1. Do you believe my hard drive is fried or just corrupted?

    2. Could this be from a virus? (I haven't seen a virus on a Mac do this but I had to ask)

    3. What is my next step?

    4. Somebody on the Apple forums told me to hold down Option and turn on the computer to see my boot options. This will not work.

    5. If I need a new hard drive, Do I need to somehow get an OSx onto a flash drive or will recovery be on the system. (Not sure if Recovery is partition on the current HDD or a separate section)

    Thank you for your help.

    Mac mini (Late 2012), OS X El Capitan (10.11.4)
  2. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    1. Hard to say without further information, might be corrupt filesystem or HDD is faulty. Its also possible the problem is in the cable that connects the drive into motherboard.

    When booted into recovery open Disk Utility and select top Macintosh HD. What is shown at the SMART status? Also use Info button, take picture of the info screen and post it into to the thread if possible.

    2. Unlikely.

    3. Depends. Do you have important information on the drive that isn't saved in the external drive? If yes you should copy as much info from the internal drive as possible. If the drive contains no important information then you could try formatting it in the Disk Utility (keep in mind doing so will ERASE all information!) but it is unlikely to help if the disk is faulty.

    4. Do you mean it will show only recovery disk and not the Macintosh HD?

    5. If you need to replace the drive you could use internet recovery. However if you can use another Mac I recommend making OS X installer media to memory stick or other external drive. Instructions. Install media include everything needed to install OS X and no need to wait for internet recovery to download needed files from Apples server.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "3. What is my next step?"

    Your "next step" should be to get a new drive, connect it externally, install an OS onto it, and try to boot up that way.

    If the new drive is failing (such as a hardware failure, bad sectors, etc.), there's no point in trying to put a clean OS onto it. You'll still have a bad drive from which you're trying to run it.

    The late-2012 Mini is a fine Mac (I'm typing on one right now), but you should know that you can make it run MUCH BETTER AND FASTER by connecting an external SSD via USB3. You can boot and run that way -- I've been doing it for 3+ years now.

    You don't have to spend a lot of money.
    Two ways to proceed here:

    Buy something like this:
    Just plug it in, re-initialize to HFS+, install a clean OS, and go.

    Get a "bare" SSD of your choice (I suggest Sandisk Plus or Crucial).
    Then get a USB3 enclosure that is SPECIFICALLY STATED to support "UASP" (USB attached SCSI protocol).
    Put the drive into the enclosure, connect to Mac, initialize to HFS+, then install your OS.

    Once you have a bootable external drive, you may be able to get your old data off the internal drive (no promises there)...

    Final thought:
    It's possible to buy a new drive and replace the internal drive, but be advised that opening the Mini (other to install RAM) can be fraught with dangers. Many folks have tried it, gotten inside, and ended up..... breaking something.

    That's why I suggest "going external", quick, easy, no danger of messing up something inside...
  4. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    descending into the Maelström
  5. richard2 macrumors regular


    Oct 21, 2010
    England, United Kingdom
    1. The disc drive almost certainly has a physical fault. Unfortunately, faulty HDDs are practically impossible to repair.

    2. I highly doubt it.

    3. Have the faulty disc drive replaced by Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

    4. Why would you attempt to boot from a volume that Disk Utility can't repair? :confused:

    5. The repair service should install OS X onto the new disc drive for you.

    Do you have a current backup of your data?
  6. stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Of course I do NOT have data backups! However, it is a secondary computer I use for developing apps so luckily my 3 apps are backed up lol If I get my other data back, then cool. I have the SATA hookup wires to extract the data if I need to/able to

    I just purchased an enclosure as the one post has made me a bit nervous to replace the hard drive. I'm going to purchase the Samsung - 850 EVO 250GB from Best Buy ($88) and stick it in there. I have taken a part tons of windows laptops and computers but I have never repaired any macs besides upgrading ram. I did purchase the iFixIt tools. Even if I do not use it internally, they will probably come in handy at some point.

    Thank you everyone for your opinions and help.
  7. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    There is no assurance this is a hardware failure. It could be, so if you want to replace the spinning HDD with an SSD anyway, it's a good excuse.

    If you'd rather try to rescue the existing HDD, I think it's worth the effort. An erase and reinstall is pretty routine, and you have little to lose by trying. You might still get years of usage out of the drive, if it's simply a corrupted file system.

    When Disk Utility says you must erase and reformat the disk - believe it. That's why you can't reinstall OS X - OS X checks the condition of the HDD before trying to install. Erase the disk, then reinstall OS X. Restore from Time Machine afterwards (presuming you have a backup).

    Something you did not mention is whether you have a backup. If you don't... then before erasing you may want to try backing up. You cannot use Time Machine - it's too late for that. The most common approach, if you have a second Mac handy, is Target Disk Mode - you use a good Mac to access the HDD on the bad Mac, and as long as the drive can be read, you'll be able to copy your files. https://support.apple.com/HT201462

    You do not need to have OS X on a Flash Drive - that's what Recovery/Internet Recovery is for. If you have several Macs (especially older Macs that do not support Internet Recovery), a Flash Drive can be a handy thing to have (I have one sitting on my desk) - but you need a second Mac to create it - the time spent creating the Flash Drive will be similar to the time you spend using Recovery/Internet Recovery, since in both cases you have to download OS X.

    The Recovery system is a hidden partition on that HDD. If you can boot to Recovery at all, it's a sign that the HDD may not be in all that bad shape. If you try to boot to Recovery and get Internet Recovery instead, it's a more reliable sign that the HDD is physically fried.

    It's very unlikely you have malware. What's happening to you is a normal consequence of having a HDD - eventually all HDDs will fail. No need to blame an exotic reason when a garden-variety reason is right at hand.

    Recovery (both "regular" and Internet) is, IMO, a brilliant system. The biggest tip I can give you is to not use WiFi - connect the Mac to your router with an ethernet cable - the process of downloading OS X will go much faster and more reliably. https://support.apple.com/HT201314
  8. stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Awesome response. Thank you. I'll update everyone when I get home.
  9. stera8, Apr 23, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016

    stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Okay. I received in my supplies and I decided to first I will try to use it as an external SSD.

    So I started off by formatting the Samsung SSD to wipe it and make it the correct format. Afterwards, I placed it in the enclosure and plugged it into my mac mini with the issue. I boot to recovery and I go to reinstall OS X and I select the SSD.


    To document my error and to take pictures for all of you, as it restarted this time I held down option and I selected the external.


    So from here I expected it to install quickly since it is a SSD. However as I type this it has been over 10 minutes and it keeps staying at the same spot. I know it is not frozen since the monitor goes to sleep and it recognizes my keyboard to wake it up.


    So... I'm not sure what to even ask here, except please help lol

    Thank you everyone

    EDIT: 20 minutes... same spot.. random thought. Could the recovery be corrupted?

    EDIT 2: OH! 25 minutes now and we have something!!!!

  10. richard2 macrumors regular


    Oct 21, 2010
    England, United Kingdom
    The installation process is freezing because you've booted recovery mode from the faulty disc drive. (Software will always behave unpredictability when utilising faulty hardware.) You should instead boot recovery mode via the Internet by holding option-command-R immediately after restarting your Mac.
  11. stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Thanks for the advice. After it loads up I'll recover through the Internet. I'm heading to dinner a town over. Originally when I tried internet recovery I was getting errors from Apple that it wasn't connecting. Process is slow but going.

  12. stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    I just got home and it is complete! Do you recommend that I recover it from the Internet still?
  13. richard2 macrumors regular


    Oct 21, 2010
    England, United Kingdom
    If you can boot OS X from the external disc, then you're done. :)
  14. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    What is your situation now?

    Are you able to boot from the external SSD?

    If so, does the -internal- drive mount up on your desktop?

    If it does, you can probably still recover your personal data from it.

    Let us know where you stand now...
  15. stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Maybe you are a mind reader :). I came on here to update. The SSD is connected via a USB currently and it is amazing. As I was using it last night, the original hard drive just decided to mount all of a sudden. Due to that, I retrieved all my data. I'm assuming I could have just reformatted the original hard drive (losing all data) and reinstall the OS. I ran a test on it and I received the same "Error code 8". Therefore, startup was corrupted but hard drive is good.

    After spending $128 ($18 on the enclosure, $90 on the SSD, and $30 on the iFixIt tool kit.) I believe it is worth it. For $128, the computer is very fast. This will help me when I am developing apps and graphics for my school (teacher).

    I am going into between right now if I am going to open the Mini and install the SSD. For now, I am going to leave it as a USB hook up. I am going to reformat the hard drive that is currently in there.

    Thank you everyone for advice. Hopefully this thread can help anyone with the same issue.
  16. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    For what it's worth, you aren't going to gain much in the way of speed by installing the SSD internally, vis-a-vis continuing to use it as an "external booter" right now. I will go so far as to predict that the speed difference of internal v. external would be un-perceivable by you.

    You already see how fast it can run via an externally-connected SSD.

    You -DO- want to re-initialize the internal drive (MAKE SURE you have everything that you want to save from it copied elsewhere first).

    Once you re-initialize the internal drive, run Disk Utility's "repair disk" feature on it.
    Do you get "a good report"?
    If so, REPEAT the "repair disk" function six times in succession.
    Do you get a good report each and every time?

    If so, I'd consider the internal drive functional and usable.

    At this point, I'd suggest that you download CarbonCopyCloner and clone the contents of the SSD -back to- the internal drive.
    Let the internal drive serve as your backup of your MAIN drive, which is now the "external booter".

    I've been running this way for more than three years.
    My late 2012 Mini runs "fast and clean".
    No reason to change.

    By the way, CCC is FREE to download, and it's FREE to use for the first 30 days.
    Find it here:
  17. stera8 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2014
    Thanks for the help. That is what I'm currently doing. I have run 3 first aid checks on it so far and no issues after reformatting. I will continue more tomorrow evening.

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