Help! Need to rescue a file from a dying/dead Mini

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by GanChan, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. GanChan, Mar 9, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014

    GanChan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    My 2009-era Mini seems to be toast. It froze up on me, then when I restarted I just got the gray screen with spinning wheel. Unplugged peripherals, re-plugged power cable, tried a soft boot (which threw back an"I/O Error" message), and tried resetting PRAM, to no avail.

    I'm willing to accept that this Mini may have just retired itself, but I have an article draft on there that I desperately need to rescue. I have another Mini that I could connect via Firewire, but how do I designate the dying Mini as the secondary drive? It's been so long since I did this, I've forgotten how all this stuff works....

    UPDATE: Crap, I forgot that my older Mini is a G4, not an Intel. Thye appear to take two different types of Firewire cable. So now I'm really stumped....

    Oh, and if you have any thoughts on other ways I might save the Mini, that would be great too.

  2. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Exactly what kind of Firewire socket does the computer have?

    You can buy inexpensive cables with 6-pin on one end and 9-pin on the other from I have several kinds: 6-to-6, 9-to-9, 6-to-9, and I don't think I paid more than $10 for any one of them.

    See here for pictures of Firewire cables:

    Before buying any cable, though, you should see if the computer will even come up in Firewire target disk mode. If it can't do that, then no Firewire cable is going to help. A video monitor on the target computer will show a fairly obvious (and big) Firewire "Y" symbol if it's actually in target disk mode.

    If it does come up in Firewire target disk mode, AND you get the right cable, you don't have to do anything special to get it to appear as a secondary disk on the other computer, other than start it up in Firewire target disk mode and plug it in. Once it's in that mode, it's basically acting exactly like a Firewire disk.
  3. GanChan thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2005
    No, it won't come up in Firewire mode. It won't even accept the install DVD. I can only assume that it's now a doorstop.... Time to put the even older Mini back into commission and put TenFourFox on it, I guess. Can't afford an new Intel machine.

    The good news is that I had made another copy of the article draft after all. Whew.
  4. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    It's possible the disk drive can be taken out and put into an external enclosure or a SATA dock. From there, it can be read. This would only work if the disk itself isn't corrupted or broken.

    If the disk is corrupted, then a disk recovery program might be able to recover the file. Or it might not; sometimes damage is too extensive.

    If the disk is broken, you'd have to send it off to a data recovery service. That's usually in the price range of $150 and up, as a rough idea.

    A SATA dock is relatively inexpensive. For example, at, enter search terms sata dock. There are various options that can affect price: USB 2, USB 3, Firewire, supplementary power supply, etc.

    If you get a SATA dock you can use it to make backups onto external SATA drives without needing an enclosure.
  5. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    G4 Mac Minis didn't have SATA drives. They had IDE drives. You'd need some kind of IDE dock or IDE/USB converter if you pull the drive out of the Mac. That's probably going to be your best chance of getting the data out assuming the drive didn't die.
  6. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sorry, I completely forgot about that.

    Here's an example of an IDE-to-USB adapter on Amazon:

    Keywords: usb to ide

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