iMac and external HDD question

Discussion in 'iMac' started by matt9013, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. matt9013 macrumors 6502


    Oct 27, 2013
    Friend may buy a used iMac but the HDD is dead. Could he just buy like a 1TB external HDD and use that instead of getting a new internal HDD? How would he go about getting OS X on it and all that? Just plug it in and turn the Mac on?

  2. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    In this case I think you'll first need the external HD to have Mac OS installed on it. Using something like Carbon Copy Cloner or Super Duper to Clone a drive volume from another Mac that has a OS X version that is compatible with the iMac with the dead HD. Then you'll start up the connected external HD and turn on the iMac while holding down the option key. The external HD should show up on the boot screen for you to select. Once you have a desktop you should go to System Preferences/Startup Disk and select the external HD if it isn't already selected.

    After that the iMac should just boot to the external HD as long as the external HD is discoverable. I would always turn on the external HD first. There are a few things that you won't be able to do such as booting into Windows using Apple's Bootcamp. Your friend might also want to later clone another external HD in case the booting HD develops issues some day.

    Personally, I wouldn't mess with it unless it's a steal.
  3. matt9013 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Oct 27, 2013
    Thanks, Yeah, I'm not sure what else is wrong with it or the price. Just that the HDD is dead and he wanted to maybe use an external over trying to install a new HDD himself. I've never installed a HDD on an iMac either so I'm no help in that department either.
  4. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    depending on the year of the iMac it may either have a warranty or be easily replaceable. additionally to that if it has thunderbolt or USB3 an external SSD could suffice, but its definitely not in my opinion atleast to run off an external drive (slowness, could lose connection, etc).

    but it again depends on the age of the iMac, they could boot into internet recovery and restore the OS that way, or from another mac.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Even if its not covered by a warranty and I suspect it won't be since the seller didn't get it repaired, I'd still spring for the cost of the repair. Check out and see how hard it is to do the work yourself (or himself). You don't detail what year the iMac is and that may dictate how hard/easy it will be to install a new hard drive.

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