Internal SSD not showing while booted from external drive

dood_son

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
15
1
Hello all,

FACTS:

I am trying to clone an external volume (located on a USB 3,5" 500GB HDD SATA drive) to an internal SSD flash drive of my A1398 15" Macbook Pro (mid-2014, 2.8 GHz i7, dedicated graphics). The problem that I am getting is that once booted from the external volume (a CCC clone of my old, personal partition from a previus Macbook Pro, full of installed software and data, running El Capitan 10.11.6) the internal SSD becomes invisible to the computer.

NOTE: About cloning - I am aware that the source volume is bigger than the destination drive. According to CCC information on the web this should be fine (as long as the actual used space on the source drive does not exceed the capacity of the destination). Please let us not focus on this aspect here.

1. When booting from a USB stick (Mojave 10.14.3) the computer sees both disk (picture 1).
2. When booting from the source (external El Capitan HDD) the computer does not see the internal drive at all (picture 2).
3. What I have noticed is that in both Disk Utility screen shots the source and destination drives are given the "Device: disk0s2" property.

MY GUESS:

1. The problem may be caused by the fact that the internal SSD is "fixed" to a device name = "disk0s2" and when the computer becomes booted from an external drive that also bears this device name (by default, as the booted media?), the SSD becomes "lost" or "unseen". If it is so, is it possible to force the USB external drive to adapt a different "device" name? Would that allow the internal and external drives to be recognized by the system simultaneously? This would have to happen while the drive is booted I guess... So the running system volume would have to unmount and remount itslelf :/ Not possible?

2. Is there a way to change the "device" name for the internal drive instead?

3. Maybe my problem is entirely different and has nothing to do with the "device" property...? Or speaking in other words: am I mixing the causes and effects here? Is the reason for the SSD drive not showing up entirely different and the two "device" properties being identical is merely the effect?

Please help!

Regards,
Leszek
 

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chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
8,287
2,587
Hello all,

FACTS:

I am trying to clone an external volume (located on a USB 3,5" 500GB HDD SATA drive) to an internal SSD flash drive of my A1398 15" Macbook Pro (mid-2014, 2.8 GHz i7, dedicated graphics). The problem that I am getting is that once booted from the external volume (a CCC clone of my old, personal partition from a previus Macbook Pro, full of installed software and data, running El Capitan 10.11.6) the internal SSD becomes invisible to the computer.
Ok, so the answer isn't as simple as I thought. What operating system is installed on the internal drive now?
Also, using the Mojave installer disk open Disk Utility, go to the View Menu and select "Show all devices" and then post a screen shot of what you see when you click on the internal SSD.
Another edit:
Did you format the internal disk while using the Mojave installer?
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,364
938
Baltimore, Maryland
I don't believe the BSD Device Mode (such as "disk0s2") assigned to each partition is a "permanent" value. On my Mac, the assignments are different when I start from a clone.

If you're started up from the clone and enter "diskutil list" into terminal are you still seeing just the external?

Anyway, you can always try to start from the installer USB, install macOS to the internal and then use the Migration Assistant on your first startup to bring your accounts and all your stuff over to the internal SSD.
 

Ojala67

macrumors newbie
Dec 8, 2017
6
0
You don't mention the laptop's drive format. Is the internal formatted APFS? The El Cap volume wouldn't recognize the internal volume's APFS formatting and therefore wouldn't 'see' it. Reformat the internal to HFS+ or anything other than APFS, etc., when booted from the Mojave USB, and then reboot to the El Cap drive. Should then be able to see both and carry on with the clone.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,589
2,349
Delaware
You don't mention the laptop's drive format. Is the internal formatted APFS? The El Cap volume wouldn't recognize the internal volume's APFS formatting and therefore wouldn't 'see' it. Reformat the internal to HFS+ or anything other than APFS, etc., when booted from the Mojave USB, and then reboot to the El Cap drive. Should then be able to see both and carry on with the clone.
The OPs screenshots show that the internal drive is NOT APFS format, but, in fact, is listed as MacOS Extended (Journaled), same as HFS+
 

treekram

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
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First, I would agree with post #3, the device names should not be fixed.

I booted from an external HDD with El Capitan on my 2014 Mini which has a PCIe SSD. Disk Utility does not show the PCIe (APFS) disk (but it does show the SATA APFS disk so this isn't the issue). El Capitan came out after the mid-2014 MBP (or my 2014 Mini) so it should show the PCIe SSD. Well, in my case, I have a non-Apple 512-byte block NVMe SSD, not the Apple AHCI SSD. So - to the OP - do you have an Apple SSD or has it been replaced?
 

Ojala67

macrumors newbie
Dec 8, 2017
6
0
Yes, I see that now. :p
After testing, I also see the physical device shows in El Capitan regardless of formatting. Does is appear in System Profiler? Maybe put CCC on the USB volume and clone from there?
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
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The OPs screenshots show that the internal drive is NOT APFS format, but, in fact, is listed as MacOS Extended (Journaled), same as HFS+
There is a way to inadvertently make an HFS+ volume with an APFS container on the disk that causes all sorts of a mess. I've had this happen before but couldn't tell you how I did it, or even if it was a bug that's now fixed.
 
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dood_son

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
15
1
Ok, so the answer isn't as simple as I thought. What operating system is installed on the internal drive now?
Also, using the Mojave installer disk open Disk Utility, go to the View Menu and select "Show all devices" and then post a screen shot of what you see when you click on the internal SSD.
Another edit:
Did you format the internal disk while using the Mojave installer?
1. There is no OS installed on the internal drive right now. Internal drive's history:

a) computer shipped with High Sierra
b) I downloaded Mojave from App Store, legit source, prepared a bootable flash drive with it
c) I booted from that drive, formatted the internal SSD to APFS during Mojave's installation procedure and installed Mojave
d) Mojave installation succeeded. I used it for 2 days. Soon after I've realized that majority of my software won't install on Mojave because of the APFS. So I thought it was the time to try to boot (externally at first) from my CCC HDD backup. This worked and in fact I am now replying from this external drive (El Capitan via USB - everything works, programmes launch, etc.).
e) I booted from the usb Mojave stick again to re-format the internal drive to HFS+ (to prepare the ground for cloning). There was no option to format the internal drive to anything other than APFS! Only some 3 or 4 different variants of APFS. Now I regret I didn't take a picture of this at that time. Soon after I've discovered that the "Partition" page in Disk Utility had the option to partition the drive into a single partition drive in HFS+. Simply speaking, there was that option along with other common formats as MS-DOS, etc. I thought - ok, a glitch. They happen. So I've formatted the drive to HFS+. Since then it is only visible to a Mojave Flash drive, even though at these moments it shows as a HFS+, like in picture 1 from my original post.

2. I will post a picture showing what happens after "Show all devices" in the next reply as I only have one 16GB flash drive and it currently has an El Capitan installator on it. I changed it to El Capitan to see if while running Disk Utility during the system installation procedure I could see the internal drive and... no, it isn't there either. See picture 3.

3. Yes, that's what I did. Twice actually - in point c) and e) from the above history. Once it was to APFS, the other to HFS+.
[doublepost=1551906174][/doublepost]
If you're started up from the clone and enter "diskutil list" into terminal are you still seeing just the external?
Yes, it only shows the external drives. See Picture 4.
[doublepost=1551906508][/doublepost]
Yes, I see that now. :p
After testing, I also see the physical device shows in El Capitan regardless of formatting. Does is appear in System Profiler?
Exactly. Physical drives should be visible no matter what their formatting is. That is way this situation actually is a problem. The drive does not appear in the System Profiler - see Picture 5 and 6.

[doublepost=1551906508][/doublepost]
Maybe put CCC on the USB volume and clone from there?
Please explain - I do not understand what you mean.
[doublepost=1551906816][/doublepost]
There is a way to inadvertently make an HFS+ volume with an APFS container on the disk that causes all sorts of a mess. I've had this happen before but couldn't tell you how I did it, or even if it was a bug that's now fixed.
Something tells me this might be the case. Some kind of a bug dropped by Apple to stop people from "downgrading" their drives, or just a programming error. Please let me know if anything came to your mind. I will also try to reformat the drive using a High Sierra installer. One thing I haven't tried yet.
 

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treekram

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You need to find out what type of SSD you have in your MBP. If you don't have a full High Sierra or Mojave OS that you can boot, you can use the Disk Utility in the Mojave installer and do View->Show All Devices (which is what you did for Picture 1 except the Show All). Doing this will typically show the brand and usually the model of SSD. Since you are not the original owner, it very well could be a non-Apple SSD.

It's a little complicated but certain non-Apple SSD's can be put in these MBP's and they will only work with High Sierra or Mojave. With a standard macOS below High Sierra, not only will they not work, they will not appear as a device - which is what I mentioned in my post #6. You need to find this out first before looking at other possibilities.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
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Baltimore, Maryland
Have you tried using the Mojave USB installer to format the internal disk (not the partition) to something completely different like MS-DOS FAT to see if that makes it visible to the booted external El Capitan drive?
 
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Ojala67

macrumors newbie
Dec 8, 2017
6
0
Have you tried using the Mojave USB installer to format the internal disk (not the partition) to something completely different like MS-DOS FAT to see if that makes it visible to the booted external El Capitan drive?
Yep, change the formatting and the scheme, e.g, MS-DOS FAT and Master Boot Record. This should clear the container like chrfr said.

OP: I assumed the USB Mojave boot volume was a standard OS install rather than an OS installer image. Sorry for the confusion. Also, check SATA/SATA Express in System Profiler. Drive should show up there.
 

dood_son

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
15
1
You need to find out what type of SSD you have in your MBP. If you don't have a full High Sierra or Mojave OS that you can boot, you can use the Disk Utility in the Mojave installer and do View->Show All Devices (which is what you did for Picture 1 except the Show All). Doing this will typically show the brand and usually the model of SSD. Since you are not the original owner, it very well could be a non-Apple SSD.

It's a little complicated but certain non-Apple SSD's can be put in these MBP's and they will only work with High Sierra or Mojave. With a standard macOS below High Sierra, not only will they not work, they will not appear as a device - which is what I mentioned in my post #6. You need to find this out first before looking at other possibilities.
The SSD is: TOSHIBA THNSN5256GPUK NVMe. See picture 7.

How to determine if this is a appropriate drive for OS Xs prior to High Sierra?
 

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chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
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I will also try to reformat the drive using a High Sierra installer. One thing I haven't tried yet.
The SSD is: TOSHIBA THNSN5256GPUK NVMe. See picture 7.

How to determine if this is a appropriate drive for OS Xs prior to High Sierra?
As I guessed, your drive has an APFS container which is at least a part of why earlier operating systems can't see it. Follow the suggestions in post #12 in this thread which @Ojala67 wrote to solve that. Then reformat the drive as Mac OS Extended Journaled and GUID Partition Map, and if the drive itself is compatible with El Capitan, it'll show then. Based on the output from "diskutil" in El Capitan, I suspect the drive will not work at all there.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,405
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OP:

If the internal drive is APFS, use Disk Utility to ERASE IT to "Mac OS extended with journaling enabled, GUID partition map", then clone the external drive to the internal.

El Cap "can't see" APFS drives at all -- at least not in the finder.
You can still ERASE the drive, though.
 

treekram

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
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The SSD is: TOSHIBA THNSN5256GPUK NVMe. See picture 7.

How to determine if this is a appropriate drive for OS Xs prior to High Sierra?
You have a non-Apple SSD which is NVMe. Apple put AHCI SSD's in these computers. If you had an Apple SSD, El Capitan would work. The SSD you have is likely formatted to a 512-byte block size. This Toshiba SSD should be able to be re-formatted to a 4K block size. However, at a 4K block size, this will only give you compatibility to Sierra. There is a driver available that Hackintosh users use that might make the SSD usable in El Capitan. Not many manufacturers have SSD's which can change the block size - Toshiba and Kingston are ones that I can think of.

The Toshiba THNSN5256GPUK is also known as the XG4. I don't think they were sold in the US. The THNSN5256GPUK was an OEM SSD - it wasn't originally sold retail.

The Toshiba configuration tool:
https://ssd.toshiba-memory.com/en-amer/download/ssd-utility

You need the PC & Mac Bootable version (3.1.3270).

Information on making a bootable USB:
https://support.ocz.com/customer/en/portal/articles/2241497-how-do-i-create-a-bootable-ssd-utility-usb-drive-in-mac-os-x®-

You need to make some decisions - is it satisfactory that you were sold a MBP with a non-Apple SSD in it (did the seller disclose that?). If you keep the MBP, can you run Sierra or is it required that you run El Capitan.

I know that other posters are suggesting that it's a matter of the formatting that makes the drive invisible to El Capitan. But I'm pretty sure it's the fact that you have a non-Apple NVMe SSD. There's a big thread on using NVMe drives in the MBP.
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/upgrading-2013-2014-macbook-pro-ssd-to-m-2-nvme.2034976

It's a big thread but you can use the search function to limit the search - search for XG4, THNSN5256GPUK, Capitan.
 
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dood_son

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
15
1
You have a non-Apple SSD which is NVMe. Apple put AHCI SSD's in these computers. If you had an Apple SSD, El Capitan would work. The SSD you have is likely formatted to a 512-byte block size. This Toshiba SSD should be able to be re-formatted to a 4K block size. However, at a 4K block size, this will only give you compatibility to Sierra. There is a driver available that Hackintosh users use that might make the SSD usable in El Capitan. Not many manufacturers have SSD's which can change the block size - Toshiba and Kingston are ones that I can think of.

The Toshiba THNSN5256GPUK is also known as the XG4. I don't think they were sold in the US. The THNSN5256GPUK was an OEM SSD - it wasn't originally sold retail.

The Toshiba configuration tool:
https://ssd.toshiba-memory.com/en-amer/download/ssd-utility

You need the PC & Mac Bootable version (3.1.3270).

Information on making a bootable USB:
https://support.ocz.com/customer/en/portal/articles/2241497-how-do-i-create-a-bootable-ssd-utility-usb-drive-in-mac-os-x®-

You need to make some decisions - is it satisfactory that you were sold a MBP with a non-Apple SSD in it (did the seller disclose that?). If you keep the MBP, can you run Sierra or is it required that you run El Capitan.

I know that other posters are suggesting that it's a matter of the formatting that makes the drive invisible to El Capitan. But I'm pretty sure it's the fact that you have a non-Apple NVMe SSD. There's a big thread on using NVMe drives in the MBP.
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/upgrading-2013-2014-macbook-pro-ssd-to-m-2-nvme.2034976

It's a big thread but you can use the search function to limit the search - search for XG4, THNSN5256GPUK, Capitan.
1. I am not happy with the fact that I was sold a computer without a fully functional drive. I will seek exchange of the drive alone or full money back. I will contact the seller and see what I can get out of him.

2. In the meantime, provided my software would work on Sierra (Adobe CS6, Autodesk Autocad 2016, Microsoft Office 2016 - all the programmes I had no luck with installing on the Mojave drive) that would be a somewhat satisfactory solution too. My main goal is to become productive with my computer ASAP. If all that it would take would be to upgrade my external HDD clone to Sierra and use the Toshiba tools you kindly provided I could live with that solution. For example, in case there was a problem with the seller...

Do you think it would be possible to make a fully stable, bootable Sierra clone drive out of my current SSD?

Thanks a million for your input! There is a light in the tunnel :)
 

treekram

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1. I am not happy with the fact that I was sold a computer without a fully functional drive. I will seek exchange of the drive alone or full money back. I will contact the seller and see what I can get out of him.

2. In the meantime, provided my software would work on Sierra (Adobe CS6, Autodesk Autocad 2016, Microsoft Office 2016 - all the programmes I had no luck with installing on the Mojave drive) that would be a somewhat satisfactory solution too. My main goal is to become productive with my computer ASAP. If all that it would take would be to upgrade my external HDD clone to Sierra and use the Toshiba tools you kindly provided I could live with that solution. For example, in case there was a problem with the seller...

Do you think it would be possible to make a fully stable, bootable Sierra clone drive out of my current SSD?

Thanks a million for your input! There is a light in the tunnel :)
I think your course of action is a very sensible one. So, what I would suggest you do is:

1) See if you can get the SSD Utility up and running. I have a couple of Toshiba/OCZ SSD's (not the one you have though) and the Utility works for me. I haven't tried doing it, but the reformatting option is there. Once the SSD Utility is up and running, format it to 4K. If you decide to return the MBP, you can revert the formatting back to 512. If you have problems, as I said I have familiarity with the Utility but not with your particular SSD so I may be able to help there.

2) Download Sierra to your MBP which runs El Capitan on the HDD. It's #4 in the link below (hopefully this works)- this requires a functioning App Store app:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208202

If you download to your El Capitan HDD, you can just run the Sierra install app from the HDD and target the SSD. Hopefully it will recognize the SSD. NOTE: If the clone HDD is the only backup you have (if you no longer have your older MBP), I would make a clone of the clone before doing this.

3) As part of the installation, you will be given the opportunity to migrate your apps and data. I would try this and see how it works. If some of the software you mention has software keys, you'd have to follow whatever procedure these companies have for migrating the keys and if you return them I think you'd have to migrate it back to your El Capitan computer.

UPDATE: Oh - in terms of "fully stable, bootable Sierra" - using a non-Apple NVMe SSD with Sierra in and of itself does not present a problem I've done this on one of my desktop computers for almost two years now without any SSD-related issues. However, if you check this link I had earlier:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/upgrading-2013-2014-macbook-pro-ssd-to-m-2-nvme.2034976
what you'll see if that there is wake from sleep issues with your MBP model and non-Apple SSD's. The solution there is to either modify the Boot ROM or don't use sleep. I would suggest you read about the issue in the link above (search for sleep wake). Maybe not being able to run El Capitan is not the most compelling reasons to return the MBP but if you have the sleep-wake issue mentioned in this thread with your MBP, it's because it's not an Apple SSD and that would, to me, be a compelling reason that other people would be receptive to you returning the computer (be it eBay if you bought it there or a small claims court if it got that far - not saying these are applicable to you but the sleep-wake issue is something that is more understandable by people who are not Mac-knowledgeable).
 
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treekram

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On second thought, since El Capitan can't see the SSD, you would need to create a USB installer for Sierra, boot from it, see if it can see the SSD and if it does, install it that way. After the Sierra install app has been downloaded, follow the instructions in the link below for create the installer:
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201372
 

dood_son

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
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You have a non-Apple SSD which is NVMe. Apple put AHCI SSD's in these computers. If you had an Apple SSD, El Capitan would work.
Thanks treekram, I will look into these procedures today evening. I need to address the seller simultaneously and it would very helpful to know how you (and presumably others who know about the subject more than me) determine whether a drive is of "original Apple brand" or not. I mean, none of them are actually manufactured by Apple - but some of them were in the original factory setups, the others weren't. I need this info to be more accurate when talking to the seller of this computer. I need something of a proof that I was sold a modified computer. So, is there a list/article on the web, or an Apple service manual, that would clearly distinguish between genuine Macbook Pro SSDs and those that are not - including my Toshiba?

Talking to that guy and saying "hey mister, I cannot install El Capitan" will probably be only an opening to a quarrel on the level of what kind of a lousy computer specialist I am. I need specifics.
 

Audit13

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Apr 19, 2017
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Thanks treekram, I will look into these procedures today evening. I need to address the seller simultaneously and it would very helpful to know how you (and presumably others who know about the subject more than me) determine whether a drive is of "original Apple brand" or not. I mean, none of them are actually manufactured by Apple - but some of them were in the original factory setups, the others weren't. I need this info to be more accurate when talking to the seller of this computer. I need something of a proof that I was sold a modified computer. So, is there a list/article on the web, or an Apple service manual, that would clearly distinguish between genuine Macbook Pro SSDs and those that are not - including my Toshiba?

Talking to that guy and saying "hey mister, I cannot install El Capitan" will probably be only an opening to a quarrel on the level of what kind of a lousy computer specialist I am. I need specifics.
Under system report, a real Apple SSD will not appear under nvme.
 

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treekram

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Thanks treekram, I will look into these procedures today evening. I need to address the seller simultaneously and it would very helpful to know how you (and presumably others who know about the subject more than me) determine whether a drive is of "original Apple brand" or not. I mean, none of them are actually manufactured by Apple - but some of them were in the original factory setups, the others weren't. I need this info to be more accurate when talking to the seller of this computer. I need something of a proof that I was sold a modified computer. So, is there a list/article on the web, or an Apple service manual, that would clearly distinguish between genuine Macbook Pro SSDs and those that are not - including my Toshiba?

Talking to that guy and saying "hey mister, I cannot install El Capitan" will probably be only an opening to a quarrel on the level of what kind of a lousy computer specialist I am. I need specifics.
As mentioned in the previous post, you can use the System Information app to find the manufacturer information. Using the Disk Utility as you did also will typically show the manufacturer and model.

While it's true that Apple did not directly manufacture the SSD's in your (and similar) MBP models, they were customized and the SSD's in these MBP's were never sold to anybody but Apple. They have a different connector than standard PCIe SSD's and if you were to open up your MBP, you'll find that there's an adapter connected to the SSD. So a genuine Apple SSD will always appear as such, even though it was manufactured by somebody else (typically Samsung, other companies also made SSD's for Apple for these models). Non-Apple SSD's will also be identified as such - there have been no reports that I have seen where this as been altered (this can't be easily done) to fool people. The screenshot of the Disk Utility showing that it's a Toshiba SSD should be sufficient to show that it's a non-Apple SSD.

(As a side note, there were some Samsung SSD's that are considered very close to the Apple SSD's - the AHCI versions of the SM951 and XP941. There are also Apple NVMe SSD's not originally put in the MBP's that will work in the MBP.)

If you want to see if you have the sleep-wake problem, take a look at:
https://www.lifewire.com/change-mac-sleep-settings-2260804
https://www.howtogeek.com/260478/how-to-choose-when-your-mac-hibernates-or-enters-standby/

Set the hibernate mode to 3 or 25 (you can test either or both). Set the standby time to a small number so you don't have to wait that long. Close the lid or command the computer to go to sleep (using the Apple menu in the upper left). Wake the computer and see if it works. Now, if you're running off of the HDD, this may not work as it might not go to the problematical sleep with a USB HDD connected. So if you've already wiped the SSD, it could be work to test this. This would just be additional justification as to why the seller should take back your computer. Again, all non-Apple SSD's used with the 2014 MBP's seem to have this issue. To me, it's enough that they didn't disclose that the MBP had a non-Apple SSD (to be fair, the seller may not have known either). So if you've already wiped the SSD, you'll have to decide whether it's worth the time and effort to test to see if you have this issue.
 

Audit13

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Any 2013 or 2014 Macbook Pro or Air is going to have kernel panics when hibernate mode is set to 25 with non-Apple or nvme drive. Some people with a 2013 or 2014 Pro have not experienced kernel panics when waking hibernate mode 3 with a nvme drive.

If a 2013 or 2014 MacBook Pro or Air has been flashed with a modified bootrom that contains an updated nvme driver, hibernate mode 25 works fine with no kernel panics when waking from sleep with a nvme drive. If the OP's MacBook has been properly flashed with a modified bootrom, it should pass the hibernation test
 
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dood_son

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Original poster
Mar 9, 2017
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Alright - the seller has agreed to accept the return of the computer. Except I am not sure if I really want to do it because the rest of it, except for the problematic SSD, is very satisfying. The computer is in good shape and has best specs I could afford.

I am looking into the possibility of buying a fully compatible SSD to replace what the seller has put inside. Maybe I will be able to sell the one problematic to me, yet fully functional SSD afterwards to get some money back. Please advice on what I should be looking for? I understand that for my happyness (= booting EL CAPITAN with no modifications to the drive/computer/OS) I need a blade SSD that is AHCI and uses the proprietary Apple version of PCIe interface. Am I correct or am I still missing or mixing something up here?

Could someone please name a drive model or two that are equal to what my Macbook Pro was originally equipped with? Link to my computer's specs.

How about this one? Is it really a SATA drive, not PCIe? - I am getting confused here.

Big thanks to all of you who were so kind to post their thoughts so far - you really helped me a lot!
 
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treekram

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Alright - the seller has agreed to accept the return of the computer. Except I am not sure if I really want to do it because the rest of it, except for the problematic SSD, is very satisfying. The computer is in good shape and has best specs I could afford.

I am looking into the possibility of buying a fully compatible SSD to replace what the seller has put inside. Maybe I will be able to sell the one problematic to me, yet fully functional SSD afterwards to get some money back. Please advice on what I should be looking for? I understand that for my happyness (= booting EL CAPITAN with no modifications to the drive/computer/OS) I need a blade SSD that is AHCI and uses the proprietary Apple version of PCIe interface. Am I correct or am I still missing or mixing something up here?

Could someone please name a drive model or two that are equal to what my Macbook Pro was originally equipped with? Link to my computer's specs.

How about this one? Is it really a SATA drive, not PCIe? - I am getting confused here.

Big thanks to all of you who were so kind to post their thoughts so far - you really helped me a lot!
For you, because you want to run El Capitan, you should get an Apple SSD. But there is no Apple-authorized seller of these drives. You need to search for this drive on something like eBay or something similar. Search or something like "Macbook Pro 2014 SSD" and then make sure it's an Apple SSD. These SSD's have a lot of different part numbers. One site lists the following part numbers that may be used:
661-02352, 661-02530, 661-7459, 661-7460, 661-7461, 661-8137, 661-03729,661-02373, 661-02374, 661-02396, 661-02351, 661-02529, 661-03732, 655-1859, MZ-JPV5120,655-1803, 655-1817, 655-1838, MZ-JPU256T, SD6PQ4M-256G, THNSN2256GSPS,656-0023, 655-1858, 655-1959, MZ-JPV2560, MZ-JPV256R, MZ-JPV256S, 655-1858, 655-1959, MZ-JPV2560, MZ-JPV256R, MZ-JPV256S.

Typically, the Samsung drives have a suffix like "0A6" or "0A2" at the end. But these could have been manufactured by Toshiba or SanDisk as well. So the chips on the SSD may be branded Samsung, Toshiba or SanDisk.

I'm not that knowledgeable about buying the Apple SSD's so maybe someone as a better approach to search out these SSD's. The following link has information on the different SSD's Apple has used:
https://beetstech.com/blog/apple-proprietary-ssd-ultimate-guide-to-specs-and-upgrades

In this link, look for the picture "Comparison of proprietary SSD connectors" and the one you need for your SSD is the 3rd one (12+16 pins).

There are 3rd-party SSD's that will fit in your MBP from Transcend and OWC. Also, with the adapter you already have in your MBP, you can also get a Samsung AHCI SSD but in my opinion they have issues and it may just better to try to run Sierra with what you have rather than trying these alternatives.

There are two problems with buying a used Apple SSD. First, they tend to be expensive compared to typical SSD's. Second, you are getting a used SSD and SSD's have a finite amount of write/erase cycles. If you buy the SSD (250GB or more) from someone who has used it mainly for web-surfing for personal use (so not in use 16 hours a day), there should be still be a lot of life left in the SSD. But if the person used the computer professionally and did something like download and edit many videos a day, there may not be that much write/erase cycles left - and of course that's also going to depend on how you use it. It may have 33% of the rated write/erase cycles left but that may still last you several years.

So first you should take a look and see what the Apple SSD's cost. I don't think you'll get a good price for your Toshiba SSD so it may just be better to keep it. Since you say that you like the computer otherwise, if you're willing to live with the sleep-wake issue (basically you should turn off the computer when you're not going to use it for a while or try changing the bootrom but that has possible problems of it's own) and the lower battery life (the non-Apple SSD's tend to use more power), you might just ask the seller for some money and try to see if Sierra works with your software.