Mac Mini - bootup fail

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Heavy Fluid, May 29, 2013.

  1. Heavy Fluid macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2008
    I have a Mac Mini that is a few years old, and has been an absolute workhorse for me. The other day, I came home from work, and moved the mouse, and nothing. Blank screen on my monitor. Restarted it, and I got the grey screen, and the spinning circle. Restarted again, nothing. Bought Samsung Chromebook so I could get on the web, used RZ points at Best Buy. :)

    Searched Google first, of course.

    Booted it up with the start up disc in there, pressing the C key. Got to Disk utility, and tried to repair the disk. On the fourth attempt, it finally completed, only to give me Error: Disk Utility can't repair this disk...disk, and restore your backed-up files.

    Alright. I never used Time Machine, so I don't have a backup. I have several gigs of music on there, along with photos and files that I would like to retrieve.

    Few questions:

    1 - can I make a backup somehow?
    2 - what do I need to fix this?
    3 - is there anyway that the files will not be lost?

    I am currently looking on but to be honest, I am very lost. Friend of mine told me that I need to replace the drive. I thought that all of my files are on the drive? Forgive my lack of a use of proper terms. I am not afraid to disassemble stuff, as I did this on my old iMac G5 when the power supply failed. Removed the hard drive, and placed it in some sort of an external drive housing, and it works as a removable drive. If I need to do that, I am comfortable doing that.

    Any help for a no0b that should know better? Thank you so much in advance.
  2. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Your hard drive itself may have failed.

    If you can't access the OS, you could try accessing the mac from another working mac through target disk mode.

    Or removing the drive and accessing it through USB cradle such as this:

    Also if you have another Mac you could try cloning the OS of that Mac onto an external drive and using that external drive OS to try booting the broken Mini. If you can boot via an external drive then it is likely it is the internal drive which has failed.

    Also another option would be to load a new OS onto an external drive and see if you can boot from it. That will take a little longer if you only have USB2.0 as an option.

    Basically you need to work out if it is the intrnal drive that has failed or whether it is something more severe like the logic board. If you cannot boot from the internal but you can boot from the external it is likely to be the internal drive. If you cannot boot from both the internal or external then you likely have an issue other than the intrenal OS hard drive.
  3. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Your hard drive is almost certainly toast. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP. All hard drives fail eventually.

    Sometimes people get lucky and a dead drive will work again for long enough for them to copy their files or at least some of them. Other times, it's completely dead.

    You might be able to pay someone to retrieve data from that hard drive, but there are no guarantees that they can retrieve all of it or even some of it. If they can't get anything off it, you'll probably still have to pay them.
  4. Heavy Fluid thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2008
    So retrieving my files would be hit or miss, like if I got that external drive holder posted above, and tried to transfer the files to another machine?

    I am pretty bummed at this point. No use in getting mad, it's my fault that I didn't make a back up.
  5. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    If the drive has failed you have two possibilities.

    1. the drive is completely gone and you have not access at all so you lose everything.

    2. There may only be some damaged blocks which means you may have access to some or most of the drive. This outcome is very lucky. You can spare blocks with software such as Drive Genious but that doesn't retreive data, it only repairs the drive.

    Normally thought the drive completely fails, gone, dead, lost everything...
  6. Heavy Fluid thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2008
  7. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    There are a million options.

    I would suggest an SSD as they are reasonably priced now compared to HDDs

    Go for a brand name. Most people here go for the current Samsung 840 Pro.

    The 128 is slower than the 256 840 Pro though.

    It does have a good warranty.

    Having said that, you want to be absolutely certain it is the HDD that has failed, because you wont want to buy an SSD and find it is the logic board. So you may want to pick up a super HDD cheap drive to try - even second hand.

    On the eject Q: the eject button on the keyboard ejects dvds and cds and unmounts drives from the OS. If you want to physically remove the drive you have to pull the mini apart. The eject botton will not physically eject the HDD from inside the mini. The operation to replace the drive is technical, although doable with instructions.
  8. Heavy Fluid thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2008
    OK thank you. Managed to get the disk ejected. I will have to consider what my options are here as far as what I will do. This Chromebook that I am using is surprisingly nice, but it is not a computer and it does not have my files on it.

    I will look into that Samsung drive.

    To remove the disk, I rebooted the Mini, and pressed and held the eject button on the keyboard until it ejected.
  9. Heavy Fluid thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2008
    Update to this fiasco.

    Went to Best Buy today and picked up a BlacX enclosure. $39.99 which I thought wasn't too bad. Takes both 2.5 and 3.5" SATA HD's. Watched a tutorial on how to disassemble and remove the HD from the Mini. Not what I expected. Had it out in less than 5 minutes. Said a little prayer, plugged it into the old POS Compaq laptop I have, and powered it up. Sounded good, but wouldn't show as being installed. Messed around with it a little, and just gave up. I am very PC illiterate especially when it comes to stuff like that. I love with my Mac, you plug it in, and it just shows. The guy at Best Buy said that the drive would not show on my Chromebook, so I passed on plugging it into that. Well, I sat here for a minute, and was like what the heck, might as well give it a shot. Well, it works. Unbelievable, but it works.

    All of my files are still there. All my music, pictures, everything. I am very relieved to say the least.

    Thank you to everyone who helped me on the forum with this. I really appreciate all of the information that you all gave me. I guess I will run this Chromebook for now. I am extremely happy with it and how it runs so far. As for another Mac, I will probably pick a Mini up again when I can. I am guessing that the shell and remains of what I took apart probably is not worth much, but I might turn it into a piece of artwork possibly. Not sure yet.

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