Macbook Pro mid '09 no reading ONLY my HD

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jdgENGR, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. jdgENGR macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2016
    Running on a macbook pro 13" mid 2009, using El Capitan 10.11.6, 2.53 Ghz intel core 2 duo, 8Gb 1067 MHz DDR3.

    So I have a rather interesting case where my laptop froze last week, and when i forced shutdown and restarted my computer stopped seeing my hard drive. When it booted up the screen showed a folder with a question mark on it.

    I tried booting into single user, or safe mode, verbose mode. nothing worked. I cleared nvram and the smc power thing. Basically I tried all the standard trouble shoot command and some other key code. Nothing worked. Interestingly I plugged a back up drive that had a time machine backup with a backup from Snow Leopard. holding option I was able to boot from my external drive, using the time machine backup (which i was under the impression wasn't possible, so already thats odd). Going into disk utility in this snow leopard external drive machine, I saw the laptop wasn't reading the internal drive (AKA not showing in disk utility). I shut down. Swapped ram to see if somehow that caused the issue. Nothing.

    Things get odd at this point. I borrowed a friends mid 2010 macbook pro 13".

    I took out his hard drive, popped it into mine macbook and the macbook started just fine. Great, so i figured it must be my drive. I plug my drive into his laptop, and it starts fine. What? Why? I restarted his macbook with my drive in it several times to see if it would fail. It loaded quickly and efficiently as I would normally expect on my macbook. While my drive was still in his macbook I ran disk utility and used first aid on the drive. Everything came back normal. First aid said the drive was fine. So i put my drive back in my laptop, and put his back, and again my macbook still won't read my drive, and I still see the flashing folder. I bought an external drive enclosure, and right now I can use my drive using the external case. Ive runs disk utility a hundred times now, and see no issues.

    TO back up a bit, I did manage to get verbose mode running a few times, and I did manage to get the laptop to the login screen a few times with just my hard drive inside, nothing connected. Those were random, but the laptop would shutdown everytime I got to login. TO do that I had to reset the firmware - command option f o. for some reason that would get me to at least the apple loading screen, and it would shut down. It didn't always work though.

    In verbose mode I saw a lot of errors. it couldn't load PlatformSupport.plist, said must be out of unencrypted bootable drive. There was an error loading relinked kernel cache. Recovery image verification fail warning also. There is a ton more. I have a lot of pictures of code that I can't read to diagnose from verbose mode from these instances of getting the drive to read randomly. I can post them if people want. The one time single user mode ran, I couldn't mount the internal disk. It didn't see it. (Single user mode only ran when I had the drive with the time machine snow leopard back up connected.)

    Im assuming a hardware issue, but it doesn't seem to be with my drive. IM guessing its the SATA cable, except why would another drive work just fine everytime I plug it in? Possible a logic board failure, but again, why would my friends drive run every time no problem?

    Any suggestions .
  2. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Most likely the SATA drive cable. They are quite fragile in those models.

    Any differences in the hard drive between you and your friend's?
    For example, a spinning hard drive may work, where an SSD might have timing issues with the same SATA cable.
  3. rockarollr, Oct 26, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016

    rockarollr Suspended


    Apr 3, 2010
    I would pull the SATA cable from my friend's drive and use it to connect my hard drive drive to my Macbook and try booting it. If it boots up properly with no issues, you've located your problem.

    Being a CompTIA certified computer technician that specializes in hardware, my best guess would be that your SATA cable is the culprit. It's the only thing that makes sense, going by what you've told us.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Agree with comments above regarding the ribbon cable.

    Go to to get the part number for the cable.
    You can even buy it from them.

    Or, buy it online, or from ebay...
  5. jdgENGR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2016
    No both hard drives hard disk drives, and mine works just fine when used in an external drive enclosure (which is what I'm doing for now!)
    --- Post Merged, Oct 27, 2016 ---
    I had to return his macbook, IM waiting for part in the mail.

    Still, as I ended off the original thread; if it is the sata cable, why does my friends hard drive run on my macbook perfectly fine every time? They aren't the exact same drive, but they are similar.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Maybe your best course of action would be to try a THIRD hard drive in the MacBook.
    Perhaps an SSD?
  7. jdgENGR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2016
    unfortunately I don't have a third drive lying around.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    My last suggestion:

    If you intend to keep the MB for a couple more years, buy a cheap SSD (240gb, Sandisk or Crucial will be fine), buy a new drive ribbon cable, and install them.

    Shouldn't cost much, and I'll bet it gets you going again.
    You -WILL- enjoy the increase in speed you get from the SSD...
  9. jdgENGR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2016
    So, good news. I bought a new cable and I finally had the chance to install it tonight. Works just fine. Only issue is I bought the cable for the 2011 macbook pro which is probably a cm shorter, so it isn't glued down or screwed into its socket. I ordered the correct cable, which should come soon! Thanks for help guys! (I am planning on upgrading to an SSD ~ I saw Crucial has a 275gb for 50$ made for mac being sold at micro center .)

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8 October 26, 2016