My Mac Mini will not boot... from CD or Hard Drive (internal or external)...

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ccgfarmer, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. ccgfarmer macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2009
    I have owned a Mac Mini for three years now (my friends convinced me to try the Apple way and this is my first Mac). The CD/DVD died just three weeks after warranty expired and Apple said (in essence) 'tough didn't buy AppleCare'.

    I have functioned without a CD/DVD drive since then, and everything was fine... until a week or two ago. We installed an update in iTunes, and everything started running S...L...O...W... So, we rebooted the computer! Instead of rebooting, it made the "bong!" sound and then a screen with an apple and a spinning wheel runs indefinitely. We let it run all night the first time and it stays on that screen for as long as you let it. Here's what I've done:

    1. Rebooted and reset PRAM. No good.
    2. Tried restarting from CD. Drive died two years ago. No good.
    3. Called Apple. No warranty and no AppleCare = "There's nothing we can do." No good.
    4. Took it to an Apple Repair shop. Paid $45 to have them look at the computer and was told that the hard drive is failing and the CD drive doesn't work. For only $375, I could have the drives replaced and for another $75 I could have them try to save the data from the failing drive. I don't have $450 to repair a 3-year-old computer, so... No good.
    5. I bought a new Superdrive from somewhere else, as well as a hard drive to replace the dead one (Somehow I convinced myself that $450 was too much, but I could justify $180 to hopefully save some of the photos/documents we've got on the Mac).

    The Superdrive came today, so I put it in the mini, hoping to boot from CD and copy whatever I could to our external drive...possibly saving SOME data. The CD goes into the new drive fine, but holding C down doesn't boot the computer. I have tried to find ANYTHING on the web to help someone like me (A newish Mac user who doesn't know all the hidden tricks everybody here seems to know) get the computer to boot up, but I am unable to get past the Apple and spinning wheel.

    When the group of friends who convinced me to buy an Apple told me about Macs, they said that Macs were easier to use and were built to last longer than PC's. I was excited to get a Mac, as my previous PC only lasted four years before it died. I remember it would have cost me about $500 to replace the PC then, and my buddies said that even though I was spending 2-3x more on the Mac Mini, it would last far longer than the PC and I would love it. The entire Mac group that convinced me to buy the Mini in the first place has been over to look at our computer and they are all scratching their heads (One of them is a Mac IT guy for a publishing company and even he has no idea).

    So, I am coming here as a last-ditch effort to save some of our family's documents from the past three years before going out into the desert with a rifle and a shotgun and then coming home and calling Dell...

    ...any advice?
  2. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    Things to try:

    1. With the System Restore disc in the computer, try booting while holding the Option key.
    2. Try booting from a hard drive or optical drive connected via Firewire.
    3. Try removing the internal PRAM battery and then try to boot again.


    Avoid using wireless keyboards and mice when troubleshooting.
  3. luxxor macrumors newbie

    Jan 22, 2009
    I had the same problem

    my macmini was crazy, too. Additional I could not eject the System-DVD from the drive, system profiler said, there is no CD drive.

    The problem occured, after I had used Skype.

    Here is the solution which helped me:
    turn off the mini, take away the power cable from the macmini and from the socket and wait at least 12 hours.

    If this doesn´t help, maybe the pram battery is too old.

    (Sorry for bad english.)
  4. opeter macrumors 68000


    Aug 5, 2007
    Slovenia, EU
    Is there noone of you Mac "buddies", who would connect your 2,5" disk to his/her Mac and try to mount it on his/her computer, to browse the disk for your files and eventually save them to his/her harddrive?

    After than you can give them blank DVDs or whatever to write/copy your files (documents, images etc.) to that.

    If your disk is dead, than of course there is almost 0% chance, that you'll see your files again.

    BTW: maybe your Mac minis logic board (=motherboard) is faulty. Sadly, in this case, the only posibble option is to replace that one (cost xxx $) or to buy a new computer

    What a bunch of idiots.
  5. ADent macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2007
    - Have you tried booting in verbose mode (cmd-v) to see the messages?

    - Have you tried booting in single user mode (cmd-s). You can look at the logs, run fsck.

    - You can pull the internal drive and put in an external drive case. Then hook this external drive to another Mac to pull all the files off.

    - Does the mini still boot in Firewire Target Disk mode - Cmd -t. If so you can take your mini to a Mac friends house, start up in FTDM, and pull the files off

    - Have you tried booting will all USB devices removed. Just the mini, power cord, and monitor cord?

    - You can boot off of USB drive - if you had one of your Mac friends build one.
  6. ANdywskf macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2009
    I cant boot either

    Have tried all of the above too. When in command v or command s mode the script does not finish and there are many fail messages. Have a boot cd but cant manage to get my intel imac to boot from CD by holding down C on restart . HAve tried ressetting holding command option P and R . No joy . tried leaving the power lead out for a couple of hours. tried powering up while holding the option key but only original hard drive is selectable ( which i presume is corrupted and thus is the problem ) . HELP please im tearing my hair out . Andy
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    What happens when you boot holding the Option key when the Restore Disc is in the computer?
  8. ADent macrumors 6502a

    Sep 9, 2007
    The pull the drive and put it in an external case. They run $10 to $35 bucks typically and take the drive over to a friends house.

    That was my third option above, so you must have already tried it.
  9. ANdywskf macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2009

    the internal hard drive icon only appears?
  10. pastrychef macrumors 601


    Sep 15, 2006
    New York City, NY
    The internal optical drive is probably dead, then. Try re-installing OS X using an external optical drive.
  11. ANdywskf macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2009

    MAchine doesnt see external optical drive > onlyshows internel hd drive selectable?
  12. Temozarela macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2009
    Hello CCGFarmer,

    Sorry to hear what happened to your MacMini, I know how this feels. i have a few methods that ou can try if you would like which should get you your files. The first things I would recommend doing is checking the cables in the computers. Sounds basic but I see a lot of people who just need to reseat the cables to get things working again.

    If that does not work, I would advise letting me know if you can boot the computer into Target Disk mode. You do thisby holding down the "T" key when you boot the computer. The monitor should come up with a black screen and have a giant orange firewire symbol in the center. If you can see this that means you can connect it to another Mac computer and it will pick up your hard drive as an external disk when it is booted into the OS. You will need to use a firewire cable to connect the two computers, but if everything works then you will be able to browse the disk from the second computer just like you would browse the files on your hard drive.

    If you cannot boot into firewire mode or a second computer cannot locate it when conected that means that the problem is likely due to your logic board being dead. In that case I would recommend pulling the drive out of the computer and connecting it to either an external case or to a external drive to USB converter. I personally use a VANTEC CB-ISATAU2 SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter for this process. This can be purchsed fro newegg fairly cheaply (about $20). I have put in a link on their site for the item.

    One thing you might want to check is if the hard drive makes any unusall noise while it is spinning. Specifically you are listening for a clicking or grinding noises. To check for this pull the top case off of the MacMini and power it up. You don't need anything plugged into it other than power as you will just be listening for any unusall noises thatthe drive might making. If you hear any of the noises in excess this would mean the drive heads are damaged. In that case I will appologize because there is not much you will really be able to do. You are welcome to try and connect the drive to anoter computer and get it off before the data is utterly destroyed, but if you are going to try that keep the drive off as much as possible until you are ready to recover it, as the longer it runs the more risk you run of not getting it.

    If you still need help because you have either questions about what I am recommending, or because these steps do not work, or you need clarification on something let me know and I will do what I can.


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