My Mac Situation: Please Help!

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
Hey guys, I hate to be creating a thread, but I really need the help from the Mac experts on here!

This is my current situation:
My Mac Mini's(mid 2011) 500GB internal HDD died, but luckily I had backed everything up to an external Time Machine drive. To get the Mac Mini working again I plugged in a USB 2.0 HDD and I restored all of the files to this USB 2.0 HDD and it worked great.

However, the USB HDD is only USB 2.0 and not USB 3.0 as the Mac Mini mid 2011 only came with USB 2.0 so my Mac Mini is too slow and is unusable.

Is it possible to "speed up" my Mac Mini using the current USB HDD or is USB 2.0 too slow?

What's my best solution?

Thank you!
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
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Sorry to hear about the internal drive going south on you. When it comes to external drives, the "speed" factor can be all over the map. Yes, 2.0 is going to be quite a bit slower than 3.x and 2.0 drives also can range in speed between each other. Here are two things you may want to investigate -

1) Faster external drive (still will be slow relative to USB 3 but maybe faster than what you have).

2) Consider having the internal drive replaced with perhaps an SSD drive. You may want to visit the OWC site or IFIXIT site to see the how to of replacement. I understand that some businesses will do it for you. My preference is for Samsung drives but there are other makers that certainly have fine reputations for their SSD drives. Also, you may want to consider more RAM if you have less than 8 gigs.
 
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BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
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Thanks, but I've already got 8GB of RAM.

I thought about buying a firewire connection and plug in a HDD that way and use a "mounting bracket". Would this be as fast as an internal HDD?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
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The 2011 has thunderbolt, correct?

In that case, you could buy an external thunderbolt SSD drive, make that your external boot drive, and you will be amazed at the performance increase.
It will breathe new life into the Mini.

The downside is that thunderbolt drives cost more than equivalent USB3 drives.
But again, thunderbolt is a "quick 'n' easy connect" option -- USB3 is not.

One question:
Did the internal drive fail completely (won't mount on the desktop at all), or, will it just not boot any more (might only be failed software)?
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
The 2011 has thunderbolt, correct?

In that case, you could buy an external thunderbolt SSD drive, make that your external boot drive, and you will be amazed at the performance increase.
It will breathe new life into the Mini.

The downside is that thunderbolt drives cost more than equivalent USB3 drives.
But again, thunderbolt is a "quick 'n' easy connect" option -- USB3 is not.

One question:
Did the internal drive fail completely (won't mount on the desktop at all), or, will it just not boot any more (might only be failed software)?
Thanks so much for your reply!

Yes, my Mac Mini mid 2011 does have Thunderbolt, but none of my Windows PC's have Thunderbolt so wouldn't it be a bit of a waste? Is there another option for me?

The internal drive has failed completely.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,209
5,554
OP wrote:
"Yes, my Mac Mini mid 2011 does have Thunderbolt, but none of my Windows PC's have Thunderbolt so wouldn't it be a bit of a waste? Is there another option for me?"

Well, you could use an external USB3 drive (I would suggest a USB3 SSD-based drive).
Bootup won't be particularly fast, because the connection is USB2.
However, once up-and-running, I predict you'd be pleased with the performance.

But really -- if the internal drive is broken, you need an "external booter" solution to make the iMac usable again (unless you want to open it up and replace the broken drive).

Thunderbolt would make this quick and easy.
And fast performance, as well.
That's why I suggested it.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
Fishrrman said:
Well, you could use an external USB3 drive (I would suggest a USB3 SSD-based drive).
Bootup won't be particularly fast, because the connection is USB2.
However, once up-and-running, I predict you'd be pleased with the performance.
Are you sure about this?

I thought the performance would still be terrible because the connection is USB2?
 

CoastalOR

macrumors 68020
Jan 19, 2015
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Oregon, USA
Anyone have a cheap solution I can try?
I'm not sure of your definition of "cheap".
There is no cheap solution for you that is acceptable per your previous post replies.
I'm sorry but there is no magic, cheap fix because of the hardware technology. :(

Recap:
USB 2 is currently available and works, but is too slow. I would say this is cheapest.

Firewire would work, but is not as fast as the internal drive and I'm not sure if it is cheap enough. BTW, Firewire 800 would be almost twice as fast as USB 2.

Thunderbolt with SSD is faster (as good or better than your internal drive), but expensive. It is a waste for you because it is not compatible with your current PC's.

Replace the internal drive of the mini, but again it will cost and may not be cheap enough. I think this is the best solution if you do not mind spending the money on a older 2011 Mac mini.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
Your reply is much appreciated!

I'll buy a new internal HDD and take out the current HDD that's damaged as this seems like the cheapest solution, but I'm nervous about installing a new internal HDD in the Mac Mini mid 2011 in case I damage something...
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
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Your reply is much appreciated!

I'll buy a new internal HDD and take out the current HDD that's damaged as this seems like the cheapest solution, but I'm nervous about installing a new internal HDD in the Mac Mini mid 2011 in case I damage something...
Here's a guide for it. Be careful, because some of those cables are quite delicate. You are correct that a usb3 enclosure would be limited to usb2 speeds. Thunderbolt isn't practical at all on the mini, because you have one port that is also required for a display. It's different for people who use a mini as a headless server.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
Thanks!

I've been trying to use the Mac Mini mid 2011 using USB 2.0 again, but it's just too slow...
[doublepost=1491260024][/doublepost]Would my speed be improved if I updated the Mac Mini mid 2011 to the most recent OSX update?
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,671
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Thanks!

I've been trying to use the Mac Mini mid 2011 using USB 2.0 again, but it's just too slow...
[doublepost=1491260024][/doublepost]Would my speed be improved if I updated the Mac Mini mid 2011 to the most recent OSX update?
No. It has nothing to do with that. USB 2.0 was never meant to boot your system under normal circumstances. It will be slow unless you replace the internal drive. Some of the other replies are a bit clueless. The 2011 mini doesn't have USB 3.0, and most people use the only thunderbolt port to hook up a display. Using an external drive with that thing will result in slow loading, and there's no practical way around that.
 

Dave H

macrumors 6502
Mar 2, 2008
337
3
California
If it helps, here are drive benchmarks of our Mac Mini 2011. Upgraded internal vs Firewire 800.

Internal drive: WD Black 500GB (7200RPM, 32MB cache). SATA link speed 6Gb FWIW.
Internal.png



External: Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB (5400RPM, 8MB cache) in a Firewire 800 case.
(For reference, the original Apple (Toshiba) 500GB drive used to benchmark close to this.)
FW800.png
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
No. It has nothing to do with that. USB 2.0 was never meant to boot your system under normal circumstances. It will be slow unless you replace the internal drive. Some of the other replies are a bit clueless. The 2011 mini doesn't have USB 3.0, and most people use the only thunderbolt port to hook up a display. Using an external drive with that thing will result in slow loading, and there's no practical way around that.
Your reply is much appreciated!

If I connect a 500GB HDD to the Firewire 800 port or Thunderbolt port would I still have slow loading times like I do with using the USB 2.0 port???
[doublepost=1491515191][/doublepost]
If it helps, here are drive benchmarks of our Mac Mini 2011. Upgraded internal vs Firewire 800.

Internal drive: WD Black 500GB (7200RPM, 32MB cache). SATA link speed 6Gb FWIW.
View attachment 694963


External: Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB (5400RPM, 8MB cache) in a Firewire 800 case.
(For reference, the original Apple (Toshiba) 500GB drive used to benchmark close to this.)
View attachment 694964
Wow so the internal HDD is twice as fast as the external firewire 800 drive?

Are there any other benchmarks I can look at?
 
Last edited:

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
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Your reply is much appreciated!

If I connect a 500GB HDD to the Firewire 800 port or Thunderbolt port would I still have slow loading times like I do with using the USB 2.0 port???
An external boot drive is never ideal. Firewire 800 tends to be faster and more stable than USB 2.0. Its performance is still worse than an internal drive. If you use the thunderbolt port, you won't be able to attach a display to that port. Thunderbolt cases tend to be more expensive, and the cables are not very cost effective.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
Thanks!

It seems much cheaper and better for me to just use an internal HDD instead of plugging in a HDD using the Firewire or Thunderbolt ports...
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
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It is better and cheaper. It's possible to break clips somewhere if you are not sufficiently careful, but external drives are a poor solution. This is only an issue in the first place, because Apple has the stupid habit of sealing in hard drives, even though they are prone to failure should be replaced after 3 or so years.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
Thanks!

The internal HDD for the Mac Mini mid 2011 is 2.5 inches right?

How can I check if the Mac Mini mid 2011 needs a 2.5 inch HDD?
 

Wondercow

macrumors 6502a
Aug 27, 2008
551
338
Toronto, Canada
Thanks!

The internal HDD for the Mac Mini mid 2011 is 2.5 inches right?

How can I check if the Mac Mini mid 2011 needs a 2.5 inch HDD?
Get an SSD to replace the internal drive (2.5" as linked above) and use the guides at iFixIt to do it yourself—as mentioned in post #2. You can also buy toolkits from iFixIt to make it easier. Or, you could just take it to shop and have them do it for you.

Don't spend a lot on an SSD—you won't need the fastest read/write speeds available.
 

bopajuice

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Mar 22, 2016
1,571
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Dark side of the moon
Thanks, but if I open the Mac Mini mid 2011 up myself it'll clearly say that it needs a 2.5 inch hard drive?
It's a 2.5 drive.

You really have limited options. An external USB 2.0 is too slow, a FireWire drive does not play well with Windows, and a thunderbolt drive is expensive. Take the computer in and have the drive replaced and be done with it.

You've been dealing with this since November.... Geezzzz.
 

BeautifulWoman_1984

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 5, 2016
81
4
It's a 2.5 drive.

You really have limited options. An external USB 2.0 is too slow, a FireWire drive does not play well with Windows, and a thunderbolt drive is expensive. Take the computer in and have the drive replaced and be done with it.

You've been dealing with this since November.... Geezzzz.
Thanks!

I know I've had this problem for a long time but I had issues that kept preventing me from solving the problem...

I'm hoping to replace the internal hard drive that the Mac Mini mid 2011 came with myself and not asking for help from a computer store.

EDIT:

It's not possible for me to install USB 3.0 ports on the Mac Mini mid 2011 right?