Please Help: How To Boot From USB HDD?

Discussion in 'macOS Sierra (10.12)' started by BeautifulWoman_1984, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. BeautifulWoman_1984 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #1
    Hi,

    I just want to boot my Mac from an external USB HDD as the internal HDD has died.

    When I boot my Mac and press the "Option key" I'm given four options:

    1. Macintosh HD

    2. Recovery 10.10.2

    3. EFI Boot

    4. Recovery 10.12.1

    Thank you!
     
  2. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    Does it appear in the the Startup disk System Preference ?

    If it doesn't appear there either it sounds like it is not bootable.

    How did you create the bootable external?

    Running from an external USB HDD is going to be quite painfully slow.
     
  3. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #3
    I know it's going to be slow using USB 2.0, but I don't have a choice until I buy a new internal HDD.

    I created the bootable external USB HDD using OSX.

    EDIT:

    What does EFI mean? Could this be the USB HDD Startup Disk for OSX?
     
  4. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    EFI is normal, but choosing the startup disk by the 'option' plus restart does not always show all the options since corestorage was introduced. Does the external show up in the System Preferences -> Start up disk?

    What does Disk Utility say about the Partition map? Open Disk Utility and select your external disk (not the indented volume on the disk). Should say GUID Partition map.

    The other possibility is that a few brands of HDD have not been willing to boot macOS in the past.


    PS Are you sure your internal drive is dead?
     
  5. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #5
    Hold down the option key on your keyboard when you go to boot. It should bring up a list of bootable devices. There are a couple odd situations that can cause this to take a long time. If the usb drive does not appear, reset your nvram and try again. This will reset the order in which it checks for bootable devices. All of this requires that the drive itself is bootable and the usb case is functioning properly. I mention the case, because cheap cases often fail. It's typically the usb or firewire bridge that burns out.

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    What version of the OS is on the external drive?
     
  7. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #7
    The internal HDD that came with the Mac Mini mid 2011 when I originally bought it is definitely dead.
     
  8. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #8
    I've already rebooted and held down the option key and I'm given 4 different options, but I don't know which is the USB HDD that's running OSX.

    I know it's either the 3rd or 4th option because there's an orange USB picture behind it:

    1. Macintosh HD

    2. Recovery 10.10.2

    3. EFI Boot

    4. Recovery 10.12.1
    --- Post Merged, Apr 9, 2017 ---
    I just booted using the 3rd option: "EFI Boot" and I'm in OSX now.

    Could someone explain the difference between the 3rd and 4th options?

    3. EFI Boot

    4. Recovery 10.12.1

    What would happen if I booted into option 4 "Recovery 10.12.1"?
    --- Post Merged, Apr 9, 2017 ---
    The Mac Mini mid 2011 is now updating to the most recent version of OSX Sierra.

    I just hope it's a bit faster with the upgrade while it's running off of the external USB HDD...
     
  9. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #9
    My last question:

    How can I make sure the internal hard drive that came with the Mac Mini is dead?
     
  10. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #10
    These are all recovery partitions with the possible exception of Macintosh HD (assuming that mounts correctly). Macintosh HD is usually the name of the internal drive, which you indicated was dead. Normally dead drives would fail to show up here. Recovery partitions would not be useful in actually running a system. Beyond that, even if you do get this working, it will be quite slow.

    A drive is effectively dead if it won't mount. You can always take it out and and put it back in to make sure it wasn't loose. Apart from that, it should be regarded as dead. 5-6 years is a very old drive.
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    OP wrote:
    "How can I make sure the internal hard drive that came with the Mac Mini is dead?"

    Assuming that you're now booting and running from an EXTERNAL drive:
    - Open Disk Utility
    - Select the internal drive
    - Run DU's "repair disk" option on it.
    What kind of report do you get?
     
  12. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #12
    Thanks!

    Even if the internal hard drive that came with the Mac Mini mid 2011 is still working I'm better off just replacing it because it's so old it'll die soon?
     
  13. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a

    Yahooligan

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2011
    Location:
    Illinois
    #13
    HDDs don't die due to physical age, there's no reason to think that a drive is going to fail just because it's 5 years old. That's not how it works. If the HDD is still working then keep using it, but as with ANY computer you want to make sure that you have current backups. A drive can fail at ANY time, new or old. The vast majority of my HDD replacements over the years haven't been because the drive is old but because I need the space or because I want a faster drive.
     
  14. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #14
    Thanks!

    What's the best way for me to check that the Mac Mini mid 2011's internal hard drive is dead?
     
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #15
    OP asks:
    "What's the best way for me to check that the Mac Mini mid 2011's internal hard drive is dead?"

    Same answer as I posted above. I'll repeat it:
    1. Boot from an external drive
    2. Open Disk Utility.
    3. Select internal drive and use "repair disk" option
    4. What kind of report do you get?

    If you're not willing to attempt this, you aren't going to find out.
     
  16. BeautifulWoman_1984 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    #16
    Thanks!

    I'll be sure to do that as soon as I can.
     
  17. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #17
    It seems you have

    1) internal HDD with 10.10.2 (with recovery partition)

    2) external USB HDD with 10.12.1 (also with the corresponding recovery partition)

    Highly likely EFI Boot is the OS on your external HDD.

    Recovery partition is NOT a full OS. It's just allow you to boot with few limiting functions to diagnosis / restore / repair your Mac. In general, you don't need to touch this partition.

    10.12.4 won't make your Mac run faster. To get faster response, you need a SSD (no matter internal or external). You can run external SSD via USB. But if the internal HDD is really dead, just swap that out should be a better choice.
     

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