Dead drive - repair using Windows?


Steelerfan2018

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Hi all,
I have a friend who has a Mac with a "dead" drive (he took it to a Mac shop and the tech there said the drive was dead). He is non-technical and asked me if I would look into it.

I would like to repair (or recover as much data as possible) from this drive for my friend. Problem is that I know nothing about Macs in general or drives formatted for Macs. On the Windows/PC side I have successfully repaired drives and recovered data before so I am willing to give it a shot.

Some notes:
  • I have an external drive that I can use to work on the Mac drive with Windows (win10). Can I actually mount this drive and try repairs? Do I need additional software to do this?
  • One of the things my friend told me was that the drive was 99% full or so. It is a 1tb drive from what he tells me. I have an external drive duplicator - can I clone this drive to a larger drive - say 3tb and make it work? I have done this with windows but had to change the partition - can I do this with a Mac partition?
  • Would linux help with anything I am trying to do above?
  • If the drive is DOA and unrecoverable - how can I get a new HD and restore his Mac? He tells me he has nothing from when he bought it.
Any and all help greatly appreciated,
Rob
 
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Cory Cooper

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Hello and welcome.

It can be a little difficult to get Mac formatted drives to mount on Windows/Linux boxes.

-Which model Mac?
-What are the symptoms that make the drive "dead"?
-Your friend didn't have any form of backup at all?
-You can replace the hard drive, and get OS X loaded on it...the version would depend on the exact model, what it shipped with, and what it was upgraded to.

C
 

Steelerfan2018

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Thank you for your prompt reply.

Apologies on how long this is taking - I should have known better than to start working on this during the holidays.

- model mac is A1312
- when I boot it I get a folder icon with a question mark in it.
- no backup that I know of - and no disks that came with it
- what version OS do I have to use?
- If the drive is dead, can I put a better drive in it? Such as a 3tb or better?
- I found a youtube video of how to take this apart - will try and get the drive out and update this thread asap.

Thanks for any and all help,
Rob
 

honestone

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OK, a couple of things (although Cory is an EXCELLENT resource!):

1. I believe this is your friend's Mac:

https://everymac.com/systems/apple/imac/specs/imac-core-i5-2.7-27-inch-aluminum-mid-2011-thunderbolt-specs.html

2. Via the site www.ifixit.com, here are the steps to go through to replace the internal drive:

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+27-Inch+EMC+2429+Hard+Drive+Replacement/7555

3. Assuming the Mac OS on the machine is "fairly" recent, you can try to start a recovery (with the current drive still inside the machine) by booting to the (hidden) Recovery HD partition. This link explains that:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201314

As you can see, the 4th option, Disk Utility, would be the one to choose to "look at" and maybe repair the drive. However, without a backup, a repair could be risky.

If a new drive (maybe an SSD?) is the be installed, it must be "setup" first with an appropriate Mac OS. With only the (possible) access to the Recovery HD partition, not sure how that could be done.

For others reading this: this a PERFECT example of why backups are so, so critical!
 
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Steelerfan2018

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honestone

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OK, that's a different iMac model. Thus, cannot say whether or not an internal drive (HDD) can be larger than 2 TB. However, one can install an SSD inside it, and maybe use a "large" (in terms of capacity) external HDD. No matter what "kind" of HDD, try and make sure the drive itself spins at 7200 rpm. 5400 rpm is painfully slow!

As for a keyboard, I was going to suggest an Apple Model MB110LL/B Extended keyboard (I have one that I use with my Mac Mini, and I got it for about $45 from Best Buy a number of years ago), but they have become REAL expensive! Here are some used Model MB110LL/A ones on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0777BK95L/ref=dp_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=all&qid=1516397104&sr=8-4

However, note these differences between the MB110LL/A and MB110LL/B:

https://www.apple.com/shop/question/answers/readonly/difference-between-mb110lla-and-mb110llb-in-the-wired-keyboard/QAF2JDYYJ9HHKYHHC

Here are the results of a google search I just did for "Numeric wired keyboards compatible with Macs":

https://www.google.com/search?q=Numeric+wired+keyboards+compatible+with+Macs&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS628US629&oq=Numeric+wired+keyboards+compatible+with+Macs&aqs=chrome..69i57.18014j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Now, for the installation of an internal drive, there is this:

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+27-Inch+EMC+2309+and+2374+Hard+Drive+Replacement/1634

Also, according to this (look where it says iMac11,1, one has a choice of various versions of the Mac OS:

https://eshop.macsales.com/guides/Mac_OS_X_Compatibility
 
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Steelerfan2018

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Thanks for the replies. I should have been clear - my buddy has the mouse & keyboard - will be picking them up today.

He does a lot of photo & video editing - what is better...

- a SSD for the OS (say 256 - 500gb) and an external USB drive for storage or
- a larger 7200rpm drive with 128mb cache (say 2tb and above)?

Rob
 

honestone

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I would say option #1, ie, a 256 gig SSD inside the machine, and an external USB HDD drive (could also be a larger SSD) for storage. If it is an external HDD, make sure the drive spins at 7200 rpm.

Regarding the size of the internal SSD, as long as he keeps the machine "lean, mean, and clean", 256 gig should be enough. But, if the software he uses is a "hog" in terms of space needed, and/or he needs to store "some" files there, then a 512 gig SSD would be better. Still, though, he needs to make a concerted effort to perform disk cleanup/maintenance/repairs, from a software perspective, on a frequent basis That, and backups, will make life easier!
 
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Steelerfan2018

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I got the keyboard and mouse, so I tried to start the mac up. I tried using the command+R and it does not appear to work - I keep getting the folder icon with the question mark ? symbol inside the folder.

Can someone tell me what this means?

Also - does the R have to be in CAPS?
 

honestone

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First, the R does not have to be in CAPS.

Secondly, getting a folder with a question mark means, at a minimum, that the directory structure of the internal drive is "hosed". At the worst, it means the internal hard drive is just about gone.

Given that you cannot get to the (hidden) Recovery HD partition via the Command-R keys, do you know someone that has a Mac? If so, and with the right cable, your friend's problematic Mac can be booted in Target Disk Mode. Basically that means one would use the software on the good Mac to analyze the situation on the bad/problematic Mac.
 

Steelerfan2018

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I don't have another mac - but I will check on that for the future.

I do have a windows PC right next to it - with an external drive dock (usb) that I can mount external drives to.

Another Q - is there a bootable CD (.iso) that can be used to examine the drive and try a repair?
 
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honestone

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One possibility is to remove the internal drive, install it inside an external case, and connect that external enclosure to your Windows machine. However, you'll need to have the necessary software for reading Mac-formatted drives (Windows pcs are notoriously deficient in doing that (without extra software), whereas it's not an issue for Macs).

For a bootable CD/DVD, you can purchase the Apple OS Snow Leopard (OS 10.6.8). THe cheapest place is here:

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MC573Z/A/mac-os-x-106-snow-leopard
 

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