Mini with no internal drive installed?

Discussion in 'Mac Desktops' started by stuseattle, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. stuseattle

    stuseattle New Member

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    late-2009 Mac Mini . . .

    Do you HAVE to have an internal drive installed? We have an external startup drive but I was wondering, if there was no drive in the mini itself, nothing attached to the bus, will the computer still run?

    Reader's Digest explanation: Internal drive has failed but might still be under warranty; it's one of those pain-in-the-ass-to-remove-the-drive kinds of cases and I need to remove the drive to get the serial number and return it. Wondering if I HAVE to install something on that bus for the computer to run or if I can leave it empty for now.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer,

    stu
     
    stuseattle, Jan 10, 2017
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  2. stuseattle

    honestone VIP Member

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    I have a late 2012 Mac Mini, and I replaced the (slow) 1 TB 5400 rpm drive that was inside the machine with a fast Samsung 840 Pro 256 gig SSD. You can install a HDD or a SSD inside your mini. Here are the instructions:

    https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+mini+Model+A1283+Hard+Drive+Replacement/1063

    (If the inside of the mini is "bare", I of course am not sure how much "stuff" has been removed, and what pieces you have). It is somewhat more difficult than what I had to go through.

    Now, you need to state your situation more clearly. Is there a "bad/dead" drive inside the machine now, or is it "bare"? If the external drive has a bootable Mac partition on it, then after attaching it to your Mac Mini, you should be able to boot the mini from that external drive. You would hold down the Option key on your keyboard while booting the mini, and the (bootable) external drive/partition should show up. You can then choose that, and the booting will be via the software (ie, Mac OS) on that external drive.

    I can just assume that will not work, as I have never done it. I do have SuperDuper! bootable backups/clones of each of my Macs to separate partitions on two external devices, and I can boot either Mac from its applicable backup (I actually have never tried to boot one of my Macs from the other Mac's backup, but I guess that is possible). But both of my Macs have working SSDs inside of them. Maybe someone else can "chime in" and confirm such a procedure will work with your "nude" Mac Mini.
     
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    honestone, Jan 10, 2017
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  3. stuseattle

    stuseattle New Member

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    <<Now, you need to state your situation more clearly>>

    Thanks for the reply . . . the drive inside is bad. No problem starting/using the computer from the attached external drive . .works just fine. My question is whether the computer will work if there's NO drive inside, i.e., if the internal bus does not have a drive attached. I know how to take the drive out, and start from an external drive, but I'm tryng to find out if the computer will even boot up (from the external drive) if there's nothing at all attached to the bus. Basically, as I said in my original post, the drive might be under warranty but I need to remove it to get the serial number. I don't want to put another drive in until I get the replacement drive BUT I'd like to continue to use the machine with the external startup.

    Thanks,

    stu
     
    stuseattle, Jan 10, 2017
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  4. stuseattle

    honestone VIP Member

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    Is the drive completely dead, ie, not even recognized by the Finder you see when you boot from the external drive?

    Also, do you know when the current drive was installed inside the mini? Or in fact was it the original one? (I'd be surprised if it was, given your machine is 7 years old).

    As I mentioned, I just don't know if booting form the external drive will work with a "nude" machine. Again, maybe someone else with more knowledge/experience can chime in. I just tried to google "Can a Mac be booted from an external drive, even if it has no drive at all inside?", but nothing substantial came up.

    By the way, I notice part of your user name is "seattle". Are you in Seattle? I am located in Kent.
     
    honestone, Jan 11, 2017
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  5. stuseattle

    stuseattle New Member

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    The drive isn't entirely dead . . .it failed it's own S.M.A.R.T. test, and failed both TechTool and Diskwarrior tests, and can't be repaired at this point. It was a drive I put in a few years ago, an HGST Travestar -- first time I've had an HGST/Western Digital drive fail on me -- and it's under warranty. My question is merely informational at this point 'cause we decided, since we needed a new backup drive anyway, to buy a new drive and throw it in the mini. That way, when the replacement drive comes from HGST, we can use it as a clone in case this happens again.

    Thanks again everyone for chiming in.

    stu

    (In Redmond now . . . worked in Seattle for years.)
     
    stuseattle, Jan 11, 2017
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  6. stuseattle

    honestone VIP Member

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    Understand. I recently had an 8 year old, 1 TB Seagate drive mechanism inside an external enclosure that also started failing the S.M.A.R.T. test via TechTool Pro (fantastic piece of software!). I went ahead and purchased a fast Samsung 850 Pro 512 gig SSD, installed it inside a nice, slim Orico enclosure, and even with USB 3.0 connectivity, it is fast! If you have not yet purchased the new internal drive, have you considered an SSD? As I mentioned earlier, when I replaced the slow 1 TB, 5400 rpm drive that was inside the mini with a Samsung 840 Pro SSD, my "need for speed" was easily satisfied. (The 1 TB drive went inside a nice, slim Orico enclosure).

    Somewhat surprised that you've had good luck with WD drives. A number of Mac folks have had issues with such drives for quite some time. I have always preferred ones made by Seagate, but going forward, it's only SSDs for me, and ones made by Samsung.

    (Our youngest son lives in Kirkland. We have always lived in the south end, although when I was working, I spent about 3/4 of my time working in Seattle. I would not want to be doing that now, with traffic such a zoo!)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    honestone, Jan 11, 2017
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  7. stuseattle

    stuseattle New Member

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    Yeah, it's funny . . everyone has different drive experiences. I was all about Seagate for years then they started going bad on me. The WD Scorpion Black drives have been great for speed for us . . the blue is fine for backup. Like I said, this was the first one to go bad and, at least, it was still under warranty.

    We can't use SSD for this particular mini 'cause we're running recording software and, though others have had success with them, we want to stick with the 7200rpm standard drives. The drive itself is used for the software and startup but virtually nothing is written to it so we're not usually in too much danger of losing stuff. Still, since we're going to be getting a replacement drive from HGST, we decided to by an identical drive that we'll use as a clone so that, if something ever happens again, we can just swap it out.

    stu
     
    stuseattle, Jan 11, 2017
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  8. stuseattle

    honestone VIP Member

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    I actually still have a 7200 rpm, 1 TB Seagate drive in an external case which I am using for backups (the Samsung 512 gig SSD I mentioned above is another one I am using for backups). TechTool Pro says it is still OK, but I am trying to sell it (I have another Samsung 850 Pro 512 gig SSD, along with an Orico external enclosure which I want to use).

    Too bad you can't use SSD drives. 7200 rpm is OK, I guess.
     
    honestone, Jan 11, 2017
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  9. stuseattle

    iMav New Member

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    You do not need to have an internal drive in place. You can remove it and just boot from the external drive.
     
    iMav, Jan 13, 2017
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  10. stuseattle

    honestone VIP Member

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    Thanks, iMav. I suspected that was the case.
     
    honestone, Jan 13, 2017
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