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A dead Mac Mini.
Topic Started: Oct 21 2015, 08:59 PM (164 Views)
crow
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My wife's Mac Mini died today. She was beside herself, and admits to being horrified at how much she has come to depend on it.
I know a great deal about PCs, but not a lot about Macs. At first I had no idea what had happened.
Fortunately, I have one too, basically as an investigative tool, so that I know at least the basics of how to use and fix one.
Through some experimentation, I discovered the relatively new SSD drive had become corrupted enough to absolutely not run at all.

To cut a long story short, there's no salvaging the data on the drive, but I have a Time Machine backup with all the data on it.
Only trouble is: I've never been able to actually retrieve anything that's backed up on the thing.
Until today! I discovered there's a recovery partition on a Mac's drive, to boot into a special toolkit for situations such as this one.
Hours later, and I mean hours, I have a USB drive booting her system, and all I have to do now is try to either repartition the SSD, or pull it from the machine, and restore the backup to a new drive.

In the interim, though, she can use her now somewhat-sluggish machine.
Dat's what men are for!

I was soooo careful, too. Far more careful than I would have been with my own data. Every move I make, I do a dummy run on spare hardware first, to make sure it works. It takes forever, but it gets done right.

I'm hoping, bigtime, I don't have to open this machine again; it was the last model made that was deliberately designed to be un-openable by guys like me. You have to perform serious but delicate trickery with two putty knives, just to get into the case, praying not to damage anything vital.
Then there's screws and bolts like a Swiss watch from an unknown planet. You have to see it to believe it.

I can do it :)


Done. To all appearances, the SSD seems undamaged, and accepts partitions, formatting, and restored data as if it were new. Runs like a charm, and does so with speed. This is how you seriously impress a wife. And that's always good.
I'd like to know how it all went so wrong, in the first place, but probably I never will.
Like most things, it's a complete mystery.
Even so, spend enough time around a mystery, and magic may take place, even in the complete absence of 'understanding'.
Edited by crow, Oct 22 2015, 11:02 AM.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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crow
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Do you have a Solid State Drive in your computer? I can't sing their praises highly enough. Unbelievably fast.
A regular hard drive is fine for mass storage, but when you put your operating system on an SSD it's like having a brand new, super speedy machine.
Recent tests have been discovering that they are a lot more reliable, and longer lasting than was previously thought. Especially the most recent models. They may outlast you.
Which gives you a bit of incentive to outlast them, instead.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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crow
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The Mac-Mini died again, but like Lazarus, it has an obsession with coming back from the dead, and aided by a crow, is more than likely to do so.
I've sunk days into it, going to extreme lengths to identify the problem(s), work magic on it, and restore from backup.
Right now, it's almost finished - after 20 hours - cloning the internal SSD from a USB2 backup.
I don't know why it takes so long for an otherwise lightning-fast SSD to get written-to, but I've noticed this before. It's deathly slow until the job is done, and then goes back to being impressively-fast.

Then again, it is likely that the SSD itself has a hardware problem, and the only reason it's still inside the Mac is that this Mac is extremely difficult to get inside, and/or dismantle.

Nearly done: one can only hope for success...

Edited by crow, Nov 9 2016, 11:39 AM.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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crow
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Machine open to the atmosphere: a scary operation, and difficult, with a 2009 Mac Mini.
The SSD has a label that looks a bit bubbled, and lifted, signifying an overheat, probably.
I installed it in a USB enclosure, and tested it. Still no better than internally installed.
Probably the drive is fried, giving me my first ever failed SSD.

I plan to buy a new SSHD to replace it. I only hope it doesn't suffer the same fate.

For those who don't know, an SSHD is a hybrid combination of mechanical hard drive, and a solid state drive.
The operating system boots almost as fast as an SSD, while also having lots of space to store data.

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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crow
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My goodness. Persistence can pay off. After extensive tech-anal-wizardry, the dead drive lives!
I'm gonna boot from it as a USB drive, though. Getting in and out of this Mac drive bay is something I've definitely had enough of.
Even in an external enclosure, at USB2 speeds, this thing is fast.
Who needs an internal drive, anyway?

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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Cape Crusader
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I have a mac mini, but right now I'm running ZorinOS Linux on it. Nobody said it could be done, but folks like us operate outside of the human laws of physics :)
You actually don't even need an internal hard drive on a mac. USB boots a little slower, but once it gets going, it's just as fast. Or just as slow, depending on the model.
I don't really belong in this age, but I'm doing my best.
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crow
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You're right. An internal drive shaves some time off the boot-up, but an SSD in a USB enclosure is plenty fast.
I have a Zorin install CD somewhere...
Now I'm just gonna have to try it :)
My Mac had better not go belly-up again, on account of you!

"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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crow
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I have to conclude there is nothing remotely 'dead' about this Mac Mini. As I type this, it's running OSX from a USB drive, stunningly fast, and super responsive.
Probably it was a virus, trojan, or some other kind of malware, that was destroying its ability to function. I discovered five of them, on the SSD before I wiped it and started over. It's about the last thing I would have suspected, on a Mac.

Meanwhile, Ubuntu Linux runs like a top on the machine.
All is well.




Zorin OS also runs very well. I'm getting more and more enthusiastic about this far-from-new machine.
Edited by crow, Nov 13 2016, 05:56 PM.
"Squawk!" said the crow, and then made space.
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