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among other problems "flaky" hard drives need to be physically removed before a Mac system can be booted?
This problem went away with the ATA drive interface. I have extended the lifetime of many older Macs with failing/failed internal SATA drives by setting up external boot drives. This is not a QA problem nor limited to Apple, simply a 'feature' of the older ATA interface.
 




I'm not at all sure that's true - do you have any specific documentation that says a SATA or FireWire drive problem can never freeze a Mac?
Nope. Just many years of experience with hardware, including proprietary (channel-attached), SCSI, ATA/IDE, and SATA/eSATA drive interfaces on various platforms. Since FireWire is a cable protocol and does not connect directly to drives, I can only say that a FireWire connection problem can freeze a Mac, especially at boot time. As for SATA, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." As for "what, never?", I am unable to say, "hardly ever!"
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
As for SATA, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
I'm pretty sure I had evidence of the problem with the iMac's internal SATA drive, but I've spent so many hours already on that dysfunctional system, I'm not about to pour more time into recreating the failures (because they were frustratingly inconsistent). I suppose a SATA cable problem could be as troublesome as a FireWire cable problem, too, and perhaps as problematic as an ATA drive failure (which admittedly was the worst I ever saw, in terms of disabling an otherwise-functional Mac).
 


I'm not at all sure that's true - do you have any specific documentation that says a SATA or FireWire drive problem can never freeze a Mac?
I can tell you from personal experience that a USB drive problem can cause the Finder to hang, which effectively hangs your system - you can continue to work with apps that are already running, but you can't launch anything new.
 


My MacBook Pro – Late 2012, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, macOS Mojave updated to the latest version – died yesterday after working absolutely reliable for more than 7 years.
...
Thank you for any ideas that might help saving (parts) of my trusted laptop. I bit the apple and ordered yesterday a refurbished MacBook Pro 13". (I am writing this on an MacBook Pro 17" from 2009 with El Capitan, still rock solid.)
When my 2012 MacBook Pro, 16GB, 750GB SSD, dies, I will be sending it to Louis Rossmann in New York. Check out his website and especially his YouTube videos. He is the master at repairing Mac laptops. I have no connection or financial interest with him.I'm just delighted that someone is doing a great job fixing up old Macs. If it can be repaired, he can do it.

Also, the videos, many repairs done live, are very interesting.

If you decide to have him repair your MacBook Pro, please post at MacInTouch about your experience.
 


When my 2012 MacBook Pro, 16GB, 750GB SSD, dies, I will be sending it to Louis Rossmann in New York. Check out his website and especially his YouTube videos. He is the master at repairing Mac laptops. I have no connection or financial interest with him.I'm just delighted that someone is doing a great job fixing up old Macs. If it can be repaired, he can do it.

Also, the videos, many repairs done live, are very interesting.

If you decide to have him repair your MacBook Pro, please post at MacInTouch about your experience.
I had a 2009 13" MacBook Pro repaired by Rossman Group. It did not power on; Apple said it was the power supply. Rossman (Steve) replaced the keyboard and trackpad. Our niece is happily using it with an installed SSD - works wonderfully for a 9-year-old computer.
 


Thank you, Ric, I reset the SMU and did an Apple hardware test as well as target disk mode without success. The SSD is the original that shipped with the first retina MacBook Pros. Today I had a new experience: The machine started up, asked for my password, continued starting up until three quarters of the bar, restarted suddenly and was dead again. I'm getting closer to my suspicion that the logic board is toast.
Can you send it to Louis Rossmann or similar? It seems like a bad SMC, a failing capacitor or a broken path/solder.
 


Thanks, Dan, I will try that after getting a set of pentalobe tools for removing the back.
Update: I disconnected the battery, and eureka: The computer started up and died soon after. I repeated the procedure after a night in the cold (for the computer) and was able to fire up the machine from an external Samsung T5. I wiped the internal disk and started to backup from the Carbon Cooy Cloner clone. It worked for around 50 minutes before the computer restarted and went black again.

My conclusion: bad soldering, failed capacitor or something like that. I decided to recycle the computer. For the internal SSD I am in the process of ordering an OWC enclosure to save at least a part of the machine.

Thanks to all the helpful answers from the community.
 


Thanks to all of you savvy people at MacInTouch, I was able to get help for a client’s MacBook Pro today. She is not a tech support client: I take care of her cats, not her computer gear. She had used Tekserve for many years and wanted advice on where to go now that Tekserve is gone.

She was getting lots of beach-balling on her 13” 2011 MacBook Pro. I had her download and run Etrecheck, which indicated that the battery needed service, and that the hard drive was probably failing. I offered to help with those, and she ordered a drive and a battery. I went over with my rescue drive and toolkit today, got her MacBook Pro booted from my drive, and cloned the internal drive to the new SSD, which was temporarily in an external case.

However, when I was about to open the MacBook Pro to install the new parts, I realized that my toolkit had torx screwdrivers in in but no appropriate Philips (lapses like this are why I “support” cats rather than computers). The little Philips driver that came with the NewerTech battery was not up to the job of removing the case screws. It was hard to tell if they were really tight, or if the screwdriver was just wimpy, but I was not about to risk stripping anything. Getting the new battery installed seemed particularly important, because her trackpad was exhibiting an ominous reluctance to function, suggesting that some bulging might be occurring.

We were talking about whether we should go to a repair place in Chelsea when the lightbulb went on: Rossman’s has been recommended here several times. I even managed to remember the name. We looked them up and discovered that their shop was just 6 blocks away. So we headed there with everything. Of course their screwdriver had no problem at all removing the screws. They swapped in our parts, and, amazingly, did it for no charge. We left them what I hope was a hefty-enough tip. (Yes, they have a tip jar.) I will probably take my Mini there to have a new drive installed. I’ve watched the OWC DIY video a few times, and although I could do the swap, I don’t want to.

Having a good repair place right in my neighborhood is a wonderful thing. And I am as always thankful to the MacInTouch community for all the good information you share.
 


Thanks to all of you savvy people at MacInTouch ... Having a good repair place right in my neighborhood is a wonderful thing. And I am as always thankful to the MacInTouch community for all the good information you share.
And there is always Mike's Tech Shop on West 20th Street, also in your neighborhood, I believe. Mike is an old friend and former business associate and is reliable as the day is long. As well, he is an Apple premier Partner (the highest) and an Apple Authorized Service Provider, and is a locally owned and operated business that has been there for a long, long time.

I have no business relationship with Mike; he is just a all-around great Apple service provider.
 


And there is always Mike's Tech Shop on West 20th Street, also in your neighborhood, I believe. Mike is an old friend and former business associate and is reliable as the day is long. As well, he is an Apple premier Partner (the highest) and an Apple Authorized Service Provider, and is a locally owned and operated business that has been there for a long, long time.

I have no business relationship with Mike; he is just a all-around great Apple service provider.
We would have gone there if we hadn’t discovered Rossman’s, which is much closer. Good to have an endorsement of another Apple service place.
 


One note on Rossmann - he's got a YouTube channel, so you can see his work (and commentary) in action - very entertaining as well as educational.
 


We have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro running El Capitan that started recently freezing (i.e. no cursor movement, no response to keyboard input) just after user login.

Using a Safe Boot (shift at boot), the machine works as expected - no freezing.
  • We tried updating the machine to Mojave - same problem.
  • Ran Diagnostics (D key at boot) - no problem found.
  • Ran Recovery (cmd-R at boot) and did a Disk Utility First Aid - no problem found.
  • Tried SMC reset (shift-opt-cntl-power) and PRAM reset (cmd-opt-P-R-power), neither helped.
  • Apple Support wanted a Recovery-Reinstall of Mojave; still freezing after user login.
  • Then they wanted to format and re-install. After that was done, the machine freezes at the initial Welcome screen.
Any thoughts as to what the problem might be, or what we might try next?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
We have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro running El Capitan that started recently freezing (i.e. no cursor movement, no response to keyboard input) just after user login...
Network access problem? What happens if you create a new user account?
 


We have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro running El Capitan that started recently freezing (i.e. no cursor movement, no response to keyboard input) just after user login.

Using a Safe Boot (shift at boot), the machine works as expected - no freezing.
  • We tried updating the machine to Mojave - same problem.
  • Ran Diagnostics (D key at boot) - no problem found.
  • Ran Recovery (cmd-R at boot) and did a Disk Utility First Aid - no problem found.
  • Tried SMC reset (shift-opt-cntl-power) and PRAM reset (cmd-opt-P-R-power), neither helped.
  • Apple Support wanted a Recovery-Reinstall of Mojave, still freezing after user login.
  • They they wanted to format and re-install. After that was done the machine freezes at the initial Welcome screen.
Any thoughts as to what the problem might be, or what we might try next?
Bad video card. If I remember correctly, those kexts are loaded right after the login screen.
 


We have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro running El Capitan that started recently freezing (i.e. no cursor movement, no response to keyboard input) just after user login.

Using a Safe Boot (shift at boot), the machine works as expected - no freezing.
  • We tried updating the machine to Mojave - same problem.
  • Ran Diagnostics (D key at boot) - no problem found.
  • Ran Recovery (cmd-R at boot) and did a Disk Utility First Aid - no problem found.
  • Tried SMC reset (shift-opt-cntl-power) and PRAM reset (cmd-opt-P-R-power), neither helped.
  • Apple Support wanted a Recovery-Reinstall of Mojave, still freezing after user login.
  • They they wanted to format and re-install. After that was done the machine freezes at the initial Welcome screen.
Any thoughts as to what the problem might be, or what we might try next?
... Given the results with a safe boot, it seems unlikely it's a hardware problem. Can you (perhaps from another machine) create a bootable USB flash drive system or an external drive boot system and test that? Do you have a clone, and does that work to boot your machine? How about a Time Machine backup from before the issue began (although I think it would be really painful in terms of time to restore to an older date from a Time Machine backup).

Keep us posted.
 


Thanks for taking the time to help out, folks.

Ric: Tried a new user - same freeze at the same time. Networking worked fine in safe boot under the new user.

Barry: Video seems to work well in safe boot. Would it be possible to run without the video kexts? What would we be missing?

Jim: I tried booting from a working Mojave install on an identical MacBook Pro via target disk mode and a Thunderbolt-Thunderbolt cable. Same problem.
 



We have a mid-2014 MacBook Pro running El Capitan that started recently freezing (i.e. no cursor movement, no response to keyboard input) just after user login.

Using a Safe Boot (shift at boot), the machine works as expected - no freezing.
  • We tried updating the machine to Mojave - same problem.
  • Ran Diagnostics (D key at boot) - no problem found.
  • Ran Recovery (cmd-R at boot) and did a Disk Utility First Aid - no problem found.
  • Tried SMC reset (shift-opt-cntl-power) and PRAM reset (cmd-opt-P-R-power), neither helped.
  • Apple Support wanted a Recovery-Reinstall of Mojave; still freezing after user login.
  • Then they wanted to format and re-install. After that was done, the machine freezes at the initial Welcome screen.
Any thoughts as to what the problem might be, or what we might try next?
I have seen this problem on multiple MacBooks - usually means a bad video card. If you can find someone in your area who can reflow the solder on the computer board, then you might get away with a repair in the $200 range; otherwise, you are looking at a replacement, be it new or used/refurbished.
 


Barry: Video seems to work well in safe boot. Would it be possible to run without the video kexts? What would we be missing?
I'm not aware of a firmware hack to disable a 2014 MacBook Pro's video card, but, if someone knows where to find it, that might do the trick after also removing the kexts relating to the brand of video card in that machine. On the older MacBook Pros where I've used this trick, removing the kexts without disabling the GPU does not work.
 


We recently replaced a 2011/12 Mac Mini Server with a Windows PC. I was keen to repurpose the Mac as a FileMaker Server to test a few projects. Little did I know the misery that would arise.

Long story short, there were a million hoops to jump through regarding OS versions, Server app versions and FMPS versions. Finally I was able to get it installed and FMPS was happily running on Sierra.

Overnight, I lost connection to the machine. In the morning, it was off and any attempt to restart resulted in the grey screen of death (GSOD).
  • Apple Hardware check passes - GSOD
  • Replace RAM - GSOD
  • Reset PRAM and SMC - GSOD
  • Diskwarrior checks fine - GSOD
  • Reinstalled Sierra- GSOD
  • Reinstalled Yosemite - GSOD
  • Attempt to boot into Recovery disk - GSOD
  • Attempt to boot into safe mode - GSOD
  • Attempt to boot from clean insalled, external drive - GSOD
  • Install via target disk mode - GSOD
  • Spend hours searching Google/forums/Apple boards trying everything - GSOD
Interestingly, if I boot the machine into target disk mode and plug into another machine, it runs perfectly.

I can only imagine that at some stage Apple may have done a firmware update that prevents it from booting this machine. It does have a non-Apple SSD, and my suspicion is it's somehow been locked out.

Does anyone have a suggestion on what to try to get this poor little machine to boot? It's far too good a machine to toss.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Does anyone have a suggestion on what to try to get this poor little machine to boot? It's far too good a machine to toss.
I [missed] your mention of resetting PRAM and SMU, but that's the first thing I'd try.

Since the Target Disk Mode system works and is bootable on another machine, you know in the internal drive and its macOS are working.

I'd also try disconnecting everything from the computer and using a known-good keyboard and mouse (USB).

I guess the next logical step would be Internet recovery mode and reinstallation.
 



We recently replaced a 2011/12 Mac Mini Server with a Windows PC. I was keen to repurpose the Mac as a FileMaker Server to test a few projects. Little did I know the misery that would arise....
I need a little more info here, like the Mini model: is it a Mid 2011 {MC936LL/a} or is it a Late 2012 {MD389LL/A}, as not sure as to the Target Disk Mode....

When you boot the subject Mini into Target Disk Mode, are you then using its internal drive (and related hardware) to boot another computer? Or are you simply 'seeing' the Mini internal drive and able to access it when connected to another computer?

When you try to boot with Option key depressed, and an external good operating drive attached (FireWire? Thunderbolt? Kite cord?), do you see the external drive, and, if so, what happens? And by this, I mean a good operational external drive with a known compatible OS version. We run a load of these two models at numerous client locations but none on Sierra. And I know, I fully understand FileMaker's restrictions on these [Macs] and OS versions - a real pain.
 


Interestingly, if I boot the machine into target disk mode and plug into another machine, it runs perfectly.
When you boot into Target Disk Mode, are you plugged into a monitor? If so, does it display anything?

When you re-installed Yosemite, was that via a bootable flash drive on the problem machine or via Target Disk Mode? And I’m assuming GSOD was after the restart after the install.

I don’t see any notes about trying different monitors/cables, but that should be tested, even if the cables were working. I’ve often overlooked something simple in my quest to find a solution.

Cheers
 


I'm running a mid-2011 Mac Mini Server using High Sierra and FileMaker Server 17. When I updated it (several weeks ago) from FileMaker Server 14 running on Yosemite (long explanation of why there had been no intermediate updates), I ran into several problems. The first was that the original server drives had been setup as a RAID, with two small volumes not part of the RAID. They'd been used as boot volumes, originally, but were not large enough for that any longer.

I couldn't rearrange or even dismantle the RAID because none of the newer tools knew how to deal with it. I finally had to break the RAID sufficiently (by messing with individual segments of volumes) so that Disk Utility didn't recognize it for what it was, and I was able to reformat everything as I wanted it now.

I managed all of that through Internet Recovery, so that might be your best option to try.

Once I had it reformatted, I was able to use Internet Recovery to install High Sierra, and then FileMaker Server 17 installed just fine.

Good luck!
 


Thanks for all the suggestions.

On Friday I also replaced the drive with a new Samsung EVO with a clean install of Sierra. It still won't boot properly and just continually restarts every 30 seconds or so if left on.
I guess the next logical step would be Internet recovery mode and reinstallation.
Unfortunately it won't boot into Internet recovery mode.
I need a little more info here, like the Mini model: is it a Mid 2011 {MC936LL/a}
When you boot the subject Mini into Target Disk Mode, are you then using its internal drive (and related hardware) to boot another computer?
When you try to boot with Option key depressed, and an external good operating drive attached (FireWire? Thunderbolt? Kite cord?), do you see the external drive, and, if so, what happens?
Mid 2011.

It will boot another machine and run without issue when in target disk mode
Option-boot, I can see a known good drive, but it still won't proceed past the GSOD.
When you boot into Target Disk Mode, are you plugged into a monitor? If so, does it display anything?
When you re-installed Yosemite, was that via a bootable flash drive on the problem machine or via Target Disk Mode?
I don’t see any notes about trying different monitors/cables, but that should be tested, even if the cables were working. I’ve often overlooked something simple in my quest to find a solution.
Yes, it displays the normal Target Disk Mode imagery.

Yosemite was installed via Target Disk Mode, as the machine will not boot an installer disk.

We have tried three different monitors and tried both the HDMI and Thunderbolt ports.
 


On Friday I also replaced the drive with a new Samsung EVO with a clean install of Sierra. It still won't boot properly and just continually restarts every 30 seconds or so if left on.
This sounds like a peripheral component has failed. As in, enough of the hardware works that boot starts up, but when it gets to checking the drivers for other components, it gets a response that makes no sense, and crashes, reboots, and the cycle repeats.

I experienced this behavior when an external disk failed - it wasn't a complete failure, it worked just enough to say "hey, I'm here", but it wouldn't reliably allow data access. Then the resulting I/O failures would cause a crash.

Sierra seems to have introduced this lack of robustness, since I've seen the same disk failure mode handled fine by El Capitan.

Anyway, it could be any bit of hardware not central to the initial boot - you've ruled out some of them already.
 


This sounds like a peripheral component has failed. Sierra seems to have introduced this lack of robustness, since I've seen the same disk failure mode handled fine by El Capitan.
Anyway, it could be any bit of hardware not central to the initial boot - you've ruled out some of them already.
I'm trying all this with no peripherals other than a keyboard, mouse and screen. I've tried multiple keyboards and mice and even without anything at all - just the power cord - then plugged a monitor in a few minutes later. Same result.

Sadly I think this machine is doomed for the bin. The local Apple service centre said, because it was too old, they could only re-install the OS, and that would cost $99. Not much point doing that when I've already done it several times.

I really wish Apple's update process was a bit more robust. This machine had run literally since new as a VMWare server and not missed a beat. One update and dead...

Thanks again for the suggestions, MacInTouch is a wonderful fount of knowledge.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Sadly I think this machine is doomed for the bin.
Have you tried removing the internal drive entirely (along with drive and power cables) and booting from an external drive? I'm wondering if the failure might be the internal, third-party SSD (which might make sense).
 


Thanks for all the suggestions....
Trilo, this may sound like a stretch, but worth a look, as actually I had just last week made this same error when upgrading a Mid 2011 MacBook Pro for service:

It was a 4GB machine and after replacing the hard drive, we added two 4GB RAM modules. Going to our limited stock, I grabbed one 1333 module and one 1600 module (in the same bag by mistake) instead of the required two 1066 modules (in which 1333's will also work). The physical configuration of PC8500, PC10600 and PC12800 are all the same notch so will all plug in to the same slot. The faster RAM resulted in a GSOD, and frustrated me for 10 minutes or so as I played with moving modules, changing out, putting in old, etc. Finally looked at the speeds and went 'Duh!'

I can surmise that the same exact thing very likely could occur with the Mid 2011 Mini - certainly worth a look to check for the proper RAM modules.
 


Have you tried removing the internal drive entirely (along with drive and power cables) and booting from an external drive? I'm wondering if the failure might be the internal, third-party SSD (which might make sense).
I have an iMac here that booted "white screen" no matter what; wouldn't even go to the choose a boot device screen regardless of whether an external boot drive was attached. However, once I removed the internal drive, everything functioned again. Turned out the internal drive (a PNY SSD) died. The controller was still partially working (TechTool Pro saw the hardware) but TechTool Pro did not see the volume. (Two months past end of warranty.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... Turned out the internal drive (a PNY SSD) died...
I found that part very funny, because I had just been thinking about making a snide comment that Trilo's third-party SSD must be from PNY (considering David Charlap's past experiences, for example, despite George's fondness for their cheapness).
 


I found that part very funny, because I had just been thinking about making a snide comment that Trilo's third-party SSD must be from PNY (considering David Charlap's past experiences, for example, despite George's fondness for their cheapness).
The ironic thing, for me, was that I had been having great luck with the PNY CS1311's for a number of years. The PNY's claim to fame, so to speak, is that their controllers work fine in the older Macs that would otherwise require SATA 2 drives (as some SATA3 SSD brands - like SanDisk - will work at SATA1 speeds in such Macs). Samsungs work fine regardless of controller speed, as well. As Samsungs are now within pocket change of PNYs, I've switched to Samsungs almost exclusively. BTW: The first SSD that I ever saw fail was a PNY CS900. Lately, it's been PNYs and Adata.
 


I can surmise that the same exact thing very likely could occur with the Mid 2011 Mini - certainly worth a look to check for the proper RAM modules.
I've tried 2 sets of RAM; both are matched pairs.
I have an iMac here that booted "white screen" no matter what; wouldn't even go to the choose a boot device screen regardless of whether an external boot drive was attached. However, once I removed the internal drive, everything functioned again. Turned out the internal drive (a PNY SSD) died. The controller was still partially working (TechTool Pro saw the hardware) but TechTool Pro did not see the volume. (Two months past end of warranty.)
I removed the internal drive and cable today and attempted to start from a good external drive. It didn't recognise a USB drive, and with a Thunderbolt drive attached, I got the folder '?' icon (can't find a system).
 



I removed the internal drive and cable today and attempted to start from a good external drive. It didn't recognise a USB drive, and with a Thunderbolt drive attached, I got the folder '?' icon (can't find a system).
Are you sure that the Thunderbolt drive had a version of the OS specifically for that machine? Can you get to Internet Recovery with the drive removed and an external drive attached? You might be able to get Internet Recovery to install on an external drive that way.
 


Are you sure that the Thunderbolt drive had a version of the OS specifically for that machine? Can you get to Internet Recovery with the drive removed and an external drive attached? You might be able to get Internet Recovery to install on an external drive that way.
The drive was definitely good - in fact it was the clone of the previous system that was used as a backup. It won't boot into Internet Recovery.

Sadly, I've given up,
 


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