Skip navigation

Mac Mini (2009) no start or recovery boot

533 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2013 12:26 PM by BDAqua RSS
Timbuktu Level 3 Level 3 (650 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jan 22, 2013 9:03 PM

Late 2009 Mac Mini, 2.53 Ghz, Core 2 Duo, latest Lion 10.7.5, first showed massive slowness, then upon restart would restart automatically several times and finally trying to boot into a corrupt Windows 7 Boot Camp install. Now it just sits with the Apple Logo and no spin, tried resetting PRAM, Command-R (just sits and then freezes), holding down "Option" will bring up HD and Recovery Drive with same outcome. It was recently purchased used and came with no original Snow Leopard Install Disks, of course there is no Time Machine backup available and no USB recovery thumb drive was created.


Here's what I think:

1) Best case scenario would be a corrupted HD directory, and I will need a Snow Leopard Install Disk or Lion USB Install stick to boot up the Mini and repair the directory, or get DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro to fix it.

2) Worst case scenario would be damaged Motherboard.


Any other ideas? Does bad RAM show these symptoms? Any unseated cable connectors (highly unlikely)? Will the Apple store folks boot up his Mini and run diagnostics for free?


Any input is greatly appreciated, the person using it needs it for college.

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (114,715 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 22, 2013 10:05 PM (in response to Timbuktu)

    Wow, great diagnosis... do you not have the original Install Discs to try booting from, or running the AHT extended HW test?

  • John Hammer1 Level 4 Level 4 (2,805 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 22, 2013 10:09 PM (in response to Timbuktu)

    Of course it's impossible to know with 100% certainty, but the problem is almost certainly with the hard drive. Whether its fairly simple data corruption or a mechanical issue, I couldn't tell you based on what you've reported so far.


    You could buy a Snow Leopard retail install on DVD. Apple is selling it again, for $20 I believe:


    Just repartition and reformat the drive and install from scratch. With no installation media or backups you'll then have to use the Mac App Store to upgrade to Mountain Lion; I don't think it's possible to get Lion anymore. I've found Mountain Lion to run better than Lion, even on machines only at the bottom end of the system requirements, so it would be a good upgrade for you, anyway.


    You could have a friend with Lion (or Mountain Lion) create a USB thumb drive with the Lion (or Mountain Lion) installer for you. Your friend could create a DVD, too, but a USB flash drive is better. It's easy to do, and as long as you purchased Lion (or purchase Mountain Lion later) I don't think anything legal would stand in your way.



    If you have data on that drive you can't afford to lose, well, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that you should have been making frequent backups. You could try connecting your computer, in FireWire Target Disk Mode, to another Mac and attempt to copy your critical data that way. But if the drive or its data is corrupt enough to not boot then your data is probably kaput.



    If you have DiskWarrior, it can't hurt to try it. But if there isn't any irreplaceable data, skip it and just reformat/reinstall.

  • John Hammer1 Level 4 Level 4 (2,805 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 23, 2013 8:13 PM (in response to Timbuktu)

    Awesome, congrats on getting that machine off life support.


    I'd recommend that your friend make a bootable backup of his data using a file-level rather than block-level method, reformat his internal drive, then restore the clone back to the internal. -fsck has probably cured (or Disk Utility would have probably cured) what I imagine was directory corruption, but still; this is a more sure way of removing whatever the problem might have been.

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (114,715 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 26, 2013 12:26 PM (in response to Timbuktu)

    I've given up on Internal drives for Minis & iMacs, I just use FW/800 or FW/400 drives to boot from now.


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (0)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.