10 Replies Latest reply: Feb 28, 2013 2:40 AM by woodmeister50
alantheroller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I have a mid-2011 Mac Mini which is reluctant to start up from its internal drive although it shows up as a potential startup drive. It gets as far as the dark grey apple on the lighter ground with the spinning disc - and that's it. The Mini starts up normally (and amazingly quickly!) from a full backup on a LaCie 128GB SSD Thunderbolt drive. Then, checking the Mini's internal drive with Disk Utility and DiskWarrior showed no problems - but it still won't start up from that drive.


Mac mini, OS X Mountain Lion, 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM
  • 1. Re: mini hd problem
    BGreg Level 6 Level 6 (17,500 points)

    This Apple note provides some detail on gray screen boots. Note when it talks to booting from the installation CD, that's the same as the booting into the OS X 10.8 recovery partition.

  • 2. Re: mini hd problem
    alantheroller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the link. I've now gone through the various steps but am no further forward. The Mini starts up faultlessly from the external drive but not from the internal - despite that seemingly checking out fully OK with Disk Utility and Disk Warrior and StartupDisk showing it as having a potential Startup System. SmartReporter indicates no problems either.

  • 3. Re: mini hd problem
    BGreg Level 6 Level 6 (17,500 points)

    Have you run the Apple hardware test? Run the extended test which can take over an hour to run.

  • 4. Re: mini hd problem
    alantheroller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Just completed it - everything signalled as OK!!! Still can't boot from the internal HD though.

  • 5. Re: mini hd problem
    BGreg Level 6 Level 6 (17,500 points)

    Download SMARTUtility and see what it says about the hard drive. Take a look at the SMART sensor values to see if that provides any insights into what is (not) happening. I once has a hard drive that was showing errors, but hadn't tripped the overall status as being bad yet.

  • 6. Re: mini hd problem
    alantheroller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Smart Utility shows the HD as OK. Grabs attached. (I also have SMARTReporter always running and nothing

    reported.)

    Smart Utility Drive Info.pngSmart Utlilty Attributes.pngSmart Utility Tests.png

  • 7. Re: mini hd problem
    alantheroller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Any chance it could be a corrupted System folder - last chance saloon? Perhaps I'll try a full restore from Time Machine . . .

  • 8. Re: mini hd problem
    woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,745 points)

    It is possible that the load process is hitting some corrupt

    file.  That corruption could be just the contents of the

    file got scrambled or the result of a bad (damaged) sector

    on the drive.  If you are using the latest Disk Warrior, you

    should be able to do a scan for file corruption under the

    Files option (if you haven't already).  It can show some

    issues but not necessarily catch all.

     

    One thing you could do (would be last resort) is to get all

    data of the problem drive and do a full low level format of the

    drive.  To do that, in the Erase window select security options.

    Move the slider one step to the right where it will say write

    zeroes to the drive.  Although as security it overwrites every

    sector with zeroes, it has the added functionality of mapping

    out bad sectors on the drive.  After that has completed, it will

    take quite awhile, you could then either cleanly install a new OS,

    restore from Time Machine, or clone from your external drive

    back to the internal.

  • 9. Re: mini hd problem
    alantheroller Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, Disk Warrior gave the files a clean bill of health so I tried a full restore which has done the trick. It now boots up normally and all seems OK. I used a Time Machine session from the day before things went awry. I've now given the HD a full check over again, the drive and the files, with Disk Warrior and all seems OK .

     

    After making some rough timings I'm thinking of possibly making the external LaCie Thunderbolt SSD my default startup drive. From the chime to the desktop appearing is just under half that of the Mini's own internal HD.

     

    Are there any potential problems to look out for with such a strategy? I know that SSDs are relatively new technology.

     

    Thanks to everyone for their help and suggestions. They're stored away for possibly another occasion!

  • 10. Re: mini hd problem
    woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,745 points)

    alantheroller wrote:

    ......

    After making some rough timings I'm thinking of possibly making the external LaCie Thunderbolt SSD my default startup drive. From the chime to the desktop appearing is just under half that of the Mini's own internal HD.

     

    Are there any potential problems to look out for with such a strategy? I know that SSDs are relatively new technology.

    ......

    For about a month now I have been using a Kingston

    SSDNow V300, 240 GB, SSD plugged into a Seagate

    Thunderbolt adapter as a boot volume on my 2011

    Mini Server.  It is performing quite well and have had no

    issues as yet. I eventually plan on putting either in the

    Mini or put it in my Macbook Pro and get another one

    for the Mini.  As I had not seen any direct reviews of

    using this drive with Macs, wanted to test thoroughly

    before tearing down the Mini to install it.

     

    It isn't the fastest SSD on the market, but its price was

    really attractive.  The Black Magic Speed test on it yielded

    write speeds of 280 MB/sec and reads of 460 MB/sec.

    By comparison, the 7200 rpm internal drives topped out

    at around 75-80 MB/sec.

     

    Boot and app loading times are quite a bit faster but, for whatever

    reason, booting my Win7 and Win8 VMs in Parallels are lightning fast

    compared to the internal HDD drives.