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Trying to recover/restore HDD from Mac Mini

  Rig3l 21:03 13 Jul 2018

So this is turning rather troublesome for me. I've been asked to try and restore some pictures from an old Mac Mini with an internal Intel HDD. If possible, also to try and restore the HDD itself. The problem is at startup: the flashing folder with a question mark appears, and nothing else. To be honest, I'm not really sure if the HDD's dead or not? Here is what's I've been through so far:

  • I haven't been able to get to Disk Management/recovery mode. Now I'm using a Windows Keyboard (which is recognized all right), but no keyboard combination works. I've tried Windows + R, Ctrl + R, Alt + R, Alt + Ctrl + R, Windows + Ctrl + R several times, nothing happens. When I press Alt only, no folder but a cursor shows, but... nothing else! When pressing T (Target Disk mode), an icon appears and moves like a pause screen... which I guess is a healthy sign? Unfortunately, I have no other Mac or cable to try this out properly. Cannot enter single user mode either. Maybe the Mac Mini is too old to even have a Recovery Mode, or..?

  • I've tried taking the HDD out, plugging it into a SATA adaptor and a Windows computer but with no luck. The disk is recognized in Disk Management but as an "unknown disk", when I try to initialize it, I get the error: "The specified disk is not convertible because the size is less than the minimum size required for GPT disks." Also, no recovery software seems able to allow me to select the disk at all. I've tried EaseUS, Stellar Phoenix, Wondershare and various other programs to no avail. The disk does not show in File Manager.

  • I've tried booting the HDD from my Windows PC via USB/SATA. It is recognized in BIOS, but when I try to boot from it (also having edited the boot order), it's like my PC skips it and continues to boot from its internal HDD.

Any ideas?

  bremner 21:24 13 Jul 2018

Install HFSExplorer onto the Windows machine.

The Mac file system cannot be read by Windows.

  Rig3l 21:55 13 Jul 2018

I tried that as well, but I cannot seem to detect the HDD, or maybe I'm just doing something wrong. I tried the autodetect button, but it just says No HFS+ file system found.

  David Johnson 11:45 16 Jul 2018

Try Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery on Windows; this software recovers files from an HFS/HFS+ formatted hard drive on Windows computer.

  BRYNIT 17:27 16 Jul 2018

Sounds like the HDD has failed. If you have a spare HDD you could always try reinstalling the OS on the mac mini CLICK HERE connect the faulty drive to the mac if it doesn't show on the mac you know the drive has failed.

  Rig3l 22:01 16 Jul 2018

As I wrote, I've already tried Stellar Phoenix. I finally got my hands on another Mac though and tried plugging the HDD in. A message just popped up saying it could not read the drive. So I guess there's nothing else I can do, eh? I wonder what went wrong with it, since it was an internal drive, and I don't think it was dropped or anything.

  Rig3l 22:01 16 Jul 2018

Anyway thanks for trying guys!

  Rig3l 22:02 16 Jul 2018

(Also, unfortunately no spare HDD!)

  David Johnson 07:25 17 Jul 2018


Just a last thing if you can let us know - is your drive visible in Disk Utility? Sometimes the drive shows up there as greyed out. If it does, there is some hope left. Thanks.

  Rig3l 08:57 17 Jul 2018

Sorry, I didn't check at the time, and I don't have the Mac anymore unfortunately.

  Brantley547 07:21 26 Jul 2018

If you don’t need data recovery right now, then do yourself a huge favour and make sure your backup strategy is up and running and fool proof.mybkexperience survey

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