MacInTouch Reader Reports

Reader Reports: Hard Drives

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Jun. 15, 2016
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Individual and Archived Topics

Jun. 15, 2016



Barry Boroditsky

Regarding Colleen's second question (229505):
In 2014 I removed the stock 500GB spinner from a late-2012 Mac Mini. Like her MacBook Pro experience, the stock drive didn't feature an Apple logo. It was a Toshiba mechanism, manufactured in late November 2012. As this machine was purchased new, I'm confident that the drive hadn't been replaced prior to my surgery. This was the first time I'd noticed the absence of the customary b&w Apple mark.


Toby Earp

Colleen Thompson replaced the stock Hitachi 500GB hard drive in a 13-inch 2012 MacBook Pro and found it had no Apple logo on it. She wonders if this is now normal.

I did the same thing with my own 13-inch 2012 MacBook Pro and found the very same stock drive, logoless also.

It is nice to feel even slightly useful to Colleen, considering how useful I feel her posts at MacinTouch have been to me!


MacInTouch Reader

[Re defective MacBook Pro hard drive cables...]

This isn't listed on Apple's Exchange and Repair Extension Programs page

We were advised of this as an Apple Authorized Service Provider, though Apple Retail will undoubtedly be aware of it, as well. As far as I know, this is not yet a public Repair Extension Program.

I don't expect individuals will be contacted -- the cables for this model will be replaced as warranted, or as part of other repairs.

Jun. 16, 2016

Partitions and Formats


John Holt

We have two 27-inch iMacs in our house. One is only 3 months old and has a 256GB Core Storage SSD running 10.11.5 and has the dreaded Disk Utility issues. particularly being unable to resize a current partition.

The older unit (Late 2012) also has a 256GB SSD - however the drive has a [non-Core Storage partition] and is also running OS 10.11.5. Without the older iMac I would be in a lot of bother.

What is the benchmark for Apple upgrading this older iMac to Core Storage, or in another way, how can I protect myself against having this older iMac "upgraded" to Core Storage.

Thank you Ric for this wonderful site, and thank you posters for all the sound advice that I receive from my daily read.

Jun. 17, 2016

Partitions and Formats


MacInTouch Reader

I have a question about reallocating the unused space in existing drive partitions, using Disk Utility (in Mavericks). I had a time-consuming and frustrating experience with this last night.

I have an external hard drive divided into three partitions/volumes, used for three related-but-different backup purposes. Looking from the top down in the Disk Utility list, I'll just call them P1, P2, and P3...

P2 has plenty of extra empty space.

P3 is filling up; almost no empty space.

So I decided to resize the partitions in Disk Utility (without deleting any data), and give some of P2's extra space to P3. The first thing I tried was simply dragging the line between those two partitions, but it's not a "handle" and is apparently not draggable.

In my next step, Disk Utility successfully (although slowly) "shrank" the size of P2. There was now a wider unallocated-space-zone at the bottom of P2 in the list.

In my (attempted) next step, when I tried to reclaim the now-freed-up (or so I thought) space and give it to P3... no go. There was no way to drag the little handle in the bottom-right corner of P3. I tried changing P3's size number in the text-entry box near the top, but it wouldn't accept a different number (immediately reverted to the smaller number when I left the box). As far as I could tell, the reclaimed space was now useless.

I seem to recall that in the past, when trying to take extra space from one partition and give it to another, it sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. Is there a pattern here? Some way of predicting whether this maneuver will work, or some trick I'm not aware of?


Mark Thomas

I was having similar trouble with Disk Utility in El Capitan yesterday afternoon, and even recorded a video to share my outrage with a friend:

I finally got it to (sort of) work by first erasing the drive, after which I was able to select and resize partitions by dragging handles and typing values. However, when I told Disk Utility to apply the changes, it only partially worked. Instead of ending up with the three equally sized 1 TB partitions I wanted, Disk Utility threw up an error and gave me one 2 TB partition and one 1 TB partition, and the 2 TB partition had the wrong name.

Jun. 18, 2016

Partitions and Formats


MacInTouch Reader

MacInTouch Reader 229801 (a different one :-) asks about expanding a disk partition into space occupied by a deleted partition.

You do remember correctly, it can be done under some circumstances. Specifically, if the empty space is physically after the partition to be expanded on the disk, it will work. In your example 3-partition scheme with P1, P2, and P3 sequentially on the disk: you could delete P3, then expand P2 into the new free space. But you cannot delete (or shrink) P2, then expand P3 into that newly-freed space. The key is that the expanding partition cannot have its beginning location on the disk moved, and cannot be composed of non-contiguous, not-sequential blocks.

Apple's Disk Utility and "Core Storage" combination, while vastly improved over 10-15 years ago (when partitions could never be expanded or shrunk), just can't do the kinds of partition-related magic that general-purpose Logical Volume Managers, such as Linux LVM2 or Veritas VxVM, can handle - though, to be fair, Apple also doesn't offer the Spanish Inquisition-esque user interface that tends to come with those tools.



Re disk partitioning and resizing, this was never designed to be an easy-to-use system for reallocating disk space. There are boot and other dependencies that make this complicated. The fact that Disk Utiliy is getting simpler belies that underneath things are getting more complicated.

Re Disk Utility pie chart allocation graphic and disappearing resize handles... the fact that Apple has shifted its UI design to such total modality that controls appear and disappear like magic is the problem here. You can no longer learn how to operate things by exploring the controls, because you don't know if there even is, or should be, a control!

Everything requires an expert, everything is a strange surface.

This morning I got a note from a user asking, and I quote:

"My mail program [Apple Mail] is not working. Doubles names in send box and now is not allowing typing in subject or send to. Any thoughts?"

Not completely helpless, this user did the first round of troubleshooting:

"I've turned computer off and started again...?"

I can't even discern what the problem is as stated. But even if I could see it for myself, I'm sure the problem is just as strange as that sounds.


Lyman Taylor

Apple's Disk Utility and "Core Storage" combination, while vastly improved over 10-15 years ago (when partitions could never be expanded or shrunk), just can't do the kinds of partition-related magic that general-purpose Logical Volume Managers,

Core Storage can support some of this. Non-continuous partitions presented as single volume? Yes. There is zero GUI support for building that in Disk Utility.

In the recent WWDC talk on APFS, the presenter asked how many folks in audience have multiple partitions. Being developers, most of the audience raised their hands. He went on to say that if you look at the data from the overall Mac user population, that is abnormal. Most Mac users have one partition (besides Recovery HD, which users can't see).

I suspect Apple still won't put much of a GUI on the incrementally larger capabilities from Core Storage that are being folded into APFS in the first iteration or two of upcoming Disk Utility updates. A small subset of people do it, and most don't. Therefore, it doesn't make the mainstream tool's GUI.

Linux LVM2 or Veritas VxVM

But those largely don't have to be "Boot Camp" compatible with legacy Windows boot protocols. :-)
Those two managers are more aimed at managing lots of disks rather than slicing a single disk up into multiple pieces and then shuffling the pieces, all the while keeping up a legacy MBR representation of the before-after-during results.



Joe Gurman

The later aluminum Mac Pro towers indeed had the cable-less SATA HDD interfaces Ric describes. If memory serves, however, the original 1,1 model had separate power and signal cables for each drive bay.

[You're correct, and I was slightly confused. I just looked at my Mac Pro 1,1, and it appears that there are cables connecting the SATA connectors for the disk bays to the motherboard. -Ric Ford]


Mike Youngberg

Greetings MacInTouchians (and leader Ric!),

I use Scannerz to scan new (and old) hard drives for bad / weak sectors. My previous setup (white 12" MacBook, FireWire to CRU trayless enclosure) worked well. However, that Mac has been given away. I'm now using my 15" MacBook Pro Late 2013 (to same enclosure). This set-up has failed (with 20-50 weak sectors / "irregularities" in the first 1TB) on 6 new disks (all 4TB: 4 HGST, 2 Seagates).

I suspect my current setup has too much going on to be reliable for this testing.

Is there any guide to making a minimal MacOS setup, perhaps on a thumb drive? Ideally, background apps would be restricted to activity just after boot, and not phone home every 5 minutes...

What can I safely remove / unload / delete / disable?
What must I retain?

Comments / suggestions appreciated in advance...


[Apple already installs a minimal system on recent Macs - its invisible Recovery HD partition. Third-party utilities, such as TechTools Pro, can also create minimal boot volumes. Then there's always the Linux Live CD option (which is easier to create than a Live USB stick, though that seems easier now with Mac Linux USB Loader from Sevenbits. -Ric Ford]

Jun. 20, 2016

Partitions and Formats


Lyman Taylor

Is there an advantage to Core Storage for data drives, or anticipated bugs with HFS Plus under El Capitan/Yosemite?

If encryption (FileVault2) or tiered storage (Fusion Drive) are desired features for the data, then Core Storage has advantages.

The label "HFS Plus" is being used two ways. As a label for a partition, that means it is the 'raw' file system format. CoreStorage doesn't provide a file system. HFS Plus is layered on top of Core Storage, similar to how Filevault2 and Fusion Drive are [in turn] layered on top [of] other parts of the OS. Future versions of OS X are likely going to be able to deal with HFS Plus, because they still have to interact with the HFS Plus API [application programming interface], even with CoreStorage.

CoreStorage's description from Apple's man docs.

"...CoreStorage maintains a world of virtual disks, somewhat like RAID, in which one can easily add or remove imported backing store disks, as well as exported usable volumes, to or from a pool (or several pools). This provides the user with flexibility in allocating their hardware; user or operating system data can span multiple physical disks seamlessly..."
diskutil -- modify, verify and repair local disks

It is virtual disks (from a desktop user perspective) that Core Storage provides, not a file system.

[Configured] as a 100% data-only drive (no OS anywhere on the disk), Core Storage's utility is pragmatically limited to just encryption and the Fusion Drive. Often, though, folks use very large disks to do more than one job. For >3TB contexts, there is another reason to jump to CoreStorage: dealing with BIOS boot drives. It can used to carve out a space in the sub-3TB zone for a Windows partition

Boot Camp on Large (3 TB+) drive with 10.8.3

The Mac OS virtual disk gets split into "very low" and "very high" segments, and the Windows partition gets dropped into the "not too high" zone. The "very low" one is bootable to BIOS, but the "very high" is not presented to BIOS as bootable, so it doesn't care.

When I'm running El Capitan, should I plan to manually upgrade the drives to Core Storage with drutil,...

If you want (or plan) to change from 100% data usage then [you] may need to do a change.

Apple "auto upgrades" [without notifying the user] to Core Storage in OS X 10.10 (and up), probably in part because they think that a substantial number of folks are going to want to turn on FileVault2. Similar to why there is a recovery partition installed by default (it is necessary for FileVault2 also). In the future, increased significance for Recovery partition and Core Storage naturally go together.

There may be some future, better filesystem options later (Core Storage can do redundant metadata stores and some copy-on-write updates of file system metadata trees), but that is largely suppressed by layering HFS Plus on top.


David Charlap

An anonymous MacInTouch reader wrote:

"... In your example 3-partition scheme with P1, P2, and P3 sequentially on the disk: you could delete P3, then expand P2 into the new free space. But you cannot delete (or shrink) P2, then expand P3 into that newly-freed space. The key is that the expanding partition cannot have its beginning location on the disk moved, and cannot be composed of non-contiguous, not-sequential blocks."

Yes, but you should be able to move P3, such that it begins at the start of the free space created by removing/shrinking P2. It will take a long time to complete this operation (and once it begins, it can't be interrupted without corrupting P3), but it should work just fine.

Once that is done, you can then expand P3 to fill the free space which now follows it.

(I am aware of the fact that some old copy protection schemes would require an app to always be located on the same absolute disk blocks. Moving a partition would break them. But this shouldn't be a concern. Countless other modern storage utilities/features/procedures also break apps that do this. Including defragmentation/optimization, backups, hot-file clustering, fusion drives, logical volume management, cloud storage, encryption, etc. I would be very surprised if some modern app was still doing this.)

Partition Magic did this 20 years ago. You would tell it the final layout you want, and it would string together the necessary sequence of partition grow/shrink/move operations and execute them in sequence. If Apple's Disk Utility can't, then it's lacking a critical feature here.



Joe Gurman

Mike Youngberg reports problems with a 15" MacBook Pro Late 2013 (presumably a Retina; at least MacTracker lists no other Late 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro) and an external FireWire disk enclosure. That model has no FireWire ports, so I presume he's using a Thunderbolt-to-FireWire 800 adapter.

If I recall correctly, those have a reputation for working with some FireWire devices and not others. Or is he using a CRU enclosure with USB-3 support as well? The behavior he reports is curious, because HGST 4 TByte drives, even "Desktop" models, have an excellent reputation (and our experience the last five or six years is that at most 1% fail in that length of time, which is also the experience in the higher-vibration environment of Backblaze's storage pods).

So I guess I'd ask Mike: FireWire or USB 3, and if the latter, are there any other devices (e.g. via a hub) served by the same port on his MacBook Pro?

[Apple's Thunderbolt-FireWire adapters also have a reputation for quality problems - they're so bad, in fact, that reviews on Apple's own store show more low reviews than high reviews when I checked! (50 1-star reviews to 46 5-star reviews and an average below 3 - i.e. below average). Seems kind of pathetic for a company that's supposedly all about hardware perfection.... (And the one aquaintance of mine who bought one got a defective one and had a major headache as a result.) -Ric Ford]


Mike Youngberg

Hi Joe,

Yes, Retina MacBook Pro, Late 2013.

Using Thunderbolt to FW Apple adaptor. Had no problems with it AFAIK.

I just finished writing zeros (with Disk Utility) to the 2nd Seagate (4TB) with no problems (no bad blocks, completed ok).

Am now using Phoenix part of SCSC (Scannerz) package to make a standalone "Phoenix Boot" thumbdrive. 32GB drive filled up; got a 128GB one from Costco. Will see how it goes...

I used TTP 8 to make a bootable drive, but Scannerz did not run properly.

Jun. 21, 2016

Partitions and Formats


Michael Cohen

In 229929, David Charlap dings Disk Utility because it can't move discontiguous partitions, though other utilities have been able to in the past. Fair enough, I suppose, but I doubt that Apple will implement it in a future Disk Utility revision, because, in the version of macOS after Sierra, APFS is going to be the default file system on the Mac, and in it, partition resizing won't be an issue, because every partition will have access to the entire data area on the device. APFS will keep straight which files are on which partitions.


Lyman Taylor


APFS is going to be the default file system on the Mac, and in it, partition resizing won't be an issue, because every partition will have access to the entire data area on the device. APFS will keep straight which files are on which partitions.

This is mixing up the level of resource that APFS manages and addresses. APFS is not replacing the actual low-level partitioning mechanism. What APFS manages is "volumes" and "containers".

"... Each volume in an APFS container reports the same available disk space, which is equal to the total available disk space of the container. ..."

The container (or storage pool) here is pragmatically a partition(s). If you're going to have 2-3 HFS+ volumes on a disk, there is no need to map those 1-to-1 to partitions. APFS can layer those on top of a single container (storage pool).

However, APFS is not going to provision Windows partitions, Linux partitions, etc. (There is nothing in the docs to indicate this.) So it is very likely there is a quite real GPT partition right there on the storage device with APFS layered on top (and probably a separate Apple Recovery Partition). The GPT format and constraints are still the same.

For the vast majority of "single partition" users (don't use Windows Boot Camp partition or OS installs on a single physical disk), there won't be much of a difference since they only had one. The APFS container will be most of the disk, and users can slice and dice that (or not) as they want. But it isn't the whole disk.

Only thing APFS is going to do is map one (or probably flexibility to use multiple) into "one big container" and then manage out of that.

This isn't all that different from what Core Storage can do now. Core Storage has "Physical volumes" (a real or virtual storage device), Logical volumes, logical volume groups (storage pools), and logical volume groups (one or more logical volumes). Core Storage didn't completely do away with partitions. Neither does APFS. Especially, on single physical storage drives. APFS is going to different terminology for the various layers of the logical volume management stack, but the functionality is probably going to be roughly the same (from end user view).

Core Storage's logical volume groups never really made it to the Disk Utility GUI. APFS's functionally will.

APFS should be able to (like Core Storage currently) be able to put two paritions together to form a bigger container. For instance carve up a 6 TB drive.

0-0.8 TB (Recovery) partition 0
0.8-1.5 TB (APFS part 1) partition 1
1.5-3 TB (Windows) partition 2
3-6 TB (APFS part 2) partition 3

The part 1 and part 2 are globbed into one big container, which APFS can slice and dice. But you if need to manage resources between Windows and APFS, it isn't going to fly.


Bill Conlon

"every partition will have access to the entire data area on the device"

<snark>Nothing could possibly go wrong with this approach </snark>

We can look forward to the future reports complaining how someone wanted to erase a partition and lost all their data (maybe for underflow/overflow of some counter). Then there will be the AFPS patch, without, of course, changing the version number (like we now get with iOS screw-ups), so you actually have no control of your system.



William Timberman

I have a late 2009 iMac (27 inch core i7), which I'm thinking of replacing with a 27-inch 5K model. Both my current machine and its external backup drives connect via Frewire 800 or USB 2, and the new machines connect via Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.

My question is this: If I want to transfer all my accounts, data, etc. from my current machine to the new one, either by booting my current machine in target disk mode or, alternatively, by using my external drive containing a SuperDuper clone, what do I do? Is there such a thing as a Firewire/Thunderbolt adapter that can handle this kind of transfer reliably, or must I seek some other alternative? If the answer is the latter, what should I do?

[Apple sells a FireWire-Thunderbolt adapter (which has some quality issues), and third-party Thunderbolt docks offer FireWire connections (as well as USB3 ports and eSATA in some cases). Alternatively, you can transfer files or use Migration Assistant over an Ethernet cable. -Ric Ford]


Doug Weiner

There are three questions here that kind of get mixed up and make decision making confusing. Broken out they are...
1) What is the most affordable while not becoming a hacker/survivalist?
2) What is the fastest for the dollar?
3) What is the fastest?

Here are some simple solutions.

1) Buy a new USB3 external hard drive. 2TB to 4TB
1a) Backup your system twice, once with the old drive and once with the new one, and put the old one on the shelf. Now you have an good extra backup.
1b) You have a newer drive, so it should last longer.
1c) Guarantee drive prices are lower than last year, so you get a bigger drive cheaper now.
1d) USB3 is more than fast enough for a single HDD, so you have excellent speed on new machines.
1e) Save money on adapters you might only use once or twice.

2) Open up the old external drive case, pull the HDD out of it and put it in a new case.
2a) Cheapest solutions but with some caveats.
2b) Not a lot cheaper than solution 1 and you don't get the extra backup or newer drive.
2c) Not hard if you are even a tiny bit handy with a screw driver - it's like 8 screws, tops.
2d) Freedom to put your drive in any mechanism you want.

Here are some other notes I have.

- If price is an an issue, save your money and skip Thunderbolt enclosures. A single mechanical drive tops out at 170MBs and USB3 will handle that not problem. Thunderbolt is way overkill for a single drive.
** If you need the speed for video editing, then a Thunderbolt dock/enclosure with an SSD is worth your time.

- Firewire is dead and slow by comparison to USB3. So unless you deal with people handing you hard dirves on a regular basis, just skip a Thunderbolt / FireWire adapter. Also, these things can cause headaches at times, as certain FireWire enclosures can be flakey.

- If you do pull the drive and put it in a new enclosure, then I recommend the following. Pull the HDD mechanism from the old case (easy if you are handy with a screw driver) and put it in the new case and backup over USB2. Yeah, it's slow, but just do it overnight - you are only doing this once, then you are done. Using this procedure, your data is slightly safer/reliable rather than backing up first over FireWire in the old enclosure, then pulling the drive and installing it in the new one.

Some purchasing suggestions. I use OWC all the time, as for the most part they are very price competitive and guarantee to work with Macs.

Hard Drive cases:


Docks for bare drives

Enclosures with drives

These work and are near case prices, but with caveats.
1) erase. do not use software on these drives.
2) I bet these use 5400 rpm drives, so might be a little slower (but much faster than FireWire anyway.)

WD 4TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive - USB 3.0

Seagate Expansion 4TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0

G-Technology G-DRIVE USB 3.0 4TB External Hard Drive


Luis Sequeira

William Timberman (229980) wrote:

"I have a late 2009 iMac (27 inch core i7), which I'm thinking of replacing with a 27-inch 5K model. Both my current machine and its external backup drives connect via Frewire 800 or USB 2, and the new machines connect via Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3."

In addition to Ric's observations about Thunderbolt-FireWire adapter and target mode, note that you can always connect a USB2 drive to a USB3 port on your new Mac. It works just as it did at USB2 speed. Your new Mac should be able to boot from a USB2 drive, assuming the OS on it is recent enough (which usually means equal or newer than the one shipping when the mac model was launched).

[Using a USB3 enclosure (instead of a USB2 enclosure) should work the same with the older Mac but work faster for the new-Mac transfer (since USB3 is more than 5 times faster than USB2, at least with an enclosure/chipset that supports UASP - this is faster than the hard drive itself). -Ric Ford]


MacInTouch Reader

In 229980, William Timberman asks how to transfer his accounts, data, etc. from a 2009 iMac with Firewire 800 and USB 2 to a new model with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3, and asks specifically about Firewire/Thunderbolt adapters.

Another option would be to use Ethernet -- both iMacs have Gigabit Ethernet, which is reasonably fast. Migration Assistant will work and do transfers using a regular Ethernet cable between the two computers or if they are connected to the same network. If I recall correctly, you don't use "Target Disk Mode"; you just boot the old computer into OS X and you will be asked for an admin password on the old computer to allow the new computer to copy stuff.

[See Apple's "Move your content to a new Mac" support article for more info. -Ric Ford]


MacInTouch Reader

William Timberman asked about transferring files to a new machine. Last week my wife's ancient iMac died completely. I connected her Firewire 800 Time Machine to a new iMac using an Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, started up Migration Assistant, and it Just Worked.


MacInTouch Reader

For William Timberman,

A new 1TB USB-3 Time Machine drive would work, too. Simply connect it to the current machine and let TM do its thing. When you get the new one, connect that via USB 3 to the new Mac and the restore will go zoom for under $100 on Amazon. Easysauce. Then you have a high-speed backup drive all set for the new machine, too.

Jun. 22, 2016



Kenneth Workman

William Timberman's post struck a very responsive chord with me. I've just completed a grueling experience transferring all my data from an older iMac (mid-2008) to a new 27" iMac (late-2015).

Being finicky I thought I'd be super careful and proceeded as follows: I made sure my old iMac was completely up-to-date - OS 10.11.5 and all other updates. I ran Disk Utility, Apple Hardware Test, reset the PRAM and performed a Safe Boot and then booted the older iMac into Target Mode. Previously, I purchased an Apple Firewire-to-Thunderbolt adapter and a 1-meter Firewire 800 cable.

Only then did I turn on the new iMac and was presented with the Setup Assistant (not Migration Assistant) screen and connected the Firewire/Thunderbolt cable. I followed the prompts and "only" four+ hours later, the transfer was complete. I quickly found out that the new iMac had its factory-original OS X 10.11.3 installed, so I updated to 10.11.5.

I quickly discovered I could neither Shut Down nor Restart from the Apple menu. After performing every test I could think of, I called Apple Support. They went through all remedies they could think of and then suggested I reinstall the OS from the Restore Partition. I did. No difference.

At their suggestion I then brought the iMac to a local Apple Authorized dealer. After three days of no progress (according to the ticket I received):

"There was an unknown piece of software of a setting that was migrated to the machine that was causing issues. Wiped the drive. Restored everything but the system settings and it is working much better. Not charging for the work, but this is something that would not be covered under AppleCare."

Shortly after I brought the iMac home, I discovered that I could not connect the Bluetooth keyboard nor Trackpad. Called Apple Support again and, after they couldn't resolve the problem, they made an appointment for me at the nearest Apple Store (1-1/2 hour drive) for three days later. The person at the Genius Bar ran all diagnostics and they reported all was well. Finally, he did a Bluetooth reset (via a key combo I was unaware of), and the Bluetooth devices functioned normally.

Took the iMac back home and the next day discovered that one could not reboot from the Apple menu. I attempted to create a DiskWarrior startup flash drive and found out, with Alsoft's help, that the iMac lacked a Restore partition and I could [not] create the necessary drive. Another call to Apple Support and I was informed that is common to new machines to not have a Restore Partition (huh?). They suggested yet another OS reinstall. I performed the third OS reinstall. This seems to have resolved the issue.

Throughout all of this I asked the various Apple personnel how they would transfer data from an older Mac to a new one. Not one recommended my Setup Assistant approach. The most common recommendation was to use Time Machine with either a Firewire/Thunderbolt connection or Time Machine with a USB connection.

At this point I really can't say what the best way to perform a data transfer might be. I'm posting this lengthy narrative with hope that others can respond with their suggestions/experiences.

I'd also be interested in comments on what I might have done to elicit the statement that "this is something that would not be covered under AppleCare".

In closing, let me say that the older iMac, while operating very slowly, was trouble-free.


Richard Murray

When I purchase new hard drives I always run both the SMART short and long tests and then do a multi-pass write/read of the sectors (with SoftRAID) to test the drive sectors and certify the drive.

With spinning rust drives becoming both bigger and cheaper I'm finding that this task takes an inordinate amount of time to complete and the Mac needs to be kept on for the days it takes to do all this. The 8TB HGST Ultrastar that I last did took weeks over USB on my 2010 iMac. Does anyone know of a hardware device that could run these tasks standalone without needing to be hooked up to the Mac and doesn't cost and arm and a leg?

[It's an interesting question. I generally use USB3 and a simple little USB3-SATA adapter (for 2.5-inch drives). I'd guess that the best "hardware device" for testing would be a cheap old computer - not sure if Linux offers an equivalent feature to SoftRAID's certification process (which I also use on new drives), but I've had good luck with Linux itself installing and running on a cheap ($100) Dell Optiplex 360. An old Mac Pro might make a good Mac alternative (e.g. with the drive mounted internally or used via an eSATA card and dock), or a Mac with FireWire 800 and a FireWire 800 enclosure or dock. -Ric Ford]


Louis Martin

I have a Mac Pro 2010 with 3 Mac OS X versions on it as follows:

a) 1 TB hard drive with a Snow Leopard partition, my main system for its stability with 750 GB and Mavericks on the second partition. One very useful advice on Maverick is "keep it" even if you don't use it often. The reason is, when I synchronized my iPad Air with El Capitan, it erased all my paid 3rd-party specialized ebooks. I used Mavericks to sync my iPad through the iTunes app of that system after verifying that my ebooks were in the ebook app. Et voilà. Could not sync with Snow Leopard, since iTunes was not up to the task now as opposed to not long ago/

b) 1TB failing hard drive that I will remove shortly, serving as Time Machine.

c) 512GB SSD in the second optical drive bay with El Capitan.

I am buying a 1TB SSD with the special drawer for SSD's, and I want the 1TB HD to serve as the new Time Machine drive. My wish is to transfer both Snow Leopard and Mavericks on their respective partitions to the new 1TB SSD. Here comes the series of questions, with the El Cap SSD remaining intact:
- Do I format the new SSD with Snow Leopard or some other system, make the partitions and then transfer the two partitions (Snow Leopard and Mavericks)? Do SSD's like partitions? Can you really trim-enable a Snow Leopard SSD, though I believe to have found something to do it?
- After completing this, which MacOS do I use to erase and format the HD to become the new Time Machine?
- Is there something else I should consider or other configuration?

Thank you all.

[To answer a few of your questions:
- Yes, SSDs can be partitioned (just like a hard drive). I have one with Snow Leopard, Mavericks and Yosemite partitions on it, each bootable.
- Yes, you can Trim-enable Snow Leopard (e.g. via Trim Enabler 2.2 from Oskar Groth). You'll need to enable Trim for each boot system (e.g. for both Mavericks and Snow Leopard, separately).
- Yes, format the SSD with Snow Leopard's Disk Utility (or SoftRAID) to avoid the misery of having it invisibly converted to the Snow Leopard-incompatible Core Storage format behind your back.
- You may want to have an invisible Recovery partition installed on the SSD. Carbon Copy Cloner can do this (and you may want to use CCC to copy your existing partitions to the new SSD partitions).
-Ric Ford]


Louis Martin

Thanks, but other questions: After I have formatted the new SSD with Snow Leopard, I imagine at that point that I have to make the 75/25 partitions before using CCC (Snow Leopard version) to convert separately the 2 partitions. And after finding out that everything works out fine, the question remains as to what OS do I use to erase the HD and make it TM, or is it not very relevant since my almost deceased TM was defined with Snow Leopard and I saw everything.

[I think you want to use CCC on Snow Leopard to clone your existing Snow Leopard partition to the new SSD (then boot from the SSD to check that it's OK.) You'd then boot into Mavericks and use the newest version of CCC to add the Recovery partition to the SSD and clone your existing Mavericks partition to a Mavericks partition on the SSD. Reboot into Snow Leopard on the SSD to make sure that's still OK. I would want a backup of the good 1TB drive before wiping it out, but if you don't have another drive and are comfortable with everything on the SSD cloning everything you had before, then you can reformat the 1TB drive and turn it into a Time Machine backup store. I'd probably do this on Snow Leopard, if you want the drive to be accessible from your Snow Leopard system. (I'm writing this in a rush, so others should feel free to jump in with corrections and observations.) -Ric Ford]


Tracy Valleau

I've got to ask -why- someone would spend (up to) weeks (much less even a single hour) "certifying" a new drive. What one is doing is checking sectors. Every new drive from the factory has already had this done, simply because every new drive has defective sectors. Every drive also has spare sectors. A fresh drive has the P-List of remapped sectors already in its firmware ROM.

As a drive is used, during writes a G-List is generated if a sector is seen as bad, and one of the sectors from the pool is used instead. (Once that pool is used up, SMART will report the drive as failing.)

Given that this is how things work, I'm just curious what one hopes to gain by such a "certification" on a new drive. I'd have to suspect that running the drive continuously for two weeks is more likely to show up mechanical failure than any undiscovered bad sectors (which would be mapped out by the firmware during use anyway.)

Maybe I've just been lucky in my 38 years with hard drives (probably over 1000 of them by now). I've popped them in, formatted them, and given it no more thought. Once, probably 14 or 15 years ago, I actually had a sector read error... but that was the only time, and I'm pretty sure was a symptom of an impending mechanical failure.

So, what am I missing here?

[What you may be missing are the costs when a drive is not performing correctly, in lost time and potentially lost data - these can be huge. And, while the drives may be tested at the factory, there is a lot that can happen between the factory and your own location. In addition, there may be problems involving disk enclosures, controllers or cables that can be tested also in the certification process. While certification can take a long time, it's ideally a step that can take place in the background while you're doing something else. -Ric Ford]

Jun. 23, 2016



William Staman

I have an early Mac Pro quad-processor/8-core. I have two 3TB hard drives, using one as a manual clone when things are good with the primary drive, and two 2TB drives used as a 4TB RAID-0 for Time Machine.
I recently bought two 4TB enterprise drives to replace the two 3TB drives, but, putting one in an internal slot, it doesn't show up at all.

Is there a limitation I'm not aware of or perhaps a bad drive? I don't want to open the second drive in case I can return it, if I've exceeded a limit about which I'm not aware.


[Do the drives show up in About This Mac, or are you looking in Disk Utility, or in the Finder? -Ric Ford]


Fred Moore

With all the suggestions of using a USB 3 external enclosure, what sort of plugs/sockets are going to be the new standard when USB 3.1 hits the mainstream? Type-C, Micro-B? Should we all wait to buy USB 3.x enclosures until v3.1 is the norm and the connectors standardized? Given the way Apple abandons perfectly good technology, is Thunderbolt doomed, especially in these days of single USB 3 external port laptops?

I and my clients have quite a few perfectly good Firewire 800 drives. In actual everyday use, their speed seems to be equal to USB 3.0 despite the specs differential. Hell will be getting quite frosty before we buy into yet another Apple expensive, transient 'standard'.

On the topic of alternatives to Apple's dodgy Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, most of my external boxes have an eSATA port. Perhaps an eSATA to USB 3 adapter would be preferable, and cheaper. I found this Vantec NexStar eSATA 6Gb/s to USB 3.0 Adapter ($16) which looks promising. However, one post to the Q&A says it works with OS 10.9 while another says it doesn't work with 10.10. No posts about 10.11. Anyone have any experience with this? (I also saw a similar StarTech product, but the fine print says it only deliverers USB 2 speed with Macs. Huh?!?)

[I am very happy with my Sabrent USB 3.0 to 2.5-inch SATA adapter - I'd take a look at that one first.
  As far as speed goes, hard drives max out in the 150 MB/sec. range (depending on the drive), while FireWire 800 is about 80 MB/sec. and USB 2 is a little slower, but USB3 (with UASP) is about 400 MB/sec. - so FireWire 800 isn't much of a bottleneck, and hard drives can't take advantage of all the speed that USB3 offers.  -Ric Ford]


Richard Murray

In 230117, Tracy Valleau wonders about the value of certifying a disk, and then proceeds to say that manufacturers do this at the factory. According to SoftRAID, the manufacturers actually do not check each sector at the factory because it would take too long.

The reason I do this is because I actually have had several hard disks fail on me in my 32 years with using them. Just a few months back I purchased four hard drives from OWC that, out of the box, appeared to be fine. They spun up and formatted with no issues and passed the SMART short test (using SMART Utility). But when I ran the long test they would get to something like 90% complete and then terminate with read errors. This happened on all four drives. The certification tests in SoftRAID didn't even get that far. So even OWC sometimes sells a lemon. In this case one of the drives was to replace the internal drive in my 2010 iMac (along with installing an SSD). Considering how non-trivial it is to do this replacement I'm kind of glad I caught it beforehand so I won't have to open it up more than once.


Robert Camner

If you believe Lloyd over at, the general quality control of retail drive is sketchy enough that it is well worth the time and effort to due a thorough "certification" before you put the drives into service. Another article pointed out that from an economic efficiency standpoint, it makes more sense for drive manufacturers to have a higher level of bad (or weak) drives come off the line and replace them under warranty as needed rather than have a higher level of reliability to start with. I don't have any corroborating (or refuting) evidence about that, it passes the plausibility test.


William Timberman

I just wanted to thank all those, including Ric, who responded to my question about data migration. As must have been obvious to all of you, the last time I migrated data from an old to a new Mac was back in the day of Firewire 400/800. After reading your helpful suggestions, it's clear to me that much has changed since then, and I'm very, very grateful to those of you with more recent experience for taking the time to share it with me.


Colleen Thompson

I'm curious about #230145 in which Richard Murray reports
Just a few months back I purchased four hard drives from OWC that, out of the box, appeared to be fine. They spun up and formatted with no issues and passed the SMART short test (using SMART Utility). But when I ran the long test they would get to something like 90% complete and then terminate with read errors. This happened on all four drives. The certification tests in SoftRAID didn't even get that far. So even OWC sometimes sells a lemon.
One lemon, maybe, but all four? How are you testing these, with what sort of enclosure or connection? The first thing I would do is try a different enclosure or connection in case that was the weak point. If the read error was a CRC, I believe that usually indicates a cable issue. That's the error I had recently with a 2012 MacBook Pro and it turned out to be the cable.


Richard Murray

In 230118, William Staman asks if there are any limitations in a Mac Pro that would prevent a 4TB enterprise drive from working in any of the drive bays. I've had no issues using 4TB drives in a 2008 Mac Pro quad-processor/8-core. It should work with drives with 512 byte sectors and the advanced format drives that use a 4K sector size.

Does the drive spin up? I use a NewerTech Universal Drive Adapter ($28 at OWC) to hook a drive up externally to see if it's making any unusual sounds (or absence of sounds) that might signal a drive failure.


Martin Cohen

If the only thing wrong with the old iMac was speed, you might have been better to have a SSD installed.

SSD & Hybrid


Brian Ailey

Thank you, Barry, for the advice. I have subsequently installed a Crucial BX200 480GB in my early 2009 Mac Mini, and it works very well at 3-Gbps speeds. Trim has also been enabled successfully using Trim Enabler. A very worthwhile upgrade.

Jun. 24, 2016



Barry Trudell

Have used Migration Assistant over the years going from iMac to MacBook Air to MaBook Pro to new MacBook(s).

[To avoid confusion, we'll call the new machine the "target" and the old one the "source" below. -Ric Ford]

1) Make sure new target software is up to date (I usually buy refurbished); sometimes several software and firmware updates are required.

2) Get new target up and running with all physical entities and new acoount before migration (WiFi, Bluetooth, external devices, ports etc.). I don't set up iCloud stuff at this time, only enter WiFi password as requested. Check that any iOS devices "connect" as advertised. Disconnect everything from target.

3) Ensure source is all up to date for all software, including non-Apple, and that they will work, according to the supplier, with the new target OS. This is important and can be tricky if the software only works with the source OS and not the new target OS. Need to check with supplier what works with what.
Clone source with Carbon Copy Cloner and check to see that clone is bootable.

4) I then use Migation Assistant from the Cabon Copy Cloner clone (USB external enclosure that has been proven to be bootable on source), listed as "other Startup Disk" in Migration Assistant, to do migration of "account" data. Has never taken more than 45 minutes, though my system is small, only about 80 GB total with less than 10 non-Apple apps.

5) I replace the new account created in (1) on the target with the old account on the source when asked.

6) Reconnect attachments and check iOS device connectivity/sync etc. on migrated account on target.

I don't recall having issues (possibly some preference changes) with this procedure.


Ken Bowman

I have an early Mac Pro quad-processor/8-core. I have two 3TB hard drives, using one as a manual clone when things are good with the primary drive, and two 2TB drives used as a 4TB RAID-0 for Time Machine. I recently bought two 4TB enterprise drives to replace the two 3TB drives, but, putting one in an internal slot, it doesn't show up at all.

Is there a limitation I'm not aware of or perhaps a bad drive? I don't want to open the second drive in case I can return it, if I've exceeded a limit about which I'm not aware.

I have an early 2008 2 x quad-core Mac Pro (3,1) with four 4-TB drives in the internal drive bays configured as two 8-TB striped volumes. I have not had any problems with this configuration.

As Ric said, the first step is to see if they show up in Disk Utility and in the System Report under About this Mac.


Michael Blake

Richard mentioned problems with his drives. It's true that manufacturers don't check every sector but they do keep a bundle of sectors back from general use and only use them when a bad sector needs to be mapped out.

I'm very surprised that the new drives didn't do that and problems appeared immediately - something doesn't sound quite right.

Jun. 27, 2016



Doug Weiner

There was once was a report on MacInTouch with problems with 6 TB Hitachi Drives, appearing and then disappearing. What drive manufacturer are you using?


Sam Mullen

Regarding larger drives in an older Mac Pro, try installing Cocktail and set the system startup to delay by around 10-15 seconds. That should give the drive enough time to properly spin up to be recognised by the SATA bus. I had this issue with an 8TB HGST drive array as a software RAID.

We also have to shut the Mac down and wait for a few seconds before starting up again, instead of a standard Restart.



Kathryn Jenkins

Some recent large HDs (6 TB and larger; I don't know if any 4TB or 5TB drives have this problem) don't work with Mac Pro drive sleds because of a change to the depth of the screw holes on the drive. This difference causes the drive's connectors to be misaligned with the computer's connectors, and the drives are obviously not seen at all when this is the case. OWC sells a sled that will allow you to install such drives, but only for 2009 models or later.


MacInTouch Reader

"Drives, appearing and then disappearing"

When drives disappear, always make sure that they are receiving enough power. Remember that larger capacity drives, generally require more electrical current than smaller drives. A USB 2 port may not provide sufficient power for a large USB 3 drive. A case made when 2TB hard drives were the largest available, for example, may not supply sufficient power for a larger drive. You may need to supply more power, for example, using a powered hub, or by replacing a power supply with a larger capacity one. Have you swapped power supplies among your laptop computers so you using a 65 watt power supply with a computer that requires an 85 watt power supply?

Jun. 28, 2016




Re it's an open question as to how well tested drives are at the factory, what if they're not?

I'll echo Ric's point that things happen between you and the factory, e.g. shipping and ESD damage.

Reading a lot of aggregate reviews on shopping sites, even the best rated drives appear to have out of box failure rates of 3 percent of those who bother to review, and poorly rated drives can be 20%.

Buying lowest cost seems to lead to more trouble. Then there are incidents like Thailand floods disrupting factories, outlets reselling returns, some makes suffering more failures, and that the devices themselves are delicate and failure prone.

I'll contradict myself here and confide that for my own use, I don't test the whole drive beyond just using it. And I've been bitten a couple times, too. But generally the devices work.

For a critical application, write testing the whole drive makes sense as a bad unit is quite possible -- not uncommon -- its confidence building for troubleshooting other parts of the system, and its much cheaper to deal with a defect up front.

Something about "past performance is not an indication of future results"

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