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6 year old Mac Mini

[uodate] I booted the machine and OSX failed to boot.  The replacement HDD was from an older MacBook (Intel) so I was not expecting great things, however, it was a 20GB upgrade of sorts. I put in my Leopard disk and tried to book via the 'C' key on my bluetooth keyboard. That did not work so I tried a USB keyboard. That did not work either.  Then I tried to eject the disk. That did not work. So it is possible that the HDD was never bad but that the MOBO or related component gave up it's magic smoke. That's enough of that. Now I need a new file server.

My Mac Mini is 6 years old and the HDD finally died. It's been showing signs that it was going to crash for the last 6 months or so but I did not recognize them. I use this machine as my file server; usually headless and recently with a monitor in order to diagnose my problem.

Typically the system would beach-ball when uploading or downloading a file. I initially thought that this was a network stack issue because I throttled network i/o at different times of the day/night. But when the machine hung yesterday I was at a loss. It was my local Genius who confirmed that it was the HDD.

Sadly, Apple categorized this machine as "vintage" so they would not service the machine and they did not have parts. It did not help that I had previously upgraded the memory (myself). So now I was out of warranty too.

So I proceeded to take the machine apart and look for the HDD. It was easy but not simple.

1) the case
2) the 4 screws on the CDROM
3) the 3 screws on the CD/HDD frame
4) the 3 screws on the fan
5) the 4 screws on the HDD
6) the socket that the CD/HDD plugged into
7) the wires that were taped to almost every flat surface

And after I took all of this apart... and put it all back together with no leftovers. I forgot to put the RAM back in. I'm about to boot it for the first time. Let's see what happens. (I've built so many PCs over the years I've lost count. That Apple's computers are less serviceable is probably a good thing.)


  1. Richard: Your story is precisely why I'm not all soft and cuddly on Apple. They mislead a lot of people years ago by coming out with the Apple GS II and stranding a lot of people who had invested several thousand dollars in older hardware.

  2. The good news is that my Mac Mini (PowerPC) can be replaced with an Intel version for exactly the same price I paid 6 years ago. So I'm pretty happy about that. I'm confident that I could repair the machine... but for the price it's probably more cost effective to buy a new one. In the meantime I have 2 MBs and 1 MBA to fall back on. The problem with my MBA is probably the sync tables in the firmware or device drivers. I tried different monitors and they all worked nicely and I have not been able to reproduce the problem.

    My real issue with Apple is that for the price (slightly over market value) their customer (phone) service is poor at best. If you ask me they added "friction" to the support process to keep costs low. Sure they offer in-store Genius' support. But you have to make an appointment, and you have to get there. There is nothing like a quick phone call to report my sync rate issue. (I even have video of it)

    PS: have you ever wondered why there is such a huge price difference between fuel types? I gotta believe that there is a marginal difference in the raw materials and the cost of production. The real reason for the cost difference is marketing... and if they offered the 3 fuels at the exact same of marginal price everyone would simply buy the high octane. The price difference is intentional to add friction from one grade to another.


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