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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > hard drive dying? main user account gone!

hard drive dying? main user account gone!
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Mac Elite
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: RTP, NC
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Sep 21, 2016, 09:46 AM
Hey folks... I'm in desperate need of some advice.

My iMac (Late 2012, 27-inch, 3.4GHz Intel Core i7, 24GB RAM, 1TB Fusion drive) has been acting a little flaky lately. I've tried running Disk Utility to do first aid, and it says it worked. However, Onyx complains that the disk needs repair and won't go further. I did the PRAM reset or whatever it's called now and things seemed better. The flakiness subsided and I was lulled into believing I had fixed it... until today.

I have three accounts on my iMac; my main one (non-admin), admin, and one for my wife (which she never uses). I woke up the Mac and got the password prompt for my main account, which is normal. However, it wouldn't accept my password. I'm certain it was the right password and caps lock was not on. I tried to log into my admin account, and the screen "rotated" as if I had successfully logged in, but I got a black screen. I could see my mouse pointer and that was it.

So I restarted. Now my main account was not in the list - it showed only two accounts (admin, wife). I'm starting to panic. I logged into my admin account, got in. There is a directory under Users for my main account with what appears to be all my files, but no account listed for it under account and login preferences or in the quick user switch menu.

I ran disk first aid via Disk Utilities. It passed. I restarted again. Still only two accounts.

I've got Time Machine backups, but I just found out they're not bootable (didn't they used to be??). I also have CrashPlan backups of the important files. Actually, now I can't recall if I did a full Time Machine backup - maybe I only did files (skipping apps and OS). Anyway... moot since I can't boot it anyway.

I'm going under the assumption that my 1TB Fusion drive is dying. I've downloaded a free trial of Carbon Copy Cloner and I'm running it now. While I feel pretty comfortable with my Time Machine backup in terms of content, I'm hoping to get a bootable drive so I can maybe run SpinRite on my iMac drive (using this technique). I've got this running now, it's about 10% done.

The SpinRite thing is a long shot. Getting it to run on an internal iMac drive is not simple. (I wish Steve would get SpinRite 6.1 out already!!)

Does anyone have another idea about a tool I could run on my Mac to try to repair the drive, or at least inspect it?

While I'm a software engineer and comfortable with tinkering, I've very leery about replacing my iMac hard drive myself. I've tried this stuff before, and it's a royal PITA. I can't seem to find an Apple service online for having Apple do the upgrade, but I'm looking into it. Is this possible? Anyone know what they charge? I could actually use some more space - would love to have a 2TB or 3TB Fusion drive, if they exist.

Any other ideas?
Late 2012 27" iMac 3.4GHz Intel Core i7, 24GB RAM, 3TB Fusion drive
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Mac Elite
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: RTP, NC
Status: Offline
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Sep 21, 2016, 10:39 AM
I just got off the phone with Apple Support (talked to a "senior" specialist). He concurred with my analysis: probably a bad drive. He also concurred with my approach: try SpinRite, else get a new drive.

So he transferred me to my local Apple Store. They said they do not do hard drive upgrades, period. They will replace my drive with one just like the one I had, but they have no way of upgrading (even to another Apple drive). Basically, other than RAM, they won't do upgrades. She recommended I go to a third party.
Late 2012 27" iMac 3.4GHz Intel Core i7, 24GB RAM, 3TB Fusion drive
Mike Wuerthele
Managing Editor
Join Date: Jul 2012
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Sep 22, 2016, 09:01 AM
Yeah, concur with third party. There are Apple specialists here and there in major metro areas, and I believe OWC still does mail-in repair/replacement service still.
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