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Model A1311 / Mid 2011 / 2.5 & 2.7 GHz Core i5 or 2.8 GHz Core i7 Processor

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Recover HDD contents from dead iMac by mounting it in External caddy,

Friends have a 21.5 mid-2011 iMac that either doesn't boot or has a dead display backlight. No interest in repairing it - they have a newer iMac now - but drive contents may be of value.

If I remove the drive (presumed healthy) and put it in a SATA-USB caddy, is it likely that the drive would be visible when plugged into a newer iMac as an external drive?


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Hi Dave,

Yes, the 2011 iMac Hard Drive uses a standard SATA to connect. It will mount up as an external drive, but make sure the SATA cable/caddy is also powered. A 3.5 inch Hard Drive needs additional power to function properly.

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Make sure you can see it - Go to Finder > Preferences > General > make sure the external disk box is checked


I have a unresponsive HDD of a 2008 24"imac, and hoping to get to the data on it as well. Can you expand on the powered Sata cable, and how to hock it up, if I had such a thing? For now I just have a regular Sata to USB cable, and the HDD does not show at all on any of my machines.


Did this work? I am doing the same thing but the drive won't mount although it sounds like it is working. On older drives you had to change jumpers to make them Slave rather than Master? But can't see anything similar on this one.


SATA drives are plug and play, you're thinking the very old days of ESDI (PATA) drives.

I do this often enough to save peoples data. Just make sure the SATA to USB adapter offers power as the 3.5" drives need power vs the 2.5" drives.


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If this iMac's problem is a dead display backlight but the machine will still turn on, and if the machine has a firewire port, then you might be able to boot it into Target Disk Mode and access the contents of the hard drive that way.

You will need another machine that also has a firewire port. Hold down the 'T' key while you power up the troubled iMac. Then run a firewire cable from that iMac's firewire port to another Mac that is running and also has a firewire port. The troubled iMac's hard drive will show up on the other Mac's desktop as if it were an external drive (which, in effect, it is).

It doesn't matter if both machines have the same speed firewire ports - either can be 400 or 800 - as long as you have a cable with the correct types of connectors (or adapters) to be able to plug into each machine.

After you have finished accessing the 'external' firewire drive, eject/unmount it from the good machine's desktop and then press the power button on the troubled iMac to power it down.

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Per the owner of said iMac:

"Turn it on and you get that apple sound tone - normal- but that's it. Looks and acts dead otherwise. No response to keyboard or mouse inputs. The guy at the Apple Store suspects it's something significantly more than just a video problem. He had it hooked up to an external monitor with some sort of diagnostic software. And the computer didn't even complete the boot up process. Several times just 'hung up' during boot up. So it's not turning on to the point where u can access anything or tell it to do anything."

So, Target Disk Mode vía FireWire sounds unlikely?

I'll go with drive excision and a SATA-USB 3.1 caddy I have. Thanks for the prompt replies!


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David Boyd sera éternellement reconnaissant.
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