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A1418 | EMC 2889 | Late 2015 | 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 or 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5. Released October 13, 2015.

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Hard Drive Not Detected

Recently, a friend brought me an 21.5” iMac (Late 2015) and explained that instead of booting, the computer would simply show a file folder with a question mark blinking. Knowing this meant the start up disk wasn’t being located, I went about entering recovery mode and attempting to reinstall the OS. Easy, cool, great.

However, when it came time to select where to install the OS, the existing disk inside the computer was no where to be found.

Fast forward: the glass has been safely removed and the hard drive is physically in an enclosure plugged into another machine and I am able to see and manage the drive in disk utility. When I bring the drive back to it’s original home and attempt the install again? Still can’t find the disk or see it in Disk Utility. What is happening? Is there a way to test the SATA connection in the comp?

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Will the computer boot from an external drive?


@mayer It has booted from an external drive. When entering disk utility from an external drive, the internal drive is still no where to be seen.


Hi @princeunicorn

What I can think of some practical approach to check on this,

Ensure the hdd cables, sata are properly seated and connected.

if you have a spare 2.5 hdd, connect it up and try.

some things to check, if the sata power cables giving power, is the sata cable okay? lastly is the hdd okay?

boot the os from external drive, and check the spare internal disc if it is detected.


@augustine I removed the drive and placed it in an enclosure to confirm that it was bootable. When I take it out of the comp it works. When I plug in external drives and hold option when I boot, I can see those external drives.

This is making me think there’s a problem with the Sata cable... it looks totally fine though...


Hi @princeunicorn

Just give a try and get another 2.5 inch hdd to test out if it is being detected.


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Solution retenue

Turns out that the SATA cable needed to be replaced.

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Was that a difficult fix? Could you do it yourself? I’m considering opening up my iMac; changing the hard drive looks doable but I can’t find instruction on changing the cable. Thanks.


Hi @pmcc! It was really quite easy, the SATA cable is just routed in a somewhat specific way. However, if you purchase the correct cable, it's shaped in a way that will only fit into the computer in the correct orientation.

A link for the part:

iMac 21.5" (Late 2013-2017) SATA Cable

A link to a similar enough guide (there's not been a guide made for this specific model but I reviewed this one and it is essentially the same minus some differences in spacing):

Changement nappe SATA iMac Intel 27" écran Retina 5K


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Luke sera éternellement reconnaissant.
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