Q&A: That hard disk is no more

Q The first startup drive in my Mac Pro 2012 had problems, so I inserted a 2 TB drive and used Time Machine to make it the startup disk. The old drive shows up with a S.M.A.R.T. status of ‘failed’, and I get frequent beachball cursors with it left in place. Should I move it to a different drive slot? How can I remove it from its caddy?

A Once a drive has been marked with a S.M.A.R.T. status of ‘failed’, you should remove it as quickly as possible. It will only cause more problems, and if some software inadvertently tries to access any data on it, perhaps via an alias or link, your Mac could throw a kernel panic.

It is, in the words of the Dead Parrot Sketch, not pining: it is no more, and has ceased to be.

Shut your Mac Pro down, switch it off at the mains, open its case, and pop the dead drive out on its sled. Use a Phillips #1 screwdriver to loosen the bolts on the sled, which can be reused. SATA drives can be placed in any slot, so you do not need to move the newer drive around.

Comments Although S.M.A.R.T. warnings of imminent hard disk failure are not always reliable, you should act on them as quickly as you can. Complete failure could occur at any moment, so you should make safety backup copies of all important documents as quickly as possible. Check which tests have been failed using a S.M.A.R.T. utility before considering replacement.

Norwegian blue parrots, though, are not equipped with S.M.A.R.T. systems.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 28 issue 08, 2012.