Publish Insights 4 September 2021
Interim Storage Solution
During the adolescence of the twenty-first century, high-capacity SSD drives were very expensive. Tablets were shipping with 8 to 32 gigabytes. But computer users were accustomed to spinning at least 1-terabyte discs. To offer the illusion of SSD at affordable larger capacities, Apple produced a hybrid called the Fusion Drive.
This software-driven solution fuses a small SSD with a larger spinning disc. So your 3-terabyte Fusion Drive has a 128-gigabyte SSD for frequently used data like system software. A 1-terabyte iMac with this hybrid drive has a 24-gigabyte SSD. Most data is on a slower 5400 RPM disc.
Planning To Fail
Both spinning platters and solid-state drives eventually fail. The normal symptoms are louder spinning or clicking with sluggish performance. Disk utilities can mark bad sectors of a spinning disc to preserve performance longer. Software can redirect storage from failing cells. But there are few cells in small-capacity SSDs. They silently stop functioning.
So what happens when the SSD fails in your Fusion Drive? You get the sluggish performance but Apple Disk Utility does not report a problem. As long as the spinning disc functions, your diagnostics believe everything is fine. So your system attempts to send frequently used data to the malfunctioning SSD.
Resurrecting Failed Drive
Diagnosing an SSD drive requires a third-party utility like DriveDx. After confirming the death of the Fusion Drive, you have three options:
- Pay a high price for a professional to replace the drive.
- Replace it yourself for the price of parts and labor.
- Give/sell it to a repair shop for pennies in the dollar.
Though the second option is less expensive, without experience, you could cause more damage. If you do manage to successfully get your computer open, you might not be able to put it back together again. Even with some technical background, you have a 50% chance of success.
Apple intentionally designs iPhone, iMac, and MacBook computers so end-users cannot service them. Some components are glued or soldered together into cramped spaces. Others are secured with a myriad of tiny screws. So you need special tools to access parts.
If you are feeling ambitious, the price of SSDs has come down over the past several years. So do not install another Fusion Drive. Visit iFixit guides by model for step-by-step teardown instructions.
There are nearly 40 steps to replace an Intel iMac hard drive. You then need to reverse the steps and apply new adhesive strips to close it back up.
The Fusion Drive model iMac does not support the most current version of MacOS. Apple will pay nothing for these older computers as a trade-in. Instead, it offers to recycle outdated computers. A repair shop may refurbish and sell it or disassemble it to reuse its working parts.
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- Fusion Drive. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_Drive Retrieved 4 Nov 2021
- What to do if your Mac’s Fusion Drive fails. macworld.com/article/3441837/what-to-do-if-your-macs-fusion-drive-fails-or-shows-signs-of-failure.html Retrieved 4 Nov 2021
- Mac Service and Repair. support.apple.com/mac/repair/service Retrieved 4 Nov 2021