iMac broken HDD - how to change - Mac Expert required

Hi guys,

long time no see. Probably something for my friend @schpengle

Got a smaller problem with a broken iMac HDD (27" late 2013).
Already removed it, bought a new and now the how-to?

That’s what I thought:

  1. Installing new HDD (and glue the thing together :slight_smile: )
  2. Create a “bootable” USB Stick
  3. Start the machine from the bootable USB stick system thing
  4. Disk Utility (OSX extended, GUID)
  5. Install OSX
  6. Reboot from new HDD

Would you guys go like this, cause I’m under the impression, that installing the OS directly on the HDD doesn’t work as expected.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and tipps.



Hey Thomas, missed you around here.

I have always used SuperDuper (from ShirtPocket software - an EXCELLENT software!) to make bootable backups on an external disk. (Of course, you need to do this BEFORE the old drive breaks.) Then (after the HDD surgery - which looks REALLY SCARY on an iMac) I just reboot the Mac from the external disk and do a SuperDuper copy of all my old data back onto the new HDD. Then all is restored - everything works just as before.

By the way - On my last drive replacement (on a Mac Mini), I went with a Solid State Drive, and OH! What an amazing difference. A GIGANTIC improvement in speed over the previous internal HDD. EVERYTHING is so much faster. At least twice as fast. Made the Mac feel “young” again - with renewed vigor! I vowed I will always go with SSD’s in the future. Well worth the extra money. (And getting cheaper all the time.)

Hi Chuck,

first and foremost:

Thanks for coming back to me and for your answers. Basically I’m not (much) around cause I’m not that much in WebDesign anymore - and certainly, the small things I still do, I’m so happy with Pinegrow having one of the most valuable piece of software on board. But good to know someone missed me. I try to stalk PG-Forum a bit more - guys and gals here are cool and “SuperDuper!” ( :slight_smile: ) helpful of all kind of daily nightmares.

Apropos nightmare:

Dismantle (using this pizza wheel and a credit card) worked well - the assemply - well I’ll report back.

The SuperDuper is cool and bookmarked, having a look later once (Fingers crossed) the machine is back to life.

My bigger concern right now is:

Data Recovery

F*****g expensive using a service (500bucks up to 1000). So I’m holding it back, probably someone stumbles in being an expert in this. Stupidity must be punished (Murphy’s Law?).


I simply haven’t had the eggs purchasing an SSD so I purchased an Seagate HDD just as a replacement 1:1. But am sure an SSD would have been the better choice.

But you would basically agree to my 1-6 bullets plan or are ther any adjustments?



Agree that USB Memory Stick method is the recommended way to restore the Apple software. (Though I’ve never done it myself, so have no advice to offer.)

Seems like you’ve already done the hardest (and scariest) part: Splitting open the iMac by pulling off the screen. (It was scary enough to crack open the Mac Mini the first time, and there is no screen involved in that one.) I’ve only seen it done once on an iMac - and that was to an iMac that several of us had decided was “expendable” in case the prospect went badly. It was SUPER-SCARY pulling that screen off.

You are right - Data recovery is very expensive. And not at all guaranteed, either. It’s a lot of money to spend on a “MAYBE we can get the data”.

What’s great about the SuperDuper backups is that they can be put on an external disk that is BOOTABLE. And it’s a full and exact copy of what you had. So any problem, you just reboot from the backed-up external drive and you are immediately back in business. Then, if needed, you can just SuperDuper back in the other direction to restore your internal HD. It really works good. (It having saved my bacon a couple of times.)

Also, I only use the “Full Backup” method each time. You can do “incremental” backup method if you want, but the “Full Backup” guarantees that you have an exact match of what’s on your original HD. So that is what I prefer. For incremental backups, I’ll let Apple’s Time Machine do that in the background. (As a “backup”-backup to my SuperDuper backups.)

Furthermore, the guy that runs Shirtpocket Software (Bruce Lacey) is LEGENDARY in the business for his customer service. Sort of like Matjaz - he responds super-quick to customer’s questions and needs. And he really knows his stuff - all the intimate details of Macs and backup software. He once answered me back directly with an email in the middle of the night. (I think he’s used to dealing with people who are in a panic.) So I’ve come to really trust SuperDuper and it’s the primary software I use for backups.

Best of luck to you, in getting your data back. Hopefully you find a way.

It only takes one bad crash to learn the lesson: Backup, backup, backup.
It’s a hard way to learn, though.

Hi there Both.

Sorry, I saw this yday… Ive been quietly lurking around here, but PG questions have got pretty advanced beyond my hello world …web dev skill levels.

I was going to reply yesterday and say, Ill reply properly later to you with some advice… and then the day went by! stuff happened , so I’ll say , I’ll try and reply properly later.

I was going to suggest using the dosdude1 installer and update the OS , which required knowing exactly which model of the 2013 iMac it is … Metal, non Metal , graphics capability etc.

But… when I looked, I couldn’t find DosDude1’s website.

so here is a quick search on this forum.

so this would break you free of APPLES Year of Manufacture, castrating OS Install Limitation.

and, yes I would. definitely USB install at first to check it all out, then clone the disk to a separate partition or just install it.
Ive probably got a lot of waffly install instructions on here about it.
I ll have a quick look now.

And as for recovery, Ive had success with DiskDrill -as well as such old tricks as Placing the HDD in the freezer/fridge for sometime and then retrying to recover data from it again etc.
not with Snow leopard!-10.6.8
a bug in the DD app for this OS caused it to insert it its app icon in the Mac OS file system in a location which caused the OS to become unbootable…after installing DD and trying to recover data from a failed disk!

A pretty non intuitive situation considering you were already stuffed… due to a non booting HDD!
But I digress.

And YES… for the solid state disk. Really, the performance hit is massive on older machines, but you ALSO have to make sure that the OS your running has TRIM capability enabled for 3rd party SS HDD’s or otherwise… when files are deleted er, they basically aren’t! the files stay on the SS HDD and aren’t actually cleaned away as such and you will notice a performance hit over time as the SSD clogs up with NOT Deleted files and the OS just keeps moving them about! - seriously.
there are techie explanations of this about. But basically, it was an APPLE decision to screw. you if you didn’t pay for their ULTRA expensive Apple SS HDD’s

so I’ll have a look later, if you could advise me which actual model and late mid/early part of the year of manufacture.


just checked again!

I can connect to it now.
His installers will allow you to install up to Catalina on non supported Macs (depending on your version/graphics cards, wifi bluetooth hardware etc)

this is the way to go with regards your 2013 imac OS install

ah! ok
Corrected! Here I STAND! - you may just notice quite a bit of striking through up there :smiley:

dont bother with the Dosdude1 patcher tool as … you can run Mojave, Catalina etc.
…Dosdude1 patchers flat line just before Big Sur and never produced an installer for that or beyond.

however, paying heed to what @SilverT says, and the fact that you would have USB bottleneck - BUT STILL MUCH FASTER than standard HDD on these later OS’s
(especially if USB 3 - which is what I think your iMac would have)… the SSD would prove to be much faster an experience that spinning disks!

I now only use them for back up archiving (well and some gaming - when I used to have time)
Well… actually, Ive not even done anything remotely archivey…for aaaages.
I hope I can remember where my passwords are stored!

This following link is relevant.

1 Like