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Laptop failed, need to access HDD

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Jun 24, 2014
My Macbook Pro died in its sleep the other day, and I'm hoping to get ahold of a few files that have been updated since my last backup. Luckily several factors point to the idea that it was the SMC or battery that died, not the HDD.

This might be a silly question, but I'm just not familiar enough with storage to know -- assuming the HDD itself is fine, is there anything preventing me from removing the laptop HDD and connecting it to a sata slot on my desktop motherboard and grabbing what I need off the HDD?

I'm guessing something about formatting or such will prevent such an easy solution, but I thought I'd ask.
I believe it is an Early 2011 15" Macbook Pro. I can crack open the bottom and take a picture of the 2.5" HDD if that would help.
Hi @GearingMass!

Theoretically once you connect the HDD to your desktop it should be recognized. However, there are few specifics.

First, the file system needs to be the same. For instance, if you have Windows on your desktop and the drive is formatted in HFS+ you won't be able to transfer the data stored on it without a specific software that will allow this, or you can try to use Linux Live CD to boot and from there move your information.

In order to do that you have to download/burn the ISO image to a CD or USB and change the boot order to the media you burned the Linux on. Once it loads, you could try and mount the drive (or if Linux can read it, it will mount by itself) and see if you can transfer the files from the drive.

Hope this helps, mate - cheers! :)
here's how it's done.
pop the hdd out of the lappy, see that it has regular sata and power connectors, if it does get a cheap docking station and hook it up to a desktop.
download and burn a live cd of Ubuntu, boot the working system from the live cd.
hook up the dock and plug in the hdd from the dead mac and navigate around and move all the files you are after to the drive on the desktop.
shut down , remove live cd and reboot the system, move the files you rounded up to an external drive.
swear on your mothers grave never to waste your money on a mac anything again and just use a Linux distro of your choice, that is all a mac is.............
windows cannot "see" a Linux file system, but Linux can "see" and use a windblows file system.
Since it's a 2.5" drive you can do it. Newer versions of your laptop have soldered in storage.
Ace caddi!! Thanks everyone, I'll try and give that a go soon.

Haha yeah, it was fun enough, but the replacement will certainly not be a mac, I'm over that jazz.

Refresh me on the term "distro."

Also, do you think the HDD in the Mac is written with a Windows file system? I didn't think macs used FAT.
Distro = distribution.

You'll need a computer with a Linux distro loaded to plug the HDD in to if you plan to read the data.
Late to the party, as usual, but I'm guessing you got this figured out?

Ubuntu is a great distro to use for just about anything, but the high memory overhead and what is certainly my least favorite desktop environment put me off about it. If you or anyone is looking for an alternative, I use System Rescue CD. It can be loaded entirely into RAM and the footprint is less than 600MB, it has GParted (one of the best partition managers that exist, in my opinion), an excellent file manager and awesome imaging software (PartImg). The XFCE desktop manager looks similar to an early version of Windows, it's not pretty, but it works well and it's lightweight. Also, since it's purpose is system maintenance, you're automatically logged in as "Root" (admin), so you don't have errors when you forget to "sudo".

Anyway, anyone who does their own maintenance on their system should have at least one live system on CD/DVD/USB for when the inevitable happens, and you need to save your stuff.