Internal Flash Storage Failure

I was working away today on my iMac when it seemed to just die in front of me.

I tried restarting and eventually arrived at the restore utilities screen and tried using Disk Utilities to check my drive. To my surprise no internal drive was shown. I’ve tried all the usual startup key combinations to no avail and yet I can’t seem to find anything online related to internal flash storage failing (or what to do when it does).

I am in the process of trying to restore from a time machine backup to an external drive to get me up and running again but am at a loss as to what to do about the internal Flash storage.

I’ll call Apple support when they are next open but wondered if anyone has any suggestions or thoughts as to what’s wrong and hopefully how to resolve it.



I think you are proceeding as you should. If you are able to get going again on an external drive, I would agree that your internal drive has died and will have to be replaced, or continue running from the internal drive. What model is your iMac?

How old is your iMac? What’s the model of it?

@Justin_Vega @jec0047 The iMac is a late 2015 I believe with a 512 Flash Drive. As far as I am aware the Flash drives are not upgradable or replaceable so not sure what that means. I assume an Apple repair, but not being under Apple Care may make it cost-prohibitive.

Was the internal drive acting slow at all before it died? Was having any other issues before its death?

Not an easy job but iMac HDD can be replaced, think the 2015 model works but haven’t done one

Doesn’t the 2015 iMac use an SSD? If so, isn’t it soldered?

The SSD can be replaced in your iMac.

OtherWorld Computing ( sells a newer and faster SSD replacement that runs $249US for the 1tb size. You can get the VHB tape strips from them as a kit for mounting the display back onto the enclosure.

I would suggest this or a 3rd party AASP over Apple directly. Mostly because this iMac is Vintage and almost Obsolete in Apple’s opinion. Getting the replacement SSD may take awhile and the cost could be triple what the DYI route would run. Of course you could always use an external drive to get back running and see what the future brings after the next Apple event.

If this is a 27" iMac, I would probably upgrade the SSD. If it is a 21.5" iMac, I would head towards a new iMac. but that’s just my thoughts.

Another fix could be an external SSD attached by whatever the fastest USB or Thunderbolt that the iMac could handle.

There are 3 models listed for late 2015 so we would need a little more information about your machine to accurately assess its repair options, but I think @MacGuyMI has suggested one possible approach (if you’re comfortable tearing your machine apart), @r2d2 another (although I would consider Thunderbolt as the only viable option for running solely from an external drive).

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I nothing! Just working away and machine just crashed right in front of me and will not boot backup at all. I am now booked into the Genius Bar on Tuesday.

No flashing folder icon when attempting to boot? Will it not even boot to system utilities?

Thanks for the responses @MacGuyMI @r2d2 @jec0047 - However, in this instance, I don’t think your correct about SSD. My machine is a 27" late 2015 machine and according to Mactracker this model came with (1 or 3 TB (7200-rpm SATA), 1, 2, or 3 TB Fusion Drive, or 256, 512 GB, or 1 TB flash storage), and I went with the 512GB flash drive for optimal performance.

Had it been an SSD I would have replaced myself (I’ve done it once before on a different machine).

The machine is booked in with the genius bar on Tuesday so we’ll see what they come back with first. My plan has always been to upgrade to the next iMac when released with M1 or better, but I was hoping to get some cash from this machine towards that. If the cost of repair is prohibitive I’ll run it with an external drive temporarily.

@Justin_Vega I can boot to restore utilities but am having some issues with a restore. I have a time machine backup based off a Big Sur beta release. The trouble is the machine is only booting to El Capitan which does not support the appropriate file format. I have a new external drive prepped with Big Sur and will try making a boot flash stick which will hopefully allow me to do a restore from time machine. The main trouble is time at the moment, every step is taking so long :frowning:

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I believe that flash and SSD are the same thing. I think the genius bar is a good idea. I hope they can troubleshoot there. Let us know how it goes.

So, the Apple store called me today, several times in fact. The first time they called me to tell me I had a faulty power supply!!! I explained that they were incorrect and that it was powering up just fine when I left it with them.

The second time they called to advise that my assessment was actually correct and that the SSD was in fact no longer working. They weren’t sure why or how they had misdiagnosed it the first time round :man_facepalming:

They told me that they had a replacement on order which will take a couple of days to arrive. Then they hit me with the cost. £517!!! :scream: for parts and labour. When I enquired why it was so expensive they told me the part alone (the SSD) was £360. What!!!

Now, that said I’m not sure what alternative I have but to go ahead and fix it despite the fact that I’m going to be purchasing an M1 iMac as soon as they are available. If I don’t repair it, the machine will have little to no value.

Of course, I could try and repair it myself but I’m just not sure I want that hassle.

I have toyed with the other options such as running off an external drive or buying a Mac mini as a temporary stopgap but I’m not sure there’s much advantage, and the Mac mini would cost almost double the drive.

I am very disappointed that the SSD has failed after only 5.5 years. And doubly disappointed at the exorbitant price of repair. If it were more reasonable I really wouldn’t mind and if only I knew when the next iMac was coming it would be a much easier decision.

if you intend to buy a new one when they come out running off an external drive it’s the more cost effective way to wait. plus, when the new comes, you get a free ssd drive :stuck_out_tongue:

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I know thats what my head says, but not knowing how long that wait will be is a big issue. I figure I’ll make the money back on the resale of my current iMac. Or maybe I’ll find a way to keep it in service at home.

I think it’s quite possible that the bottom is going to fall out of the used Intel iMac market very soon. If it were my machine I’d either fix it myself or run off a external drive. YMMV.

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I’m sure there will be an impact but I think there will always be a market for used iMac’s for those who just can’t afford £2k - £3k for a new one.

Is there an Apple Authorized Service Provider or a good computer repair shop near you that could replace the SSD instead of Apple, in the hopes of saving you some money???

I would suggest you watch the repair video online and decide if you can repair it yourself. or are good sites for this info that is put together by professionals.

Few questions I always ask customers at the Genius bar.

  1. Could you sell your computer afterwards for the cost of the repair?

  2. How much longer do you expect to keep this computer?

  3. Yes, you spent “good money” on your computer. Without using the word “forever”, how long do you believe it should last?

  4. When your iMac joins Apple’s Obsolete list next year and no parts are available any longer… is repair really a viable option?

I know these are tough questions for some people to answer logically. Most Apple users have an emotional/sentimental attachment to their products. Consider your options with your head not your heart. (This is where I suggest the customer go grab a cup of coffee or tea and think about it outside the store)

If you really are planning to purchase an M1 iMac, whenever they arrive, then I would wholeheartedly recommend booting from an external drive until that time.