Hard drive frequently disappears. Drive, cable or poltergeist?
Summary, my MacBook Pro frequently forgets where it parked the hard drive. I can't figure out its a bad drive or a bad cable or a gremlin.
I was recently given this MacBook Pro* by a friend I help by fixing his PC's and Windows problems. The MacBook was used by his daughter in high school and now in college.
About a year ago, the hard drive died and the Apple store replaced the drive. (HGST 500gb) A month ago, it died again and the Apple store would not diagnose the issue without a charge so they bought her a new MacBook Pro as this one was already 3.5 years old and out of warranty. She needs a reliable computer.
The first time I booted it, it came up with no problem. I didn't have her password so reset the password and tried to boot again. It the booted to the blinking folder indicating it couldn't locate the hard drive.
Since then I've booted into Internet recovery (Ethernet cabled directly to the router) and reinstalled the Lion five or six times. Sometimes it completes some times it hangs while installing. If it does complete the install, usually within 24 hours I've got the blinking folder on boot again. Some times another reboot and it's back. One time I installed, upgraded to El Capitan rebooted once with it working and then a second time and the drive was MIA. I've booted in to Internet Recovery mode many times and if it sees the hard drive, Disk Utility finds no problems with it. Sometimes it can't find the drive.
I've read about abrasion on the HD cable so I taped it up carefully and again reinstalled Lion. No difference it still frequently forgot where to boot from. Convinced it was a bad drive then, I then put in a new Toshiba 1gb drive earmarked for my wife's Dell, reinstalled Lion and it's been running fine for two days. To verify that it was a bad drive, I put the drive in a portable case and ran HGST advanced diagnostics from my PC (Windows) and it came up clean.
So here's the real puzzler. I attached the USB portable case with the old drive in it to the MacBook and after another clean install on the old drive it's been running from external drive perfectly for two days!!! WTH? I've got no problem buying a new drive or a new cable but want to be sure whatever I do actually fixes it.
*I've wanted a newer MacBook as the only one I have now is a circa 2006 32bit dual Core that won't run a newer OS X than Lion.
Is this a good question?