Released June 2012 / Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost / Up to 1 GB DDR5 Video RAM

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SSD problem - folder with question mark / other errors (SATA cable?)

I'm having trouble (again) with my MacBook pro "13 (mid 2012). It started with opening my MacBook out of sleep mode when it suddenly froze. When I tried to boot it afterwards I got at first this weird overlay:

http://imgur.com/AtFH9kD

After that, when trying to boot it I had some varations of errors, including:

  • Shutting down halfway booting
  • Boots but no applications work
  • Error message: CoreTelephony Trace File Error
  • Error message: Unapproved caller "SecurityAgent may only be invoked by Apple software".
  • Folder with question mark

SSD (Samsung Evo 250GB) works when I connect it with a USB to Sata cable.

I did an Apple Hardware test, which gave this error:

  • Error: 4hdd/11/40000000 SATA (0.0)

And with "Etre Check" I got this error:

  • SSD 250GB (disk2) /Volumes/SSD 250GB : 247.47 GB (233.77 GB free) - 2 errors - Drive failure!

Did PRAM reset, SMC reset etc, but to no avail.

Now to me everything seems to point out that the SATA cable is at fault, but my problem is that I already replaced it once about one and a half year ago, and again 3 months ago. Both times it seems to have fixed the problem, but as you can imagine I'm a bit hesitant to replace it again as it is becoming quite expensive.

In summary I'm looking for advice; Is it the SATA cable again that's at fault here? Is there anything in my logic board (or another component) that might be at fault? Is there any reason why it failed for the third time? Can I prevent that? Should I just buy a new MBP at this point? I'm a bit reluctant to do that as all the other components of my MBP still work very well.

Thanks in advance, I'm very greatful this forum exists and there's people here that want to help others in their free time.

Update (02/28/2016)

UPDATE: Just for people that encounter the same problem, it was most likely the SATA cable that was at fault here. What I did is I bought a HDD Caddy and placed it where my optical drive used to be, so I did not need to buy an expensive new SATA cable. My SSD works perfectly now. I even put my old HDD 500gb in the spot with the 'faulty' SATA cable, and although I can't boot from it, I can use it as storage space (it does connect). I should probably replace the SATA cable eventually, but for now everything works fine. To prevent the SATA cable from going bad, I would advice the tips which Dan gave above:

"I add a few layers of Kapton tape to help protect the cable and I even take some plastic stock to place on the frame to act as a bumper to protect the cable from a bang from the bottom cover flexing. Lastly, I'm careful on not over bending the folds of the cable as you can distort it causing signal reflections."

Hope that helps.

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I would first check the systems firmware level. Follow this Apple T/N: About EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Mac computers. Make sure your at the level listed or newer.

Sadly, I suspect your SATA cable maybe bad here. Theres a couple of issues you face.

First, you need to make sure you have the correct rev of the cable. Some part supply houses are shipping out the older cable which is not rated for SATA III (6.0 Gb/s) drives. You see the original cable was designed for the older SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) drive Apple contracted for as at the time SATA III drives were still hard to get in the large quantities Apple needed.

So if you have the older system which has the ability to support SATA III drives you also need to replace the SATA cable with the newer version if you plan to use a SATA III drive.

The second issue here is the cable can be damaged where it passes over the drive frame. I add a few layers of Kapton tape to help protect the cable and I even take some plastic stock to place on the frame to act as a bumper to protect the cable from a bang from the bottom cover flexing. Lastly, I'm careful on not over bending the folds of the cable as you can distort it causing signal reflections.

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Hey Dan, thanks a million for your elaborate comment, really appreciate it. I will make sure to get the SATA III cable. I have two questions left:

First: Do you know of a guide on how to protect the cable with this tape / plastic so I know where to put it? Or some photos so I have an idea?

Second: If I would replace my optical drive with an HDD Caddy and connect my SSD there, would it fix my problem as well? Then I could theoretically run my MacBook with a faulty SATA cable right? This would be cheaper than buying a new SATA cable.

Thanks again for your reply, was very useful.

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Don't have any pics to show you what I do. But you can see the area here: SATA cable routing. If you look just above the battery warning label you'll see a black block screwed down by two screws. This block mates up with the tab on the bottom cover. If it is damaged I create a new one. The cable just above it can rub just to the right on the reddish part of the cable. I place the tape just under it.

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Are we throwing out the baby with the bath water here? Why are you going down that path? Sure you could put in the dual drive carrier replacing the optical drive. but why would you give up your optical drive unless you are planing to use the primary drive bay for a different drive.

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Thanks for the fast reply! As for my second solution, buying a HDD Caddy would be cheaper than buying a new SATA Cable (at least where I'm from - The Netherlands) - so that's why I'm considering it. And I've literally never used the optical drive once this past year so I don't really need it.

I'll think about it but either way I have a clear idea of what my options are and how I can fix them - so my sincere gratitude for your help Dan!

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Roan will be eternally grateful.
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