New Hard Drive, El Capitan, Restoring Everything to Current Status

Hello Fix it community. I decided to come ask you guys for advice on this Macbook because I have a strong feeling you will give me excellent guidance. I am working on a late 2011 A1278 Macbook. The hard drive is the original 500GB Seagate and it is failing. The Macbook will still boot but is extremely slow in doing so, but is still functional. The owners of said Macbook each have their own user profile and neither has backed up any of their data.

I am replacing the original drive with a new WD 750GB Scorpio Black drive. I would like to reload everything exactly as it was for them. I have a clean 32GB flash drive, a USB 3.0 2.5" drive enclosure and a copy of Snow Leopard at my disposal. I would also like to upgrade them to El Capitan if that isn't done automatically.

I would like to get this right on the first go so I thought to ask the best fix-it community first. I have also googled this situation but wanted to ask here before I got started.

Answered! View the answer I have this problem too

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I'll be happy to try to help you. First please fill out your profile so we have an idea of your level of expertise. Next What tools do you have as far as other Macs to test with? Can you do Target Mode.

The first thing is to isolate that drive and get it out. The hard drive cable may be your main problem. Replace with one from a 2012 model.

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I am a capable Tech with a full set of tools. My main expertise is windows based systems, very little knowledge of macs. I do not have a second Mac with which to do Target Mode. I will fill out my profile soon, so that this needn't be asked again>

Edit: Currently I have the new drive in and the old drive hooked up via the 2.5" enclosure. When I hold down option upon starting the Mac, it only shows the original drive, on which there is no recovery partition it appears.

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A lot of PC techs slash their wrists when trying work on Macs and vice versa.

Some of the external enclosures are PC only and just don't work right on a Mac drive, (Seagate enclosures are bad about this, read the box to see if it is windows only.) The drive has to formatted GUID and Mac Extended. Some boxes will tell you they are doing that and you go to put it in and it is Master Boot Block.

Anyway, format it using Applications > Utilities > Disk Utilities. Then put a system on it.

Warning, the machine will boot from an external drive format Master boot block but when you install it in the machine it will give you the finger. Since you are a tech I'm using a technical term i usually don't use.

That hard drive/IR cable was a major problem on this model. It fails as it goes over the lat step and then the bottom of the case comes into contact with it. I prefer the wider path 2012 cable. Be sure to get the correct 13" or 15" as the connectors are different, (one horizontal the other vertical). Here's the cable: MacBook Pro 13" Unibody (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable

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