Can start using external USB drive, but not internal drive

Suddenly I got the "Folder ?" icon on start up. I plugged in a USB backup drive, restarted and after booting, it took 5 minutes for the keyboard to work so I could login in. The internal drive did not show up with disk utility.

I replaced the internal drive with a drive I know is good, got the "Folder ?" icon again. I plugged in the external USB drive, restarted, and again, had to wait about 5 minutes for the keyboard to work before I could login. Again, the internal drive does not appear in Disk Utility.

The computer runs fine (if a little slow) booting from the USB drive, so I am assuming it is the logic board? Or could it be a part that connects the internal drive to the logic board? So do I need to do other tests, replace the logic board, or replace a smaller part?

Thanks!

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If you have a known good hard drive try it. If you don't, replace the cable that connects the hard dive to the logic board. If you have recently disturbed this cable double check it's connections. If replacing the cable does not solve the problem. You will need to replace the hard drive.

Normally when the hard drive or the hard drive controller on the motherboard are/is failing they give symptoms over time that give hint there will be a failure and don't just die. You have given no indication of previous problems to suspect a problem with them. Also, the cable is the cheapest part to replace.

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I have replaced the internal hard drive with a known good hard drive, and still it does not pick up the internal drive, but will boot from an external USB drive. The strange thing is that it takes 5 minutes for the keyboard to be active when booting from the external drive. I will try to replace the cable from the hard drive to the logic board. If that does not fix the problem, I can then assume it is the logic board?

by Tony

It does sound like the cable is the problem. Insofar as the slow boot from an external USB drive there is a difference in data transfer read and write rate between internal SATA and USB. The USB will be slower, especially with your era of machine.

by ABCellars

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Tony will be eternally grateful.

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