2013 iMac dying. Can I remove the Fusion drive and re-use them as two separate USB drives for backup

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in Genius Bar
2013 27" iMac running Catalina - cannot install any newer OS versions.

The iMac is showing signs of dying.

I was wondering if I could remove the Fusion drive, and re-use them as normal USB drives, just for backups and to store some media files or documents etc.

I have no intention of using it as a single fusion drive or to boot from it as a fusion drive or anything like that, I merely want to use them as I use my other USB externals - maybe plug the into a USB dock and use just to access some files.

Is this even possible?

Googling providfes no answers - all results talk about using it as a Fusion drive itself or about recovering data from them etc.

Thanks and cheers
forgot username

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,980member
    If it showing signs of dying hard drive is most likely problem or the SSD I wouldn’t be using them as back up. 
    mdoss
  • Reply 2 of 10
    What Mattinoz said.

    ... but if you thing the HDD is ok, then use it as-is... the "fusion" is packaged as a single device that looks and acts as a single HDD... take it out and use it.

    ... having said that, I'm typing this on a 2011 iMac that had gotten so slow and hesitant that it seemed like it was having issues and near death.  I removed the HDD and replaced it with a SSD and the machine acted like new again... still going strong.  The HDD was a huge bottleneck for running newer (post 2016?) versions of MacOS... the speed of the SSD changed everything in this old machine!


    forgot usernamemdoss
  • Reply 3 of 10
    thttht Posts: 4,722member
    The HDD in my 2013 iMac 27 failed last year. I just had Apple replace it for $300. Continues to work fine as a web browsing, file server, photo viewing, video playing machine.

    The wait continues for an M1 Pro Mac mini with 32 GB of RAM.
    mdoss
  • Reply 4 of 10
    Using the original blade SSD externally would be rather expensive because of Apple's proprietary PCI-e connector. I think only OWC sells a compatible enclosure and it's not cheap. You didn't write what capacity your Fusion drive is. Even if it's 3TB, you can get used 3TB HDDs pretty cheap nowadays, so I wouldn't go through the hassle of taking apart the iMac unless you intend to replace or upgrade the Fusion drive components in it and keep using the machine. You didn't specify what you mean by it's dying, whether it's slow or other components are failing in it, so we can't guess whether you want to keep using the iMac or just want to cannibalize it for parts.
    forgot usernamemdoss
  • Reply 5 of 10
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,567administrator
    mdoss said:
    2013 27" iMac running Catalina - cannot install any newer OS versions.

    The iMac is showing signs of dying.

    I was wondering if I could remove the Fusion drive, and re-use them as normal USB drives, just for backups and to store some media files or documents etc.

    I have no intention of using it as a single fusion drive or to boot from it as a fusion drive or anything like that, I merely want to use them as I use my other USB externals - maybe plug the into a USB dock and use just to access some files.

    Is this even possible?

    Googling providfes no answers - all results talk about using it as a Fusion drive itself or about recovering data from them etc.

    Thanks and cheers
    The fusion drive isn't two discrete drives. It's a single 3.5-inch drive, that itself can be put in an enclosure and used.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 6 of 10
    Are you sure, Mike? Everything I've read says a Fusion drive is not an off-the-shelf hybrid drive but rather Apple's own implementation using a separate blade SSD and a hard drive. Mac OS combines it into a single volume, but it is actually two discrete devices.

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 10
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,567administrator
    Are you sure, Mike? Everything I've read says a Fusion drive is not an off-the-shelf hybrid drive but rather Apple's own implementation using a separate blade SSD and a hard drive. Mac OS combines it into a single volume, but it is actually two discrete devices.


    In every Fusion drive equipped mini and iMac I have taken apart, it is a single drive. It's basically one of these: https://www.newegg.com/seagate-firecuda-st2000dx002-2tb-mlc/p/N82E16822178996

    Edit: after a quick phone call, there are some iMacs, in some runs, that have two discrete drives. TIL. Most are still single drives.
    edited May 2022 muthuk_vanalingamforgot username
  • Reply 8 of 10
    Everymac says the 2013 iMacs had a Fusion drive option combining a 128GB SSD and 1TB hard drive. Firecudas only have 8GB of flash memory so I doubt Apple used that. Even my 2019 iMac used an Apple PCIe SSD (only 32GB provisioned to 24, but still better than 8GB) and a separate hard drive. I've since upgraded that to 512GB NVMe SSD and a 4TB hard drive.
    forgot username
  • Reply 9 of 10
    mdossmdoss Posts: 40member
    My apologies for the inordinate delay in responding to everyone who responded to this thread. I do have a (maybe lame) excuse though - Appleinsider did not send me emails to notify me of responses (and I am not used to looking at the top line on this forum to notice the notifications badge here); therefore I did not even know that people had responded. Therefore I never got back to this thread and so missed all the responses. Once again my apologies.

    All the other forums I visit have this facility.

    Cheers
  • Reply 10 of 10
    mdossmdoss Posts: 40member
    Using the original blade SSD externally would be rather expensive because of Apple's proprietary PCI-e connector. I think only OWC sells a compatible enclosure and it's not cheap. You didn't write what capacity your Fusion drive is. Even if it's 3TB, you can get used 3TB HDDs pretty cheap nowadays, so I wouldn't go through the hassle of taking apart the iMac unless you intend to replace or upgrade the Fusion drive components in it and keep using the machine. You didn't specify what you mean by it's dying, whether it's slow or other components are failing in it, so we can't guess whether you want to keep using the iMac or just want to cannibalize it for parts.
    My apologies, this is. 3TB Fusion that has one 128GB SSD and the 3TB HDD.

    By dying I mean it beachballs constantly. It takes around 10 minutes showing the Apple logo and progress bar to come to the login screen, around 15 minutes after login to even show the menu, dock, and desktop icons, and then any app I click keeps bouncing for another ten minutes or so, and anything I do in the app (say a browser) takes very long to show the page etc. It beachballs through all this.

    Cheers

    mdoss said:
    2013 27" iMac running Catalina - cannot install any newer OS versions.

    The iMac is showing signs of dying.

    I was wondering if I could remove the Fusion drive, and re-use them as normal USB drives, just for backups and to store some media files or documents etc.

    I have no intention of using it as a single fusion drive or to boot from it as a fusion drive or anything like that, I merely want to use them as I use my other USB externals - maybe plug the into a USB dock and use just to access some files.

    Is this even possible?

    Googling providfes no answers - all results talk about using it as a Fusion drive itself or about recovering data from them etc.

    Thanks and cheers
    The fusion drive isn't two discrete drives. It's a single 3.5-inch drive, that itself can be put in an enclosure and used.
    This is two drives Mike. One 128GB SSD and a 3TB HDD.

    Cheers
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