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New SSD in 2011 Imac. Question mark with folder keeps showing at startup

Hi guys

My father's 27inch early 2011 imac needed a little upgrade. I went and put in a Crucial 500gb SSD disk into it into where its old hard drive used to be.

When we boot, i am getting the question mark with a folder. I tried holding the Alt option and in doing so only the internet recovery comes up. I tried command R and same thing.

Anyway, so I chose the internet recovery. It took 20mins. Then it came to the menu where I could choose disk utility. I went in and could see the SSD.  I formatted my SSD to Mac format (journaled). I restarted it and still same. Then i tried doing something similar to choose it as the startup disk but I can't. I tried attaching an external disk with Mac Sierra installation on it. It isn't giving me the option of seeing this disk either at startup.

What gives? Is it the Mac itself? Should I take the SSD and install it onto a MacBook Pro and try putting the OS on it that way?

Thanks for helping
Watch Question

The SSD may not be compatible with your particular model.

This is not an advertisement, but when I went to upgrade an old MacBook Air, I went to this site.


I contacted them and it turns out that my SSD options were actually limited (max I can use is 128Gb) and nothing higher. Also, the type I needed was different than today's Macs.

I would suggest giving them a call with your Mac specifics. They should be able to give you an answer within a very short period of time.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2019
Ah... replacing Apple disks...

Far more complex than you imagine.

Machines... starting around 2009 as I recall use custom firmware + device health electronics on all disks.

This firmware + hardware interacts with system to spin up disk cooling fans + other activities.

This means you can't just swap an Apple disk for an OEM disk, because one of two things will occur.

1) Some disks won't be recognized, like yours.

2) Some disks will be recognized + the disk cooling fan will spin up to maximum, producing a continuous drone of max fan noise.

This means you'll have to purchase an Apple replacement disk or go to some repair shop which specializes in swapping drives. They will add additional hardware to basically fool OSX into thinking your OEM disk is really an Apple disk.

The downside of this is the most common fix for disk fan max spin is to just short circuit the fan input, so the fan never spins up.

This dramatically shortens iMac life if you use a physical drive which produces massive heat.

For SSD drives, this works, because SSD drives produce so little heat.

Option: If your original Apple disk still works, you can just reinstall it + then sell the old iMac + purchase a new one.

Take this option if your time is worth more than the many days of time required to locate someone competent enough to...

Hack your Mac.

Tip: If you buy a new Mac, at checkout click the box marked finance on a Barclay Card for 18 months no interest. I've never heard of anyone getting turned down for this financing.
For SSD drives, this works, because SSD drives produce so little heat.
Some earlier SSD drives produced more heat than a spinning disk and used more energy than a spinning disk.
David FavorFractional CTO
Distinguished Expert 2019

serialband brings up a good point about SSD drive heat.

Be sure to only use a recent SSD drives, rather than some drive which is many years old.
nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.
Boot your Mac in rescue mode CMD+R

- does the disk utility recognize the drive?

- next did you clone your data from old drive to new drive?


Boys, I did it in the end.

The bootable media was not created properly on the external hard drive. I redid it using disk creator and using a high sierra downloaded into the applications folder of a macbook pro we have. Once done, all was done and perfect. The installation picked up instantly.

As for the fans, managed to install an application called Exirion fan control and put the setting on Smart. And made sure it started up whenever the Mac us turned on by putting it in the startup applications.