An M1 Mac Can’t Boot from an External Drive If Its Internal Drive Is Dead

Interesting. Sounds like when Apple employees are working with you in person in an Apple Store, they’re likely to ask for a password or passcode. Makes some sense, I guess, since they’re not likely to have the same level repair capabilities as the main repair centers.

I figure it’s good to have a guest account enabled anyway.

If you give me a clean admin account I can get at all your data that is not encrypted.

Bingo…so my thought is to max the RAM and get at least a 2TB drive in anything you buy these days

True…but your iPhone or iPad is just as dead if it’s SSD fails and we haven’t heard of great problems in this area…but granted it is true that Macs generally hang around longer than either of those portable devices. Also…there are varying definitions of “dead” for the SSD. From what I’ve seen here and elsewhere as long as the firmware (not the right word but whatever) part that provides the verification/authorization/allows the external drive to boot works then all is good…and that part will get used and written to far less than main memory so it is less likely to fail. The most likely failure mode of these SSDs is likely to be using up all the write cycles and becoming read only…again from what I’ve read…and read only should allow external booting to take place.

Besides…Apple’s gonna do what Apple’s gonna do…and if the alternative is going to Windows then I’m guessing that the vast majority of us will just gripe and go along with it.

I wonder if reverse backup is an option - I didnt read the article yet but if booting into an external drive and updating that drive is possible would backup software be able to “clone” to the internal drive just like it used to the other way?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean that we should never question the approach they decide upon.

Almost everyone here seems totally accepting of this and relatively relaxed about it, and I honestly do see that there is some logic to it, particularly from the security perspective. However in any compromise policy (which, let’s face it, this is), there will be pros and cons, and the big question which in reality we don’t know the answer to is whether any of the cons will turn out in retrospect to have been serious enough that they should have been considered show-stoppers.

It’s just like government policy - sometimes things work out for the best, but sometimes although some (“misguided”) people question it, government goes ahead anyway and the policy turns out to be a massive mistake in the long term.

No-one knows for certain, of course, until we get to the long term, but from everything I have heard there is a risk here that over this timescale this will be a bad policy that results in loads of bricked Macs for which the only outcome is that they just have to be junked (or, optimistically, recycled). And these are not cheap enough items to be considered “disposable”.

Only time will tell, of course, but Apple have not given me any concrete reasons to be optimistic about this except simply “Trust us”. Am I the only one who doesn’t?

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So am I correct in understanding the article to say that if you have erased all partitions, your only option is a second Mac and Apple Configurator? This doesn’t seem to quite be explicitly stated in the article.

If you’ve managed to format all containers on your internal SSD, yes. Or you go to an Apple store and they can set up your M1 Mac for you again.

You really have to make a deliberate and non-negligible effort to wipe out all containers on the internal SSD though, so it’s not as if this were some trap an unassuming casual user could just fall into. You deliberately have to nuke it, and if you follow those procedures I think it’s fairly safe to assume you should know what you are doing and have at least a rough idea of what the fallback and/or rollback entails.


The situation I’m worried about is if someone is putzing around with Linux (or perhaps the Mac command line; I accidentally fried a drive that way when I was trying to set up a home-rolled Fusion drive).