Mac mini SSD replacement

My former employer has a late 2014 Mac Mini which is used as an archive and MySQL server. It runs Yosemite and the Server app (it is not publicly facing). It uses many of the Server services.

The internal SSD drive is flagging read errors every time CCC tries to clone it. We have several backups but it’s becoming more difficult to be confident in their integrity. We want to simply replace the SSD but I’m having major problems trying to find a suitable replacement. The only drives OWC have require an upgrade to at least High Sierra (which will render Server app useless).

Does anyone know of a replacement drive for the built-in SSD (APPLE SSD SM0256G) which doesn’t require a system update? I have seen some Crucial drives but am not sure of their compatibility (and I think Apple also have a unique physical design).

Have you considered using an external SSD? I have a 2012 Mini and cloned the spinning drive to a Samsung T7. Every performance issue 8 was having disappeared. Running Mojave on it as I’m only doing file sharing of an external 16tb enclosure.

That’s very weird. They say it in the context of “designed for APFS”. I would love to know what the technical reason is for this stated requirement, because it doesn’t make sense to me.

If your Mac doesn’t have a hard drive in it, you could install a 2.5" SATA SSD. It won’t perform as fast as the Apple SSD, but maybe it will be good enough.

If you want to install/repalce the internal drive yourself, iFixit has a good set of repair guides. Not too hard to do as long as you’re careful: Mac mini Late 2014 Repair - iFixit

And, as @glenthompson wrote, you could just get an external SSD. A USB drive will perform a little slower than an internal SATA SSD, but will be far far easier to install. A Thunderbolt drive will perform very well, but you may have problems finding a TB2 drive these days. (TB3 drives can be used with an adapter, but the adapter won’t pass power, so any drive connected that way must have its own power brick.)

Yes, there’s a strong possibility that’s what we’ll do. I attached a second Thunderbolt SSD yesterday and set it to clone and will try it next week. My preference would still be to replace the internal drive just to make it neater. As the MM still has thunderbolt 2 even finding an enclosure is getting hard - most of the ones I have are of a similar vintage as the machine.

I’m not sure of the technical reasons but I can confirm the new drives definitely won’t work with earlier than High Sierra. I installed one in my old 2015 MBP and jumped through hoops trying to get it to work with Sierra without luck. The drive simply doesn’t appear if you boot with Sierra - neither Disk Warrior or Disk Utility can see the drive.

If I installed the 2.5SSD would it still require the primary slot to be filled? I’m not sure if these machines were released with spinning drives alone or as Fusion drives which might still require the blade.

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Is there that much of a performance increase? My mini late 2014 is running Monterey but is pretty slow with the original drive. It only is a file server at this point but if a T7 makes it more peppy that’s probably not a bad idea. Would obviously need a usb c to a dongle to hook a T7 up to it but way cheaper than a new mini if it works nicely.

I have an old 2012 Mac mini with a Core i5. It’s still a surprisingly useful headless number cruncher ever since it’s been equipped with an internal SATA SSD in lieu of the original 500 GB HDD.

Swapping the disk was not as simple as you’d like, but it wasn’t terribly difficult either. iFixit has a very good guide. Although, in the case of the 2012 Mac mini, the suggestion to disconnect antenna cables to slide out the board is entirely unnecessary to swap disk drives. Skip steps 10, 11, and 13-16, just fold back the antenna plate, and slide out the disk. On reassembly, getting the disk fitted right is much easier if you turn the mini upside down and let gravity help you.

Huge difference in speed. Writes are ok but reads about 5x faster.

Yeah…I plugged in my travel photo backup T7 and got about 8x for both read and write so there will be a pretty decent improvement in both file sharing performance as well as when using Screens to remote into it and configure/update/whatever.