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Over the last 3 months, after I bought my first Mac Mini, which came installed with mountain Lion, I've had to reinstall the OS over 10 times now.

Here's a list of steps of what happens:

  1. I turn it on, the Mac sound comes up.
  2. It opens up the white screen with the Apple symbol in the middle.
  3. A little progress bar comes up, loads up around a centimeter.
  4. Mac turns off.

And this process can be repeated over and over again if I wish, just have to turn the Mac on again.

I've tried everything every time this happens, here's a quick list:

  • Resetting PRAM and NVRAM.
  • Resetting the System Management Controller.
  • Safe boot.
  • Using Disk Utility to repart the drive. It just ends with an error and tells me to backup my data and re-install (or something like that).

I've basically tried every solution Apple offers in their KBs. Every one. Also every solution that I've found on Apple discussions.

But nobody seems to have this problem so there isn't any real solution!

Now, honestly, while it is bothersome to do re-install, I can do it no problem, the problem is that now I don't have a Bootable USB Drive Installer, so I've finally come to ask this.

Do I need to get a new hard drive? It's the only solution that I can come up with now. I also thought of installing Snow Leopard instead of Mountain Lion, but I would need a second Mac to do that (which I don't have), and a Thunderbolt cable (which I don't have).

Any help you could provide on this I would love it, it's driving me NUTS!

Extra details you might need:

I have a late 2011 Mac Mini. Using a 2 generations old iMac keyboard.

The hard drive I have is a "500.11 GB ST500 LM012 HN-M500MBB Media".

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Have you tried pressing the option key after the chime to bring up the boot selection screen? –  Shane Hsu Jan 23 '13 at 2:50
    
@ShaneHsu Yes I have. It brings me to the boot hard drive selection. I'm an expert at it now at this point, however it does not make any difference. –  Greduan Jan 23 '13 at 18:48
    
I don't think Mountain Lion crashing has ever qualified as 'deadly'. –  Jason Salaz Feb 1 '13 at 4:35
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4 Answers 4

Well - if Disk Utility tells you you need to back up your files and erase the drive, that would be my first step at fixing the problem.

It's not possible to tell if you have a hardware or software problem, but once you have backed everything up (or gotten help doing that), then

Apple usually provides phone support for free within 90 days of purchase, so you might call AppleCare or visit an Apple Store for free service should one be close.

Most people can follow the two articles below to reinstall the OS:

Feel free to ask another question if you have a problem within these steps. You could still have a hardware error underlying the issues, but until you try a software fix, it's hard to know that your filesystem isn't just in a bad state where OS X declines to try to fix it.

Your keyboard will be fine for the reinstall, and you don't need bootable media since Internet Recovery will know that Mac shipped with Mountain Lion and offer to re-download the installer when you need it.

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That's the problem. I bought it second hand, so it's definitely outside the 90 days of purchase. It's second hand, however it was refurbished you could say. –  Greduan Jan 8 '13 at 0:01
    
Oh - then you'd probably have to pay for help unless you went in to a store. The help there is always free if you are able to get it one appointment at a time and they don't need to fix things for you. Everything else I wrote is true except you might need an Apple ID to download Mountain Lion if the serial number doesn't qualify for a free installation due to it being shipped with Mountain Lion. You can enter your serial number in at support.apple.com/manuals/# to see what OS shipped with your Mac. –  bmike Jan 8 '13 at 0:04
    
OK, I think the best solution is to buy a new harddrive, or install ArchLinux instead. :P BTW, I'm in Mexico, on a town 3 hours away from Mexico City, and I'm not sure if they have a Apple store in Mexico City. :( Thanks for trying to help! Really what I need is a way to know the reason this happens, nothing else. –  Greduan Jan 8 '13 at 0:30
    
Once the filesystem becomes corrupt, Disk Utility wants to start over. It can recover from a wide variety of failures. Of the times I've seen this, unless you have IO errors in /private/var/log/system.log - it's over 95% chance you simply need to erase and reinstall. Good luck whatever way you go with it. Installing a new OS is a great way to isolate a failure to hardware. –  bmike Jan 8 '13 at 0:48
    
Thanks, I think I'll just try to install ArchLinux, if that doesn't go well then I'll just buy a new harddrive. :) Thank you for all your help! –  Greduan Jan 8 '13 at 0:56
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My experience with machines shutting themselves down was always Logic Board problems--failure or about to fail.

Granted, this was with a series of G4 Powerbooks that had Logic Board problems for a few years, but it might well still apply.

There's nothing gained by repeated re-installs. When a problem persists, look elsewhere.

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Thank you for your opinion! I will take it into account when deciding to buy a new harddrive. :) Although I don't think it's a problem with the motherboard, otherwise it wouldn't function perfectly for 3 weeks and then suddenly break every time. ;) –  Greduan Jan 8 '13 at 1:08
    
Okay ... wondering about that older keyboard. Any way to test it on another machine? Have you googled the hard drive, see if any problems come up? Maybe spend on Apple's sexy bluetooth keyboard, and a USB stick (not expensive) and make it bootable. Plus, you've done Safe Boot? –  Zo219 Jan 8 '13 at 1:33
    
I don't have any other machine I'm afraid, however the keyboard works perfectly on a Windows machine I think. :) I have not tried to Google the hard drive, will probably do that. I have done Safe Boot. And about the keyboard and USB stick, I'm not really attracted to the new Mac keyboard, I prefer keyboards like this one. Thanks for your suggestions. :) –  Greduan Jan 8 '13 at 1:50
    
The bluetooth is silent and has an incredible click feel, it's Apple! Good luck with all this. –  Zo219 Jan 8 '13 at 2:04
    
Yes I've used the keyboards, and I know the kind of click it has. But I don't like their durability (2 million keystrokes or something) compared to the mechanical keyboards (over 20 million, and also general durability). And it's not just the click, it's also the feel the keyboard gives you. :) Thanks for your good wishes, I wish you good luck to you in whatever as well. ;P –  Greduan Jan 8 '13 at 2:36
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Over the past three weeks I've seen this exact problem on two different iMac 27 inch (Core i7) and one MBP, all running 10.8 will all updates. Done all the tricks and still issues. The key to this is the bar that appears when trying to do a safeboot. Gets ~ 1/3 way through and then the mac reboots itself. There's obviously an issue beyond hard drive and logic board failure pointing rather directly to a bug Apple should be fixing.

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Yes I have thought of the possibility that the issue is with Apple directly. However my sister has the exact model of the Mac Mini as me and she doesn't have this kind of problem. –  Greduan Jan 23 '13 at 18:49
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I have an early 2008 iMac doing the same thing. Brought to Apple and they determined I had a bad memory stick which was causing the problem. I replaced but the problem persists. Found that if I have a piece of software open that is waiting for an action, iMac will still go to sleep, but will not shut down. When I start up I will see notice that "such and such program prevented computer from shutting down"

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