I have a Macbook Air (mid 2011) that had a RAM problem.

Sometimes it turns on, and while still booting macOS it would crash and hang forever due to bad RAM.

I want to sell the machine for parts, but I am worried about my data getting in bad hands.

I have a backup of every data stored in it but the disk isn't encrypted and it didn't had a login password.

I have it registered with iCloud but It seems that the remote wipe option wasn't set.

I NEED a way to do a wipe of the contents stored on the SSD, is there a way I can do that without opening the machine?

There is a sequence of characters that will wipe the machine while booting? or maybe a Linux USB drive that does that? The machine is sometimes up for 5 seconds or so until it freezes and turns itself off.

  • It's a 2011 MacBook so your SSD is removable. The easiest and safest thing to do is just remove the SSD; just remove the back cover. What specifically is the RAM issue? This could be solved with a replacement RAM module and you could sell it as working as opposed to "for parts."
    – Allan
    May 7, 2018 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


You could try to hold down Command + R as soon as you start up your MacBook. This will get you into recovery mode. From there you can start the Disk Utility and format your disk.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! One thing to consider when writing an answer is how the OP will boot an operating system when there is a hardware issue. Recovery Mode doesn't bypass physical problems.
    – Allan
    May 7, 2018 at 15:08
  • Hi and thanks for the welcome and feedback! I assumed it may be possible to boot into recovery mode since he stated that the machine would sometimes turn on but crash while booting into macOS, but you wouldn‘t boot into the actual macOS when booting into recovery mode. At least that’s what I thought and that it was worth a try.
    – Maurice
    May 7, 2018 at 15:26
  • Recovery Mode is still macOS, albeit stripped and locked down, but it's core is still macOS. It's like saying "your car won't start, but maybe if you put a mechanic in the drivers seat it will work." You could try that as an option, but there's a better one.... See my comment above and feel free to build an answer off of that. Also see this answer for a hint on how to attach the SSD to another computer to wipe it.
    – Allan
    May 7, 2018 at 16:14
  • I‘m aware that recovery mode is part of macOS, maybe I should have used quotation marks around „actual macOS“ to make that more clear. Since it uses less RAM it may be possible that it won‘t use the faulty part of the RAM that causes the system to crash when it loads the „actual macOS“. I‘ve read your comment above and it‘s certainly better advice if OP is willing/able to remove the SSD or invest in and swap out the RAM. I didn‘t think of that because I‘m used to the soldered on RAM and SSD on my machine... Since you delivered a better solution, I don‘t want to steal the credits for that
    – Maurice
    May 7, 2018 at 17:00

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