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I just purchased a Mac mini and the seller assures me that there are two 1 TB hard drives inside, with a total storage space of 2 TB (picture from the listing).

At first, I was under the impression that there was a second drive without an OS and that the partitioning was done on that (Windows-format?) drive. However, after erasing the accessible drive following Apple's instructions, and restoring my data with Target mode, I do not see a second drive listed anywhere:

  • If I start the computer pressing ALT I see this.
  • In the Storage tab I see this.
  • In Recovery mode the Disk Utility lists this.
  • The diskutil list command returns this in Recovery mode (more images).

I really, really don't want to have to go through this process to figure out if the seller is saying the truth about there being two drives inside, since it might prevent me from returning it, but I'd like to know if what I bought matches the item description.

Possible hypotheses:

  • there is no second drive
  • there might be a second drive, but badly connected/wired in so undetectable
  • there is a second drive that is blank / oddly formatted / undetectable

How can I know if there is a second drive in the Mac mini?

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    Based on the output of diskutil list you have 1 physical device, /dev/disk0 (internal, physical):, which is 1.0 TB in size. Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 19:01
  • The "base system" is just the recovery partition. It is normal for it to be that size. I'd take the computer to a reputable repair outfit and have them take a look. It might be that one of the hard drives is not present or connected incorrectly Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 21:39
  • Do they tell you the marketing name of the Mac or can you look up the manual from the serial? Many minis have space for two drives factory direct without adding them aftermarket. Only one drive is visible in recovery so even if it’s present, it’s not functional.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 22:13
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    If it's useful: The 2014s never came with 2 hard drives, and only the 2012 Server models with i7 CPUs had 2 x 1TB drives. Assuming that's a 2012 Mini, I'd be looking to replace any 8-year-old mechanical drives with SSDs anyway, or at least a brand new external hard drive for additional storage. You might ask the seller for a partial refund, which you can put towards a new disk.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 10:43
  • @benwiggy if you bought the Fusion version, there was space for two HDs on a 2014, I'm told, but the extra port is missing if you bought the Hard Drive version. I unfortunately have the HardDrive version of the 2014 Commented May 19, 2021 at 1:34

2 Answers 2

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Possibilities are:

  • There is no second drive
  • There is a second drive that is undetectable because faulty or badly connected

You can find out which it is by simply opening the black plastic bottom and looking, no "process" required.

enter image description here

In the picture of what you will see when opening the back, I have indicated the two connectors for the two possible disks with red arrows. One will already be occupied by the disk we know is in the Mac mini. If the other one is also occupied, then it is the second alternative: there is a disk but it is faulty or the connection is faulty. If it is unoccupied there is no second disk inside.

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  • Which model year is this? And does it agree with the MacMini in question? Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 19:39
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    I don't understand how the photo after the ninth step of a lengthy disassembly process corresponds to "what you will see when opening the back"? I think the latter would be more like this d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/OHeH6POHN2YreiPQ.large Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 21:02
  • You are right, in that the picture above shows the insides with the fan and plastic piece removed - my bad. There are 4 torx 6 screws that needs to be removed to remove fan and plastic piece and thus see what the picture I posted show. I have indicated the screws here: stonemanzambia.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/IMG_4063.jpg Commented Aug 23, 2020 at 20:27
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    It turns out your answer was the only way to know for sure. And there was two drives. One of them had been connected hastily or snapped out during shipping. Thank you for your answer and your help. Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 23:32
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You have one drive.

Your diskutil list command tells you everything you need to know: there's only one entry that has a "physical" characteristic to it and it's disk0.

When you boot into Recovery, there are many RAM disks that get created and in your case they are disk1 through disk19. If you notice on each identifier, it describes it as a "disk image" as in the example below:

/dev/disk1 (disk image):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        +2.1 GB     disk1
   1:                  Apple_HFS OS X Base System        2.0 GB     disk1s1

What you want to look for is anything that says "internal, physical" because if the seller assured you "there are two hard drives," you would have (in a Mac mini) two identifier with "internal, physical" descriptors like that of disk0:

/dev/disk0 (internal, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *1.0 TB     disk0
   1:                        EFI EFI                     209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                  Apple_HFS Macintosh HD            999.3 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Recovery HD             650.0 MB   disk0s3

What the seller showed you was a (Bootcamp) partition. When booted, the partitions appear to the OS as their own separate drives.

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  • Please correct me if I'm wrong, but when I've made Bootcamp partitions in the past, it has split my main drive into two, e.g. a 1TB drive would split into two 512GB drives, and would not show up as two 1TB drives (or show up as a 1TB drive in either OS). It would show up as a 512GB drive in both OSes. Is this not the case anymore, or am I misremembering?
    – Oion Akif
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 17:06
  • It depends on the tool @SkeletonBow -You can query the disk itself and it will give you the physical disk size. The question though is if the OP has 1 disk or 2.
    – Allan
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 17:15
  • Although this is a very good answer, and most probably useful for many users in the future, the Mac Mini contained two drives, which I found out after rolling up my sleeves and following Lars's answer. Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 23:34

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