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Dead SSD? Can I replace with 2014 SSD?

Hello Mac Guru's (talking to you @mayer, @danj, @reecee)!

I have another MacBook Air A1466, this one an early 2015. The SSD appears to be dead. When I try to boot, I either get the flashing question mark or if it does start the boot process, it fails when the white bar is completely filled in.

I did boot into recovery options, and ran the First Aid. It found "corruption" but when I clicked Done, the MBA just shutdown. So I installed an SSD from a 2014 (the one you guys helped me fix!) and it booted properly so the issue is definitely with the SSD.

I have been looking for replacement drives but they are expensive (OWC) or not available/not in stock (PowerBookMedic, Crucial, BeetsTech). So my question is; are there other suppliers or can I install a 2014 version? My understanding is that it will work but be "slower" (PCIe 2.0 x2 vs. PCIe 2.0 x4).

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Thanks everyone for the great answers!

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Before you condemn the drive, let's see if we can FIX IT! Hook up an external USB boot drive ( I use the Envoy enclosures with the old SSDs from upgrades - have all my system and programs upgrades on them: one boots into Sierra and one to El Capitan) (when a customer wants a SSD upgrade I pick the option of the one with the enclosure and get the drive on the cheap).

So you're booted from the external. Run Disk Utilities and do a format with the "write zeros" option. If it works, it has now maps out anything it can't write to. Now do a system installation from the external.

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Yeah, I wish I had an Envoy enclosure...but I don't do a lot of mac's yet. I agree on trying to recover the drive if possible though. If the customer agrees to upgrade, I'd like t get the OWC model with enclosure. It's just that it's pricey.

What are your thoughts on using a less expensive 2014 SSD (if that's the direction the customer wants to go to).

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I believe on a MbA the difference will be hardly noticeable even with a benchmarking tool

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Do you have access to a second Mac? If you do and can setup Target Disk Mode between them you can also do it that way.


- Use target disk mode to share files between two Mac computers. Here we're using the other Mac's copy of Disk Utility.

- If needed setup a bootable OS installer on a USB Thumb drive, following this guide: How to create a bootable macOS Sierra installer drive. That will allow you to run Disk Utility from it as well as install a fresh copy of the OS.

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There are three different Envoy enclosures for the different types of sticks. I have not seen one yet for the newer fourth type.

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@refectio As to where to get a replacement, OWC sells some originals when it gets them in. PowerBook Medic has been know to carry some originals.

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To answer your question, 2013-2014 Retina/Air SSDs are compatible with 2013-2015 models. There is a speed difference, but it is not noticeable at all and not worth worrying about to be honest.

For future reference, I'm pretty sure I've tried 2015 SSDs on the 2013-2014 models and they work fine also.

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Thanks Reece! My main concern was wether or not the difference would be noticeable. I'll see what the customer wants to do.

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If you have 2 2015 Macs side by side, one with the 2014 SSD, the 2015 SSD will load under a second quicker; it is a very small difference for a potentially more expensive part. Best to check with your customer to make them aware, but they will not notice if you fit an older version.

BTW, stick with the original SSDs, don't order any from 3rd party brands like OWC. I've only ever fitted around 5 OWC SSDs when there was a shortage of the originals, and had 2 fail after 8 months; also had a few customers with these drives where they will intermittently boot to a folder with question mark, then boot fine if restarted. Not the best quality unfortunately

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So by original, you mean used? Is there a reliable supplier you can recommend?

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Yes that's correct. I buy from an insurance company who removes the SSDs from broken MacBooks to sell and have never had an issue with them. Sometimes use someone who sells these new (sealed from an Apple service centre), but they are more expensive so only when I am unable to get used ones.

These are UK suppliers so it's best to use something like eBay to find a supplier of these in your local area. Not a lot can go wrong with these SSDs, they are very reliable and I've never had an issue with a 2013+ one which I've bought

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The older PCIe NVMe SSD was a two lane part, the newer one is a four lane part. Some synthetic benchmarks put it at 1/3 faster in read but only 1/4 faster in write.

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