Q. I have a broken iMac Mid 2011. Can I re-use the iMac’s SSD drive with a Windows machine?

A. Your iMac Mid-2011 came standard with a 3.5 inch hard disk drive.
(Note: The Apple Fusion drives were not brought out ’til the Late 2012 model, so your particular iMac has no socket for a SSD blade).

Therefore, the SSD you have in the machine must be a aftermarket add-on, and it will be the 2.5 inch SATA format. All you need to do with this drive after removing it, is to re-partition it on a Windows machine into MBR or GPT partitions, then format the volumes as NTFS and you are good.

2.5 in SATA 
Solid State Drive

In general, Macintoshes mid-2012 and earlier used SATA hard drives, so these are broadly compatible with SATA SSDs and hard drives in other machines.

While iMacs continued to use SATA hard drives after 2012, most Macintoshes starting in late 2012 changed to non-standard SSD drives with various proprietary Apple connection formats (which have changed over the years as well) so later Macs require specific SSD drives and specific external enclosures for the model and year.

Mac Pros changed to SSDs with the 2013 Black Cylinder model. Mac Minis came with 2.5 inch SATA hard drives up to the late 2014 model and went all-SSD in 2018.

IMacs 2013 and later have used spinning drives in combination with separate SSD drives (of various Apple proprietary “blade” style formats) in a “Fusion Drive” setup, which appears as a single volume and caches reads and writes on the faster SSD drive. A Fusion Drive set can be broken up and used as separate SSD and Hard drive volumes if you wish. (Note that none of the Apple blade SSDs can be used inside Windows machines because the formats are not compatible.)

If your question was, “Can I copy the data from the iMac SSD to a Windows machine”, then the answer is a little more complex. Windows computers cannot natively read the Apple filing system on the drive, so you would either hook the drive up to another Mac, and copy the data onto a drive or USB memory stick formatted with FAT32 or ExFAT formatting, or you can get some free software (HFSExplorer, Apple HFS drivers) that allows Windows to read the HFS+ system on the Mac drive (if the iMac was at OSX 10.12 or EARLIER)

Another variable is if you had already upgraded the Mac OS to 10.13 or later, in which case the formatting of the drive would have been changed to Apple’s new APFS – so it will not be readable by older Macs pre-10.13. For Windows you will need commercial software (MacDrive, Paragon, or UFS Explorer) to read it. https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-ways-read-mac-formatted-drive-windows/

In any of the scenarios above, an external 2.5inch SATA t0 USB enclosure for the SSD drive is a very handy thing to have, Install the SSD in the enclosure and it will allow you to plug the SSD into different machines at will.

USB 2.5 inch drive enclosure kit

If you have a 2013 or later Mac, with most models you can take the proprietary Macintosh SSD out and put in an appropriate OWC Envoy or Envoy Pro USB enclosure, to access the data (there are a very few Apple SSDs that can’t be used externally). Be careful to choose the correct enclosure for your year and model of Mac, as Apple changed SSD physical formats frequently. Contact CanadaRAM.com for advice.

OWC Envoy Pro USB enclosure

Q&A is a compilation of questions we have answered around the Web

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