Trouble installing OS fresh, Mac Pro

Oct 1, 2017 6:03PM PDT

A couple weeks ago my mid-2010 Mac Pro started getting extremely slow at times. Restarting would temporarily fix it, until one day it wouldn't get past the apple logo progress bar screen. So I took it in and Apple ran a diagnostic and told me that it's unlikely to be the HDD but "something else" that wouldn't be worth replacing, and recommended a new computer.

However, my old HDD won't migrate to the new computer. Good thing I have a bootable backup. It takes longer than it should to mount, it's extremely slow in accessing files and makes a repetitive sound in even intervals like it's trying to load. So I started thinking that maybe the problem was just with the HDD.

I'd prefer to stay with my old Mac Pro and swap out the old hard-drives with new ones if possible. So I put a new HDD in it and tried installing macOS high Sierra from a flash drive. However, it only gets to the following screen at which point there's a problem..."To install macOS high Sierra, a firmware update is required. To complete the update, click "shut down..." The shut down button is grayed out and will not let me click to continue the process.

Is this clearly a bad sign or is there still hope to install an OS and stay with the Mac Pro? Is it possible that my old nearly-full HDD triggered a more serious issue, or vice versa? I'd really appreciate some guidance.

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Just a few thoughts.
Oct 1, 2017 9:40PM PDT

Even on an Apple backups are not optional so you should be able to slip in a single new drive to test if the prior working OS works fine. I don't see a ready document about High Sierra and supported machines but for now, why not run the OS that works?

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Wondering why your old drive
Oct 2, 2017 4:46AM PDT

will not migrate to the new computer.
Time Machine will do that quite happily but, and this may be your problem, it may be that some of your applications will not run in the new OS.

As for the firmware upgrade. Check here:

You do not mention what version of the OS you are currently running. Instead of High Sierra, what about Sierra?


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Trying to run any OS
Oct 4, 2017 11:40AM PDT

Thank you for your responses. Let me rephrase my predicament to give a better understanding.

I am simply trying to get any OS going on my Mac Pro. It's tough to find an installer file for an older version of OS X, which is what's needed to run an OS via bootable flash drive.

The Snow Leopard disc that came with my Mac Pro will not recognize my new hard-drive and thus has nowhere to install. I can't do a firmware upgrade if I can't even get an OS going here.

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Is this an Intel based MAC?
Oct 4, 2017 11:57AM PDT
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Quick Question
Oct 4, 2017 5:32PM PDT

You say that the Snow Leopard disc would not recognize your Hard drive.
Was that during the installation attempt or during the Formatting procedure?
What size is that drive?

This machine came with either a 1 or 2 TB (7200-rpm SATA) or a 512GB (SSD)
It should support High Sierra, but one step at a time here, with the Firmware being Intel Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI)
Firmware update, Mac Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.5 is available here:

Bob: The model Identifier on this machine is MacPro5,1. Model number a1289. EMC 2314
came with either Quad Core or 8-core


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I don't see what this new drive is.
Oct 4, 2017 11:59AM PDT

I wonder if it's one of the newer multi-Terrabyte models. If so, an old workaround was to slip in a shop drive of a few hundred megabytes so the machine could avoid the firmware update and get on its feet. Then install the firmware update and then shutdown, power off and do the big drive install.

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1TB seagate firecuda SSHD
Oct 4, 2017 3:33PM PDT

Thanks. Even if I did the work around, all it said to install os high sierra is, "a firmware update is required". I don't know exactly what firmware I would need.

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Sorry but
Oct 4, 2017 3:44PM PDT

If I were to try this, I'd use a drive size that the machine came with, the OS off the "Snow Leopard disc that came with my Mac Pro."

Why? Because such a drive should be cheap compared to any service counter.

Also, try those Linux discs as noted above.

I wish the exact model was known in the discussion as that would let me look into this a little more deeply. Or what size, make, model of the formerly working HDD.

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1 TB HDs
Oct 4, 2017 5:30PM PDT

Thank you. The original disc was a 1TB WD1001FALS S/N WCATR2223022 I tried the original Snow Leopard disc with the new 1TB SSHD.

The Linux route seems like more of a diversion. Let me hold off on that, for now.

This is a mid-2010 Mac Pro as stated in initial post

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OK, the old drive sector size is 512 bytes.
Oct 4, 2017 5:52PM PDT

WD1001FALS = 512 byte sectors.
The new drive appears to be 4096 bytes or advanced format which is why the firmware is likely needed.

This again is why I'd fall back to old drives to get the firmware installed if that's your only path to a new or old OS.

Again, a service shop encounter would likely do this (for money) or just tell you to buy a new machine. I'm hoping we can avoid that. However I do find folk reluctant to do what we do in the service areas. At 150 per hour we can afford to pay for an old HDD if we ran out or don't have a shop drive to do the work. You would be paying less if you did it yourself but I understand that not everyone will want to do this. looks to be the full specs and other searches seem to point to AF (advanced format issues.)

Good luck.

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Older OS X installer file
Oct 4, 2017 8:05PM PDT

thanks a lot for the thorough feedback! I wish I could first try installing an older OS version via bootable flash..but I can't find a good installer file! I'm surprised it's so difficult to find (I'm no expert on downloading/torrents) Do you know where to find one? I'd rather not pay for one because we don't know for sure if it'll work, but I'm willing to because they're cheap.

let's say I'm successful installing an OS on an older hard drive.. then, what firmware exactly would I need and how to get it? Would it come automatically with an OS upgrade? And then how would I move the OS to my desired drive?

This is why I'd like first to try an older OS installer from bootable flash to avoid all this. No one knows of a link to a good installer file for ANY old OS X version? Mountain Lion, Yosemite, Mavericks, etc?

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I'm missing something here.
Oct 4, 2017 9:53PM PDT

I read above you have the OS that came with the machine. To me, this sounds like the AF sector size issue. As to the firmware, I see our fellow mod linked to it.

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AF sector size?
Oct 4, 2017 10:04PM PDT

AF sector size?

Thanks for pointing out the firmware link.

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It's a technical thing.
Oct 4, 2017 10:16PM PDT

AF = Advanced Format.

Sector sizes increased from 512 to 4096 bytes and once in a while you run into a situation where you need the old drive to get the work done. Remember that most folk don't want to know all this and will just take it to the shop. I've noted a possible (very possible) reason why you are stuck. At this point I think you have enough data to decide to try or not.

PS. One parting thought. Be sure to connect the drives to where they were originally.

Post was last edited on October 4, 2017 10:17 PM PDT

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