Hola all -

I'm getting mighty tired of hard drives dying. My previous Mac Minis (2003, 2007) died of premature HDD failures, and now I've got a 2012 Mini with an almost brand-new Fusion drive that is dead. The 250GB SSD is still there, but the 1 TB HDD (less than a year old!) is completely unresponsive. I get the "circle-with-a-line-through-it" trying to boot normally. The Mini does boot in recovery mode, and Disk Utility shows the SSD as unformatted, while the HDD is completely absent.

I've been using CCC (for years) to back up to an external USB drive, and I have a clone of my drive that's only two weeks old... but this page now tells me that this particular WD drive can't boot an Intel Mac, which means it's useless for the very reason for which I bought it. Wish I'd known before. In fact, I have FOUR physical storage devices, with SIX partitions and FIVE copies of OSX, and ZERO of them will boot my machine. I'm typing this on a crappy Windows laptop.

I live in the middle of PA (USA), several hours' drive from the nearest Apple Store. I only know 2 other people in my county who use Macs; my plan as of now is to take my Mini and external drive to one of their homes, install CCC on their Mac, and hope I can TDM my machine and clone my stuff onto its internal SSD.

I guess my questions are as follows:

1) Anybody have a smarter idea to recover my stuff?

2) Anybody have strong opinions about Fusion drives? Gotta say, my feeling right now (data points = 1) is that they are a terrible idea. If I had two separate drives in my Mini, instead of one hybrid one, I'd be using it right now.

3) What suggestions have you regarding a final solution for the dead drive? Is it reasonable for a casual user to swap out drives on the 2012 Mini? (I did it successfully several times on older models.) Should I put in a second SSD? My feeling about spinning platters right now (data points = half a dozen or so) is that they are no longer worth the trouble.

Thanks in advance.