Your Hard Drive Cable Is A Ticking Time Bomb

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Owners of a Unibody MacBook Pro laptop are probably already aware that failure of the hard drive flex cable is a common issue. While it affects just about the entire Unibody lineup, the Mid 2012 MacBook Pro 13″ (Model A1278) is especially prone to this type of failure.

What is it that makes the Mid 2012 release special in this regard? A design flaw in the flex cable that seems to be compounded by the properties of the aluminum housing.

Our repair services department noticed this issue when they’d replace a bad cable, only to have the customer return a few months later with another bad cable. And possibly again with yet another bad cable. It didn’t matter if we used a used cable or a new cable in the replacement. Customers kept returning with the same persistent issue. We had to figure out what was causing the issue and find a solution.

If you’re in need of one of these notorious flex cables, we guarantee our cables with a lifetime warranty. So if it ever fails, we’ve got your back.

MacBook Pro 13″ (Mid 2012) Hard Drive Cable

Analysis Of The Flaw

The cable runs from the logic board SATA connector, across the optical drive and then underneath the hard drive, finally connecting to the SATA connector of the HDD.

Though this keeps the cable nice and secure, it also sandwiches it between the hard drive and the metal casing. In theory, it seems great, but unlike the exterior aluminum surface which is machined to an extra smooth finish, Apple skimped on machining the interior surface to match. This hasn’t been an issue with most of the MBP Unibody laptops, but the 2012 MBP 13″ hard drive cable was made a bit too thin. Flat flexible cables (FFCs) are supposed to be thin, but the 2012 hard drive cable doesn’t quite have enough of the plastic film base which surrounds and protects the internal wires.

Any time the computer is moved around, minor shifts of the hard drive and hard drive cable create friction between the cable and the coarse aluminum. Over time, this can result in exposure of the wiring embedded in the cable. Even a microscopic tear can be enough to ruin the cable entirely. And I do mean microscopic. We had to look through our microsoldering microscope with the highest magnification lens just to see evidence of the damage

Not All Cables Created Equal

This MacBook’s cable originally was manufactured with part number 821-1480-A printed on it. Apple offered this particular laptop (order number MD101LL/A) for a whopping four years due to high demand for the Unibody series of notebooks, and at some point wised up and began shipping computers with a revised version of the cable.

The new cables now included a different part number; 821-2049-A and later 821-2480-A. These cables were designed with a thicker plastic film and offered more protection to the wires. We verified the difference while examining some cables we’ve come across in used computers.

This is great news if you were able t get Apple to replace the cable, but new condition cables widely available on the internet may have these part numbers printed on them, but are not the revised cable design.

Manufacturers caught on to the fact that the new part numbers were more sought after and they simply started producing the same old cables with the new part numbers. To date, we’ve never been able to find new condition cables with the improved design. And believe me, we’ve been searching.

Bummer? Yes, but luckily there’s an easy preventative measure that only requires some supplies you probably already have lying around.

All you need to do it yourself is a Phillips PH000 screwdriver and some ESD safe tape. You probably have some common electrical tape which will be perfect for the task.

If you need a screwdriver:

How To Perform The Preventative Procedure

1. Remove the ten Phillips #000 screws which secure the bottom case and remove the bottom case.

Hard drive cable replacement step 1

4. Disconnect the hard drive from the hard drive cable and set the hard drive aside.

5. Gently lift up the wide segment of the hard drive cable (the segment not adhered in place) to expose the aluminum underneath and apply tape to the aluminum surface where the hard drive cable will rest.

6. Apply a strip of tape to the top and bottom of the wide segment of the hard drive flex cable.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully prevented your Mid 2012 A1278 hard drive cable from catastrophically failing when you’d least expect it. Strip a screw in the process? Check out our stripped screw solution.

Now we can’t guarantee your hard drive cable will continue to work forever. Remember, these flex cables fail with some frequency in all of the Unibody MBP laptops. The internal wires are made especially thin and sometimes fail for seemingly no reason at all, but this procedure takes only minutes to perform, costs almost nothing, and gives your cable the best chance at surviving for the long term.

About The Author

Jase Fasiano

Jase is into all things tech, but some might say he's a bit of an Apple fanboy. He also comes up with the best answers when the beetstech staff plays Quiplash.

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Way cool, some valid points! I appreciate you
making this post available, the rest of the site is also high quality.
Have a fun.


I have a question, it’s kind of weird. I own a Macbook Pro ’13 mid. 2012 A1278, I repleaced the SATA cable a few months ago (the original cable failed), and today I’m trying to install an SSD; everything works flawless when I start the computer with an external adaptor, but when I put the SSD in the internal, it just doesn’t work, but with my HDD it does work. What do you recommend, should I change the SATA cable again? Same model, or an upgraded model?


I have a question about my MacBook. I recently had my girlfriends hard drive cable replaced after her machine wouldn’t boot up and it works like new again. I have noticed my MacBook to be slowing down and constantly getting the spinning wheel when performing multiple tasks, and takes forever to boot up. I am curious if my hard rive cable is beginning to fail or if there is another issue. I am going to have a SSD put in and add more RAM so I want to know if this is something that should be fixed first. So I… Read more »

Nina Merchant

Can you post more pics because I’m not clear as to what to do


It’s working solution. My macbook is working now without issue after this fix. Thanks a lot my friend.. 👌👍🏻✌️👏


Bought a replacement cable from Beetstech (at the link above). Works great and fixed my problem of a HD that took forever to erase, and would not accept a fresh OS install. I followed the directions here,


Thank you. Can you clarify exactly what kind of tape qualifies as ESD safe tape? I have old-fashioned black electrician’s tape, the kind that’s shiny on the non-stick side, but I don’t know if it can take the heat or if my MacBook will like it. I see a variety of ESD safe tapes for sale on line.


Does this mean the 821-2480-A cable sold by Beetstech also does not have the thicker insulation?

Abdull inuwas

HI Guys. I really appreciate you tips. kind regards.

Abdull inuwas

Mac bookpro mid 2012 Hard Drive Cable fix


Does this cable fit a 15” MacBook Pro ?
I’m assuming intervals are the same with a bigger screen. Also my MacBook is 2012 ??
Thanks !




Similar to Randolf’s question, can I replace my mid-2012 MacBook Pro 13″ hard drive cable with the one from my late 2011 MacBook Pro 13″? AFAIK, the two models are nearly identical except for the slightly faster CPU on the 2012 model.

Thanks! 🙂


I have a simple but annoying problem regarding the hard drive unibody cable. I want to order a cable for my laptop but can’t figure out which one to order. I noticed that there are mostly A1278 (model number) cables. How do I identify the model number of my cable, like is you guys’ cables actually labelled with A1278. Please help…


Hello there, I have done this using capton (aks Polyamide) tape because of its resistance to puncture. I applied the tape to both sides of the cable, all aluminum surfaces the cable rests on (also the corners of the DVD drive). I also applied the tape to the aluminum area where the cable if fastened with two small screws. The tape was also applied to the underside of the part that retains the hard drive and covers the cable. All the cables of 2012 MBP 13″ still died after a 7 to 12 months. I am now suspecting things like… Read more »


Thank you for this article. My MacBook Pro 13” 2012 fell off a cliff two weeks ago, and it was indeed due to a hard drive connector failure. Unfortunately, I wasted a weekend on troubleshooting and wiping two hard drives in vein. I appreciate the tip on the electrical tape underneath my newly installed hard drive connector cable installation. Crossing my fingers that this prolongs the life of my frugal laptop.


Thx – isolating the cable with clear scotch tape seems to have resolved my probs… Also had to reformat the Seagate SSD via terminal/erase command to get it to show up (and my MacBook only likes APFS file structure).


Thanks for the clear explanation and fix instructions. My cable did indeed short out and caused permanent damage to the SSD into the bargain (which made diadnosing the problem a LOT harder).

Petr Stepanov

I just had the same issue and it was a pain to figure out what is going on.


Been there, done that. Since my 2011-era MBP, I have replaced that cable 4 times. Surely my habit of holding the laptop with one hand from the right side while walking didn’t help. Most of the time I got a replacement cable from China, though unclear if a knockoff or hastily refurbished unit, but one thing for sure: the IR receiver never worked on the replacements. Let’s hope Beetstech also tests this often-overlooked functionality.


I’m still an avid user of the mid 2012 model and have had this problem a few times. it happened earlier on this week and have been searching for a viable solution! will be trying this when my new one arrives.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine and they’ve suggested taking a dremel tool to the same corner you’ve mentioned where the cable rests…

although its a bit of a grey area I am actually considering this combined with your suggestion and might try it again after the next cable failure!


This is a greaf article. I decided to stick a SSD and run the fresh ribbon over the top covered with masking tape and say goodnight to an old problem.


Will this hack work if the laptop is already exhibiting the failure?