The basics first: 24" 2008 iMac, 4GB RAM, OS 10.6.8, all updates, running second monitor via mini-DVI So, I've experienced an odd crash that I've seen similar before, but not this bad off. I was copying a family vacation DVD to mp4 using Handbrake, and left the room to watch a movie. My iMac is set up to go to sleep after about 1.5 hours, and it did so by the time I returned to the room. I pressed a key to turn it back on, had the password prompt over the black screen pop up, I typed in my password, and... waited. I could hear the DVD drive spinning, I could hear the hard drive making a spirited effort, and I could hear the fans. The beachball popped up, and no typed letters were being written in the password prompt. After about 10 minutes of this, the screen went off altogether and could not be brought to a wake. It seems as though it just powered down entirely. I decided to restart. During restart I ejected the DVD. The machine whirred, and eventually the dreaded flashing missing folder icon came up. This had happened before, ages ago, under similar circumstances (forced reboot), so I powered off, disconnected the power cable, let it sit a while, and turned it back on (which worked prior). This time, nothing, still flashing folder. Reset again, tried to do PRAM, but it didn't even respond to PRAM by doing the usual restart operation, it just went to the flashing folder. Inserted OSX install disc, held down option, and the main drive partition didn't even show up. Went into OSX install disc's Disk Utility, checked, and again saw no OSX partition. I am convinced that the hard drive itself isn't fried. I'm also mildly certain that the OS itself is still intact. My reasoning is, if the file structure itself vanished, or the drive was fried beyond working, how could it display the login prompt? Somehow, though, something must have triggered something massively bad where it's in perpetual hang and can't get unstuck (boot order? something with improper permissions? failed write of an important file?). Any suggestions? I have a many months old Time Machine save, and have all of my important work documents stored separately elsewhere so a complete reinstall isn't out of the question, but is there anything anyone else can suggest that might fix this? Thanks, guys.