Circle With Line/Folder w/ Question Mark At Bootup (Inconsistent)

Discussion in 'macOS' started by ElectroPulse, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. ElectroPulse macrumors newbie

    Nov 17, 2012
    Hello, all!

    I have a user here at the school I am working at that has an issue with his Mac. I am not familiar with the Mac ecosystem, so am coming to you for advice.

    The user said that this summer (sounds like a few weeks ago) this same issue occurred, so he took it to a computer repair store where they swapped out the hard drive. The problem is, that was back in the US, and we are located in Palau now, so he can't just take it back to them and tell them it's happening again.

    Unfortunately, the issue is back. For a few days before the issue occurs, there are slowdowns, and lots of spinny rainbow wheels. Once the issue hits, at bootup it will show that circle with the line through it, or the flashing folder with the question mark on it.

    I removed the hard drive and plugged it in externally to another Mac to verify it was not hardware failure, and it came right up showing files. I put it back into the user's Mac, and the thing booted up perfectly. It worked fine, then a day or two later the slowdowns and spinny rainbow wheels started occurring again, and within a couple of hours it would not boot.

    I downloaded the Mac Boot Recovery Disk program (I forget the exact name), and created a bootable flash drive using it on a working Mac. When I tried booting from it, it loaded to about 1/3 of the loading bar, then brought up the circle with the diagonal line.

    Any ideas how to proceed? Based on that last bit of information (the flash drive not booting), it appears that it may be more than just the hard drive that has an issue.

  2. asriznet macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2013
    Which version of OS X do we have on the affected mac?
    I'm not sure how u install the bootable flash drive, but this is how I would do it.

    - Plug in an empty external HDD(avoid using thumbdrive because of low read/write speed)
    - boot to startup manager(Hold down option on startup) on the affected mac(hopefully it's still working)
    - select Recovery HD(it may show up as recovery 10.7.xx, 10.8.xx etc..)
    - go to disk utility
    - select the external HDD on left sidebar(the main drive, not the partition)
    - go to partition tab on the right
    - dropdown menu: Current -> 1 Partition
    - Format: Mac OS Extended(Journaled)
    - Partition name: Test
    - Click on Option and select GUID Partition Table
    - Click on partition to partition the external HDD
    - close disk utility and select Reinstall OS X(2nd option in main menu)
    - go through the installation and choose "Test" volume as the destination for installation.

    if recovery HD is not an option and it's running on OS X 10.6 or earlier, you need the Mac OS install DVD.
  3. ElectroPulse thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 17, 2012
    Unfortunately, the "Recovery HD" option does the same thing as booting normally.

    Would the above work if I did the same under a different version of OSX? (I'm not sure what the version is, and the user is unsure as well) Like, could I plug in an external HDD into another computer, install it from there, then use the recovery partition now on the external drive? (assuming it puts a recovery partition there)

    By the way, when the affected Mac was working (after removing the HDD and putting it back in, it started working temporarily), I ran the Disk Utility. I scanned it for errors, and it found none. I then scanned it for permissions, and it found quite a few of those and fixed them. Other than that, it didn't appear there was any issue with it. Is there a built-in HDD SMART reader in Mac? I could plug it in externally to the other Mac and check the SMART to see if there are any errors in the logs.

    But as previously mentioned, I'm wondering if it is more than just an HDD issue... As mentioned, the user had the HDD replaced this summer after this exact issue occurred.

    Thanks you for the reply!
  4. asriznet macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2013
    It may not always work but yes you can use the steps in my earlier post on another working mac(best if you have the same model)
    Once installed, you can plug that into the affected mac, boot up to the startup manager(Hold down option) and select the "Test" volume to start up.

    the built in SMART checker is in disk utility itself -

    Worse possible situation is the Logic Board needs replacement, not so worse situation are the parts like HDD, memory or just a software reinstallation.
  5. Manic Harmonic macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2011
    It sounds like the sata port for the drive may have a bad connection, which might necessitate a repair or replacement of the logic board. I'm not sure how you would test for that. Does it ever freeze when the OS is in use?

Share This Page