Flashing Folder On Startup (with a twist)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Mecon5, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. Mecon5 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2013
    #1
    So here's one for you folks,

    My sister, who is away at college, told me her macbook pro wouldn't start up and was just displaying a flashing folder with question mark. I looked into the problem, and understand that it means the the computer cant find the startup disc.

    But here's the twist...apparently her hdd has almost no space left on it (~1GB), and when she tries to run the OSX repair disc, it says she doesn't have enough space.

    We tried to repair the disc using disc utility, but it says that the disc cannot be repaired.

    So it seems to me that she is SOL, since she doesn't have a backup disc. Is there anything else I can have her try so that she doesn't lose all her files?

    This is a mid-2010 13" MBP running Snow Leopard.


    Thanks.
     
  2. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #2
    Connect another MacBook to it in Target Disk Mode. You'll need a FW800 cable and a Mac with FireWire800.

    This will allow you to access the drive and copy off what you need.

    Else

    Swap in a new HDD, SSD or SSHD
    Put the old drive in an external USB / HDD enclosure
    Command R will start OSX recovery from the 2010's Flash if she updated to at least Lion, err she didn't. Then you need to boot from the SL disk that came with it.
     
  3. Mecon5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2013
    #3
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    So i have a new development. She restarted the computer, and now it is bringing her through the OS X setup process as if it was a fresh install. I fear the disc might have somehow erased itself...

    Any idea where to go from here?
     
  4. Siggen macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #4
    It does not erase it self, but there are a few buttons that you guys might have pressed. If you have another mac you might want to make a bootable flash drive to boot another copy of OSX from, and look at the contents of your disk.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    It sounds like her drive is bad. If the data on their is important, you should take the drive out now and have a professional data retrieval company look at it (it won't be cheap). The more you try running disk repair and trying to reinstall the OS etc, the more you risk further damaging any data that might be left on there.

    Maybe by your nice sister an external backup drive as a gift for next time. :)
     
  6. Mecon5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2013
    #6
    So i finally got the computer here with me. I figured the easiest thing to do was take the drive out, and see if i could connect it to something. Luckily enough, the FW800 adapter from my seagate external HDD also connects to the macbooks HDD. So I plugged it into my own MBP, and a prompt came up saying that the disc could not be repaired, but I could take files from the drive.

    So I was able to copy most of what she wanted off the drive.

    We then reformatted the disc and tried to reinstall OS X, but it seems that the drive is pretty toast ; the install would not make any progress and we had it sitting there for at least a half hour (it was also making some pretty gnarly noises the whole time we were copying stuff off it).

    Stock MBP HDDs are pretty cheap from what I've seen, so looks like she'll be getting a new drive.
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #7
    Good you got some data off of there. :)

    Just any standard 2.5 inch laptop drive will work. You can grab one pretty cheap from Amazon or the big box stores. If you want to really speed things up you could put an SSD in there.
     
  8. Mecon5, Jan 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014

    Mecon5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2013
    #8
    OK so I got a new 500GB hard drive for the computer, I put it in, but now the drive wont show up when the installer prompts me to select the drive to install OS X on. It doesn't show up in disk utility either.

    I tried reformatting it, but I'm still having the same problem. Do I need to partition the drive?

    EDIT:

    SO I took the drive back out and connected it externally with my FW800 adapter and it shows up in Utility, and the installer allows me to select it. I guess this means the SATA cable in the computer is the problem. It is now installing OSX on the drive. The last thing I'm going to check is if it will recognize the old drive still. I dont know what it would mean if it does. That would imply that the SATA cable is not the issue.

    EDIT #2:

    So after the install was complete, I shut it down and put the drive back in the computer, and was greeted with the flashing folder. I then took it back out and booted from it externally and it works fine. So that seems to be conclusive evidence that the SATA cable is the problem. Funny, maybe the old drive was fine. Unfortunately I already erased it...

    Anyway, the SATA cable definitely seems to be the problem after all that.

    Thanks for the help guys.

    Mike.
     
  9. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020

    KUguardgrl13

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    #9
    Those SATA cables are very flimsy. Either it was going bad on its own, or it got a little too bent when you took the drive out. Regardless, it's a pretty cheap part on Amazon and should be replaced anyway. Apple generally replaces the cable along with any HDD replacement.
     
  10. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #10
    It does sound like that cable is bad. But I suspect you had a bad drive also. Otherwise one would think you would have been able to reformat the old drive when you attached it to your machine. Perfect storm. :(
     
  11. Mecon5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2013
    #11
    Yes, I definitely think the drive was bad too. I might have damaged the SATA ribbon when I was messing with the drives. I ordered a new ribbon and I'll see how it goes when I put it in...
     

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