Flashing Question Mark Folder Of Death

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Zethca, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Zethca macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2007
    So for the first time ever I power on my iMac and get a flashing folder indicating the system cannot find the boot disk. I reset it a few times and it eventually boots up. A few days later the same thing happens only this time I can't get it to boot up after many attempts.

    I try all the usual suspects, reset PRAM, attempt to select boot device (can't find any) Finally I boot from the install CD and when I get to select a destination volume for the OS there are no volumes to select.

    I shut it off for a few days assuming I'd need to take it to an Apple store for some kind of repair or hdd swap. However it just started up tonight when I passed it and decided to hit the power button. Should I do anything to it while I have it running? Would a fresh OS install do anything for me? I have everything backed up with Time Machine.
  2. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Run disk first aid (disk utilities/first aid) to see if there is a system/file structure errors.

    If there isn't, the drive may be dying ... so it would be a darn good idea to save the files to an external drive.

    Even if you have time machine, it might be a good idea to make a live backup of all the really important data.

    Edit: only reason I say this is the flashing question mark means that the OS didn't find the boot ROM (aka BootX on OS X) on a drive, so the drive isn't working or the file system is corrupted -- i'd bet on dying drive.
  3. iMac22 macrumors member

    May 12, 2008
    HELP! White screen of death

    Hi I was wondering if the original poster was able to comment on whether this problem is still occurring. I've been plagued with this as well.

    I have a 3.06ghz Imac 24" (April release). I started noticing this problem recently. At first the question mark would appear and holding down the option key would still let me choose a boot partition. Eventually a week later the question mark screen was permanent at boot up. Holding the option key down did nothing. Booting up with the MAC OSX CD and running Disk utilities, my hard drive wasn't even visible. I turned the machine off for a few hrs and tried again like the original poster and it then worked. After that I backed up all my photos and made sure to select "startup disk" under system preferences and force it to boot up to my MAC OSX hard drive. Problem seemed to go away. Until today. It happened again after I needed to reset my machine. Option key did not work, waited 30 minutes and was able to boot in with option key held down later. All of this is puzzling to me. When I can boot in, I ran disk utilities on the drive and it says it is perfectly fine with no errors. The only thing I can think of is the recent NTFS-3G driver I installed lately which allows my machine to write to an external NTFS partition hard drive. Perhaps this is confusing my machine on bootup? In any event I've uninstalled it but still got this problem today.

    My machine is just over 1 yr old. 500 gb hdd. So I am out of luck getting this fixed under warranty =(

    I see a ton of posts about this problem on the internet, but no one really says how they've resolved. Is it a hardware problem? Software? Driver? The problem happens intermittently and I can't seem to pinpoint the problem.

    I hope its not a failing hard drive. Anyone know how much Apple charges to replace a hdd out of warranty? I've seen some DIY guides on how to do this myself.
  4. akazmucha macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2007
    I have this same problem. I've got a 24" iMac as well (2.8GHz, 500GB)

    The sad part, I have 280GB of stuff on it, and I have no backup! I just got rid of my old MacBook and got a new one (I normally keep both computers synced together), so then if something happens to one, I have everything on the other and can just transfer, well...of course, this happens when I didn't get a chance to back up the iMac to the new MacBook.

    The Apple store has now had my iMac for 10 days so far (glad I got AppleCare!) :( Called again today, they tried replacing the logic board, the optical drive cable, and still nothing) Said they ordered a video card.

    WTF? A video card would not cause that. She said in the first order, they ordered a logic board, the cable, and a new HD just in case. Well I asked if they tried replacing the HD to see if it was a corrupt hard drive. She said "oh no, that wouldn't cause that" Well.. I'm hoping that isn't the issue, cause then I'll have to go through the hassle of recovering files off a corrupt HD (possible but a pain, good thing my brother knows how to do all those shenanigans). Either way - I don't know what is going on but I want my computer back. I was told it would be done yesterday, now they're saying no earlier than Friday or Saturday the soonest. :(
  5. iMac22 macrumors member

    May 12, 2008
    Thought I'd mention that yesterday I ran the Apple Hardware Test (inserting Disc 1 and holding down D key on bootup)

    After the more extensive test I got this error:

    Researching seems to pt that this is a sign that my hard drive is about to fail.
    I'm still using the machine as we speak and disk utility, disk warrior all say my drive is fine. Weird.
  6. akazmucha macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2007
    If you haven't backed up, I suggest you do it soon.

    I got my iMac back from Apple today, along with the logic board being bad, the hard drive also died. 280GB, in limbo. My brother has it right now. He's trying really hard to pull it off.

    Either way - I had all my music and my pictures on my iPhone 3G, so I downloaded a few programs that will backwards transfer those. That's what I was REALLY concerned about. As far as all the movies I had, we have them all on DVDs so not too concerned there. Still a pain, I'm just hoping he can get my documents back. I just graduated college (accounting major) and I had TONS of handouts and school stuff I wanted to keep to study for my CPA exam. I'm hoping he'll have some luck.

    I'd definitely watch it, it looks like that screen more than likely means your hard drive is about to bite it. I hope you have Apple Care.
  7. iMac22 macrumors member

    May 12, 2008
    Hi, how were you able to tell that the logic board was bad?
    Did Apple perform a hardware test?
    I don't have AppleCare and it's only been 1 month past my one yr warranty. :(
  8. akazmucha macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2007

    I don't know, they ended up replacing both.

    I am kind of irritated though. They replaced the HD and gave me the old one, told me it was corrupt and wouldn't mount at all for a data transfer.

    Well...my brother hooked it up to a computer running Linux and it mounted on the freaking desktop immediately. I think they were being extra lazy.

    I'm just really irate that I paid for AppleCare and they leave ME to transfer data on my own instead of just doing it. The HD wasn't even corrupt.

    Now I have another issue, my iMac will NOT go to sleep. I tell it to sleep, the screen comes back on 10 seconds later.
  9. efbatey macrumors newbie

    Nov 29, 2009
    Mini Intel 10.4.11 Todays Patch - Flashing Folder

    No sooner than I installed the Safari and Itunes fixes for this week (2009 NOV 29), rebooted, Mozilla would not start, Safari would not start, running very slow. Top not showing any but crashdump unusual. Tried another reboot.
    Not even the Cmd-Option-P-R did any good. ALL I GET is Gray screen, Flashing Folder with Question Mark.

    Recommendations for a fix, guessing disk not recognized, died, need to get Web server back up. Prolly need bigger disk internal? Who do you trust with good prices in So Calif or southwest?

    TIA, Everett, +1 805 616-2471

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