Flashing Question Mark Folder on start up

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by jeffcalloway, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. jeffcalloway macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2009
    I have a 13" unibody MacBook running 10.5.8

    When I start it up I get the Apple "chime" then the flashing folder with a question mark. Have tried all the standard procedures, ie. reset PRam, try to reboot i safe mode, single use mode etc... to no avail.

    I can reboot from the install drive.

    When I go to disk utilities my System Hard Drive shows up, passes Repair Disk Permissions as well as Repair Disk.

    I can even go into Images>Scan Image for Restore and see all the files on my HD are still there - Documents, Photos, Apps, Desktop, Music. It shows how many folders and files there are. I can aslo go into System Profiler from the startup disk and the HD structure seems fine. So, I don't believe I have a catastrophic HD failure, but something else with hardware etc... Is there a ROM chip on a Mac that holds boot info similar to a Windows machine that has a BIOS chip? IF so, has anyone heard of these going bad?

    I am not a hardware guru, but it seems it is not reading the startup files. So, I reinstalled the system using Archive my data and it still will not boot. I really need to save the data off this HD. It is under warranty.

    Thanks for help and suggestions.
  2. kornyboy macrumors 68000

    Sep 27, 2004
    Knoxville, TN (USA)
    Wirelessly posted (iPhone: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_0_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7A400 Safari/528.16)

    If you have access to a second computer with FireWire ports, try hooking your MB to the other computer with a FireWire cable and the boot holding down the "T" key on the keyboard. This will cause the computer to boot in what Apple calls "Target Disk Mode". The computer should mount on the other machine as a FireWire HD and you should be able to pull your data off and save it elsewhere.

    After that, I'd try doing an Erase an Install of the OS. It is acting like you either have a corrupted system file or a HD on the brink of going bad.

    Hope this helps.
  3. jeffcalloway thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2009
    Thanks. Problem is - it is the first generation unibody MacBook - no firewire!
  4. jamin100 macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    Yes you may need to re-install your OS.

    Have you got a recent backup
  5. jeffcalloway thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2009
    No backup. Another point of interest - I can use Install DVD and start Airport and see and examine other computers in the house - but only through Images>Scan Images for Restore.

    I don't understand how I can look at the files on my boot disk "Leopard HD" using this method. There has to be a way to access those files and get them off the HD.

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