Help! daughter's macbook pro has blinking question mark-paper due

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
its a year old and of course we didn't purchase apple care.


She has a blue screen and a blinking question mark!

She has a college paper due tomorrow. She tried starting up with the shift key held down and it wanted a password to the internet. She can't configure her browser in her dorm so she's driving home (10 min away). Is that a good sign? she doesn't have her install disk
 
Last edited:

MacInTO

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2005
1,171
184
Canada, eh!
I asked because the 2011 15" MBPs have a graphics card issue. Blue screen is one of the side effects!

Blue screen here probably means a hard drive issue. If you try turning it off (hold power button for 10 seconds) and rebooting it might start up.

If it doesn't happen after several tries, you might have to boot up from the system disks that came with the computer or from another computer in target disk mode.

Then run disk utility on the drive to fix any errors.

Good luck!
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
This mac didn't come with a disk I guess. The only other mac available is an macbook air or an ancient imac desktop.
 

MacInTO

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2005
1,171
184
Canada, eh!
When the computer is off, hold down the Command key and the R key, turn on computer. That might take you to a screen that has Disk Utility.

When you get to disk utility, run repair disk.
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
When the computer is off, hold down the Command key and the R key, turn on computer. That might take you to a screen that has Disk Utility.

When you get to disk utility, run repair disk.
It doesn't show her disk, it's a different disk (macOS Base system)
so I think her month of college is gone.
 
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iamMacPerson

macrumors 68030
Jun 12, 2011
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It doesn't show her disk, it's a different disk that verifies
so I think her month of college is gone.
Hold Command and R at the same time. If the drive is bad, it'll boot over the network to an image on Apple's server to diagnose what's wrong with the laptop. Once there, it'll ask for a language. You should then be at the Utility window. Double click on the option for Disk Utility. If the drive shows up there, likely some system files were corrupt but the data is intact. If the hard drive does not show in disk utility, your hard drive has died pre-maturely. If possible, post pictures from Disk Utility

Which model of iMac and MacBook Air do you have? We might be able to extract the data using one of these machines.
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
Daughter took the air and headed back to her dorm, the other isn't even intel: iMac G5 powerpc Mac 8.1 and a ipad 2.

She left the MacBook Pro here, it doesn't ask for a language only internet and password.

Although I'm trying once more, the HD is not appearing, only base system.
My son is suggesting a data recovery service, is that a possibility if the hd is bad?
 
Last edited:

MacInTO

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2005
1,171
184
Canada, eh!
Daughter took the air and headed back to her dorm, the other isn't even intel: iMac G5 powerpc Mac 8.1 and a ipad 2.

She left the MacBook Pro here, it doesn't ask for a language only internet and password.

Although I'm trying once more, the HD is not appearing, only base system.
My son is suggesting a data recovery service, is that a possibility if the hd is bad?
What do you mean "base system?" If you could post a photo that would be easier.

Data recovery services are not inexpensive. They're mostly made for businesses and probably charge based on unknown information and desperation.

Usually when a hard drive goes, the data is still there because only part of the hard drive dies. It sounds like it still spins, so the mechanical part is still good. However, if part of the OS X boot portion goes bad, you might have problems starting the computer, but the data is still there. If you can start the computer via another method, you can access the data on the hard drive.

Do you see either of these screens?



 

iamMacPerson

macrumors 68030
Jun 12, 2011
2,797
948
AZ/10.0.1.1
Daughter took the air and headed back to her dorm, the other isn't even intel: iMac G5 powerpc Mac 8.1 and a ipad 2.

She left the MacBook Pro here, it doesn't ask for a language only internet and password.

Although I'm trying once more, the HD is not appearing, only base system.
My son is suggesting a data recovery service, is that a possibility if the hd is bad?
Is it possible? Yes of course. However I think your dealing with just a corrupt system file.

When it asks, log into your network. It's boot from Apple's servers over the Internet. Once it starts booting, do not interrupt it. If you have an Ethernet cable, it might be better to just connect via Ethernet to the router.

Do you by chance have a FireWire 800 cable? We can put the MacBook in a special mode and mount the drive on the iMac G5 to figure out what happened.
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
I've got an appt tomorrow at Mac store but my son says to take it to a data recovery place and not wipe it. Won't I be able to keep the old hd and try to get data off if they say we need a new one?
 

iamMacPerson

macrumors 68030
Jun 12, 2011
2,797
948
AZ/10.0.1.1
I've got an appt tomorrow at Mac store but my son says to take it to a data recovery place and not wipe it. Won't I be able to keep the old hd and try to get data off if they say we need a new one?
Do not let them wipe it and do not take it to a data recovery place. They will literally charge and arm and leg most of the time. Do you have a FireWire cable?

EDIT: This is a FireWire 800 cable:

image.jpg
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
This is not her screen just a similar situation I found online. I can't take a screen shot right now. Does the pram need to be reset?
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
Ugh, it died and she took the power cable. I can do it tomorrow if you can tell me the steps. I have access to a firewire at work also.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,330
10,090
California
Daughter took the air and headed back to her dorm, the other isn't even intel: iMac G5 powerpc Mac 8.1 and a ipad 2.

She left the MacBook Pro here, it doesn't ask for a language only internet and password.

Although I'm trying once more, the HD is not appearing, only base system.
My son is suggesting a data recovery service, is that a possibility if the hd is bad?
You have a bad hard drive is what is going on here. Much less likely, but it could also be a bad drive cable.

Assuming this is a non Retina model, it uses a standard 2.5" laptop drive like this.

Install the drive then command-r boot to Internet recovery and use Disk Utility to format the new drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then quit Disk Util and click reinstall OS X. That will install the OS that came from the factory and get you back up and running.

Take the old disk out and put it in an external USB enclosure then take a shot at data recovery with something like Disk Warrior. If you do not have any luck with that, you are looking at paying big $$ to a pro data recovery company, and even that may not work.

Whatever you do, don't let anybody try to reinstall the OS or do anything to the existing drive.
 

brobson

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Aug 13, 2004
477
3
Dallas
You have a bad hard drive is what is going on here. Much less likely, but it could also be a bad drive cable.

Assuming this is a non Retina model, it uses a standard 2.5" laptop drive like this.

Install the drive then command-r boot to Internet recovery and use Disk Utility to format the new drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then quit Disk Util and click reinstall OS X. That will install the OS that came from the factory and get you back up and running.

Take the old disk out and put it in an external USB enclosure then take a shot at data recovery with something like Disk Warrior. If you do not have any luck with that, you are looking at paying big $$ to a pro data recovery company, and even that may not work.

Whatever you do, don't let anybody try to reinstall the OS or do anything to the existing drive.
I am attempting to recover files now via firewire. Yikes
Take the old disk out, you mean buy a new disk then proceed?
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,330
10,090
California
I am attempting to recover files now via firewire. Yikes
Take the old disk out, you mean buy a new disk then proceed?
Yes exactly. That drive is bad and needs to be replaced. I see you show your location as Dallas? Just run over to Best Buy and grab this drive and install it then use Internet recovery like I described to get the OS on there and the machine running again.

Then grab a USB enclosure like this and put the old drive inside and see what you can recover.

Here is a walk through to replace the drive. You will also need a size 00 Phillips driver and a #6 Torx driver. You can grab both at Home Depot.
 
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