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apolojetx

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 28, 2019
3
0
Hi. I have a late 2009 MacBook pro. I don't use it for much more than internet and word documents. I think I got malware online yesterday. My screen is gray with a blinking icon of a folder with a question mark on it. I've rebooted it several times and done two Pram restarts and still nothing.

What can I do?
 

apolojetx

macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 28, 2019
3
0
What happens if you restart and hold down the "option" key while rebooting? Depending on what version of macOS you were running, you might get the choice of starting from the recovery partition.
I'm not home at the moment. But if that works, where do I go from there? And what if it doesn't?
 

jafico1

macrumors member
Jul 7, 2018
95
30
Maine
I agree with @maflynn that this sounds like hard drive failure, so you will most likely need to get it replaced in the near future. Hopefully, you have some backups, as if you can't start from recovery and don't have backups then you'll most likely have to look at data recovery software/services to get any important files off the hard disk.

If you can start from the recovery partition
, then start it up by turning on your Mac while holding the Command and R keys and you should get a menu that looks a bit like this:

macos-high-sierra-recovery-mode-reinstall.jpg


Then click Disk Utility, then select your startup disk and then click "First Aid" at the top of the window. From there, you can check whether there are disk errors preventing your MacBook from booting. If you don't see your startup disk there, your hard drive has died and you'll need to get it replaced. If Disk Utility can't repair the disk, then you should first attempt to back up (if you haven't done so already) by following these instructions (taken from https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204323):
  1. Connect an external USB, Thunderbolt, or FireWire drive to your Mac. The drive needs to be the same size or larger than your current startup disk. It also needs to be a drive that you can erase.
  2. Use macOS Recovery to erase the external drive, then install macOS onto the external drive. Make sure that you select the external disk as the one you want to erase. Don't select your built-in startup disk, usually named Macintosh HD.
  3. After installation is finished, your Mac automatically restarts from the external drive. When Setup Assistant appears, select the option to migrate your data from another disk. Choose your built-in startup disk as the source to migrate your data from.
  4. When the migration is done, complete the steps of the setup assistant. After the desktop appears, confirm that your data is present on the external drive.
Then, try to reinstall macOS onto your internal disk and then migrate the data from your external drive.

If you can't get into recovery then you'll need to get some macOS installation media because your MacBook is too old to use Internet Recovery. Probably the easiest way to do this would be to purchase a Mac OS X Snow Leopard disc (https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MC573Z/A/mac-os-x-106-snow-leopard) then install it onto your hard drive if it can be seen by the installer (of course, if it can't see your hard drive it has probably failed, so you'll need to have a new one installed first). Then, upgrade to El Capitan (the most recent version supported by your machine) using these instructions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT206886.

If you require a more detailed explanation of any of the steps please let me know. Hope I can be of assistance :)
 

maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
73,682
43,717
How do I address this? I don't have the original disks as it's a 2009 Macbook.
Put the disks into the computer and as it boots up, hold the C key.

Then run utilities to check on the health of the drive.
 

jandrso

macrumors member
May 21, 2019
46
8
Fl, US
An '09 MacBook Pro? That's basically this one. It came with Leopard on it. No recovery partition. You need the CD. If you don't have it you can call the Apple Store closest to you and see if they have the CD's. If not you can get it online. It's $99.00 or at least it was a few years ago. I have it on my Unibody MBP.
IMG_0547.jpg

[doublepost=1559164499][/doublepost]I was wrong. You can get Snow Leopard 10.6 for US$19.00

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MC573Z/A/mac-os-x-106-snow-leopard
 
Last edited:

jafico1

macrumors member
Jul 7, 2018
95
30
Maine
Don't assume the OP hasn't upgraded to a version of macOS that added a recovery partition.
If the hard drive has failed (which sounds to me the most likely cause) then surely obtaining 10.6 media is the only way to get his MBP running again (with a new hard drive)?
 

jandrso

macrumors member
May 21, 2019
46
8
Fl, US
If the hard drive has failed (which sounds to me the most likely cause) then surely obtaining 10.6 media is the only way to get his MBP running again (with a new hard drive)?

Indeed. I would imagine, based on the fact that he did not have the original media, and that creating the Lion and further releases would be difficult at best, that the purchase of the original base system would be enough to diagnose the issue with the missing boot device using disk utility. Once it is determined the drive is bad, then reinstall.

That said, apolojetx, you may want to consider a number of options prior to replacing the disk and reinstalling.
  1. Getting a sata disk enclosure for your existing disk drive. Getting a sata SSD for your Unibody MBP and installing it. It literally will take 30 minutes if you have fat fingers like me and drop the backplate screws all over.
  2. Insert the Snow Leopard disk into the DVD and holding down the "c" key, boot the MBP. Once the base setup is loaded you will be able to use disk utility, partition the new SSD, install the base OS X and then any updates needed. At that point you can install a later release of OS X on the drive should you choose to.
  3. Forget all the above and purchase a gently used but newer MBP perhaps a 2014 - 2015 15".
  4. If you are a person with the means to do so, go all in with a new one. I did from my old Unibody. I suggest either a late 2018 15" MR942RR/A you can get one in the US for $2449.00 and add AppleCare+, or if you're felling froggy then a new 2019 15" from Apple. (with AppleCare+)
The reason I bring this last point #4 up is that there may be other reasons that the drive failed due to security flaws in the unsupported OS X version that you were running. Perhaps malware of some sort got to it. But that is all supposition and probably not the case. Spinning disk drives fail and they fail just at the wrong darn time.

Just my 2 cents.
 

duervo

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2011
2,472
1,244
Internet Recovery is another option if you’ve kept the device’s firmware updates current over the years.

I was able to use Internet Recovery after updating the firmware on my early 2018 15” MBP ... before it was stolen (not that it was huge loss, mind you ... it had a ticking bomb inside it what with the known dGPU failures for that model, plus it was already 5 years old when it was stolen.)
 
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jandrso

macrumors member
May 21, 2019
46
8
Fl, US
Internet Recovery is another option if you’ve kept the device’s firmware updates current over the years.

I was able to use Internet Recovery after updating the firmware on my early 2018 15” MBP ... before it was stolen (not that it was huge loss, mind you ... it had a ticking bomb inside it what with the known dGPU failures for that model, plus it was already 5 years old when it was stolen.)

Excellent point!! I had forgotten that!
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G5
Jul 30, 2003
13,574
4,477
Delaware
Internet Recovery is another option if you’ve kept the device’s firmware updates current over the years.

I was able to use Internet Recovery after updating the firmware on my early 2018 15” MBP ...
The OP's MBPro is a 2009 model --- too old for Internet Recovery.
Oldest models with Internet Recovery are 2010.
 

ScreenSavers

macrumors 68020
Feb 26, 2016
2,119
1,688
Bloomingdale, GA
No internet recovery pre-2011. At least it doesn't work on my mid-2010. I'd definitely hold option and look for boot devices. Also try to listen for the hard drive spinning. It makes a pretty distinctive high pitched sound, separate from the fans.
[doublepost=1559182366][/doublepost]
Internet Recovery is another option if you’ve kept the device’s firmware updates current over the years.

I was able to use Internet Recovery after updating the firmware on my early 2018 15” MBP ... before it was stolen (not that it was huge loss, mind you ... it had a ticking bomb inside it what with the known dGPU failures for that model, plus it was already 5 years old when it was stolen.)
Assuming you mean 2008? Or 2011?
 

duervo

macrumors 68020
Feb 5, 2011
2,472
1,244
No internet recovery pre-2011. At least it doesn't work on my mid-2010. I'd definitely hold option and look for boot devices. Also try to listen for the hard drive spinning. It makes a pretty distinctive high pitched sound, separate from the fans.
[doublepost=1559182366][/doublepost]
Assuming you mean 2008? Or 2011?

Early 2008. Pre-Unibody. I’m well aware of what Internet Recovery is as well. Shortly after Lion was released, my system downloaded and applied an EFI update from apple which added the capability to use Internet Recovery. I used it several times in fact ... saw the little rotating earth globe with the “Starting Internet Recovery” message and everything. I explicitly remember this like it was yesterday, because I was in the midst of troubleshooting an overheating issue with it at the time.

The memory is vivid because it was such a pain to be dealing with that heat issue, and I was rather stressed about the recently disclosed issue with the dGPU in that system. Add the cost of $3700 for such a proverbial piece of crap (in hindsight) ... does a lot to make a person remember things like this.

On a related note, the cost of that machine, combined with the heating issue I had, resulted in the birth of my current standing policy of never, ever spending more than $2000 on a laptop.
 

ScreenSavers

macrumors 68020
Feb 26, 2016
2,119
1,688
Bloomingdale, GA
That’s unfortunate you had all those issues. In all the 2008 MacBook Pros I’ve had, I’ve never seen a bad GPU.

2011 iMacs and MacBook pros? Different story.
 

MacPeasant123

macrumors member
Feb 24, 2018
80
67
One other possibility, which happened to me with my 2012 MacBook Pro, is that the hard drive cable is dead, and not the hard drive itself. This happened to me twice, and each time instead of getting the Apple logo on bootup, I'd see a "no entry" symbol (a circle with a diagonal cross).

In this scenario, I got the hard drive cable replaced and things went back to normal for me.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors G3
Feb 13, 2011
9,699
2,449
Baltimore, Maryland
If a Mac has a recovery partition it is possible that the boot partition won't start up and the recovery partition will.

The OP hasn't responded in a while but there's been a lot of good info for him here.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,713
12,831
The "question mark in folder" icon means the Mac can't find a bootable copy of the OS from which to start up.

My guess is the reason it can't find the OS is because the drive is either dead or has gotten very corrupted.

My suggestion is that you either replace the drive, or start shopping for something newer. If you don't want "brand new", an Apple-refurbished MacBook might hit the spot.
 
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