macbook won't startup, folder with flashing question mark

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jswimboy, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. jswimboy macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2007
    hey guys,
    well i just got back from vacation and I tried turning on my macbook, but it wouldn't startup. it made a clicking noise and all that appeared was a white screen and a folder with a flashing question mark inside it. I then put in the apple disk it came with and went to 'disk utility,' but it wasn't able to find my hard drive. Is there any way of retrieving the data on my hard drive, or even better, fixing my macbook? luckily, for me, my warranty just expired while I was on vacation, and I'm not able to talk to apple customer service without paying 50 bucks. any help would be much appreciated.
  2. tico24 macrumors 6502


    Jun 17, 2007
    Eastleigh, UK
    I had that problem 2 weeks ago with my macbook. Had to take it to the apple store and they replaced that hard disk.

    It sounds like the heads have gone on your hard disk - so no, you wont be able to get any data back. This is why backing up your data is so important.

    It cost me around £200 and 2 hours to get the job done if that helps.
  3. showtime macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2007
    Same thing happened to my friend. Your hard drive probably died.
  4. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    If you have access to another Mac, try Target Disk Mode. It's not guarantied to work, but it's probably worth a try. Good luck. :)
  5. heySparky macrumors regular


    Mar 8, 2007
    You could also try starting up with your system DVD (or CD) disc that came with your Macbook, then use Disc Utility to check the hard drive, but I suspect that previous opinions that the HD is gone bad are correct. Disc Utility will verify that it that is the case.
  6. docc macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2007
    He mentioned that he already tried that.

    Its definitely your HD and i'm sorry that happened. Well, since you're warranty expired, the only way to get it sorted is to get it fixed by Apple and they are definitely going to hit you where it hurts. If they charge you something like $500 +, just consider getting a new updated Macbook if you can afford it. No sense spending $500 on an older one just for a HD.

    eBay the rest as i'm sure you can always get a good amount for the RAM, shell etc.
  7. Nick012 macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2007
    Or the OP could just by a new HD and swap it in. Macbook HDs are user serviceable. A 2.5" drive shouldn't be too expensive at all and theres a how-to on the apple website.
  8. alethea macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2008
    Hi all. Hopefully posting on the bottom of an old thread won't prevent this from being noticed!

    So virtually this same thing happened to me today. My MacBook has seemed a bit sluggish and buggy of recent, but I figured it was a software thing. Was using my MacBook as usual today when it froze. I had to force quit it, and when I restarted, there was no chime -- just a few small clicks and a solid light gray screen. After a prolonged period (1-2 minutes?) a folder with a question mark comes on a starts blinking. I've tried just about everything I can possibly find. Every reset imaginable, firmware resets, RAM resets. I've tried to boot (both D and C) from my install disk but this does NOTHING -- does not take me to Disk Utility.

    I am 100% sure that my hard drive has failed, but I'm afraid it could actually be much more than that given the inability of the computer to boot from a CD/DVD. My biggest question is whether I should go to or somewhere similar and buy a new hard drive to install myself or sell the machine for parts on EBay and buy a new computer. Is it worth my investing $140 in do you think? It's only 2 years on but has been kind of buggy from the start.... Random application crashes often recently, particularly Safari.
  9. fsalum macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2008
    It happened the same to me today. Any key does not work (option, C, D, shift) and it does not show the option to boot from the DVD.

    I believe it was not a problem only in the HD since the DVd option to boot doesnt show.

    Tomorrow I scheduled a genius bar and will take my macbook there. Let's see what happens.

    Hope to not lost my harddisk, I didn't have backup :(
  10. alethea macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2008
    Just to let you know, in my case it was indeed the hard drive (and only the hard drive). Once I reset the PRAM some of the boot commands came back, although it took a VERY long time of holding the key down for the computer to recognize a CD/DVD. The Mac Genius told me that the hard drive's going completely dead had had the effect of locking up the memory, because the computer kept trying to find the hard drive before it would do anything else. If it's your hard drive and you've got MacBook (or at least if you don't have AppleCare), I'd recommend buying the hard drive from a third party and doing the install yourself. It was VERY easy.

    All that is to say you may have lost your data. I luckily didn't lose anything except a few weeks' email ... I had back things up piecemeal in various places and was able to find most of my important documents.

    Good luck!
  11. ais7 macrumors newbie

    Jan 2, 2010

    so that flashing question mark on the screen happened to me to and i did the first step in putting in the disc but didnt help now i cant get the disk out of my laptop?? help!! how do i get the cd out ive tryed everything and how do i fix my laptop completely? i have the laptop over 3 years now
  12. jbrenn macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2008
    It sounds like the hard drive is dead. if you hold the mouse button down then turn on the computer it should eject the cd. We need to know what model computer you have before we can recommend the currect part to fix it.
  13. csdibiase macrumors member

    Jan 1, 2010
    Cleveland, OH
    in my experience, clicking usually means that the hard drive has lost the ability to track the heads on the platters or physically move the heads. Grinding usually means a head crash outright. In your case the data might be recoverable though I doubt it's a self repair.

    To get your mac going again you'll need to replace the drive.

    To recover your data you might be able to pop the drive in an external USB/Firewire enclosure and get it to spin up enough to read some data from. Alternative there are data recovery services that would try things like replacing the control board on the drive to see if it renders the drive readable. Failing that then something mechanical when wrong and data recovery costs go up very quickly.

    Unless the heads have ground the magnetic material off the platters data is always recoverable for a price :) Anything short of the kids baby pictures or a multi-million dollar project files would probably not be worth the cost
  14. fluffyx macrumors 6502

    Oct 25, 2007
    If your drive is clicking, you definitely cannot recover the data yourself.

    Sorry to continue to tack on to a very old thread, but data can almost always be recovered for a reasonable price. We work with a national data recovery firm whose rates are a fraction of the cost of most.
  15. Da Swede macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2009
    Same problem...

    Not sure if i should do a new post for this but here goes...

    My boss has turned on his MacBook Pro (2-3 years old, 2.4GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo) this morning to get (after about 5 minutes of grey screen) the flashing folder & '?'. He said it was working fine last night too! It doesn't make any clicking or grinding noises though like some other posts have mentioned (that i can hear anyway)

    I can get it to boot from the Leopard DVD and run the Disk Utility. It sometimes can find the hard drive, sometimes not, but it won't give me the option to do anything, saying 'unrecognized filesystem' when i try to verify it.

    The system Profiler utility is also able to run and picks up all the Hardware and OS X software components.

    Is there anything i can do to resurrect it/save the data, or is it beyond repair? Is it worth purchasing DiskWarrior (i've heard it's very good?)

    Any help muchly appreciated :)

  16. coast1ja macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2009
    sounds like a dead hard drive. It is possible to recover data, but it is very expensive for a professional to do. One thing I have heard of working is to put the drive in the freezer. I know it sounds crazy, but most hard drives die when the read/write head crashes and hits the disk itself. Freezing the disk makes things contract, and hopefully frees the head from the disk. Then you can hook it up to something and try to get the data from it. You will only have a few minutes before it thaws and the head parks again.

    Not sure if it'll work, but it's worth a try if there is something on there that is valuable and wasn't backed up.
  17. gmuratti macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2010
    Flashing Folder on startup, macbook pro

    Hello everyone, so I have the same problem, flashing folder on startup, mac os doesn't wont to stat on my macbook pro so... I try everythink to fix....doesnt help, the last what I try is to install Windows 7 on mac, and its work, so.... I hink maybe its not a hard drive problem, maybe somethink else......dont know yet.
  18. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    My daughter's MacBook developed that "click of death". In her case I was able to boot it up from DiskWarrior and get most (not all) of the data onto a USB backup before it died completely. That's not a universal possibility - sometimes you can get some data off a clicking drive, sometimes the failure is just too catastrophic.

    iFixit has step-by-steps for hard drive replacement. Get the new drive from NewEgg. The OEM drives are cheaper.
  19. Mike Macintosh macrumors regular

    Mike Macintosh

    Sep 20, 2009
    Washington State
    Ya your Harddrive is gone, hopefully you had a backup, if I were you I would consider putting in a new Harddrive yourself, their are plenty of sites out there that will tell you how to do such.
  20. JoshBoy macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    Sydney, Australia
    Tried everythin

    Hi all, I have the same problem with my first gen white macbook. I had a spare HDD (from my PS3) and placed that into it once again trying all the keys to boot from the cd but nothing would work, once I get it to see the disk in the dvd drive I think i will be sweet but cant even get there, any help or ideas?
  21. eloisalopez macrumors newbie

    Dec 29, 2009
    I have the same problem. I bought a new hard disk and let it installed in my macbook. The problem now is that i dont have a program. My macbook doesnt have a software. So, the new HD is useless until I get a software. Any suggestions?
  22. moel macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2007
    Install the software from the DVD's that came with your mac?
  23. bjmcbrid3 macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2010
    My Macbook click and is outta commission as well!

    I opened my laptop today and it was frozen with the spinning silver disc, and when I powered it off, it clicked and came up with the blank screen with the flashing folder. For some reason, the programs had been shutting down occasionally and I was having to force quit a lot of programs. I'm going to the Apple Store today to see wassup and will be pissed if the computer is dead after only 4 years of service.
  24. m0nkeyb0y macrumors member


    Jun 16, 2009
    You're in luck. Apple just announced an issue with Macbook Harddrives that result in no boot+flashing question mark.
  25. Hmac macrumors 68020

    May 30, 2007
    Midwest USA
    Your computer isn't dead, just your hard drive. Easy replacement, you'll be back up and running in a jiffy, assuming you have a current backup of your hard drive.

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