MAJOR PROBLEM! macbook shows folder with question mark and won't boot

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by ryannarod, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. ryannarod macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2008
    I'm having a major problem. My mac won't boot up into OS X. When I turn it on, I get a folder with a question mark on it flashing. THe Superdrive makes wierd sounds and beeps when there is a disk in there. I tried the disk utility, and my hard drive wasn't on the list of drives, only the boot CD (inside the computer). Please Help!
  2. kixsand macrumors regular


    Jan 25, 2007
    You do have a major problem.

    When I had the same problem I had to re-format the hard drive. I hope that you back up?

    I didn't back up at the time so I also had to buy a $100 piece of software to rescue my data and then a 500 GB external drive to hold my data during the re-format process. I now use the drive for back up though so it was a useful lesson in that regard.

    I found apple care telephone support to be not entirely helpful through this crisis -- they chose to blame me for the problem saying that I must not have been properly unmounting iPods and the like.

    Others here might be better able to assist you with diagnosis of your problem but that's what came of it for me.

    Good luck.

  3. mathcolo macrumors 6502a

    Sep 14, 2008
    That sounds like the traditional hard-drive fail situation. Hope you had a good backup:)

    If you don't have a good backup, I'd suggest going to the Apple Store to get the drive replaced and looking into some of their recovery options.
  4. SHADO macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2008
    This might be a reach, but try holding down the option key as soon as you hear the boot noise until u see yr HD w/an arrow under it. Then hit enter and see what happens. This probably won't work since it sounds like the typical HD faliure :(, but its worth a try. Good Luck :)
  5. dual64bit macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2004
    Put your original install disc in (disc 1) and hold down the D key and turn it on. That will enter the diagnostics, it will tell you for 100% sure.
  6. ryannarod thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2008

    Thanks for all your replies. Well, I already did the diagnostics, and my hard drive doesn't appear. When I press alt at boot, nothing shows up. Sadly, I don't have a backup (well i learned a lesson). I am out of warranty. What are my options, (hard drive replacement?). Also, I spoke to Apple and they said to save my data, I'd need to do Target Disk Mode, and I did that, but my hard drive was unreadable on the other mac. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

    anything would be appreciated! :apple: :confused:
  7. pawn3d macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2008
    It's not over yet. You do have options, just down give up. I've fixed this problem several times.

    Apple notebooks are extremely bipolar. Sometimes a disk inside the drive will prevent you from booting in TDM or resetting the PRAM and as crazy as it sounds, a faulty hard drive can prevent you from booting to CD.

    I've taken a macbook, and put it into target disk mode and have it not show in the finder or disk utility on one mac, but show up on another mac. Sometimes, you'll have to repeatedly try combinations or Relaunching the finder, restarting the computer in TDM, unplugging and replugging in the FireWire cable and resetting the PRAM and PMU.

    Sometimes one OSX disk won't help you while another will. Having multiple computers, multiple disks and an external enclosure is your best shot. With patience, you'll should be able to figure something out.

    Last time this happened to me on a macbook, i pulled the drive and popped it in my G5, copied off the data, reformatted the drive (zeroed out), popped it back in my macbook, reinstalled the os and coped my data back in TDM.

    I'd say the fist thing you want to do is pull the drive and try to get your data
  8. ryannarod thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2008

    I don't have another mac, but I went to a friends house this morning and tried all the combinations for Target Disk Mode, but my disk doesnt show up in the list of hard drives in finder. Fixing my computer is not a bug problem, just buy a new HD, but recovering my data is a big deal. Is there any software I can use to recover my data. Or is it physical damage (it makes wierd sounds). I don't know how this could happen, I was running firefox and it froze, and I dshut it down using the power button (while i was burning a DVD).

    I found this article written about the same time i bought my macbook

    do you guys think its related? If I come to apple with all these things, do you think they'll be able to help, because they've been very rude and unhelpful in the past.
  9. Neil321 macrumors 68040


    Nov 6, 2007
    Britain, Avatar Created By Bartelby
    You could always try Data Rescue 11,The drive making noises ie ticking doesn't come from say dropping your Mac its just what they do when going to the great server in the sky
  10. pawn3d macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2008
    This might sound stupid, but is the disk still in the drive? Cause you'll need to get that out.
  11. ryannarod thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2008

    Yes, the disk is out of the drive.
  12. dakims macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    hey this happened to me two days ago. i was on firefox and eveyrthing just froze so i restarted, and when i rebooted, the HD was making clicking sounds and the question mark came up.
    This is ridiculous because this is the second HD this has happened to me. The other HD was replaced not even a year ago under applecare warranty. Do they use refurbished parts? Is that why it is a POS?

    Does data rescue II work everytime?
  13. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    Not Good...

    CLicking is BAD.

    I've used "Recover My Files" on PC hard drives several times with good results. Never used it on a Mac drive though. (Mostly because of an I.S. guy erasing files and installing a new system. The files recovered where just erased not written over.)

    My first suggestion would be to get a new drive and get the machine working again.

    Then, get a firewire or USB drive enclosure for the old drive.

    Now this may sound funny, but I've had it work more than once... after you install the drive in the new enclosure, but it in the freezer for a few hours. Take it out and plug it in and see if it boots. I don't know why, but it sometimes works. You will need to get the data off of it fast. As it heats up if will fail again.

    Good Luck.
  14. kixsand macrumors regular


    Jan 25, 2007
    I used the Data Rescue 2 Software with outstanding results...saved everything for me. But, as I said'll need an external drive to move the data over to.

    Good luck.
  15. Priscilla macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    I have a similar problem. When I did a software and hardware check using the restoration disc. It appears no problem was found.

    I try to repair my harddisk, but verified it and found that it is not writable and I could not repair it.

    Please help, what can I do?
  16. Harris Henderso macrumors newbie

    Sep 8, 2006
    macbook HD problems . . .my version

    So here's my question: I've been messing with this stuff all day. I've got the same basic problem : the HD isn't mounting at start up. So I booted from the install disk and the partitioned 5 GB that I had to run windoze for exams shows up fine. Just the remaining 75 GB that is for my mac is not. It appears in the disk utility, but when I try to repair it.

    I get the "invalid b tree node size" message. From what I've seen, this is a directory problem and should be fixable with software. But when I try to boot my computer up in target disk mode without the startup disk, it doesn't show up on my desktop (connected via firewire) and when I do it with the start up disk, all I can see is the install disk itself.

    So I am wondering if anyone can explain how buying a CD with something like Disk Warrior will help. I even tried the demo download of Data Rescue II and my hard drive won't show up there in target mode. Is the problem just that I need the CD to put in the actual macbook, or am I dealing with both a hardware and a directory issue?
  17. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Let me guess, it's a white midrange macbook right? Not the base model and not the black, but the middle of the road white one.

    I've heard of this exact thing two times in the past few weeks, first it was my wife's. She's got the middle grade white macbook and the HD died, no abuse or anything, it just failed. Luckily she had a backup and she was in warranty! But there was a lady at the genius bar when I took it in for HDD replacement, she had the same problem (same model of macbook) and was 9 months outside her warranty coverage, they still replaced it for her free of charge after she asked hard enough ;)

    The second time was a lab partner of mine (I'm a university student) who also runs a white middle grade macbook and had the HDD fail in the exact same manner. He also got a replacement free of charge and was just outside of warranty. Apparently they see a lot of this in the middle grade macbook for one reason or another, I can't see why but that's what they told him at the genius bar. I'd take yours in, and I'd ask them really nicely to take good care of you!

    By the way, my wife's (and I assume my lab partner's) HDD siezed completely, probably a bearing on the motor that went out or something but we had the same clicking noise as you describe and just prior to the failure the computer was running noticeably slow (as a result of the lower RPM's of a failing drive).

    Hope that helps!

  18. Priscilla macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    It shows my harddisk on the utility folder but I could not do verification as it stated no valid package and also when I check the harddisk for information, it shows hat it is Locked, writable is No.

    So does it mean that the HDD is dead? When I got this system, during the first week it already give me problem and was send back to Apple Service Centre as it takes like an hour to boot up, and 5 months into it, the ram slot was corrupted and I have to replace with another ram into just one slot to make sure I have sufficient ram. Just 3 months ago, the powerplug when dead and I replace the whole unit and now it is HDD. I am wandering whether it is worth paying for a MACbook now since my toshiba laptop is working fine after 3 years and I just upgrade the ram and HDD. And it is much friendlier and cheaper to maintain and this macbook that was brought for me as a gift already giving me so much problems in a year.
  19. emt1 macrumors 65816

    Jan 30, 2008
    This happened to me last Thursday. The hard drive was dead. I sold my computer to and will be buying a new MacBook when they come out in a few weeks.
  20. ryannarod thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2008

    I just gave up trying to fix it myself. Since it was out of warranty, I called The Geek Center, and they fixed it for me (it costed me $30 plus the cost of the hard drive ~$50) Pretty Cheap. They already fixed it and I'm going to pick it up today.

    their site is :D
  21. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    Same thing just happened to me. Damn shame too. Hadn't backed up in two weeks due to being on vacation, then bam, lost all my vacation work for PA school.

    I just bought a new HD and have been messing with the old one, no luck so far.
  22. emt1 macrumors 65816

    Jan 30, 2008
    You could've done that yourself. It's a matter of removing the battery and taking out 3 screws. Check out
  23. fepps73 macrumors newbie

    Oct 2, 2008
    The same thing happened to be about 6mths ago........i had to replace the harddrive.
  24. emoore macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2003
    I just had this happen to me yesterday. I can boot with an external drive that was on my Mac mini but I cannot see the laptop drive in the finder. The bad news is that I have not backed up in a while but the good news is that my laptop is under warranty. I have an appointment today with an Apple Genius so hopefully I will at least get a new drive. For the folks that had their hard drive replace by apple, did they do it right there in the store? Or was it sent out? It would be nice if they could try to get my info off my old drive and onto the new one in the store. I would prefer to not be without my laptop for weeks while it is getting repaired.

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