I have owned a Mac Mini for three years now (my friends convinced me to try the Apple way and this is my first Mac). The CD/DVD died just three weeks after warranty expired and Apple said (in essence) 'tough crap...you didn't buy AppleCare'. I have functioned without a CD/DVD drive since then, and everything was fine... until a week or two ago. We installed an update in iTunes, and everything started running S...L...O...W... So, we rebooted the computer! Instead of rebooting, it made the "bong!" sound and then a screen with an apple and a spinning wheel runs indefinitely. We let it run all night the first time and it stays on that screen for as long as you let it. Here's what I've done: 1. Rebooted and reset PRAM. No good. 2. Tried restarting from CD. Drive died two years ago. No good. 3. Called Apple. No warranty and no AppleCare = "There's nothing we can do." No good. 4. Took it to an Apple Repair shop. Paid $45 to have them look at the computer and was told that the hard drive is failing and the CD drive doesn't work. For only $375, I could have the drives replaced and for another $75 I could have them try to save the data from the failing drive. I don't have $450 to repair a 3-year-old computer, so... No good. 5. I bought a new Superdrive from somewhere else, as well as a hard drive to replace the dead one (Somehow I convinced myself that $450 was too much, but I could justify $180 to hopefully save some of the photos/documents we've got on the Mac). The Superdrive came today, so I put it in the mini, hoping to boot from CD and copy whatever I could to our external drive...possibly saving SOME data. The CD goes into the new drive fine, but holding C down doesn't boot the computer. I have tried to find ANYTHING on the web to help someone like me (A newish Mac user who doesn't know all the hidden tricks everybody here seems to know) get the computer to boot up, but I am unable to get past the Apple and spinning wheel. When the group of friends who convinced me to buy an Apple told me about Macs, they said that Macs were easier to use and were built to last longer than PC's. I was excited to get a Mac, as my previous PC only lasted four years before it died. I remember it would have cost me about $500 to replace the PC then, and my buddies said that even though I was spending 2-3x more on the Mac Mini, it would last far longer than the PC and I would love it. The entire Mac group that convinced me to buy the Mini in the first place has been over to look at our computer and they are all scratching their heads (One of them is a Mac IT guy for a publishing company and even he has no idea). So, I am coming here as a last-ditch effort to save some of our family's documents from the past three years before going out into the desert with a rifle and a shotgun and then coming home and calling Dell... ...any advice?