Possible reasons for question mark folder?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by factory81, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. factory81 macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2010
    I am going through the list of reasons that one would find the question mark folder

    Here is what I have come up with

    1. it can't find your OS, so try safe mode, or booting on to the snow leopard install in to disk utility and see if you can see your disk.
    2. if no disk or nothing to repair- proceed with trying another hard drive (to do this I have an external usb enclosure with a snow leopard test install on where I can first verify the computers ability to even boot to an OS w/o a kernel panic or).
    3. put a new hard drive in and install snow leopard on
    4. if drive is still not recognized replace the hard drive cable as a second to last ditch effort
    5. IF ALL THIS fails. It's down to the logic board...is it not?
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    I would personally insert "Run Apple Hardware Test" in between your 2 and 3; it'll tell you if there's anything wrong with the hardware in the system itself before you start swapping drives, which depending on the computer could save you a fair amount of time if it's an obvious logic board issue.

    If we're talking general-purpose pro troubleshooting here, I'd also insert the step of hooking the old internal up to a USB interface and seeing if it's visible from another computer, which again can save you fiddling with things that don't actually turn out to be the problem, and if nothing else can help you allay any fears of the person whose computer you're fixing, since of course they never back anything up.

    It is also, I suppose, at least theoretically possible for non-hardware firmware problems to cause a drive to fail to show, but that's pretty rare and probably not worth treating any differently from other hardware issues.
  3. agentphish macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2004
    Can be a hard drive cable too, then look at connector on logic board.

    Have seen systems where someone moved a critical system file, and that caused ?.

    Also see directory damage cause this.

    most of the time in my experience it's a bad drive though.
  4. The Guy macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2010
    How would I do this?
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Exactly like I said--you buy a SATA-USB converter (or PATA-USB, depending on the age of the computer), take the drive out of the computer, hook it up to the converter, plug it into another computer, and see if it mounts.

    Multi-funciton converters that will handle both SATA and PATA drives and look pretty much like a little block on the end of a USB cable (plus a power supply brick) can be had for under $30, and tend to work well enough. If you do this a lot you can also get a toaster-style dock for bare drives (also cheap), or if rarely you could get a USB-SATA case, and just take out whatever drive you usually use with it to test another.
  6. MacTribe macrumors member


    Dec 26, 2010
    If you have another mac nearby, try kicking off the machine in Target Disk Mode (probably wont work) or simply boot off the OSX disks and check to see if the HDD is available in Disk Util..

    Good Luck!
  7. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    Keeping this simple, the question mark means that the Startup Disc can't be found. Have you tried starting your Mac while holding down the Option key? That should allow you to choose the Startup disc.
  8. The Guy macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2010
    I don't have a question mark, my mac acts weirdly on startup, but doesn't boot, and the option key does nothing, and it ejects disks if I put them in. The problem was caused by a failed linux install, or a partition problem. I think that if I connect my HDD to another computer, I could fix the problem.

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