Question mark folder then slow boot

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by CarreraGuy, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. CarreraGuy macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    #1
    This morning I turned on my iMac 2011 and saw a blinking "?" question mark folder. It blinked for a few seconds then was prompted with my FDE password. I entered pw and continued to boot. It took a very long time, 5+ minutes to get to the dashboard.

    So In the past I would bang the keyboard, swear, power-down and power up, etc.. I just let it sit there and it eventually booted up to the dashboard.

    Of course I had to see if it happened again... So I powered down and started up again with no irregularities, no extra delay.

    I looked at the console logger but wasn't sure what I was looking for... I didn't see anything catastrophic looking.

    Could this possibly be due to an abnormal shutdown? Normally I shut down at night but didn't do anything weird and nothing appeared to have problems shutting down.

    I've had this iMac since 2011 and was previously running ML with no FDE and I've been running Mavericks for little over a week now.

    This a random hiccup I should pretend never happened?

    Any ideas?
    Thanks
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #2
    That ? means the system could not find the OS to boot to. Often this means a bad drive. It is odd it went away then booted normally afterward though.

    Make sure you have a good backup, then do a command-r boot to recovery. Once there start Disk Utility and go to the File menu and unlock the drive. Then do a repair disk and see what you find.
     
  3. CarreraGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

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    Jan 15, 2013
    #3
    Thanks for your reply.

    I am having trouble with "Command R" on startup, it always hits the startup login box. Is it because I have full disk encryption? I remember I was able to do this with ML before (I used had a dual boot with win7 and no FDE).

    Since the hiccup this morning I've restarted 3-4 times and ran Onyx, with no repeats of the problem. Onyx said I had permission problems which I fixed and SMART status of my drive could not be determined (not sure if this was the case before). But these issues are higher level problems, if it is a drive problem I need to run the disk utility, no?

    Strange and little disturbing...
     
  4. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #4
    You should be able to command-r boot with FV on. I can do it on my machine with FV on. You need to hold down both keys just after the chime sounds.

    When logged in normally and in Disk Utility if you do a very disk does it show any errors?
     
  5. CarreraGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

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    Jan 15, 2013
    #5
    Well it happened again after a few days. This time I decided to verify/repair disk, so I restarted and held down 'Command-R'. I went and verified the disk after unlocking it and saw no problems. Just in case I also repaired the disk even though no problems were evident, and it ran fine.

    I restarted and came up OK. I will shut down completely and see if I see the problem, at this point it seems to be intermittent. Nothing new in my system except for Mavericks which I can't see would be the root cause of the problem. It may have 'triggered' something else.

    Anyway now its more of like wait and see... not sure what to do next.
     
  6. xylitol macrumors regular

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    Finland
    #6
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #7
    I have my personal theory with these. Every time a new OS comes out we see users reporting the OS install killed their hard drive and people blame bugs in the OS. What I think it really is is the disk was on the edge of dying already and the stress of a OS update pushed it over. That may be what is going on with yours.

    All I can say at this point is keep a good backup and keep an eye on Disk Util error messages and see what happens. But for that ? to appear then just go away sporadically does sound like a drive on the way to a dirt nap. :(
     
  8. CarreraGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

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    Jan 15, 2013
    #8
    Yes I think that is exactly what is going on, unfortunately the OS gets the blame most of the time. Then Apple has to deal with a lot of unhappy and frustrated people.

    In my particular case I think it's the NVRam as xylitol pointed out. The HD 'seems' ok, in that every time I run diagnostics it comes back OK. It's just on a cold boot it can't find the startup disk sometimes and I have to resort to restore menu. Somehow that fixes it everytime, I don't need to manually select my startup disk.

    So my next step is resetting the NVRam, if that doesn't change behavior I may have a dying NVRam battery? Those are the lithium ion calculator battery types correct?

    One thing I forgot to mention: on occasion I do completely disconnect my iMac from its power source in addition to simply powering down - I do that when I have to transfer my iMac about once/month. I wonder if that had any effect on the lifetime, cycle recharge of the NVRam battery?

    Thanks for the help guys!
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #9
    It could be that having it unplugged a lot would run down that battery faster, but for a 2011 that still seems early. Maybe just a bum battery. From what I have read it is just a regular CR2032 battery.

    Let me ask this. If you reset NVRAM then do go startup disk and select the startup disk, does it remember that selection between reboots as long as you keep it plugged in?
     
  10. CarreraGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

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    #10
    I reset the NVRam and so far <knock on wood> it remembers my startup disk on reboots and cold boots. For the acid test I will power down and unplug it tonight and see if I see any problems tomorrow morning and will post back results.

    My nvram had a lot of settings in it, some stuff from a prior BootCamp install which I nuked because I run virt box, plus some other stuff I don't remember. Suppose I should have copy/pasted it here beforehand but anyway....

    Now my nvram config only has keys: backlight-level, LocationServicesEnabled, fmm-computer-name, bluetoothActiveControllerInfo, SystemAudioVolume, and boot-gamma.

    I have a feeling I'll see this problem again, think it may be an NVRam issue.
     
  11. CarreraGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

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    Jan 15, 2013
    #11
    Well it happened again :(

    I think it's still the NVram but I did go through my /var/log/system.log and saw one of these:

    Nov 20 08:20:16 localhost kernel[0]: CoreStorageGroup::completeIORequest error 0xe00002ca detected for LVG "mac_hd" (), pv , near LV byte offset = 1295117213696.
    Nov 20 08:20:16 localhost kernel[0]: disk1: I/O error.

    It didn't repeat and it eventually started up, but this could point to something? DiskUtility when I do Command-R shows no errors though.
     
  12. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #12
    That is a disk read error. It is odd it only happens sometimes and you don't see any errors when you run Disk Util.

    How about running the Apple Hardware Test and see if that turns up anything.
     
  13. CarreraGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    CarreraGuy

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    Jan 15, 2013
    #13
    I hate problems like this! I did run the hardware test, thanks for the tip, and no issues were found. I also ran the thorough test which took over an hour.

    Now the thing is: I can *live* with this issue somewhat but it's annoying. It's concerning that the problem could get worse and someday the drive just won't start the OS.

    I'll probably bring it in to my local Apple store. This whole issue makes me want to sell or give to my kids when or if the issue is resolved and get an rMBP.

    My little 13" cMBP which is 2010 a year older than this iMac is rock solid with Mavericks (knock on wood). And its been through the ringer: drops, water on the keyboard, kids, d.i.y. SSD and RAM upgrades.
     
  14. steve-p macrumors 68000

    steve-p

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    #14
    I would strongly advise you to act sooner rather than later. When I had a disk fail in my MBP it started out as a once a week error, but within a couple of weeks became once a day, then once every few minutes, then completely unusable. I used it as an excuse to put an SSD in though, so it wasn't all bad.
     
  15. Andre Ang macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2015
    #15
    Flashing question sign on imac

    Yes, I have experienced that too on my late imac 2007 20", Its fine before I change to maverick. Sometimes it will boot normally, sometime it wont, its failed to search a boot.. I used usb boot and found no internal hardisk, but when I managed to start up a boot.. I checked with disk tool, my hardisk works fine with no error...

    I have brought my imac to ifix, and had hardisk replacement, because few days before it, it went more often.... After replacement.. my imac working fine for couple days.. and finally have the same symtom, its occur again.. I have to power off and on and off and on again untill, its detected my boot system..

    Now I upgrade it with yosemite and having the same error... I decided to downgrade the system and bring my imac to ifix again.. hope this will fix like it used before..
     
  16. grahamperrin macrumors 601

    grahamperrin

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    #16
    When Disk Utility checks a so-called 'disk' with an HFS Plus file system, it checks only the file system; only a tiny fraction of the disk.

    AHT will probably find nothing wrong with the disk; an I/O error does not always equate to something in S.M.A.R.T. that may be interpreted as a failure (or impending failure).

    fsck_hfs(8) with option -S will scan the entire device looking for I/O errors.

    (That's the device, not the entire physical disk.)

    Be aware that some types of scan for bad blocks may cause dataloss when a bad block is encountered.

    Those symptoms are familiar.

    When I last found those symptoms, with an iMac, the problem was the hard disk, and symptoms were least likely to occur when the Mac was cold.

    Was that replacement before, or after, the Mac not finding its internal hard disk?
     

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