Question Mark folder when booting..

SweeneyD24

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 16, 2011
127
5
Mauritius
Basically the title says it all, but let me elaborate.
Two nights ago just before switching it off and going to bed, i noticed my MBP was acting a little weird. I would get the rainbow wheel every now and then. It didn't bother me as i thought that it would be working fine again on the next boot.

When i woke up the next morning, it was worse. It was practically impossible to do anything without the rainbow wheel showing up. I thought it might be a RAM or CPU issue. So i managed to open Boost Up Memory and freed some memory. The CPU and RAM was ok but i was still getting the same issue. I couldn't reboot my MBP so i shut it down abruptly and restarted it again and that's when i got the "Question Mark folder".

Just for info, my MBP is equipped with a 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM and El Capitan.

I found out that it's a common issue with the hard drive cable on some MBP of the same gen. But mine was working FINE until two days ago. More over, i also found that some users have fixed the same issue by rebooting in safe mode or verbose mode without actually changing any hardware.

For now, luckily i still have my intial HDD with the everything on it and just swapped it. It's working ok, but still some minor issues like Finder crashes every time and won't open.

I'm considering booting my MBP on the 1TB via USB and see if it works or not. Then download and install macOS Sierra and swapped it again to see if the problem still persists.
If not, i'll definitely have to change the HDD cable.

Has anyone encountered this same issue and managed to fix it on a software level?
 

simonsi

macrumors 601
Jan 3, 2014
4,849
716
Auckland
Of course it would have been working fine before the issue started - thats the nature of problems.

The symptoms are classic HDD or cable, yes booting via USB will prove it one way or the other. If you have swapped out the HDD and still get stuff like Finder crashes then that points to the cable. You can install Drive DX and look for errors there too, mine showed UDMS CRC Error count increasing but YMMV
 

SweeneyD24

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 16, 2011
127
5
Mauritius
Of course it would have been working fine before the issue started - thats the nature of problems.

The symptoms are classic HDD or cable, yes booting via USB will prove it one way or the other. If you have swapped out the HDD and still get stuff like Finder crashes then that points to the cable. You can install Drive DX and look for errors there too, mine showed UDMS CRC Error count increasing but YMMV
I mean, it happened all of a sudden, literally. I was hoping it might be some bugs. Thing is, it's weird that i'm still being able to use my MBP with my previous HDD though and not the current one.
Anyway, i'll do that with hope that it might be fixed.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,860
30,385
Boston
I mean, it happened all of a sudden, literally.
Failure can be catastrophic, I've had that occur on a PC back in the day, it was working fine on one day, the next, it wouldn't start up.

The cable being the issue is a good point to keep in mind as well.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,216
5,558
OP:
You have TWO bootable drives, is this correct?
One in the MBP, and one "in your hand"?

Try booting the one "in your hand" via USB.
Use a USB3 enclosure, or a USB3/SATA dock, or a USB3/SATA "dongle" adapter.

How does it boot?
How does it run?

If there are no problems, that points to the ribbon cable.
Replace it. See ifixit.com for the part number.
Buy the cable from ifixit, or from ebay, or online.
 

SweeneyD24

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 16, 2011
127
5
Mauritius
OP:
You have TWO bootable drives, is this correct?
One in the MBP, and one "in your hand"?

Try booting the one "in your hand" via USB.
Use a USB3 enclosure, or a USB3/SATA dock, or a USB3/SATA "dongle" adapter.

How does it boot?
How does it run?

If there are no problems, that points to the ribbon cable.
Replace it. See ifixit.com for the part number.
Buy the cable from ifixit, or from ebay, or online.
Right!

I just did. Unfortunately my 3.0 USB dock just died on me a few minutes ago, so i'm using an old enclosure with 2.0 USB i think. It's a bit slow but i guess it's because of the 2.0.
I'm gonna download and install macOS Sierra via USB, hoping that a clean install might help.
[doublepost=1474865937][/doublepost]
hard drive or hard drive cable failing
Let's just hope it's a hard drive issue. The hard drive cable delivery will take at least 6 weeks.
[doublepost=1474866230][/doublepost]Once macOS Sierra is installed, i'll perform a backup on Time Machine.
In case i'll need to replace the hard drive cable, you guys recommend running macOS Sierra via USB(3.0) in the meantime?
 

SweeneyD24

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 16, 2011
127
5
Mauritius
Ok, i finally got the hard drive cable from eBay yesterday. It was a bit of a hassle, but i managed to replace the whole thing and my MBP is working fine again since.

Start up is still a bit slow though. I'll definitely replace the HDD or swap it to a SSD in the near future.