SORRY FOR THE LONG POST!!!! I HAVE ATTEMPTED TO BE AS PRECISE SO AS TO MAKE GIVING ME FEEDBACK A HASSLE FREE EXPERIENCE!!! Hardware: 24" IMac, Purchased August 2008 Software: Mac OSX Leopard 10.5 HD Capacity: 320GB (Maybe 300GB) RAM: 2GB Upgrades since purchase: None Peripheral Devices Connected: 1TB WD External Drive, Bose Companion Series, Mac keyboard and Mouse (Wired) Usage: Moderate. Surfing, Word Processing. Occasional Downloads. Watching Movies Issue: Apple Logo with Spinning Wheel / Folder with Question Mark / Gray Screen Literature Consulted: Mac OS X: Gray screen appears during startup (http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2570) Resetting your Mac's PRAM and NVRAM (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1379) A flashing question mark appears when you start your Mac (http://support.apple.com/kb/ts1440) Other sites referred to by link, originating in the articles mentioned above. Background: My IMac has worked rather well for me over the past 3 years. Surprisingly, no systems crashes or equipment failures have been encountered, or at least that i have been made aware of till recently. The computer was purchased in the United States, and brought back soon after to the Middle East. This is my first Mac purchase, and the experience so far has been smooth. Approx a week back, I noticed the computer running rather sluggish. The beach-ball spin wheel ran for much longer than expected. Applications started hanging. Video playback was a disaster. I assumed that there must have been some sort of error, which would fix itself if i simply powered down the Mac and get it back up again. When powering the Mac back up, it cycled through its distinct chime and brought me to the gray screen. The apple logo then appeared along with the spinning gear. The Mac stayed at this screen for approx 45 minutes, after i which I shut it down again. On my next attempt, the apple logo did not show. The Mac simply stayed stuck on a gray screen. After reading up briefly, I decided to do a safe boot (Shift). The Mac took quiet some time and finally booted into safe mode. I performed a verify and repair disk permissions operation along with a verify disk operation. The repair disk operation tab was grayed out. The results seemed rather standard. After having successfully performed the above mentioned, i rebooted the system. Once I arrived at my desktop, I finalized my scheduled backup (which was painfully slow). It was apparent that the computer was going to crash soon. Sure enough after the last of my files was backed up, the computer froze. Further reading suggested that i disconnect peripherals so i may isolate the problem. This did not help. I then decided to insert the OSX disk, and perform an erase and install of the system. The process went by effortlessly, and i was pretty confident that it would be smooth sailing. I rebooted the mac a few a few times to ensure that the problem went away. after having installed the microsoft office suite, latest updates for OSX and office, and a copy of all my files, i performed a file transfer from my blackberry phone (as a USB) onto the mac. The computer started freezing again. Once again I had to shut down. Unlike the first time though, I persistently kept getting stuck at the gray screen. After a few hours, the fray screen turned into a folder with a flashing question mark. a few more restarts the no entry sign started flashing. the computer refused to enter into safe mode. i made an attempt to reset the PRAM. I also tried to respecify the star-tup disk. I was unable to do either of the above. A few more hours down the mac actually started with the osx disk. Once again I performed an erase and install. The logic (misguided as it was) i used to justify the failure was that i connected the black berry phone (yes i know, totally bogus). Well a few more hours down, and here i am staring at an apple logo with a spinning gear!!!!! I am now inclined to think that i have a hard drive that seems to be suffering from an intermittent failure. There are no authorized service centers where i live. the few people that do offer service, have been characterized as extremely shady. I will most probably have to do the work myself. (The videos posted online should serve as a decent guide) Can anyone reading this post have any additional suggestions or agree with my deduction? Your help is appreciated.