Stuck on Spinning wheel of death

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Viv3kdp, Aug 31, 2014.

  1. Viv3kdp macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2014
    ( 16 year old having a problem )
    Hey, I own a late 2009 MacBook, and I've been having trouble booting it up normally one fine Wednesday morning .-. As a 15 year old passionate for music and surfing the internet for endless hours doing whatever that comes to mind ( which is usually Facebook, watching random videos on YouTube and talking with a lot of people .-. ) that Tuesday night, I could've sworn I did not do anything download or installed anything on my MacBook. Turns out, the next morning, I was stuck on the spinning grey wheel of death .-. So I did what every teenager would probably do... I threw my laptop out the window... I'm kidding, I tried booting it first

    ( no more ******** )
    I unplugged all the accessories ( my lapdesk fan and my laptop charger ) and started it back up... An hour later still nothing. Enough was enough so I looked it up online. Someone suggested to go into safemode to figure what was causing the problem, booted it up and my laptop was so slow... For no reason, I've never seen it so slow before.

    ( Spec. and Details )
    - I have a white MacBook late 2009
    - 6 gb of ram
    - a 1 tb hardrive, which I've used around 620 gb already
    - it was used by my brother before for 5 years and then passed on to me which I've used for a year ( haha very funny I broke the MacBook -_- )
    He backed it up when he gave t to me and I haven't really back it up since... Sorry for that .-.

    ( interesting part I need help with )
    Well I could boot it to safemode. Problem is, it keep telling me I can't back it up even if I've done the procedure perfectly about 4 times... And I can't just restore it because I need all this songs and memory for later use. A lot of family pictures, a lot of school work and a lot of... Music ( yes not porn, music ) so I just need help getting to back it up and once I'm don't with that, I'll just need to hold the option key and reformat the MacBook.

    Please help .-. I do not want to go to the Genius Bar for them to tell me it's going to cost me 300$ to repair it .-.

  2. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    In deed without TM or other backups available a restore from backup seems out.

    What OS are you running? Are there any original OS DVDs available to boot from? Did you or your brother make a bootable USB stick or DVD? Do any of your family or friends have one?

    Assuming the problem is a corrupted OS, and maybe a bad drive on the lower level, I would consider removing the drive and putting in a new one. Drives are relatively inexpensive. You will need a bootable DVD or USB stick to boot, format, and install the OS to the new drive. Get a friend to make one if necessary.

    Then you can connect the original drive to a USB port (SATA to USB cable needed) to see if Disk Utility can diagnose and repair it. If so, you can move the data to the new drive.....and use the original drive for doing backups.
  3. Viv3kdp thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2014
    I'm running the lastest version of Maverics on my laptop and I do not have any recovery CD or USB stick that may have snow leopard of mountain lion on it
  4. MCAsan, Sep 1, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014

    MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    According to Apple's Mavricks System Requirements, you can load and run Mavricks. You only need the old cat version if you are upgrading. When I am refurbishing 2010 MacBooks I boot them from the USB stick and do a clean install of Mavericks. See below.

    OS X Mavericks: System Requirements

    Learn about the system requirements for OS X Mavericks.

    To install Mavericks, you need one of these Macs:

    iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
    MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
    MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later),
    MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later)
    MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
    Mac mini (Early 2009 or later)
    Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
    Xserve (Early 2009)
    Your Mac also needs:

    OS X Mountain Lion, Lion, or Snow Leopard v10.6.8 already installed
    2 GB or more of memory
    8 GB or more of available space


    So you have access to a Mac running Mavricks, create a bootable USB stick. If the Mac is owned by someone else, here is a great opportunity for both of you to make bootable USB sticks.

    • Download OS X Mavericks from the Mac App Store, if you haven't already. If it tries to start the installation, just close it.
    • Insert your USB stick/dongle (you'll need one that's 8GB or larger) and open Disk Utility.
    • Select your drive in the sidebar and go to the Erase tab. Format the drive as "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" and name the drive "Untitled." (Note: if you already have a drive or partition named "Untitled" connected to your computer, name it something else and change the corresponding variable in step 5's terminal command, or you might experience data loss!).
    • Click the Erase button and wait for Disk Utility to finish.
    • Close Disk Utility and open up a Terminal window. Copy and paste the following command into the Terminal: sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ --nointeraction
    • Press Enter. The process should take about 20 minutes, so don't cancel it or eject your USB drive while it's doing its thing. The responses from Terminal should look like:
      Erasing Disk: 0%... 10%... 20%... 100%...
      Copying installer files to disk...
      Copy complete.
      Making disk bootable...
      Copying boot files...
      Copy complete.
    • When it's done, you should get a message stating the process is finished. Now, you can restart your computer, hold the Option key to access the boot menu, and select your new USB drive. From there, you can launch disk utility, format your drive, and do a clean install of Mavericks.

    With bootable Mavericks stick in hand, you can boot your 2009 white Macbook to the USB stick and run Disk Utility on the internal hard drive to try to diagnose and fix the problem. If the OS volume can not be repaired, but the drive is still mechanically OK, you could repartition it and use the stick to do a clean Mavericks install on the HD. Of course all data would be lost.

    Regardless of being able to save the existing data or not, get an external drive or a Time Capsule and set up Time Machine on the Mac to do backups.
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    From your description it sounds like the hard drive is dying. A reinstall of the OS will not fix that and will likely make things worse.

    You say you can boot to safe mode? How are you trying to backup that it won't work?

    Try holding command-r when booting to get to recovery. From there start Disk Utility and run a repair disk. Does that show any disk errors?
  6. Blackstick macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2014
    Sunny South Florida
    After 7 years standing behind the Genius Bar, I can tell you that model is famous for having disk drive issues. Bad sectors minimally, or a full-on eventual disk failure. Pop a $100-200 solid state drive in there and forget about mechanical disks forever, mavericks will run amazingly well especially if you Max the RAM as well.
  7. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    I think he should try to resurrect the current drive to salvage any data. I fully agree it is much better to then replace the HD with an SSD and do a clean install of Mavericks. And setup an external drive for TM backups....otherwise he is asking for being SOL again. With a good bootable USB stick and a good TM backup, you usually recover from most problems.

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