tl;dr version: tonight I got white screen of death on my imac OSX, then the flashing folder question mark. The most important thing to me is being sure I don't lose anything on my HD if it's not too late. I know later I can get a dvd drive, reinstall and hopefully all will be good. but even if I can't, i would still really like to not lose all my data. I've tried all the tips that don't involve a cd drive, and I'm not able to boot to safe mode for some reason, though the keyboard worked for a different part. I typed out the full series of events below. Thanks for reading. I've read all the advice about how to fix WSOD and the blinking folder and question mark, but haven't been able to fix my problem yet so far. the only thing i havent been able to try is anything involving a cddrive because mine has been broken for a long time and i dont have an external at the moment. heres is how it started. my computer was on, but i cant specifically remember what programs were open. for sure Final Cut, iTunes, and Safari, probably more. I left for about 4 hours, when I came back the screen was black but a device I had plugged into the USB was lit up, indicating the comp was still on. I moved the mouse, expecting it to come out of sleep mode, but it did. i tried the keyboard, nothing. Not having much time before I had to leave, I held the power button to shut it off. 4 hours later I turned it back on again. it made the sound, but never got past the white screen, no loading signal or anything. it sat there forever so i tried the basic tips. Unplugging all USB devices, disconnecting power, everything it said here: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2570 I was unable to start Safe Mode. holding shift, or Shift-Command-V had no effect at all. But the keyboard works because next i tried Resetting PRAM and NVRAM, by holding Command-Option-P-R keys and it did the thing where it chimed again, but still remained just a white screen. Later, after the white screen had been on for a while, I got the flashing folder and question mark. so i tried all the tips here: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1440 Holding the Option key did nothing. When I start it up, it's always white for a while, then the flashing, which won't stop. The only steps I'm left with involve a cd drive so I'm wondering how hard it would be to just get an external DVD drive and have it work without installing anything. I would need to return it afterwards since I'm broke.