White Screen of Death interesting problems

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mikedatyke, Mar 29, 2012.

  1. mikedatyke macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2009
    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.
  2. ezramoore macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    There really aren't too many reasons for the grey boot screen with a flashing folder/question mark. It means the computer cannot find the system files, and those cannot boot.

    Chances are your hard drive is shot and just by turning the machine on, you could be doing more damage to it.


    Take it to a professional to see if the data is recoverable and at what cost.

    You will have to hard a new hard drive installed (or install it yourself) and then reload the OS.

    There are no quick fixes for a dead hard drive.
  3. Razorhog macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2006
    You keep implying that your iMac doesn't have a DVD drive - what happened to it?
    Sounds like a dead hard drive. Put a new one in and restore from your latest time machine backup :) You do have backups, right?
  4. mikedatyke thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2009
    the dvd just stopped working over a year ago. i got backup discs from apple from reinstalling before. hopefully I'll be able to get it to boot from the cd and transfer most of my data onto an external.
    otherwise i'll try taking the HD out and trying to find another computer to put it in and hope it's not completely erased.
  5. ezramoore macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    Booting from the Installer DVD isn't going to let you do any data transfer, unless you're prepared to do it in terminal.
  6. mikedatyke thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2009
    i was hoping with a DVD drive i could put in the install disc, and reinstall the system files or something, then once i got it back up i could send the files to a different HD.

    would booting from the disc basically mean reformatting the drive too?
    i could care less about the imac, i really just need to recover the data. looks like just getting the HD out is gonna cost $40 and 24 hours.
    then i'll have to find a friend with a power mac, connect the drive and use some data rescue software.

    this is the first time in years where i wish I had windows instead. at least PCs are easy to fix myself. of course they break every damn day so....

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