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MacBook Pro Boot Problems

Posted on 2012-04-03
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Last Modified: 2012-04-06
Hi.

I have a MacBook Pro A1278 running OS X Snow Leopard which wont boot up. Once turned on it comes to a white screen and after a few minutes an image of a folder with a question mark starts flashing in the center of the screen.

I'm not familiar with Mac's but I have looked around and the flashing folder apparently means it cant find any files to boot from. I have a program called MacDrive which lets me access the hard drive via a USB HDD caddy on my machine running Windows. I can see all the files and have performed a disk check which found no errors (The MacDrive software has a disk check option). So the hard drive seems to be ok but perhaps some boot files are missing/corrupt. Would appreciate any tips on how to repair/replace these.

I have also tried holding shift to boot into Safe Mode and holding Opt+Ctrl+p+r to reset PRam. Neither seem to do anything at all it just goes to the white screen as usual.


Thanks in advance for any replies.
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Question by:KTBerwick
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by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 37799931
The quickest way out of this, if the mac is otherwise fine, is to reinstall the system. It should only take about 45-60 minutes. If that does not work you should have an Apple specialist to repair it.

You should before you reinstall make a backup copy of all the most valuable files, don't forget your pictures because it is not 100% sure that the disk is fine although you can see the folder and file structure.

You can restart the mac holding down the T key (target mode) and it will behave just like a hard disk which you can connect with a firewire cable.
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Expert Comment

by:LBItech
ID: 37800797
Boot to verbose mode (command+V) which will show you what's going on during boot. If there is an issue it will usually be the last entry. post the last few entries and we'll see if we can help.
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by:mccrick
ID: 37800920
I agree with Sigurarm above. I'll just add that it is nice to reinstall the system knowing that the general directory structure of your drive is in good shape. I like to run Disk Warrior first when I come across this situation. Sometimes DW alone will solve the problem and you won't need to reinstall OS. Generally it will find either minor problems or big problems. The downside to DW is the time and money to purchase when simply reinstalling will probably get you where you are going.

An alternative for having a clean directory structure would be to clone the drive, reformat the drive, reinstall OS, then do a data migration back from the clone. Then reinstall any apps that break such as Adobe licenses.

Addressing the directory structure gives a more confident fix, but as long as you are backing up regularly, you probably not worry about it unless the regular OS install fails or the problem resurfaces.

One more note, Apple has software (Disk Utility/Repair Disk) which attempts to do what Disk Warrior does, but it doesn't do it very well. The same function is run and "repairs" are automatically run if you make it through a safe boot (which you tried) and which you probably did not make it through. You can run this from another Mac putting with the ailing make in Target Disk Modem, mentioned above.
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by:Alan Henderson
ID: 37802393
Do you have Time Machine backups? If so you can re-install and retain your data. If not, I suggest that after your re-installation you employ an external drive as a Time Machine backup device.

:)
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Author Comment

by:KTBerwick
ID: 37802430
Thanks for the great replies.

I decided to go for a reinstall and that's where I realized the problem is something else.

Turns out the Hard Drive is not being picked up at all. I attempted to use the Disk Utility feature from the OS X disk and it doesn't show any hard drive as connected. I know the hard drive works as I can use it as an external on another system and have already backed up all the users document from it.

So it seems there is a bad cable/connection or motherboard fault somewhere.
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shayneg earned 500 total points
ID: 37803864
this is fairly common and will most likely be a logic board fault
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