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MacBook Pro - white screen with SLOW thermometer at boot, hard drive seems OK

please bear with me, I know windows much better than mac.

A friend has a 4 year old macbook pro that doesn't boot.  I press the power button, get the chime, white screen with apple,spinning circle and thermometer along the bottom of screen.  The thermometer dark area works its way across over about 10 minutes then repeats.

The friend said they took the machine to the apple store and the guys there put in / replaced a wire connecting to the hard drive, I think she said.  They were going to replace the hard drive and reinstall the OS for $127?  But wouldn't get involved in getting data off the old drive.

I took the drive out, connected it to windows PC, installed Paragon HFS app and was able to copy all the data off the hard drive (besides the user folder and the pictures, docs, etc. I could see and copied other folders.)  I ran crystaldisk info and it said there were no smart errors on that drive.

I put the drive back in the  mac, booted up and the same white screen, slow thermometer continues.

Any advice at this point?  Like in a PC, can I get into the bios (or equivalent) to see if it even sees the physical drive?  Any way to do a repair install of the OS (I don't know what version is on the drive).

I do have all the files from that drive on my windows PC, is there's a log file I can look at to see what the issue is, or check size of a file to be able to know what OS version it's at.  

Any advice?  would you reinstall OS on this drive? or put in new drive and reinstall?  

AS for the latter - doing a clean install, how do I get the data back on the machine in the right places?!  See
4 Solutions
The first thing to do, assuming that the user is using at least OS 10.7, is to try to boot into the recovery partition by booting while holding down the Command-R key combination.

If that works, choose the utility menu. In the top left there will be a line for the hard drive showing the manufacturer of the drive and below that a line showing the main partition, typically "MacIntosh HD".

Click on the line showing the name of the manufacturer of the drive. If the user is using an OS older than El Capitan, there should be a line at the bottom right setting out the S.M.A.R.T. status of the drive. If that is anything other than "verified", the drive is failing and needs replacing.

Assuming the S.M.A.R.T. status is okay (or not available), while clicked on the line with the drive manufacturer, choose either Repair Disk or First Aid (depending on the OS version). If it spits out any errors. Let us know.

Next click on the line "MacIntosh HD" and repeat. If it spits out any errors, let us know.

If Disk Utility found errors and shows them are "repaired", try rebooting normally. Otherwise let us know and we will tell you what to do next.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
WOW!  Thanks!

It booted into the utility, smart says verified.  I'm running repair now.  I'll get back here once it's done.

and I saw a backup option on the first menu.  I guess I should go into that and backup that way regardless of if its bootable after the repair  Does it do a full drive backup or just user data?  if full backup, I guess it'll let you do a user data restore only so you don't muck up the new install with the buggy old OS?

And does this sound right?  They brought this to the apple store.  Not sure if they did this repair - woudl you expect them to do that?  The friend is saying the apple store can replace the hard drive and install OS for something like $130.

Now that I told her I backed up her data and the drive appears good, she's saying the apple store is saying to bring it to a private business to install hard drive and OS?  That sound right?  They farm out some work?  The company website says they are an authorized service provider for apple.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
It ran the repair on the first line of the drive entries
500.11 GB Apple HDD T...  and was successful

2nd line - Macintosh HD, it says error disk utility can;t repair this disk, backup, reformat and restore.

So the drive is physically good but files are messed up?  does backup and restore clean up files?!

How do you do a reformat?
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The drive is probably physically good.

I put detailed instructions on backing up and reformatting the drive on your other thread a few minutes ago.
You should read the other thread, but basically, do a Restore from the internal to a Mac formatted external USB drive.

Once you have done that, check the integrity of the external by rebooting while holding down the option key to bring up the boot-picker. Choose the external drive. It should boot, but much slower than the internal drive would as USB is slower than SATA.

Once you are satisfied you have a good clone, reboot into the recovery partition and erase and reformat the bad partition as Apple Extended Format (Journalled). Then choose the option to install a fresh OS on that partition.

On completion of installation of the OS, the computer will automatically reboot and will ask you if you want copy over data from another source. Choose the external drive and it will copy over all your data, settings and applications.

Before you start all this, make sure you know the user's admin password and his iCloud username and password as you will likely be asked for these.
Before I ever start a recovery, I generally reset the SMC and the PRAM first, in case of other issues that might be fixed first.

Reset the SMC:
Turn off the Mac.
Plug in power
Hold the left shift control option keys, then press power.

Reset PRAM:
Turn on the computer
Press and hold command option p r

After those are done, if the computer still doesn't boot, then you start the computer while holding command r to boot into the recovery partition to reinstall the OS.  You should have a backup, but you should be able to just reinstall the OS without wiping the disk and that should preserve the user data.

Those should be done first before attempting to erase the disk with disk utility and completely reinstalling the entire system.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
THANKS GUYS!  Have a good workend!!
David AndersTechnician Commented:
A bad hard drive cable can corrupt the directory of the hard drive.
OSX's Disk Utility can have problems repairing a damaged directory.

Alsoft's Disk Warrior ($100) can usually repair the damage. (Tech Tool Pro and others supposedly can also)
It will also show drive errors as it does the repair.
If the corruption is beyond it's ability to repair it will mount a read only disk for data recovery.

The free version of Superduper can clone a hard drive, the directory is repaired (often) as the clone is made.
Cloning the drive back to the original will often be successful.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
david - thanks.  I was trying to help the friend, but this is more time that I want / can commit to this.

The apple store gave them the name of an apple authorized repair center a few towns over.  They will put in a new hard drive ($120) and install the OS on the new drive and move over the data from this drive for..... $95, which seems like a great price. Coming from windows, that sounds like a great deal.

I remember her mentioning that the apple store replaced 'a wire' to the hard drive, so that fits with your first line.   : )
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