mac mini won't start

When I power on I get a screen with just the Apple symbol in the middle.  It doesn't respond to any keypresses, and when I press CapsLock and/or NumLock those lights on the keyboard don't light.  On one powerOn instance I did see a progress bar slowly filling in under the Apple symbol.  I took that to be an OS update taking place, but I didn't stay with it to see what happened when it finished.

Is there something like SafeMode in the Mac world?  Hopefully with some repair options?
Ronald HicksAsked:
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strungCommented:
Starting while holding down the shift key starts in safe mode.
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David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
If strung's suggestion fails, you can always pop out the disk + insert it into a raw disk dock connected to another Mac.

Then boot the other Mac holding down the option key. You should be able to select the removed Mac Mini disk + get a clean boot out of it.

This provides a quick test to determine if your disk is dead or other hardware is dead.
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Ronald HicksAuthor Commented:
I tried the Shift+PowerOn a couple of times; nothing.  Then the Option+PowerOn. I think on the second try, maybe the first I again got the Apple symbol and a progress bar.  I stayed with it and eventually got a signon prompt.  Then I got a variety of spinning wheels, which I interpreted to be some repair routine running.  Eventually I got a menu bar, then desktop icons, then the dock.  I checked for documents and they seemed to be all there.  Not trusting to luck, I copied the docs to an external drive,  I'm so glad I did because I've not been able to get it to restart again at all, even with Option+PowerOn.  I think that I'll pull the drive and test it with CrystalLite.  And I might just let this MacMini go bye-bye.  I use it only to access financial sites because I've thought the Apple ecosystem is a little more secure.  But I might switch to one of my Linux machines for that purpose for the same reason. Thanks to you both.   I decided on "best" and "assisting" based on quantity of information provided.
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