Mac stalls after login

My son is in deep trouble, and I would like to help him, but I don’t have the foggiest notions about MAC computers. Can you help me help him?
His compositions for his approaching recording sessions are locked on his Mac. And he has – of course! – no backup.
After his login, the enclosed screens are shown, and then the computer stalls.
Safety start has no effect.
He can login as a guest, but has then no access to his documents.
Anything he can do about it?
Knud FjeldstedManagerAsked:
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Try a safe boot by booting while holding down the shift key. Then reboot normally.
Knud FjeldstedManagerAuthor Commented:
Thank you, strung, I shall pass that on to my son, Anders.
I believe, however, that he already tried that. As I mentioned in my question: "Safety start has no effect". Those words were his, and he might have done just what you recommend. But I'll tell him anyway.
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Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
If the above do not help, I would proceed with the following:

1)  Boot into recovery mode (boot while holding down Command-R) and run Disk Utility.
You should be able to verify and/or repair the drive.  See this page for more info:

2)  If you can get another Mac, you can try Target Disk mode, in which the problem Mac's hard drive is reduced to a data drive.  Once mounted, files can be copied from it.  Of course the drive itself has to be readable for this to work.  Hence the need to check the drive for errors.

Here is Apple's page describing how to invoke it:
Knud FjeldstedManagerAuthor Commented:
Dear helpers

In the middle of January my son acted on his own instead of consulting his wise ;-) old father once more. Handed in his computer at a local Mac repair shop, and got a ruined harddisk back with no data saved. Now he is sadder but wiser (perhaps).
I have often told him that real men don't backup - but they weep a lot.

Before he handed in the computer, he could log-in as a guest, but had of course no access to his own data.
They told him that the HDD was in the process of breaking down physically, and that they couldn't rescue any data in due time. Well - I have my doubts.

Maybe I should take a shot at the ruined HDD. It certainly can't get worse. There must be some pretty good HDD-data-rescuing programs around. Should that be done in a Mac environment or could I as well use my own Windows computer and Windows program knowledge?

Or maybe instead I should offer to pay a real expert repair shop to give it a try. I guess the bill could easily be 1-2-3000 $ ?

Any suggestions or general enlightening thoughts are welcome.

He has reconstructed most of his lost compositions - studio recordings start on monday.
But much more than that is lost.

Greetings, Knud
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
Well at this point, you need to haul out the big guns.  Data recovery software does exist but the good stuff is commercial.  Same goes for the data recovery services.

 I haven't played with the apps myself but there are some tools such as Disk Warrior that might work.  Some will have free trials but most of those will show you what it could recover but only if you pay for the "pro" version.  Disk Drill is another one that comes up frequently in reviews and online searches.

Here is a link to a review of some of them.  Ignore the "El Capitan" part; if it's good for that O/S, it's probably good enough for the others, plus or minus a couple.  The one exception might be new macs that use a newer drive format:

Data recovery services are quite good but you are right in that they tend to be quite expensive.  I haven't seen recent prices but I know people who have used them in the past to recover documents that are absolutely essential to them and have paid in the hundreds of dollars.

YMMV, as they say.

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Knud FjeldstedManagerAuthor Commented:
Thank you, Tim. Now I know where to start. From looking at the Wondershare program, a HDD is a HDD, and I might as well stay in my safer Windows environment when working on the damages drive.
If it's a spinning disk, then you'll have an easier time rescuing it.  If it's an SSD, you probably have some data loss.  If he also turned on filevault encryption, then you may not be able to get any usable data.
Knud FjeldstedManagerAuthor Commented:
@serialband: Not SSD and no encryption, fortunately. But thanx for the warning.

@All: I'm away on vacation for the next week, so I cannot start the experiments until I get home. But I shall read any comment as soon as it appears - with great interest!
Knud FjeldstedManagerAuthor Commented:
Thanx to all. The HDD finally broke completely down, and no data were saved.
But a lot of good know-how was collected for futute use.
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