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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

MacBook - Grey screen with question mark upon booting, how to save hard drive contents


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rosiehue

 
Member Since: Oct 24, 2009
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Hi, new to forum,

I have a 2007 Macbook that has just recently stopped booting up. It turns on with the chime, then goes to a grey screen, which if you leave it long enough will show a question mark over a briefcase. I ran disc utility and it showed up the harddrive, and allowed me to "repair the disc" and also run permissions repair.

However i still cant log in, its taking longer and longer to get into utility when booting from the disc. I fear the worst, now all i want is to secure the data (over 30 gigs of photos precisely), as my back up was corrupted some time ago, and i hadnt got back to making another copy. I really need those photos more than anything else, and if i have to take it to the mac store, so be it, i just want anyones ideas what to do to prvent any data loss more than possible
thanks in advance

Rose
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leopard-user1

 
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If you have firewire, hold down "T" when you boot, and your computer will temporarily turn into an external hard drive, and move the files to another computer or HD, then your files will be safe.


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chscag

 
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To rosiehue:

It sounds like your hard drive is dying fast. Before it completely dies I suggest you stop using it until you're ready to extract the photos.

The Target Disk method which has been suggested may work if the drive can be accessed long enough to remove all your photos. Of course it assumes you have access to another Mac with firewire. However, 30 GB of photos to remove (copy) is going to take some time.

Another method you can use to get your photos copied off the drive is to completely remove the defective drive from the MacBook. Purchase an external USB 2.0 SATA carrier case which will hold a 2.5" drive (they're inexpensive) and place the removed drive in it. Attach that to a working computer and copy the photos from it.

If the drive should fail completely before you can extract the photos, you're looking at a very expensive ordeal. Drive repair and data extraction specialists can get your photos back for you but the cost is very high.

Regards.
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soccerphysio

 
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I just went through the same thing with my iMac, and almost lost everything I had. My computer inexplicably booted up one more time, which allowed me to back up almost everything, but then I got the question mark symbol. All of my attempts to get in failed, so I brought it to the Genius Bar today, and they could not get in either. I'm looking at a new HD.

It seemed as if my repeated attempts at trying to reboot just made it worse; you may want to bring it in for the pros to handle before it's too late.
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rosiehue

 
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Thanks so much for your answers.
my friend has another intel macbook, so il try target disc mode. If i have to take it to sydney (which is our closest mac store, we live about 300kms from there), will the hard drve continue to corrupt if i leave it turned off? sorry for such noob questions, just kind of freaking out a little

Thanks

Rose
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chscag

 
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You're probably only going to get one shot at transferring your photos using a friend's MacBook in target disk mode. Make sure you do it the first time because you may not get another chance.

As long as the drive is turned off there's no further danger of corruption to it. However, I'm not sure it's worth while to drive 300 KM into Sydney considering the high cost of fuel and time involved. You can change that drive yourself easy enough.

Regards.
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rosiehue

 
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so, no pressure?

yep, im going to go get a new firewire cord so thats not a problem. We figure we'll give it one more go, see how that is. I could see the drive when i booted into disc utility, so ill try one more time, then ill send it away. Gah, silly computers, when they work, theyre great. thanks again
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