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

Flashing question mark upon start-up but HD check says it's OK - what to do?


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highlanderfil

 
Member Since: Feb 27, 2012
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A couple of months ago, my MBP13 randomly gave me a BSOD after which it refused to load - just gave me a blinking cursor. I was able to narrow that down to a somehow-messed up boot sequence. I was able to fix it from the Windows 7 repair console. I thought that this time around my situation would be similar, but I haven't been that lucky. So, let me paint the picture of what happened this time.

Sitting in my kitchen, laptop on the counter, plugged in, having a conversation on Trillian and Skype. I pick it up and move to another room, sit down and try to continue and for a couple of minutes everything is fine, but then the cursor freezes and I get a BSOD, followed by an illuminated dark screen. All my attempts to resuscitate prove futile - any time I press the power button, all I get is that gray screen. I reset the PRAM and then got the white screen that usually appears when I just power on. Unfortunately, no choices of boot (Mac of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit which I'm running in Boot Camp) - and then the flashing folder with question mark followed. I was 15 minutes away from driving off to the airport, needing to get on a plane, so I grabbed the MBP, the OSX DVD and the Windows DVD and an external hard drive (2.5 inch SATA) and went to the airport. Started reading support forums and narrowed the issue down to potential HD issues. So I tried first to re-seat the drive - no dice. Then I tried booting from the OSX DVD and going to disk utility - the HD was not being recognized. Same story with the Windows 7 DVD. Mid-flight I disassembled the external drive and swapped the two - the external was being picked up, no problem, so I figured it was a hard drive issue, not a motherboard one, say.

So, I'm thinking, great, my HD is fried. I've got a whole bunch of data on it that I wanted to salvage (primarily on the Boot Camp partition), so I swapped the MBP drive into the enclosure and hooked it up to a buddy's laptop. To my surprise, Windows 7 on his Dell picked it up without a problem (only the Boot Camp partition, not the Mac part, but since Mac isn't formatted for Windows that probably shouldn't have been surprising) and after futzing with the permissions, I was able to start backing stuff up. But I needed a functioning laptop, so I went to Best Buy and picked up a Momentus XT 500GB, installed it and thought I'd be able to install an OS on it. Nope. Windows never even saw the drive and OSX tried to format it but couldn't allocate memory, according to the report. So back to BB the Seagate went. In the meanwhile, I ran a virus check on the Mac HD via USB - all checked out. No bad sectors, either, courtesy of HDDScan. I've tried everything, it seems, and it won't even boot into safe mode.

I am coming back to school tomorrow and should be able to have our IT people look at it, but what do you guys think are my best and worst case scenarios and options here? If the Mac HD is completely toast, why would it get picked up just like that via USB? And if it's not toast, can I somehow still boot it? Or should I just salvage what files I have and bite the bullet with a new HD? And which one, if that's the case, since the Momentus crapped out on me big time (in fairness, I later read about all its problems and realized I was better off without it). Or should I just cut my losses, sell the MBP and find myself another computer, perhaps an ultrabook?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated! Ideally I would like to spend as little as possible while restoring my pre-BSOD situation as much as possible, as you might surmise, so I really don't want to buy a new laptop quite yet... And if I should get a different HD, which one should I get? I am assuming it should be with some kind of motion sensor technology...
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