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  1. #1
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    So, my daughter just showed us our Macbook Pro late 2011 is only showing a flashing question mark when booting. We've tried to hit OPTION on reboot only to get a prompt to select a network (that is all that is showing). Logging into our network only just keeps it sitting at that screen (with the globe non-flashing).

    We've tried to hit command-R. It doesn't do anything..just the flashing question mark.

    We are running the OS it came with (the one before Mavericks...)

    I don't mind reinstalling the OS (though, we didn't ever have CDs that came with it so I am unsure of how to go about doing this as I always had Windows machines previously), but I would really like to somehow backup what is on this machine before we do this. Most of what was on it before (my stuff), I moved previously to another machine, but there are still a few more things on it I'd like to try and save.

    Any work around when the OPTION and/or Command-C isn't working?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    harryb2448's Avatar
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    G'day and welcome to the forums.

    Sounds seriously like a failed hard drive. Have AppleCare 3 year warranty by chance?
    Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by harryb2448 View Post
    G'day and welcome to the forums.

    Sounds seriously like a failed hard drive. Have AppleCare 3 year warranty by chance?
    UGH. I don't..but we do have what is left of the extended warranty from Best Buy. My husband was able to get online. Strangely. After signing in at the network, it goes to some globe icon with an arrow over it. After a minute, it automatically goes to internet recovery. Globe spins and tells you it's starting.

    After a few minutes, the apple splash screen comes up, then prompts as if you are doing a new setup (language)...then there is utilities that pops up.

    When clicking GET HELP ONLINE, Safari comes up.......can browse! When trying to select the option of reinstalling LION, we can go through where you agree to terms, etc, but when you have to select the drive, there is nothing in the box.

    UGH. This is the pits!! That means that the thing is TOAST? Cannot get my files off the drive?

    Thanks for the help!

  4. #4
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carrie640 View Post
    UGH. This is the pits!! That means that the thing is TOAST? Cannot get my files off the drive?
    Very possibily "toast". Regarding the files...do you have a backup or have the files backed up?

    If not, you could try:

    - removing the drive
    - putting it into an external hard drive housing
    - then plugging it into a 2nd computer
    - see if you can access anything

    * Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  5. #5
    Most things I have are off..There were just a few things that I did see hadn't transferred to my external drive. I've never dug into the guts of a Mac...windows, yes..Mac? I haven't. If it won't void the extended Best Buy coverage, I can do that......not sure what the stipulations are of that coverage. I know they will replace/fix even things done at due fault of our own That's the good thing. The bad is I may have lost some stuff, but nothing I can't rescan and put back on Appreciate the input.

  6. #6
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carrie640 View Post
    If it won't void the extended Best Buy coverage, I can do that......not sure what the stipulations are of that coverage. I know they will replace/fix even things done at due fault of our own
    If the Best Buy warranty will cover this situation...great...then have them do it...and you (yourself) won't have to do what I suggested. But Best Buy isn't going to do any data recovery.

    Good luck,

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
    If the Best Buy warranty will cover this situation...great...then have them do it...and you (yourself) won't have to do what I suggested. But Best Buy isn't going to do any data recovery.

    Good luck,

    - Nick
    Thank you! If it is the harddrive, is it still possible to get files off? Why would I still be able to get online if it is the harddrive?

  8. #8
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carrie640 View Post
    Why would I still be able to get online if it is the harddrive?
    Ever since Apple has had downloadable OS versions…they've incorporated an Internet Recovery ability when there are hard drive issues.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  9. #9
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    Slydude's Avatar
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    Best Buy won't do the data recovery as has been mentioned. Here's something worth trying though:
    1. Have Best Buy replace the failing drive. Tell them from the start that you want the old (failing) drive. Even if the tech insists nothing can be done with it you want the drive. Not all repair techs destroy old drives. Which means if they manage to sell the drive later someone potentially has access to your data.
    2. Put the old drive into a carrier and connect it to the Mac. I have one of these because it is easy to swap in drives that need to be tested.
    3. If Disk Utility can "see" the drive you may be able to choose "repair disk" and get it functional long enough to recover things. If not then I think the only alternative would be something like Data Rescue
    “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
    Kevin Durant

  10. #10
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slydude View Post
    1. Have Best Buy replace the failing drive. Tell them from the start that you want the old (failing) drive. Even if the tech insists nothing can be done with it you want the drive. Not all repair techs destroy old drives. Which means if they manage to sell the drive later someone potentially has access to your data.
    Great advice.

    My relatively recent experience with Best Buy & hard drive replacement/repairs (with an iMac I purchased from someone via Craig's List). I was told (by the Best Buy repair person) that it's Best Buy's policy to return the old HD to the customer. But who knows from store to store (employee to employee) if this policy is adhered to 100%.

    I had to go to Best Buy twice for the issue I had…and I ended up getting two 1 terabyte 3.5" drives for free…and the original drive they were trying to replace was good (they said the HD was bad). The SATA cable was actually the problem (which I had to figure out myself & replaced)…no thanks to Best Buy!

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  11. #11
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    Slydude's Avatar
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    I initially thought of that because the OP needs the drive for data recovery. Some shops will tell you the drive has been destroyed when you go back for it.

    As I was typing the post I remembered a story about someone who had the drive in their computer replaced by one of these national repair shops. They were told the drive had been destroyed. Several days/weeks later the original owner of the drive gets a call from a complete stranger.

    Long story short the technician had kept the drive and sold it at a flea market. The "new" owner had retrieved some date from the drive including contact information and some financial spreadsheets IIRC.
    “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
    Kevin Durant

  12. #12
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slydude View Post
    Long story short the technician had kept the drive and sold it at a flea market. The "new" owner had retrieved some date from the drive including contact information and some financial spreadsheets IIRC.
    WOW…scary story that someone working at a national repair chain…keeps "destroyed" HD's…then sells them at flea markets for extra cash!

    Hopefully the original owner of the HD came out of the situation ok when the stranger that bought the HD contacted them.

    I think that if someone was a litigious type…they could certainly raise some heck with the national repair chain...(How the heck did my HD end up at a flea market???)!!!

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  13. #13
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    chscag's Avatar
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    Just for info sake.... When Apple replaces a defective hard drive they do not return the defective drive after replacing it with a new one. My understanding is that they destroy the drive that was removed. They will, however, try to recover data from the drive if possible. (The genius will ask if you have a backup.)

  14. #14
    Macbook Pro late 2011 Won't Boot...only flashing question mark
    Slydude's Avatar
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    I'm searching for the original article that I read. I might have seen it first on yahoo news. In the meantime here's a decent example of how often the drives are not wiped well enough.
    “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
    Kevin Durant

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