13 Replies Latest reply: Aug 9, 2008 11:36 PM by JL1365
Luster05 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Ok so im hoping someone can help!...When I start up my MacBook it doesn't do anything just this folder with a question mark in it flashes on the screen!!!...what does that mean???

MacBook, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (244,245 points)
    It means that critical system files required for startup are either missing or damaged. You will have to reinstall OS X. You may be able to do so without erasing the hard drive:

    How to Perform an Archive and Install

    1. Be sure to use Disk Utility first to repair the disk before performing the Archive and Install.

    Repairing the Hard Drive and Permissions

    Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Installer menu (Utilities menu for Tiger.) After DU loads select your hard drive entry (mfgr.'s ID and drive size) from the the left side list. In the DU status area you will see an entry for the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard drive. If it does not say "Verified" then the hard drive is failing or failed. (SMART status is not reported on external Firewire or USB drives.) If the drive is "Verified" then select your OS X volume from the list on the left (sub-entry below the drive entry,) click on the First Aid tab, then click on the Repair Disk button. If DU reports any errors that have been fixed, then re-run Repair Disk until no errors are reported. If no errors are reported, then quit DU and return to the installer.

    If DU reports errors it cannot fix, then you will need Disk Warrior (4.0 for Tiger) and/or TechTool Pro (4.5.2 for Tiger) to repair the drive. If you don't have either of them or if neither of them can fix the drive, then you will need to reformat the drive and reinstall OS X.

    2. Do not proceed with an Archive and Install if DU reports errors it cannot fix. In that case use Disk Warrior and/or TechTool Pro to repair the hard drive. If neither can repair the drive, then you will have to erase the drive and reinstall from scratch.

    3. Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When you reach the screen to select a destination drive click once on the destination drive then click on the Option button. Select the Archive and Install option. You have an option to preserve users and network preferences. Only select this option if you are sure you have no corrupted files in your user accounts. Otherwise leave this option unchecked. Click on the OK button and continue with the OS X Installation.

    4. Upon completion of the Archive and Install you will have a Previous System Folder in the root directory. You should retain the PSF until you are sure you do not need to manually transfer any items from the PSF to your newly installed system.

    5. After moving any items you want to keep from the PSF you should delete it. You can back it up if you prefer, but you must delete it from the hard drive.

    6. You can now download a Combo Updater directly from Apple's download site to update your new system to the desired version as well as install any security or other updates. You can also do this using Software Update.
  • JL1365 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yep, me too, and several others I know with the newer 13" Macbook. It's amazing, I left the world of PCs because of constant issues. When I got my macbook last year, it literally booted up in 11 seconds. Ever since I installed Leopard, it goes to blue screen of death, spinning rainbow wheel, and each new update makes it take longer & longer to boot up, last count 2.5 minutes. Now, I'm experiencing the Flashing Question Mark. This is beginning to be the Realm of PCs all over again.
  • JL1365 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Update for me. My Question Mark was the result of a crashed drive (Macbook 13" is only 9mos old). Yet, took it to Apple store, told it take 3-5 days, they called back in 4 hours, they were done (very nice). Picked it up last night and running fine. When they installed the new drive they did a fresh install of Leopard. So, your drive may be dying or dead.
  • Christopher Mackintosh Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Same thing happened to me yesterday morning. My hard drive failed on a 9 month old MacBook. I took it in to the Genius Bar and they are installing a new drive. They said it would take 3-5 days. Unfortunately I lost a lot of data because I deleted my TM back up that morning to make a new one because of annoying TM errors. I had to purchase an external drive at the Apple Store so they could transfer what ever data they could to it as the drive was failing. *****.
  • BRENT64 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Wow.....this just happened to me as well. My wife is visiting out of country and one day her mac book had the folder with the flashing question mark. We don't have Leopard available but we do have the recovery discs. It seems that we have had lots of problems with Leopard since we installed it. Computer doesn't seem to run as fast and of course this happened. Thanks for the thread.
  • nangari Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Yep, join the club. My puter was 9mths old when it died. Must've been a dodgy batch as there seems to be quite a few having the same prob.....

    Cas
  • kmcconnell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Add one more. My Macbook is 23 months old though and out of warranty (didn't get Applecare). I'll take it to the Genius bar tomorrow and see what they say but I think I may be trying to install a new hard drive myself for the first time soon...
  • Chinzw Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    a folder with a question mark simply means that the folder does not exist. You must have put the folder inside the dock and you deleted the folder.
  • dhatch387 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    he means a folder with a question mark upon start up. before the apple logo appears. that means that the firmware can't find the operating system to boot from
  • kmcconnell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    My macbook has officially been diagnosed with a dead hard drive. For those still wondering if the hard drive is alive or dead, you might try power cycling it in a quiet place and while it's trying to boot, listen closely to it. If you hear any mechanical-sounding ticking, your hard drive is most likely dead.

    Replacing macbook drives I'm told is pretty easy and there is a chance that data on the dead drive can be recovered using recovery software.

    Good luck to all with this problem.

    PS: coincidentally, while I was at the genius bar, there were FOUR other white macbooks there, 2 others also had dead hard drives. Coincidence? Epidemic?
  • Shannon Graham3 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have a 10 month old MacBook and the same thing happened to me. I just had it fixed at the Genius Bar yesterday. Thanks heavens their support and staff are so great. The Genius Bar put in a new hard drive and uploaded all the software in about 45 minutes. Coincidently I just had the Logic Board and top case replaced about 3 weeks ago.
  • JL1365 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    To follow my own post, and now all you with the same experience, I can report with confidence, 5 more friends with dead hard drives on Macs 10 months old or less. I'm beginning to wonder if Apple knows what Quality Control is.
  • JL1365 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    To follow my own post, and now all you with the same experience, I can report with confidence, 5 more friends with dead hard drives on Macs 10 months old or less. I'm beginning to wonder if Apple knows what Quality Control is.