I bought a used mac mini off ebay 2 weeks ago. It's been working fine. Earlier today, I came back to my mac mini and logged in (typed password and hit enter). The computer just froze, and after a few minutes I restarted the mac mini using the hardware button (held it until it turned off). Now when it starts up there's just a gray folder instead of the apple icon. After researching this online, it apparently isn't finding a "startup" folder.
So I used the installation disc to start up and then tried disc utility. The problem is that the hard drive is no longer listed (all that is listed is the cd drive).
What steps should I take at this point?
Replacing the hard drive is obviously my last choice, since that involves the most cost/effort/time. So anything else for now?