I have a MacBook that has unfortunately died on me. I randomly got a pop up message that said I needed to restart my computer, and once I did, I was greeted with the blinking folder question mark start up screen.

I've tried everything, including running Disk Utility repair and reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling OS X. All of my data is backed up and safe, I just need my computer to start again. Before I go off and buy a new hard drive, I wanted to see if there is anything I might have forgotten.


How did you reinstall OS X? In FireWire target disk mode, or by booting from the install DVD? If your machine booted from the install DVD, it means it can boot. I'm surprised that you were able to format the hard drive and reinstall OS X without error (you would've mentioned if those attempts failed out, right?), but still can't boot from the resulting install.

Try reformatting the hard drive again, but this time do a "Zero Out Data". Sometimes hard drives don't lock out bad blocks until they get written to. Also, repartition the hard drive, like set it to 2 partitions, and then back to 1 (or whatever). Let's make sure the sectors where your GUID Partition Table (GPT) are stored get written to as well.

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  • Yep, I'm booting off the install DVD. Just so I'm clear, are you suggesting that I do a series of two formats, one with two partitons, and a second with only one? – pas09 Apr 1 '10 at 1:02
  • Repartitioning (without "Zero Out Data") is pretty quick. So yeah, repartition it to something other than it is now, then repartition it again back to how you want it, and on one of those two times, do a "Zero Out Data". – Spiff Apr 1 '10 at 1:27
  • I'm repartitioning my hard drive, erasing/formatting the smaller with zero out data, and then reinstalling OS X to that partition. Does that sound good? – pas09 Apr 1 '10 at 1:41
  • Not quite. Sorry I wasn't more specific. The goal is to get every last block of your entire physical disk written to. So by only zeroing one small partition, you're leaving a big chunk of space unwritten. – Spiff Apr 1 '10 at 3:52
  • Oddly enough, what I did worked. I was able to boot onto the installation with the smaller partition, and then delete the bigger one and resize. I'm guessing that I should probably redo the install, making sure to zero out the entire hard drive first, so that I don't run into this again? – pas09 Apr 1 '10 at 4:22

There is a known issue with MacBook hardrives. See this announcement from Apple

You may be able to have the hard drive replaced for free. Just check to see if your model of Macbook is part of the REP ( Repair Extension Program ).

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  • Thanks for this, but my Macbook wouldn't be affected by this. It's a 15 inch Macbook Pro from early 2009. – pas09 Apr 1 '10 at 1:27

Have you tried swapping the hard drive? That will be cheaper than a new MacBook, though depending on your model may be major surgery.

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  • That's my last resort, I just want to make sure there's no saving this hard drive before I replace it. =) – pas09 Apr 1 '10 at 1:37

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