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Weird startup problem with my Macbook Pro

darkenedwingdarkenedwing Registered User
so I went to turn on my Macbook Pro from June/July 2008 (I forget which) and it gets hung up on the loading screen. The gray screen with the apple and the "spinning" loading circle thing. It spins and spins and spins, and OS X never loads. I tried resetting the NVRAM (or whatever its called), and the other thing (I did the Command+Option+P+R, and the taking out battery and unplugging and holding down the power button for 5 seconds thing), an it still wouldn't boot. So I grabbed my reinstall disc I got from Apple with the computer and it wouldnt let me repair the harddrive in disc utility. And since I only have like 5.3GB free I don't have enough to archive and install (i'm like 503MB short). I also can't boot into Safe Mode.
But I can boot into Boot Camp, i'm on my Boot Camp Windows 7 Beta partition right now. I have absolutely no idea what to do now. Is there any way I can access those files on the mac-side of my harddrive so I can back stuf up or delete some to do an archive and install? Or not and will I have to do a full erase and install? Are there any other options or anything else I could try to fix it? I have no idea what caused this to happen :/

darkenedwing on


  • baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    The Snow Leopard disc comes with drivers for Windows to read your Mac partition. I don't know if they work in Windows 7, but it might be worth a try.

  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Make sure the RAM is seated properly.

    XBL: heavenkils
  • darkenedwingdarkenedwing Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Ah, forgot to specify im still on Leopard, not Snow Leopard.
    Is it easy to get to the RAM on the macbook pro? i've never looked into it. in 7 though it says its using 2GB of ram.

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I'm sure the RAM is seated just fine if you've booted into Windows.

    Something mucked up your OS X install. It happens on its own very rarely if your computer crashes while installing updates, but it can also come from installing poorly coded programs intended for an older version of Mac OS X or hard drive corruption. That corruption can be either the benign "reinstall and you'll be fine" kind or the bad "backup and buy new hardware before you lose all your stuff" kind.

    No matter what's wrong, the solution is the same:

    Easiest route:
    Do you care about your files? Are they backed up? If they're totally backed up or you don't care about them, you can just blank the Mac OS X partition and start again. Otherwise, skip to Benign OS file corruption.

    1.) Boot off the Mac OS X install disc, open up Disk Utility, select the Mac OS X partition, open the erase tab and erase it. Then reinstall Mac OS X. Windows should still be in tact after this. The underlying issue that caused all this might still be around. If it's a hardware issue, it could happen again.

    Benign OS file corruption:
    1.) Boot off of the Mac OS X install disc and run disk utility repair on your HDD. If it doesn't encounter any problems at all, that's fine, continue to the next step. If it encounters problems, run it over and over until there are no more problems or it tells you that the problems are unfixable. If unfixable, skip down to Broken Hard Drive.

    2.) Once your HDD has a clean bill of health, you'll need to make some space to reinstall Mac OS X. Open up the Terminal from the same menu Disk Utility is under and delete files off of your hard drive until you've cleared enough space for the archive install. This shouldn't be too hard, just zap a few movies or game installs. If you have no idea how to use the Terminal for something like this, it's pretty easy to look up and there are hundreds of tutorials.

    3.) Do the archive install as planned and enjoy. Fair warning: The underlying issue that caused all this might still be around if it's minor hardware failure. The issue may crop up again and it could be worse next time. Back up your stuff.

    Broken Hard Drive
    1.) So your hard drive is unfixably corrupt and possibly broken? Time to buy a new hard drive. You'll need to to backup your files anyway, so you might as well get something nice at the same time. Here is a 500GB replacement drive for $80. Here's a faster 7200RPM model for $110. These both will work without a problem in your Macbook Pro and will not void your warranty in any way. You'll also need a USB enclosure for the current internal drive (so you can get all your files off). This will get the job done for $24. I own it and it'll even boot the computer via USB.

    2.) So you've got a hard drive and an enclosure, now what? Replace the hard drive.

    3.) Boot up off of the Mac OS X install disc and format the new HDD using Disk Utility. Then Install Mac OS X. Don't worry about Windows or bootcamp. It sounds like all that stuff was free of corruption, so we'll restore it all at once later.

    4.) While waiting for OS X to install, move the old and possibly broken HDD into the enclosure. This is incredibly easy, just follow the instructions that came with it.

    5.) When OS X is done and you're sitting at a fresh, new desktop, plug in the external drive. Copy your personal files back over and reinstall your programs. Any settings can be pulled from the appropriate folders on the external HDD. The migration assistant can help here too.

    6.) Backup and restore your Bootcamp partition, pulling it off the external HDD and putting it on the new internal drive. Here are some instructions.

    7.) You're done. Once you're satisfied that you've gotten everything you'll need off of the old hard drive, you can erase it and use it to store movies or backups of files. Just don't trust it with anything too precious in case there really is something wrong with it.

  • darkenedwingdarkenedwing Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Thanks a ton, Zack. I'll try the Benign OS file corruption method. Oddly enough the option to repair the harddrive in disk utility was grayed out :/
    I guess ill look into how to delete some folders and delete my World of Warcraft folder, thats like 15GB I think. Know what the command is offhand for deleting a folder in the applications folder?
    If that doesnt fix it, Its still under applecare warrenty, so i'll call them up and ship it off I guess. Thanks again for the help :D

  • ZackSchillingZackSchilling Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    For issues of HDD corruption, Apple will simply do a hardware test on the drive and either erase it or install a new drive without copying over any files.

    So watch out for that before sending it in to Apple. You'll lose everything if you don't have a backup.

    Unix commands for file management? The "<=" are arrows, not part of any command.

    pwd <= Says what folder you're in now
    ls <= Lists the contents of the current folder
    cd "some folder" <= Changes the directory to some folder. Remember the quotes if there's a space in the name.
    cd /Volumes <= Moves you directly to the folder where all the mounted hard drives are. From here, you should be able to find your way around.
    cd .. <= Go up a level to the folder that holds this one.
    rm "some file" <= Delete a file. Remember the quotes if there's a space in the name.
    rm -rf "some folder" <= Delete a folder called "some folder" and everything inside of it. Remember the quotes if there's a space in the name.

  • undeinPiratundeinPirat Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Also, just as some anecdotal advice, of all the computers I repaired, when there were hard drive problems, it's because they were filled up past 90% capacity. My advice is just to keep an eye on your hard drive space, and when you get around 85% full, start deleting stuff or moving files you don't need immediate access to onto an external or backup drive.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] steam: undeinpirat
  • darkenedwingdarkenedwing Registered User
    edited September 2009
    That comment saved me so much time, Deinpirat. After using Zack's knowledge and advice I deleted my World of Warcraft file, which was over 17GB. Then I tried to archive and intall but it gave me an error about the disc so I take it out and theres a huge fucking scratch on it. I just turn off the computer in fustration then remember what you said and turned it on and it booted up just fine now =D
    That game really is the root of all evil :lol:

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