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Macbook Pro not booting... (Safe Mode/Recovery also not working)

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February 22, 2013 3:58:35 PM

I was watching "The Godfather part II" on my Mid-2010 Macbook Pro the other day, and the application froze up. While trying to force quit, the entire machine essentially froze and I was forced to do a hard shut down by holding the power button. When trying to reboot, the OS was extremely slow - logging in would take minutes, beach ball with nearly every click, and the entire machine ended up freezing after a few minutes. I tryed a few more times, with the same results. The machine was unusable.

I held down the option key, got into recovery mode, and did a "verify disk" through disk utility. Everything returned fine. I tryed verifying permissions and noticed a few messages (errors?) scrolling past, but the machine froze while verifying and I was forced to do another hard shut off.

I tried to boot back normally, but after a few seconds of an apple logo/spinning indicator I was greeted with a "no enter" symbol in place of the apple.

At this point I was scared that everything has been lost, I have files on my hard drive that I can't afford to lose. Next, I tried booting into safe mode by holding down the shift key while turning the machine on. The first time I tried, the machine just hung on the apple logo/spinning indicator so I tried again - this time it worked! I had access to my normal desktop and was able to email a few of the important files to myself before the machine froze again and I had to force shut off.

I have tried various things like SU mode, resetting the PRAM, and others... but none seem to work.

This is where I am now -

Normal booting: Stuck on apple/spinning indicator for a long time (30+ minutes)

Safe mode: Stuck on apple/spinning indicator for a long time (45+ minutes)

Recovery mode: Stuck on apple/spinning indicator for a long time (30+ minutes)

Single user mode: Works fine

IMPORTANT EDIT - I was sitting in Recovery Mode with a blank terminal window, and an error popped up? "The Mac OS X installation couldn't be completed." This was accompanied with an "Installer Log" with what seems to be a bunch of errors? (ReportCrash?) Hmm... I don't recall trying to install OS X, or anything? I didn't press anything except for opening a terminal window in recovery mode...

IMPORTANT EDIT 2 - After the random Recovery Mode situation mentioned above, I was able to boot normally after restarting. It took a while to load the desktop, but it seems as if I can access everything normally. I copied important files to a USB, thankfully! I'm still on my desktop now, i'm afraid it won't boot again...

IMPORTANT EDIT 3 - After trying to open Safari on my seemingly working laptop, the machine froze and I had to force shut off again. I am back to my original situation, unable to boot into anything... Please help!
February 25, 2013 5:55:16 AM

I know you said you reset the PRAM, but did you try that early on?

If you've been experiencing problems loading while the spinning indicator was going on the gray apple screen, then you're having difficulty loading the kernel, or the system.
It's maybe an intermittent problem if you were able to boot in safe mode and are now able to load the system. Resetting the PRAM regularly may be necessary, especially if you're running lots of third party system mods (think things that have system preference options in your 'Other' section, things that add icons to the system's menu bar, etc.).

Otherwise, it sounds like a bad HDD since you can't reinstall OSX from the recovery mode. Sometimes the HDD arms get slightly magnetized, or the platters expand and warp from heat over time, etc. If it's a SLIGHTLY expanded platter, putting the HDD in the freezer before starting up can sometimes buy you a chance to boot and recover files or back-up. I'm especially suspicious of a heat problem since you were watching a movie when it first happend.

Another way to attempt recovery is to try loading in target disk mode and mounting the drive on another computer. If you've got damaged drive sectors where you're storing kernel files or critical system assets, mounting the disk on another computer might let you bypass needing to read those bad sectors and gain you access to your important data.

An any case, I'd back-up NOW and look to replace the HDD when possible.
Consider taking a look at your drive's cooling too. Make sure everything is ventilated properly, and fans and heat sinks are kept clean.

Good luck! ;) 
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May 13, 2013 10:33:02 AM

I had several problems with hdd failure on my macbook pro 15" 2011 and I end up selling my macbook on sellyourmacbookpro.com to buy a new macbook with retina display. Happy so far. 15" macbook pro built in 2010/2011 had too many problems with video and once I start having problems with HDD I figured not to wait and sel it before real problems occur. Macbooks are good as long as they have applecare, because repairs are very costly.
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June 10, 2013 8:51:26 AM

wildwell said:
I know you said you reset the PRAM, but did you try that early on?

If you've been experiencing problems loading while the spinning indicator was going on the gray apple screen, then you're having difficulty loading the kernel, or the system.
It's maybe an intermittent problem if you were able to boot in safe mode and are now able to load the system. Resetting the PRAM regularly may be necessary, especially if you're running lots of third party system mods (think things that have system preference options in your 'Other' section, things that add icons to the system's menu bar, etc.).

Otherwise, it sounds like a bad HDD since you can't reinstall OSX from the recovery mode. Sometimes the HDD arms get slightly magnetized, or the platters expand and warp from heat over time, etc. If it's a SLIGHTLY expanded platter, putting the HDD in the freezer before starting up can sometimes buy you a chance to boot and recover files or back-up. I'm especially suspicious of a heat problem since you were watching a movie when it first happend.

Another way to attempt recovery is to try loading in target disk mode and mounting the drive on another computer. If you've got damaged drive sectors where you're storing kernel files or critical system assets, mounting the disk on another computer might let you bypass needing to read those bad sectors and gain you access to your important data.

An any case, I'd back-up NOW and look to replace the HDD when possible.
Consider taking a look at your drive's cooling too. Make sure everything is ventilated properly, and fans and heat sinks are kept clean.

Good luck! ;) 


Im having a similar problem. My 2009 MPB will boot up to a point where it looks like all is fine but when I try use any icon/folder of the user interface - nothing is clickable and eventually the beach ball will start revolving and it stays frozen.

I've tried resetting the PRAM but same thing happens. Tried to boot into safe mode but it won't boot that far. I've brought it in to a certified Apple repair centre and for some miraculous reason it worked perfectly for them and passed all diagnostic checks. I started it up in the centre and everything looked fine but as soon as I got home I was having the same old issue. On first boot when I tried it at home one of the folders on my desktop was clickable to I tried to plugin a usb stick which caused it to freeze again.

Could it be the HDD? Logic board?!?



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