The folder with the question mark quite an innocent-looking display, but it hides a horrific meaning. This error means that your computer can find no recognizable boot device or local network to boot from. In other words, your hard drive may have kicked the bucket–or is close to doing so. There is a chance that if you wait a bit, boot options may present themselves. However, most of the time, that is not the case.
Check up on your Mac’s hard drive. This error can occur if the cables plugged into your hard drive have come loose. If so, reconnecting them might fix everything. If you heard any clicking sounds coming from the hard drive, though, you must immediately power the machine off. There is a reason why that noise is called “The Click of Death,” and as the name suggests it is quite dire.
If you need data recovered, send the drive to a company that provides professional data recovery services with an ISO-5 cleanroom lab. We’ve had plenty of experience recovering data from MacBooks and other Apple laptop and desktop models suffering from this particular Grey Screen of Death, otherwise go to your local Mac support store for help:
This grey screen error seems like your Mac is saying “None shall pass!” While this may not be true, it can sure feel like it. The Prohibitory or “Circle No” Sign means that your Mac was unable to find a valid System Folder. In other words, the OS of your Mac is no longer functioning correctly.
Similar to when you encounter the Gray Screen of Death, if you hear any clicking coming from your computer, immediately power your Mac off. Doing so stops the “Click of Death” from doing any further damage.
Otherwise, it is recommended that you back up your files from your drive, boot into macOS Recovery, and attempt to fix your current installation Mac OS. An OS reinstall or repair can be a very confusing and dangerous process. To make sure all of your files are not lost forever, consider getting assistance from your local Mac store or just putting a new OS on a new hard drive.
When your Mac just boots to this solid gray screen, there are a few things that may have gone wrong:
Just like the first two Grey Screen Nightmares, make sure your hard drive is not dead and back up your crucial files before you attempt to reinstall or repair your Mac OS. For those who want to tread on the side of caution, visit your local Mac store to help troubleshoot this problem. For the Do-It-Yourselfers reading this, Apple’s forum has a very helpful guide.
Our Mac expert Charles will be back with more insight on Mac data loss and data recovery situations, so stay tuned!