Grey screen of death with a flashing "?" in a folder...


Hi everyone,

If anyone can help they will be my hero! So a year or so ago, my local Apple reseller updated my Snow Leopard OSX to Mountain Lion as a freebie when I got my Mac repaired. My Mac crashed and when I restarted it by holding down the power button and turning it on again, I just get the infamous "grey screen of death".

I have tried holding down the [Shift] key during start-up, resetting the PRAM ([CMD]+[ALT]+[P]+[R]) and opening the open-firmware mode ([CMD]+[ALT]+[O]+[F]), none of which achieve anything.

I have the installation disc for my original Snow Leopard, how will this affect my computer now I have Mountain Lion installed? Will it work and will I lose any files?



The "flashing folder with a question mark" is not a good symptom. It means that your Mac cannot find a bootable operating system. It may just mean a corrupted or missing file in the boot system, or could also mean that the hard drive is failing, or has already died. You should test your hard drive as a next step.

"a year or so ago" Mountain Lion was not available, but Lion was still the "new boy" in the Mac world.
Mountain Lion was not released until late July 2012, so nearly a year would mean that you have Lion (10.7.x)
Doesn't really matter, Lion and Mountain Lion would have the same approach for checking the hard drive.

If you have Mountain Lion (or Lion :D ) installed, you can then try booting to the hidden Recovery system.
Restart, while holding Command-R
More info here:

When you boot to the Recovery system, you'll see a menu screen. one of the choices is Disk Utility.
Launch that Disk Utility to be able to test your hard drive. Also, from that same menu, you will have the choice to reinstall the Mountain Lion system, if you need to do that.

If the hard drive won't test, then it's likely that needs to be replaced. And, there's a good chance that you will need to do some process to recover files that you might need. Sometimes, a hard drive will die so "good", that data is not recoverable.
But, you don't really lost anything, because you should keep a recent backup of your hard drive. The Time Machine utility on your Mac system makes that process simple. You may be using some other software for that, such as the popular Carbon Copy Cloner.
You do have a back up of your hard drive, don't you?