White Screen of Death


Mac users will have started shivering by now, but for us ‘normal’ users (;-)) I will clarify the title a little more. As you know windows has blue screens of death. And this really sucks, now Mac has something like that as well… only it’s white.

An issue I came across when fixing the ‘unbreakable’ mac of some person was that when the computer booted, a white screen was shown. That’s all, after 2 – 3 minutes a folder appeared on the desktop with a question mark in it.

Uhoh big panic! Well, not really. Although there is not quite so much information on the net about this it is quite easy to fix (and that may very well be the reason why there is not so much info about it :P).

There are a few things you can do but before I tell you that it is probably also rather nice if I tell you what the problem is. The question mark map indicates that the computer simply cannot find the file system, or rather an installed OS. This happened for 2 reasons. The first one was because the file system got corrupted for some reason and the second one was that the owner of the computer tried to fix the mac for himself.

I usually encourage this, but this was quite a bad move. Why? Because now I wasn’t able to save his files. If you get a screen like this, it is in fact possible to rescue most of the things on your hard drive. The easiest option is to open up the computer, get the harddrive out and plug it in to another computer.

Now for the fix, the easiest way that work most of the time is to restore a recovery point. I believe there is a tool delivered with MacOS that is called Time Machine. This allows you to restore a saved point earlier in time.
But as I told you, the user had already tried to fix his computer by himself. He tried to do this by formatting the harddrive and reinstalling MacOS.

Which failed because his file system was corrupt. So… screwed?

Not quite, you can start up from the installation disk of MacOS and boot the Disk Utility. This utility allows you to scan your harddrive for errors and fix them. After doing this and reinstalling the OS, the problem was fixed. And quite a few bucks were saved, because Max support doesn’t come cheap!

I hope this can save your Mac one day.

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