I have 5 year old 17" MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard that, without any warning, is suddenly unable to locate its startup disk. I've tried every possible boot key combo, but only zapping NVRAM works, everything else results in a grey screen including the startup manager and diagnostics.

Definitely not the hard drive or hardware. I plugged the disk into another computer and it functions perfectly.

Any ideas or help appreciated.

  • Have you tried using Apple Hardware Test from disk 2 that came with the Mac to test the HDD? The HDD is probably defective. – user3439894 May 21 '15 at 19:32
  • Unfortunately I have no disks, presently hunting for a DMG online – toomanyairmiles May 21 '15 at 19:38
  • Definitely not the hard drive. Plugged the disk into another computer and it functions perfectly. – toomanyairmiles May 21 '15 at 20:24
  • Then you should have mentioned you had tested it in another system and it was fine. If the HDD is fine then it comes down to other components. – user3439894 May 21 '15 at 20:33
  • I did it between writing the posts to check that it wasn't that! Nevermind. – toomanyairmiles May 21 '15 at 21:06

There is a partition on your hard drive called EFI. At boot up your system looks for the EFI as very first step.

EFI is responsible for the booting process, and if it is broken for some reason the computer wont boot at all.

Using your hard drive on another computer wont tell you if the EFI is still intact since it is not used in that set up. EFI is about 200 Meg in size and it is normally hidden partition. You would have to unhide it in the Disk Utility to see it.

So what can you do about the EFI?

Repair your disk using something like iPartition tool, or simular.

Do it manually: You can recreate the EFI System Partition (ESP) using the command-line gpt tool.

Or, if you have a full back up in the iCloud, you could wipe the disk and start over or run the OS X restore (use cmd+r) during boot.

Some Macs that came with OS X Snow Leopard can use Internet Recovery after installing OS X Lion or later and a software update.

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