I had the unfortunate luck of getting the infamous flashing question mark folder when I booted up my 2012 macbook pro. I have never used timemachine before, so I can't call backups. So i've been following a guide I found on apple website that told me how to backup my HDD contents to an external hard drive, as detailed here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204323

I've already followed it to reinstall the Mountain Lion OS on my external HD. But when I got to the migration assistant part to copy my files on HDD to external by selecting "From another disk", it can't find my HDD and is stuck on loop for "select the source".

What should I do to get past this stage? Thanks!

  • 1
    Flashing question mark can be caused by a wide variety of different problems. But the fact that it can't find the internal disk suggests that you have a hardware problem (HDD dead, bad cable to the HDD, something like that). I'd recommend finding a repair shop that knows something about data recovery. If the HDD itself is dead, you might have to send it to someone like DriveSavers (warning: this is expensive and still not guaranteed to work -- dead HDs are sometimes really dead). – Gordon Davisson Oct 27 '17 at 6:27
  • thanks for the reply. i had a repair shop extract a time machine backup onto my 1 tb harddrive. i want to be able to just access those files and i still can't download the time machine backup onto my hd since my mac can't find it. and i don't have another external hd. my question now is this: given that my mac is only 500GB and my external is 1TB, is it possible to re-install Mac OS onto the remaining 500 GB of the external and boot up the os from there and then pull the time machine backup? (time machine and reinstall os in same hd, just different partitions). – joe b. Oct 31 '17 at 20:55
  • I'd be more inclined to replace the internal HD and restore to that. But yes, it should be possible to boot from the TM backup drive (which puts you in the macOS Recovery environment, repartition it to add a second volume, and then either do a full-system restore from within Recovery, or reinstall macOS and then during initial setup use the Transfer Information to This Mac option to restore your account, apps, etc. – Gordon Davisson Oct 31 '17 at 22:21

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