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MBP crashing issues
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Timetheus
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Feb 16, 2010, 05:02 PM
 
Lately my 2006 CD MBP (10.5.8, all updates installed) has been crashing during internet use. It seems to be independent of the browser, as both Firefox and Safari 4 cause the same issue. The computer will hang with a beach ball for a few moments after a completely random amount of time spent browsing (sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes 20 seconds). The beach ball only appears while the cursor is in the browser window, outside it OS X appears to behave normally (at very least in the dock icons will magnify). But, if I attempt to launch a finder window, open a stacks icon, or attempt to force quit the browser, the whole system locks up and I have to force a restart. For a few weeks it would happen sporadically, not more than once a day. Then yesterday it became chronic, forcing several consecutive restarts and making it unusable for browsing.

Today it has again only happened once in a few hours internet use w/ firefox. I've only observed the behavior happening under one non-browser scenario, while typing something in Word (Pages has been unnaffected, as well as all other apps including ones which use the internet like Transmission and Plex).
I noticed while watching for errant processes that little snitch was still running a process, though I haven't used the program in months and it was a "broken" according to its preference pane. I uninstalled LS and that seemed to help, though I have had the one crash today since then. I also updated java as a troubleshooting step, but the worst crashing happened after those updates.

Not sure what else to try short of a complete OS X reinstall, though it could still be hardware related.

Any thoughts?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Feb 16, 2010, 05:13 PM
 
Update your Flash plugin, and/or install Click2Flash
     
amazing
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Feb 17, 2010, 02:39 PM
 
How much HD space do you have left? And have you checked the SMART status of the HD?
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Feb 20, 2010, 08:05 PM
 
Sure enough, the HD just died. Disc utility doesn't even show it booting from a CD. Not sure that I understand the correlation (shouldn't that have caused more than 1 non browser issue?), but the solution is pretty apparent now.
     
ghporter
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Feb 20, 2010, 08:17 PM
 
You don't say how much RAM you have on the machine, but surfing often takes a lot of RAM. When real RAM is used up, you page out to "virtual RAM", i.e. the page file on your hard drive. The crashing most likely came from the hard drive glitching out on those page outs/page ins.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Feb 20, 2010, 08:56 PM
 
2gbs (maxed out for this model), and that makes sense. Though I would have thought i'd have seen the same problems with gaming and such.
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Feb 21, 2010, 10:54 PM
 
So I put a new and larger drive in today, and things seem to be working again (reinstalling the OS now). But here's the weird the thing - I put the old drive in an external enclosure and suddenly it's working again as well. It passed verification in disc utility run from the install disc, and I'm (so far successfully) restoring my system to the new drive from it as I type this. The new drive is also running fine, obviously.

Any ideas why this would be? The old drive didn't even register in disc utility before I swapped it out, and the system profiler (run from the install disc) showed nothing attached to the SATA interface. Could a loose connection or an over-heating drive have caused the earlier problems?
     
ghporter
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Feb 22, 2010, 08:09 AM
 
Heat could have been an issue, as could being "on" for an extended period. In any case, I wouldn't trust the old drive as a primary storage device anymore.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
amazing
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Feb 22, 2010, 12:32 PM
 
One reason why I was asking how full the drive is that OS X needs room for virtual memory, and if the HD is close to full you can have drastic slow downs and lags. This doesn't account for why it wasn't showing up in disk utility. That pretty much says the disk is failing.

The good thing is that you're able to recover your data.
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Feb 22, 2010, 11:11 PM
 
True, I had a time machine back-up but it was a few weeks old (I'm bad about running regular back-ups), so I'm glad it gave me what it did on its last breath. I am noticing that it is very slow/stalling at times, so obviously I have no plans to trust it. I'm just hoping to get something sell-able/usable out of the warranty, as the drive was only a year and half old (Samsung).

I had about 8-10gbs left at the drive's lowest, around 25 when it died after offloading some files to my spare/back-up drive. Should I be leaving more than that?
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Feb 27, 2010, 09:47 PM
 
So the computer has been more or less fine since I installed the new drive, but today it started exhibiting the original crashing problems again (see the op). It's happened once with Firefox and twice playing SimCity 4. I doubt the new drive is failing after a week, could some other piece of hardware be a fault?
     
ghporter
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Feb 28, 2010, 08:50 AM
 
RAM is the next suspect. How much do you have, and how much of it did you add yourself?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Feb 28, 2010, 01:23 PM
 
2gbs, all installed by me. That was my next guess as well, so I ran memtest (via rember) and it checked out, though I only ran one loop and it can't check whatever memory is being used by the system. I've had the RAM modules since I bought the MBP 4 years ago.

I've also noticed that restarts right after a crash are very slow followed by a slow system. I typically have to restart twice to get things close to "normal."
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Mar 5, 2010, 12:35 AM
 
Well, I found the actual source of the problem, which has nothing to do with Hardware at all. The HD issue seems to have been coincidental, though it might have been aggravated by all the crashing and restarting.

The actual issue appears to have been related to a really, really horrible Lexmark printer driver. I realized the second round of crashing happened right after reinstalling the printer drivers, so I uninstalled them and everything's gone well since. The printer connects via wifi (the x4875, as warning to anyone foolish to buy anything w/ the Lexmark brand on it), which explains the apparent connection to network activity. I had has issues with on of the Driver's processes spiking the CPU to 99% in the past, but somehow the latest version of the software is enough to frequently bring the whole system to it's knees. Given that aside from my recent woes my MBP has probably crashed less than 10 times in 4 years, I'd say it's an impressive piece of code.
     
olePigeon
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Mar 5, 2010, 01:48 PM
 
I avoid Lexmark like the plague.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
ghporter
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Mar 5, 2010, 07:46 PM
 
While I'm quite surprised that a driver could be so very bad that it could crash OS X, I'm glad you found the problem and have fixed it.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Mar 7, 2010, 12:59 AM
 
bought my first and last Lexmark because they were first to market with cheap wifi all in ones, probably knew it was a mistake when I bought it. I was equally surprised, never had a software issue with OS X until now. Obviously an epically poor bit of software (the driver, that is).
     
Timetheus  (op)
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Mar 31, 2010, 11:57 PM
 
*sigh*

The issue returned a few days ago without any reason or provocation I can see. Once again my MBP randomly fires up beach balls, esp. when web-browsing. The only notable difference from before is that it now tends to recover, unhang, and allow me to continue somewhat before hanging again. This morning, it refused to boot after 3 consecutive attempts. I pulled one of the RAM modules to see if RAM might be the issue, and sure enough it started with no problems whatsoever and working normally through an hour or so of web-browsing (with multiple tabs open with the intent of pushing it a bit) and some gaming this afternoon. I thought the issue may have been solved.

But then I had several consecutive hangs again, so I swapped the RAM modules (I put the one I had thought bad in and removed the other one). It was fine again for an hour or so, but then started hanging yet again. There seems to be some weird correlation between a change in hardware status and brief glimpses of success, but my question is this:

Is it worth it to buy a few new RAM modules on the chance that both of my current ones are defective or does it sound more and more like some sort of mainboard issue?
     
   
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