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View Full Version : MBA freezing - nothing to do with Flash or YouTube




RedTomato
Nov 4, 2010, 04:59 PM
My partner's MBA (2,1, 1.6GHZ, 2GB RAM) keeps freezing up. This never happened before Snow Leopard was installed a couple of months ago, but it seems to be getting worse.

It's not flash or youtube, it often happens when she's just reading email in mail.app or typing a document. She's an extremely light user - email, Office, Facebook, and that's more or less it.

Sometimes the mouse will become all jerky and uncontrollable. Windows and applications freeze. Sometimes windows freeze but the mouse is still useable. Program switching takes several minutes to happen, and text entry fields freeze.

Activity Monitor shows CPU usage is low, and there's over a gig of RAM free and half the HDD is empty. Temperature Monitor shows both cores around 50C.

To be honest, I'm stumped. Any ideas?



koobcamuk
Nov 4, 2010, 05:26 PM
Logic board?

RedTomato
Nov 4, 2010, 05:31 PM
How will I identify that? I'm not sure how a motherboard fault could cause the freezing I'm seeing. (sometimes the mouse is fine and windows can be moved, just it won't accept clicks or application switching)

The MBA is next to me, and it's working at the moment, just froze about 10 minutes ago for a few minutes.

koobcamuk
Nov 4, 2010, 05:56 PM
How will I identify that? I'm not sure how a motherboard fault could cause the freezing I'm seeing. (sometimes the mouse is fine and windows can be moved, just it won't accept clicks or application switching)

The MBA is next to me, and it's working at the moment, just froze about 10 minutes ago for a few minutes.

In that case, it sounds like bad RAM to me. I'd head on over to Apple Discussions on their site - this is out of my depth, sorry :(

Best of luck and please post any answers!

re2st
Nov 4, 2010, 05:56 PM
Do a hardware test. Press D while booting up. It does sound like bad RAM.

ImperialX
Nov 5, 2010, 03:13 AM
Mine has no problems. Just take it to the Genius Bar and get it exchanged.

wirelessmacuser
Nov 5, 2010, 04:32 AM
Mine has no problems.
Consider yourself lucky... So far.

RedTomato
Nov 5, 2010, 05:09 AM
Passed the hardware test. Think it might be a failing HD. Ran TechTool Delux and did a surface scan. It bogged down after finding about 20 or so errors.

Looks like it's the HDD. Oddly, HDD still passes SMART. If it is a failing HDD, it's holding up remarkably well - the laptop is used 6 hours a day 5 days a week, and it's been working like this with the odd freeze for the past few months.

The MBA is out of warranty BTW.

ImperialX
Nov 5, 2010, 06:53 AM
Consider yourself lucky... So far.

In the last five years, I've always purchased the Macs that are having 'problems' as expressed by the media.

The Rev A aluminium iMac with the screen freeze.
The polycarbonate MacBook with the hard driver failures and faulty sound card.
The 2010 MacBook Air that has graphical glitches and kernel panics.

Seriously, Apple has fantastic QC. Just because there are a few bad ones that sneak out of the factory doesn't mean the whole product line failed.

RedTomato
Nov 7, 2010, 05:37 PM
Update: I fixed it (for now).

The HDD failed the surface scan after finding 50 or so errors / bad blocks. I checked online to see if the HDD was savable. Seems it needs a reformat and every sector written to / zeroed to locate and remap all the bad blocks.

I checked Time Machine was updated to my Time Capsule, made another Time Machine backup to a USB drive (never have only one backup if reformatting your main drive), and finally made a third backup by copying home folders to the USB drive (just in case the Time Machine software was buggy). The MBA is the family money-earner so making 3 backups is sensible.

With these three backups in hand, I booted the MBA via Remote Disk using the OSX DVD in my Macbook. I didn't realise you have to run a special app (Remote Install OSX) on the MB for the MBA to find it on boot. Booting via the remote DVD took a long time (about 10-15 mins).

Finally was at the OSX installer. Deep breath, nuked the misbehaving HDD, reformatted it. Then I ran a security erase (write a zero to every sector, 1 pass). This tests every block and removes / relocates all the bad blocks. Took about 40 minutes, and completed, indicating the HDD was savable. I ran it again just to make sure. Couldn't be bothered with the 7-pass wipe.

Went back to the OSX installer, and selected restore from backup. Used the USB external drive as it was far quicker than restoring from Time Capsule. Took about an hour. Big relief to see the MBA booting into OSX and everything back. Maybe just my imagination but the HDD seems about 500MB smaller than it was before. Had 80GB free space before so no big deal.

Ran TechTool Deluxe again, surface scan again. Yay, 0 errors. Ran it twice to make sure. Yay. Have just handed it back to my partner, will see over the next week if it freezes again. Will run TechTool surface scan again every few weeks see how it goes.

Cheers RedTomato

neteng101
Nov 7, 2010, 05:58 PM
Hope that works out - failing drives tend to continue on that path so keep a good backup of data just in case.

pfjellman
Nov 7, 2010, 07:00 PM
Hope that works out - failing drives tend to continue on that path so keep a good backup of data just in case.

+1 (sounds like you've got a good mentality on backing up though, very good!)