Hardware or software problem? Are there any other options?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by MacMuppet, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. MacMuppet macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #1
    Firstly, apologies for my lack of Mac knowledge due to being:
    1) relatively new to Macs and....
    2) not very bright in general ;-)

    This problem started to be noticed around two months ago and seems to have got worse since then. However, I have managed to glean what I think are some clues.
    Hopefully, I'll present these "clues" in such a way that those of you who are more expert than me can guess the solution.

    It all started when my external DVD-RW drive had problems showing the contents of discs within Finder. The drive is primarily for Win XP (a carry over from my old machine) but did work in a reading and writing capacity within the Mac environment.

    It is a USB 2.0 drive.

    Subsequently, an MP3 player that I had used on Win XP and Mac acquired a corrupted memory when I plugged it into a USB port on my Mac.

    Now, those are the basics.
    Here's a bit of that devil in the detail ;-)

    1) Mac HD reformatted and problems still occur.
    2) DVD-RW drive performs better after unplugging from mains and
    replugging a few minutes later.
    3) If visiting sites like YouTube, my now old USB modem was frequently
    showing question marks where images should have been whereas my
    new ethernet linked modem router is showing fewer errors/question
    marks.
    4) I can still burn DVDs but I have to reduce the burn speed.
    5) External DVD-RW drive reads DVDs roughly half the time I insert them
    but just cannot deal with DVD-RWs. Previously it could.
    6) My newly acquired TVMini USB gadget works sometimes and doesn't
    work others.

    Strangely enough, even the most troublesome of peripherals show up in System Profiler, indicating at least that the machine does recognise these gadgets, even if the DVD or MP3 player doesn't show up in Finder.

    There are other possible clues but I'm not sure how relevant they may be.

    My gut feeling is that it is not a software problem due to my reformatting the Mac HD drive, reinstalling 10.4.2 with no improvement, and that it is not an external hardware problem due to the TVMini not working 100% of the time along with other external peripherals.

    I have a feeling the Mac's own combo drive is proving very slightly choppy as well.

    The specifications are a 1.33ghz Mac Mini, 512mb DDR SDRAM, OS X 10.4.8, LaCie Firewire 80gb external drive (main drive for me) along with the normal 40gb internal Mac drive.

    Thanks in advance for any replies I receive.

    McM
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    Questionmarks in the browser simply mean the graphic has not yet downloaded or has failed to download. A faster Internet connection/model reduces that.

    DVD burning/reading success is variable with the make of the blank or burned disks. Remember that the brand name on the disk does not often represent who manufactured it... some brands change factories monthly...

    DVD drives are also less accurate when they get dirty or misaligned.

    There IS a possibility that you have a dodgy USB port. Does the same thing happen on both physical USB ports.

    Are your USB peripherals equipped with AC adaptors for power, or are they drawing power through the USB cable? Plug them into AC if you can, or get a powered USB hub. Buss powered devices can overload the Mac's abiliity to provide power on USB.

    512 Mb is adequate for OS X 10.4, but no more than adequate. Going to 1 Gb RAM would be better all around.
     
  3. MacMuppet thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #3
    Hardware or software problem? Are there any other options?

    I still get errors using the new ethernet port linked modem but I get fewer than I did using the old USB modem.

    The speed of the ADSL service is still the same (8mb) but anecdotally, I would say the speed at which downloads occur is around 50% quicker.

    Tried Sony, TDK, Datawrite, Ridata DVDs and the same problems occur.

    My hunch is that it isn't the peripherals at fault so I haven't sought another
    DVD burner. The fact that the newly bought Miglia TVMini is unable to operate all of the time rather suggested to me that it is not necessarily the peripherals.

    Unfortunately, I don't have another computer at hand (PC or Mac) so I'm unable to carry out some sort of acid test.

    I've got the keyboard going into one of the ports (mouse goes into keyboard) and the other port is for the hub. I have plugged the DVD-RW into the non-keyboard using port without the hub and I still had the same problems - perhaps ruling out the hub.

    I'll swap the USB inputs tonight when I get the chance.

    There is a powered USB hub and the peripherals that ask for a separate power supply are all powered.

    A 1gb upgrade is certainly one of the things on my "to do" list but I've decided to attempt to get to the bottom of my problem before doing that.

    McM
     
  4. MacMuppet thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #4
    Just swapped the USB hub and keyboard in the USB ports on the back of the Mini, switched the TVMini on and.........it's still not functioning properly!

    Used the TVMini last night to record a couple of programmes and had no problems. This intermittent functioning of the peripherals is now the norm.

    As I said before, I don't think the peripherals are the problem.
    I have a feeling there is a problem with the Mini itself.

    McM

    P.S. This evening, my USB printer indicated, via the software, indicated that there was sufficient black ink to complete a job (tank half full/half empty) yet the ink ran out when I took the cartridge out to check for myself after the paper sheets indicated problems.
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    Try not to read every problem as related -- the ink measurement on the printer is often just a counter on the number of pages printed, not an actual 'ink level' measurement; therefore they are often wrong.
     
  6. MacMuppet thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Location:
    London, UK
    #6
    Tried to burn a DVD tonight and couldn't (blank DVD kept whirring around in drive)

    Turned both Mac Mini and external HD off, unplugging TVMini in the process.
    Switched on/rebooted Mac Mini and external HD, burned DVD successfully - albeit at half the normal speed.

    Something is not right and I can't work out what it is.........

    McM
     

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