Help Diagnose my Crashing Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Sttesuhc, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. Sttesuhc macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #1
    For the better part of the past 3 years, my G4 400mhz desktop has been plagued by the (seemingly) same crash behavior. At this point I think it must be some hardware/motherboard problem.

    I'm running 10.3.8 with 1gb SDRAM. The crash seems to happen regardless of peripherals, and I tried taking all of the RAM out to identify a bad dimm. Crashes continued with the RAM out.

    One thing to note: I recall this sudden "freezing" happening when I had OS 9 installed. The mouse would just stop moving in the Finder-- not particularly tied to any app. I mention that to bolster the claim that it's hardware and not a "permissions" type of OS X issue.

    There doesn't seem to be any specific trigger to cause a crash, but if any sound is playing, the crash will cause about .5 seconds of the sound to loop until the computer is reset. It seems that certain "graphics-heavy" uses might cause a crash, such as excessive iTunes window resizing or placement. Also iCal window actions seem to cause a crash. The thing is, sometimes I can try to force a crash by messing with iTunes or iCal, but they'll be ok. Other times, out of the blue while using those apps, a crash will occur. The crash is rarely preceeded by spinning wheel activity-- it just seems to suddenly freeze.

    Sometimes I can go 1-2 days (maybe longer) with no crash and other times I crash 4-5 times a day. Regardless, I usually shut down every night.

    Right now I have a 120gb drive partitioned three ways. My Panther partition has approx 5gb free space. On the other partitions I might have old versions of my OS backed-up, so perhaps my current system is seeing a different system folder.

    One other random point: I used Applecare to replace the original motherboard about 6 months after I got the computer. I can't recall why, but I remember the tech saying it wasn't uncommon.

    I'm planning to get an iBook within a week, and I'm hoping to keep this old G4 to tinker with and use for something-- but not if it is beyond help.

    I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts or suggestions!
     
  2. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #2
    Check the size of your virtual memory. If your Panther partition only has 5GB of free space, it may be that it's running out of space to page out to. Try getting that free space up to 7 or 8GB and see if it still freezes.
     
  3. Sttesuhc thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #3
    I just did a GetInfo on my Panther drive, and I have 7.51 GB available. How do I check my Virtual Memory? Or, were you implying that with less than 4-5 GB Virtual Memory becomes more of a factor?
     
  4. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #4
    You can check what your VM is in Activity Monitor. The reason I was asking was that if you were opening up lots of apps (and your comments that it was when you were doing intense things that caused the freezes) and your VM size was about the same or bigger than your free space, that might be what was causing your problems.
     
  5. Sttesuhc thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #5
    I appreciate your help Applespider!

    One thing about the freezing/crashing is that it can (and often does) happen shortly after startup, when no apps have been launched. So, I wouldn't necessarily say it's a "lots of apps" kind of problem.

    Also, I think I recall the reason the mobo was replaced was because the computer wasn't waking up from Sleep.
     
  6. jrober macrumors regular

    jrober

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Location:
    Heathfield, UK
    #6
    Panther Upgrades?

    I have a G3 iMac and experienced similar things on Panther after one of the updates. Subsequent ones helped but it never completely went away. Crashes were often when trying to close down an app. Finally after one of the last Panther updates the problem disappeared. Maybe you could try downgrading to original Panther or ensure all patches are installed. I would go to Tiger but cannot get my powebooks DVD drive to enable me to install on the iMac

    John
     
  7. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #7
    So, "Crash" means system freeze?

    Does it ever come back from the dead? Does this happen if you're logged in as another user? Is it always related to doing something graphical (opening an app, moving an app, etc)? What do the logs say? Does the network stack still respond?
     
  8. Sttesuhc thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #8
    I think I'm using crash and freeze interchangably.

    By crash I mean that the mouse fails to move, clock stops working, keyboard stops working, etc. Basically the screen is frozen and only a reset on the front cover will work. I've never seen it come back, and sometimes I've left it on and noticed it froze hours before and has been stuck like that.

    Not always related to a graphical process, since sometimes I can start the machine and without touching anything it will crash within the first 2-5 minutes of being up. Also, I sometimes have the freeze occur while typing an email in Mail. (not using the mouse)

    I only log-in to my user account. I tried to create a new account, and crashes happened there as well.

    Not sure what logs to look for or what to look for. Same for the network stack.

    Only other way to describe the freeze is that the audio playback loops right after the freeze. Maybe that means something or not....I don't know.
     
  9. Sttesuhc thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #9
    Maybe it's Video-Card Related?

    The one theme I keep thinking about is how it seems like it's a visual or video-related type of problem. I think I have the Rage 128-Pro in my AGP slot, and even though it's rated for 1024x768, I wonder if the card just can't fully handle OS X?

    I was freezing in OS 9, but I believe I might have been trying a higher resolution.... which might explain the same type of "freeze" ?

    So... in OS 9 I was freezing because of too-high a res, and now in OS X I'm freezing because the card just can't handle the demands of the OS?

    If anyone's reading this and thinks I might be onto something...let me know! :confused:
     
  10. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #10
    That's why I asked if it was related to graphics, in the moving windows, opening windows, opening apps all cause the graphics car to redraw the screen.

    So at this point you've determined that the crashes are a system wide (software or hardware) problem, and unfortunately that doesn't narrow it down for us much.

    As for the logs, you can simple post one as an attachment. You should be looking for the /var/log/system.log, and we can look to see what is happening on both sides of a crash (and therefore a hard restart).

    So, you've swapped out ALL the RAM? I'd still use MemTest to test the RAM. Beyond that, it gets harder. If you still have your AppleCare CD, you could try the hardware test to test the componants, but I wouldn't put too much stock in it (unless it finds problems). To eliminate the software (and the hard drive), I'd get a cheap, small, harddrive and completely reinstall OS X on it and use it for a little bit. It shouldn't take long to determine if it's still crashing or not, and if it's a hardware problem.

    One last note, a lot of those boxes came with SCSI cards. If you have one, take it out and test, test, test.
     
  11. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    download some cpu director software, cache can sometimes be running too hot and cause problems like that, it's more common than the cpu going bad and you can easily adjust the speed http://plx.crmdesk.net/?_a=downloads
     
  12. Sttesuhc thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #12
    Yellow-

    Thanks for the suggestions....I'm working on a few at the moment.

    One question-- what is the path for the system.log you're talking about? I can't find anything matching var/logs/system.log. I did a search in Finder for system.log and got nothing. I think I'm not looking in the right place.

    No SCSI components for me.

    I tried to run MemTest but got an error:
    ERROR: Amount of memory to be tested (argument 2) is missing.
    Relaunch with memory test size in MB or 'all'.

    I think I'm not running MemTest properly....will look into it more.
     

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