Does anyone know why my MacBook keeps stalling?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by tolsen86, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. tolsen86 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #1
    I have a late 2009 MacBook. OS X 10.6.8. 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. 2 GB memory.

    My problem:
    For about the last week it has been acting strange, pausing at seemingly random times when using various programs. I'll just be playing music on iTunes, with no other programs running, and the music will pause, for anywhere from a blip to 15 seconds. And when using internet (Safari, Firefox, I even downloaded Chrome just to check), it will stall, that infuriating color wheel starts spinning, usually when a page is loading or I'm typing something, but also sometimes when I'm not doing anything. I haven't had to restart, and don't usually have to force quit even, but sometimes the pausing happens every few seconds, and I'm worried that I'm my computer is dying... (I have everything backed up already.)

    I've looked at tons of other threads and advice, and everything I've tried hasn't helped. Also I really don't know what I'm doing, but here's what I've looked into:
    -Hard drive isn't full (I have over 100 GB free).
    -Downloaded/installed all most recent software updates.
    -Desktop isn't cluttered, no big programs running in the background or anything.
    -I've repaired disk permissions, and it seemed to work fine, but with lots of messages about Java and Airport.
    -Reset Safari, put bookmarks into folders
    -Looked at Activity Monitor. iTunes usually only using 15% of CPU, nothing else significant, sometimes internet will spike up to 50% or so when loading something (don't know what's considered normal).
    -Downloaded updated Flash player (didn't delete the old one, is that necessary?)
    -Ran a virus scan, nothing was found.
    -Downloaded and ran Onyx.
    -Logged into Guest Account, experienced the same unpredictable stalling.

    Besides the sporadic pausing, the computer is actually running pretty smoothly. But could this be a dying hard drive...? Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. tolsen86 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 3, 2011
    #2
    Also... maybe I should have mentioned the fact that I live in a very dusty area, and never clean my computer.
     
  3. Blondie :) macrumors 6502a

    Blondie :)

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    #3
    Since you live in a dusty area, download iStat Pro (not iStat Menu) and check your CPU temps. Your fan could be clogged as hell, and making your cpu very warm, so it may throttle down and temporarily freeze to prevent overheating. Download that widget and report back what your normal operating temps are.
     
  4. tolsen86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #4
    Thanks, that's a great app! But it looks like the temps are normal.

    HD: 34 degrees
    CPU: 50
    all the rest are between 30 and 45
     
  5. orfeas0 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    #5
    maybe your HDD has a problem, have you checked it yet? I'm not sure with which app, either Disk Utility or the disk permissions you said.
    What i'm talking about is a hardware test. You can do one using the OSX cd.
     
  6. tolsen86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #6
    Is there any way to check if it's a hardware issue without the OS X CD? I don't have access to mine right now, since I'm living overseas.
     
  7. tolsen86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #7
    OK, so it doesn't seem to be a dust buildup and I'm still not sure about the hard drive. But I haven't heard the hard drive doing anything weird (clicking, etc.). A couple website I've gone to mention that it could be my RAM. I've been watching the Activity Monitor under 'System Memory'.

    It sounds like the Free Space and amount of Page Outs are the biggest indicators of needing more memory, but I haven't been able to figure out if that's actually my problem. Sometimes when I first turn on my computer it will have 900 MB free, and sometimes it drops down to a few hundred. The Page Outs always start at 0 and I've seem them reach nearly 1 MB after my computer being on for a couple hours. Is that anything significant? It seems like my % CPU being used is never that big, but even when I have just one program running and using up 10% or so (Chrome for example), the program will start freezing, for sometimes minutes at a time, with the spinning rainbow. Anyone know if this is potentially just a RAM issue?
     
  8. nikolis1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #8
    same problem

    I am having the same problem and have tried almost all the same solutions but no luck. At least I am having minor stalls that last seconds (4GB of RAM here). Did you find any solution so far ?
     
  9. BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a

    BigDukeSix

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Location:
    34.6700N 118.1590W
    #9
    I had the same problem. After reinstalling the OS, it worked okay for awhile, then started to develop the same problem again. Took it The Genius Bar, they ran a diagnosis and the HDD was failing. Replaced HDD, ops check good. I suspect that your HDD is going south.
     
  10. tolsen86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #10
    Well, first I tried installing new memory (upgraded from 2 to 4 GB). But that didn't solve it. So I had to get the hard drive replaced. It was like $130 I think plus maybe a maintenance fee at the apple store. I'm sure you could get it done for cheaper, but since I'm overseas and was only home in Dec for a bit (and didn't know the exact problem) I took it in, had them look at it, and just had all the work done there. Now it's as good as new!

    I'm not qualified to say how long your HDD will last, but it sounds like it's probably going downhill. So at least make sure everything's backed up. Good luck!
     
  11. BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a

    BigDukeSix

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    #11
    At least replacing the HDD yuorself is easy. I only had mine done at The Genius Bar as I still had AppleCare.
     
  12. nikolis1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #12
    Just backed everything up, erased all and did a fresh OS install. In the beginning it felt as smooth as new. However 1h or smth later and after installing all updates (10.6.8 I think) it froze to death and after a hard reset I haven't been able to reboot since it takes like 10' stuck in the white screen with the Apple logo loading. I also noticed it kind of heated up, but I have seen it so hot in the past again

    I will let it cool off for 30' and retry. I guess by now since after the fresh install the problem reappeared soon, it's either the HDD or smth heat related, like the fans or smth...

    It's getting frustrating..

    I ll post if I manage to make any progress

    btw I have a late 2009 Macbook, 4gb RAM
     
  13. BigDukeSix macrumors 6502a

    BigDukeSix

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Location:
    34.6700N 118.1590W
    #13
    Mine did the same thing. Reloaded the OS, all was well for awhile, then it started to lock up again. Do you have a bootable backup so you can try to start up off your external drive and see how that works?
     
  14. logana macrumors 65816

    logana

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2006
    Location:
    Scotland
    #14
    Most likely to be hard disk dying or possibly bad ram......
     
  15. nikolis1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #15
    After resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) that could account for possible fan and temperature problems not much changed. So I downloaded and ran SMART utility which reported 78 reallocated bad sectors and the HD in (yellow) failing condition. Apple disk utility however verifies the HD and reports it as appearing to be OK

    Anyway I think after trying anything else it must come down to the HD. I have the Toshiba 250gb one, with about 8.200 power on hours (from SMART utility), I ll probably go for a same one - different make
     
  16. nikolis1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    #16
    in my case then it was a HD problem. I bought a new one, changed it myself and my 2009 Macbook is as good as new, cost about 85 euros for a 620GB Western Digital internal drive

    thanks for the advice
     

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