"Exotic" error on macbook 2009, takes 9 hours to start but used to work, now it freezes on login

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by arstaberg, Sep 22, 2018.

  1. arstaberg macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2018
    So I own an old macbook pro from 2009. Ram has been updated once, otherwise standard hardware (not SSD harddrive, if those were an option back then).

    For about a year, it has suffered a really strange problem which is that it takes about 9 hours to start. I am not exactly sure how long it actually takes, but my thumb rule is "if I boot when I go to bed and have a good nights sleep, it will be on in the morning. If I have short nights sleep, it will not". So probably round 8 - 9 hours. It's the "apple logo showing" phase that takes so long. Therefore I have tried to keep it on always, but sometimes I've accidently disconnected it and on battery it lasts maybe 20 minutes so every now and then it is accidently shut of. Sometimes several boots are required before it actually manages to start up correctly, sometimes it gets stuck on an entirely grey screen with mouse pointer but nothing else, sometimes it gets me to the log in page but wont log in.

    Other issues: something wrong with the sound driver. External audio interface always works, but internal speakers and audio output rarely works. This differs from boot to boot, but in general it does not work. It had an issue with spotlight indexing going bonkers and eating up all available disk space, so I had to turn spotlight indexing of.

    Now, I fear I have reached the end. Right now it seems to either freeze on the log in page (which I usually dont have to go through? It normally starts up unto my standard account), or I get the gray screen. I can start in recovery mode, and repairing the disk and disk permissions works (this also goes quickly, and starting up to recovery mode just takes a couple of minutes). Starting up in failsafe mode I was able to log in, but the computer was extremely slow.

    What bugs is me is that disregarding the sound issue and the absurd start up time, the computer has been working fine, and has been able to deal with high CPU tasks like music production. I've got some projects on the thing that I wont be able to work on on my new mac (damn you logic x and your non compatability with 16 bit plugins!) so I really want to get this baby going if it is possible.

    I guess the hard drive is bust. However, I am wondering if there is maybe some process going haywire behind the scenes, since starting into recovery mode works like a charm and the computer used to up until now work perfectly while having had its nine hours to get going. Can I bypess the login screen somehow and boot directly to a user? Maybe this "uncommon" step is the culprit, since this is the only difference I can think of compared to the usual ritual to get it going.
  2. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    I saw this same long login issue on a lab full of Macs. About 30 late 2013 models. They all ran perfect in on 10.10, and 12.12, and now on 10.13.

    On 10.11....they would take hours to boot similar to what you describe, sometimes not at all. Could get them to sometimes boot normally with an SMC and PRAM reset, but even that was inconsistent.

    Dug through the logs, never isolated the exact cause. Wiping and reinstalling the OS would help for a while, but after a few weeks it would return, unless I picked something besides 10.11.

    So, what OS are you running? Worth trying a different one?

    Based on the age alone, I would put a SSD in and do a fresh install, probably of 10.12.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    First, put an SSD into it (even a small one will do).

    Next, try a clean install of a different version of the OS.

    Finally, it's almost 10 years old. Think about a replacement...
  4. TheTruth101 Suspended

    Mar 15, 2017
    I think is the hard drive, sounds like it. When a drive is damaged and can not find the info until the actual disk or something moves.
  5. Audit13 macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2017
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  6. arstaberg thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2018
    So I've opted for bying a hard drive cabinet, using my newer computer and just moving over the files that I need. Managed to work out some issues with incompatible software which was the reason I still used the old one really.

    It's working okay, getting files out of the hard drive by using the cabinett, but it's a bit wonky. I think the hard drive is going really tired. I might try installing a new hard drive- since the rest of the computer seems to be working fine (cant be sure it was and only was the hard drive, but when the computer was up and running it worked as well as ever) it seems like a waste to get rid of it, old or not.

    Thanks for all your input!
    --- Post Merged, Oct 3, 2018 ---
    I was running 10.7 actually

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5 September 22, 2018