Help - Mac Mini unusably slow

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by aceguitarslingr, May 6, 2009.

  1. aceguitarslingr macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #1
    Dear all,

    Thoughts most appreciated:

    Mac mini, Intel, base stock model (last one before the recent refresh), used for Web (intensive, lots of tabs / email / calendar / Video) and iTunes. Never any problems (sometimes 1Gb ram hurts, but only for a few secs). Even play X-plane without problem (low detail).

    3 external drives (usb / firewire) - 1TB iTunes / Movies, 750GB backing up the former (usually off), 500gb time machine mirroring the internal drive.

    Suddenly today, the computer has become unusable. Spinning ball right now on for about half an hour on simple switching between windows. 3 hard resets, no change. Computer starts up, everything (Google account / quicksilver) ready. Open safari - Icon turns dark, doesn't even bounce, nothing happens for literally minutes. Move file from desktop into folder on desktop, 45 sec delay with both 'marked' dark before the action takes place and sound goes. Etc etc. So on. Unusable. Why oh why???

    Few things come to mind: never any problems. Yesterday the menu bar at the top was black on black briefly (worked and sorted itself out after a while) rather than the colour of the background pic. I recently installed spotify. The 750 Gb harddrive sounds like dying and was shut down without ejecting.

    Again, several hard resets, no change.

    Help?:confused:

    Much obliged!!:D:p

    Oh, and I did repair permissions twice. Both times it detected problems but said it was now fine (you know what I mean)...
     
  2. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    #2
    Try creating a new user account on your Mini. Is it any better there?
     
  3. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #3
    Good point, that was something I hadn't thought of. Thing is, it seems to have sorted itself out after an hour or so. Now running fine. What could this have been - especially since the hard resets didn't take care of it repeatedly?

    Anyway, thanks for the reply. I think I will get on with work and hope (and back up...)

    Ace
     
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #4
    It's hard to diagnose if it suddenly recovered, but in my experience the most likely cause of extreme slowdown/unrecoverable beachballing is an unresponsive (or nearly unresponsive) storage device. 10.5 has improved the situation a lot, but having a network drive flake out while still mounted would do this.

    If one of your attached drives was having problems, that could've done what you were seeing. And it probably wouldn't have started until the boot was finished, when the system actually tried to access them (for Time Machine or indexing). If it were the drive's controller having trouble (as opposed to a failing drive) and you didn't power cycle the drive (just the computer) I could imagine it behaving the way you describe.

    This is just a guess, though. I don't suppose when it started working you had power cycled or disconnected one of the external drives?
     
  5. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #5
    Sounds like possibly a harddrive problem.

    In Disk Utility:
    Repair permission. Verify disk.

    Make sure your data is backed up.
     
  6. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #6
    Thanks to you both - sounds very plausible. I did not restart the drives (they are on 24h except the one that seems to be dying, which I turned off without ejecting earlier today), and I did run verify on the internal disc, which gave the attached failure as a result. Computer working fine now, should I do anything else? What does the stuff disc utility reports mean?

    Thanks again.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Have you backed up your files??? What ever that means I would back up all your data now as its not good.
     
  8. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #8
    Well, I hear you, but I think I'm ok. The dying drive was the backup of the itunes library, which resides on another external drive. I can still mount the dying drive and the primary one is fine, so hopefully it will not die also until I get a new backup one shortly. Any chance that this problem could suddenly kill a healthy firewire drive?

    All else lives on dropbox, and is backed up again via a third external TM drive.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    Mac OS X seems to block (that means "wait" not really "freeze") when there is a potentially correctable problem with a hardware device or the network. I've written software like this myself and will admit it is an error (bug) when you continuously re-try something without giving other running tasks a share of the CPU. This kind of code typically is done in a device driver, maybe the driver that talks to a USB disk or whatever? These are very hard to find even if you are the person who wrote it. Most of the other unix0like OSes have had this stuff fixed long ago. That is why even a power cycle can't fix it, the hardware is still having the same problem.

    The best way to deal with it is the power down, remove ever hardware add-on and un-plug the network cable. But even that is not 100% as it could be an issue with something you can't un-plg like a Firewire controller chip.

    Make a good backups and move at least one off-site
     
  10. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #10
    It says "Needs to be repaired"

    Boot using restore disk. Click 1 or 2 screens until menu comes up on top
    Open Disk Utility and repair disk.
     
  11. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #11
    Thanks again. Will do the boot disc repair tomorrow.

    Is there any chance that the 'healthy' firewire drive from which the mini takes its itunes content could be damaged by this problem suddenly?
     
  12. nb705 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    #12
    Invalid sibling links tend to be a little bit more of an issue than most other Disk corruption. You will probably find that Disk Utility won't fix it (and nor will FSCK in single user mode, as these are one and the same). If that does happen, see if you can find someone to borrow a copy of Diskwarrior of off. That's pretty good at sorting out Invalid Sibling Links
     
  13. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #13
    If you hard power down, you need to verify / repair each of the disks that are on at the time. Verify the disk after repair.

    In addition, when you eject the disk, you should wait for it to spin down (few seconds) before powering it off.

    If there is harddrive trouble that disk utility cannot fix, you need disk warrior.
     
  14. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 30, 2006
  15. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 30, 2006
    #15
    Ok, I did as told. Disk Utility from startup, after 1/2 hour, says First Aid failed (...because the following error occured: Filesystem verify or repair failed - helpful!)

    The problem reads: Invalid volume file count; invalid volume directory count, Could not be repaired after 3 attempts.

    What is the source of this problem? How come it happened? Is there anything I can do before I buy diskwarrior? Will diskwarrior work for sure?

    What happened to 'just works'??? (I know, I know. Still. ;ahjflibwUFGFBShdwk:mad:)

    Answers greatly appreciated.
     
  16. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #16
    Scrap that. I tried it once more, and lo-and-behold, it did work, it repaired the disk and verified it (for good measure...) Thing is, when I went to 'startup', the internal drive was not in the options anymore. So I shut it down, and now I have tried to turn it on twice, each time only for it to get stuck on the grey apple logo screen with the spinning circular lines... I ran a hardware test: fine. I tried again to get to the installer startupdisk window, and this time it did show the internal drive, so I chose that and clicked restart, but it did the same thing, it isn't getting past the grey screen...

    HELP, my mac won't start up... :p Anyone? Please?
     
  17. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 30, 2006
  18. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #18
    You have one of two things: Serious drive corruption due to bad luck, or a failing hard drive.

    Before anything else, double-check that you have a current backup of anything even remotely important on the drive. Preferably TWO.

    If the drive checks out OK in disk utility (run it again through the menu of the OS install disc you're using--it's up there), then maybe it was just serious corruption, and fixing the damage screwed up your OS install badly enough that it won't boot. In this case, use the OS install disc to reinstall the OS, selecting the option to "Archive and install, preserving users"--that will keep all your files and settings intact, unless something was damaged by the corruption.

    Boot from the reinstalled OS, run software update, and run Disk Utility yet again to see if it's still showing OK. If so, keep a VERY close eye on the computer to see if it corrupts again, in which case I'd look toward a hardware failure.

    If the disk does register as having problems when you re-check, then it may be failing. You could, as a "last thing to try before replacing hardware", completely wipe the disk and install a fresh copy of the OS. Again, you want to make sure you have a backup of everything, preferably a full clone of the drive onto an external.

    In this case, chose "erase and install" (you might even want to go into the installer disc's Disk Utility and repartition the disk as a single partition, in the off chance the partition map got chewed up, too). This will completely wipe the drive, and give you a stock install of the OS on a cleanly-formatted drive. You can then transfer your files over (if you have a clone of the drive, you should be able to use the Migration Assistant to bring over all your users and settings), update, and start using it. (Or update, transfer, and start using it--that's the order I'd do.)

    Again, keep a close eye on it and a good set of backups. If the installation fails, or it corrupts again, time to look at replacing the hard drive. At least they're cheap.
     
  19. aceguitarslingr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    #19
    Many thanks! Just one more question then before I try this. The computer is less than a year old, but only by a month. Since it is still in warranty, should I not call Apple anyway and have them fix it? I have a macbook to tide me over. Thoughts?
     
  20. BlueRevolution macrumors 603

    BlueRevolution

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    #20
    A damaged drive will be covered by your warranty, but your data will not. First ensure that it's not a software problem by following Makosuke's advice. If the drive still has problems, take the computer in while it's still covered by warranty.

    When you erase the drive, do it with Disk Utility and zero the existing data. This may correct some issues as well.
     
  21. Moocher macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    NE Atlanta area
    #21
    IF you are comfortable opening the mini, don't mess around. Put in a new drive and use the Time Machine to restore.

    If you aren't comfortable, get a drive and find someone who'll do it. Flaky drives aren't something to mess with at today's prices. Heck, they weren't worth messing with 15 years ago. Seems like they never get better.

    Try Newegg.com

    Mooch
     

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