Mac acting weird the last few days

Discussion in 'OS X El Capitan (10.11)' started by Tom762, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. Tom762 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2018
    #1
    Something is pretty weird with my Mac these last few days (this is a Quad Core 2.8 2010/Nehalem running El Capitan 10.11.6).

    The last few days when I started the up the Mac, the desktop appears with all its icons on it as normal, but nothing would work. Double-clicking on an icon did nothing, except that every time I clicked on anything, the icon of some Photoshop file on the desktop would flicker. Nothing would open up.

    I could not open any of the six hard drive icons on the desktop (four internal drives and two external). Double-clicking on any of them only made that single Photoshop file on the desktop flicker.

    In this situation Safari will open, but only from the dock, not from any alias on the desktop.

    Disk Utility also opens from its dock icon. I ran it through all six disks and it reported nothing wrong.

    I restarted into Disk Warrior and had it rebuild the directories of the four internal drives. DW reported nothing wrong with any drive.

    The only thing I can think to blame is that about ten days ago I put a new Western Digital Black 6TB 7200 rpm hard drive inside the Mac (before that it had only three internal drives).

    After I put that drive in, I started hearing a deep metallic rattling or grinding noise, that sort of throbs. The noise lasts for several seconds and then stops. It comes and goes. Sometimes I don’t hear it for hours, then it starts up again and I’ll hear it a few times per hour.

    Both yesterday and today, after I was at my wit’s end trying to get things to work, suddenly everything started operating normally again.

    Anybody got any idea what could be wrong with this Mac? Could a new but defective hard drive cause such mysterious symptoms?

    Tom
     
  2. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    Tanagra
    #2
    If you can, install Macs Fan Control and see if you're getting readings from all your fans, and check your temps as well. Have you tried removing the new hard drive and see if that resolves your problems?
     
  3. Tom762 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 24, 2018
    #3
    Thanks for the suggestion. I think I will remove the new 6TB drive and see if that fixes things.

    The way things are right now, whenever I start or restart the Mac, everything on the desktop is locked up. Nothing will open. However, I can open Disk Utility from the dock, and after I run First Aid through the new 6TB drive everything goes back to normal.

    So apparently the trouble is being caused by that new drive, and it's probably the one making the loud, throbbing clicking and grinding sound from time to time. I never heard that sound before I put this drive in.

    So I'll get all the files off the new drive, take it out, and report back. Thanks for the help!
     
  4. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #4
    Yeah, those sorts of sounds can come from a hard drive that is failing. Sounds like you may have gotten a faulty drive, or that hard drive bay on your Mac Pro could be bad. Have you ever had a drive in that bay before?
     
  5. Tom762 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 24, 2018
    #5
    Okay, I took out the new hard drive, and everything seems to be back to normal with the Mac. No more grinding sounds (at least so far), no more desktop icons locking up, everything working fine.

    No, I don't think I ever had any other hard drive in that bay before. I never thought about a bad bay possibly being the problem. I hope it isn't, because I'm going to replace that drive. I guess time will tell.

    Since I got this new 6TB drive from Amazon.com it's well within the 30-day return window, so it's going back. I considered replacing it with a Seagate 6TB, but the comments on Amazon from people who have bought that drive aren't very encouraging, lots of problems being reported plus Seagate selling used drives as new ones (removed from enclosures and resold), so I just ordered up another Western Digital 6TB.

    This was the second 6TB Western Digital I've bought, and the Mac has two 5TB WDs in it that have never given any trouble over the last few years. The first 6TB WD that I bought has been living happily in an external enclosure and doing Time Machine backups without any weird noises or problems.

    I can hear it doing the backups, with a sound like water boiling or bubbling, but it's nothing like that really bad, loud, deep-down rhythmic grinding noise that this other 6TB was making inside the Mac. I think maybe 6TB drives, being so big, do make more noise than smaller drives, but that terrible grinding sound was definitely not normal. Sounded awful.

    So this problem I had was caused by either the new drive going bad right out of the box (I heard those noises within a few days of installing it in the Mac) or, as you say, the Mac might have a bad bay. I guess I'll find out which when the replacement drive arrives next week.

    But until then, everything seems to be back to normal, and I'm happy. BTW I'll look into getting that Fan Control app you mentioned. Sounds useful.

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  6. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #6
    You could always try the drive in a different bay, or put one of your other known-to-be-working drives in that bay. It sure sounds like it's just a faulty new drive. If you do make a return, be sure you wipe the old drive before sending it back in--if you can, of course.
     
  7. Tom762 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 24, 2018
    #7
    Yes, thanks, I thought about that, so while Disk Utility was working I "Erased" the drive before I took it out. My wife reminded me that a few years ago I did have other drives in this Mac (smaller ones), before I replaced them with much bigger drives because video and big Photoshop files (with many layers) take up such a lot of room.

    So it's probable that I had a drive or drives in that bay at one time. In fact I think I remember all four bays being filled up once, but this is the first time a drive ever went bad. It would be such a pain in the neck to unhook all these peripherals and drag that heavy tower off the desk again to open it up (it's in a tight space against a wall) that I won't bother putting one of the other drives into that bay to test it right now.

    I really think this problem was caused by a bad drive, but since you warned me that a bay can go bad, if the replacement drive also screws up then I will definitely suspect the bay.

    If you hadn't mentioned it, I probably would never have thought of the possibility of a bad bay. So you taught me something. Thanks again!

    Tom
     
  8. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    #8
    You're welcome. Let us know how it goes with your replacement!
     
  9. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #9
    Yeah, sounds like a bad drive. What you posted covers a failing drive that hasn't failed enough to cause major issues. The only other time I've seen what you describe is when a drive "disconnects" from the mobo (Mac or PC) due to odd firmware or it being a low power drive. This was especially a problem a few years ago with the Z77X platform for Windows based machines. As far as new drives go, they're factory tested, but sometimes life happens and, well, you end up with this. Another issue but less common would be a faulty SATA connector on either the drive or the board of your Mac Pro. Sometimes large drives will scatter and park the head every so often, but it should never grind.
     
  10. Tom762 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2018
    #10
    Thanks for the comment Zenithal. That terrible grinding noise every hour or two couldn't have been anything normal, and the Mac has been running for several hours now since I took the new hard drive out and the noise is gone. Sure points to a bad drive.

    I suspect somebody dropped or kicked the box with the new drive in it hard somewhere between the Amazon stock room and here. UPS delivers plenty of smashed-up boxes here; they're pretty rough.

    I read an article in Popular Mechanics (I think) a few years back that said if you want things handled gently, ship them through the Post Office, because UPS and FedEx are always in a hurry so they toss things around, whereas government employees have no incentive to move fast so they handle packages slow and easy. The magazine sent identical delicate items through different shipping channels to see what happened to them and came to that conclusion.

    The new drive will arrive here next week and after I install it I'll report back what happens.
     

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9 March 9, 2018