MBP periodically freezing, then resuming?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Cubytus, Sep 18, 2014.

  1. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #1
    Hello community,

    since a few weeks, I have this annoying, intermittent problem where the MBP freezes. The Beach Ball appears on whatever application I happen to be using for a minute or so, then it resumes operation as if nothing happened. Sometimes only the frontmost application freezes, sometimes the whole machine freezes.

    I had a look at the Activity Monitor: no CPU or RAM overload in sight, fans spinning quietly. HDD is rather full, but has about 200GB free, so shouldn't be an issue.

    Looked at the Console also: when those intermittent freezes happen, nothing is written in it. Most annoying is that there seem to be no particular pattern: at times it would freeze every 10 min, sometimes wouldn't for hours.

    What could be going wrong? Any idea how to track down the source of the issue?
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    Did you try running the Apple Hardware Test to see if anything kicks out?
    Are you running certain apps when this occurs?
     
  3. lighthouse_man macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 13, 2005
    #3
    What are the specs of the computer especially the HDD? In the meantime, back up everything.
     
  4. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #4
    Of course I am keeping this good habit of periodic backups ;). HDD was surface-scanned with Drive Genius in July, without a single bad sector. II also checked its SMART status in detail with a GParted Live CD, where I noticed 200 000 load-unload cycles have been performed in 8 months life of the HD, then I decided to turn off "suspend" function while on AC power. I am not too concerned about data loss, in fact.

    Otherwise there seem to be no strong correlation with any given application. Sometimes these freezes appear more frequently when Safari is running, but don't stop altogether when it's not.

    No AHT has been done however, as I don't know how to do that on a normally-Lion-but -SL-running MBP.
     
  5. lighthouse_man macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 13, 2005
    #5
    While they can be helpful many times, these tests aren't always spot on. The symptoms you describe can be, among other things, of either the HD or the RAM going bad. I don't know if you have another HD you can boot from or other RAM modules you can use to verify. You can also try to boot with one RAM module and alternate.

    I see that you don't have an SSD. I asked earlier because Crucial M4 had a bug that would cause your exact symptoms and that could only be solved by updating the firmware on the drive.
     
  6. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    That's right, decent-sized SSDs are still too expensive.

    I do have a HDD clone in a drawer, but wouldn't the RAM going bad cause kernel panics?
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #7
    You will need to run AHT off your grey DVD installer disks that came with the machine. See here.

    Your symptoms really do sound like a bad drive, no matter what scanning shows. Less common, but it could also be a bad drive cable.

    If you have another drive you can boot to even externally just to test, that would pin it down for you.

    (I am assuming here you have not recently made any hardware or software changes that brought this on.)
     
  8. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Lion never came with any physical install media, so there's no "grey DVD" to insert.

    I don't recall any software change recently, except Firefox's frantic upgrade pace.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #9
    I realize that, but from your comment it made it sound like your machine came with SL. Read the Apple support doc. I linked and it tells you how to run AHT if it came with Lion.
     
  10. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #10
    It relies upon a Lion restore partition, as I recall, which doesn't exist on this HDD.
     
  11. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #11
    If it shipped with Lion, it will DL the AHT over the internet even with no recovery partition on the drive. This is explained at the link I posted.
     
  12. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #12
    The link said:
    "Mac NoteBook and Desktop computers shipping with OS X 10.7 or later have a partition on the hard drive or flash storage that contains AHT."

    But there is no such thing on my HDD.

    My mistake. Pressing "D" on boot doesn't do anything.
     
  13. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #13
    I was referring to this section from that link. Sounds like this is not working on yours.

     
  14. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #14
    I read the same, and pressing "D", as told, yielded nothing special.
     
  15. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #15
    Well, a weekend run on the external cloned HDD yielded none of these issues.

    As the internal drive passes the SMART test, how would I know if the drive of the cable is failing?
     
  16. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #16
    Take the internal drive out and run off it in an external enclosure to take the internal cable out of the mix is the only way.
     
  17. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Hum, in two different enclosures, the disk doesn't boot the computer. In verbose display, I get the usual, log-filled screen, then black with white cursor top left corner, then alternates between with blue screen.

    The startup noise of the disk is rather weird in the enclosures: it spins up for a brief moment, then stop, then restarts and stays on. Is this normal behavior while sitting externally?

    When using the external clone, I surface-scanned the disk and manually ran SMART tests, and none revealed any malfunction. Where could the malfunction come from?
     
  18. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #18
    I'm still going to say bad disk. You can have a bad disk and still have it show okay in Disk Util and SMART status.
     
  19. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #19
    Unfortunately that wouldn't surprise me at all. These WD Scorpio Black seem to be extremely fragile. In 3 years I returned 5 of them under warranty, died without a warning, and the current one is 9 months old. What could cause these drives to fail so early? As a side note, I never heard the head parking when moving the machine briskly. Do they even react to Sudden Motion Sensor commands? Or feature one of their own? I also noticed the Load-Unload cycles quickly grew up to 200 000 or so before I disabled the power saver in the Preference Panes.

    More simply though, could these signs simply point to a corrupted installation?
     
  20. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #20
    I have no idea what might be causing these early failures for you, but yeah that's a bad run for sure.

    I don't ever remember hearing the heads park or anything when jostling my older had drive based MacBooks around, so I'm not sure you can hear it or not when it is working.

    What power saver pane are you referring to? Have you installed some WD utility on there? If so, I have read about people having trouble with those utilities and Mavericks.

    I really doubt it. If you did not do anything (like a hardware or software change) to precipitate this, the OS just does not get corrupted out of the blue all on its own unless there is a problem like a drive dying.
     
  21. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I haven't installed any special WD-made utility, as I preferred to keep my Mac free of non-standard software. And I am not running Mavericks on this machine, just good ol' Snow Leopard.

    Nothing major was changed, but it's clear I don't keep track of minor software changes. Since your first hypothesis referred to a bad cable, and it's not impossible to have both, I just was wondering.
     
  22. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #22
    Some progress here. Or not.

    I subjected the drive to tests ordered by Western Digital's support on a different machine, a physical non-Mac PC. It found nothing wrong with it. Then back to the Mac, restored from Carbon Copy Cloner backup, and although less pronounced, it still displayed the same, bad behavior.

    I had it being scanned for a deep scan since 4 days already, 4 more days to go.:(
     

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