Spinning Beachball Frequently Visits, Stays Too Long

Discussion in 'macOS' started by -Martin, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. -Martin macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #1
    I got my new iMac a few months ago after my very old OS 9 machine finally died. (So, I’m an OS X “newbie.” ;) ) The iMac is a standard 2.8 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 320 GB HD machine. I’ve kept the OS up to date, so I’m currently running 10.5.4.

    Increasingly, I’ve been experiencing the spinning beachball, and increasingly, it stays spinning longer and longer, sometimes to the point of timing out.

    I’m not doing anything involving heavy-duty apps like Photoshop (in fact, I’m usually only using Entourage 11.4.0 and Safari 3.1.2 when this happens...the only other apps I run are the other Office 2004 (v. 11.5.1) apps, Acrobat 5.0.5, and Palm Desktop 4.2), and my HD is only about half full.

    Though OS X is incredibly stable, it’s gotten to the point that the spinning beachball is killing my productivity—I've come to think of it as OS X's version of an OS 9 freeze.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
  3. applefan69 macrumors 6502a

    applefan69

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Location:
    Medicine Hat
    #3
    sounds like you got bad ram

    i dont know the details but i think if you search "apple hardware test" on google you should find the software or info you need to find out if you do have bad ram or bad hardware

    If that is the case, then phone apple im pretty sure they will help you out no charge.
     
  4. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #4
    Yes.

    It's been a gradual, but steadily more frequent and persistent occurrence.

    The machine is on scheduled shutdown at 2 AM, and restarts automatically at 8:30 AM. In between, I'll periodically reboot and/or run Disk Utility.
     
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #5
    It could be bad RAM, but before I made that assumption, I'd check Activity Monitor to see if any processes are eating up processor cycles. I'd like to know which process jumps to the top of the CPU list when the beachball appears.
     
  6. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #6
    Wouldn't bad RAM create other strange behavior? I recently loaded iStat menus, and have been watching the CPU and memory numbers. They seem "normal"—i.e., CPU ("user") usually shows less than 10%, "system" less than 5%, "nice" hardly anything, and "idle" 70-90%; and "free" memory is at about 130 MB, while "wired," "active," and "inactive" memory add up to about 1.88 GB.
     
  7. Amdahl macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    #7
    Hard drive problems are another big cause of beach ball. A beach ball is basically anything that causes the app to be tied up for longer than a few seconds, unable to respond to GUI input. The top causes are delays waiting for virtual memory to swap to hard disk, or reading/writing files from the hard disk. If the hard disk is having problems, there will be delays.

    Other times, corrupt preference files will trigger beach balls. Try creating a new user account and see if the problem goes away.
     
  8. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #8
    IIRC, Apple Hardware Test is included with the install disks (wherever I put them!) that came with the machine.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #9
    Bad RAM usually causes kernel panics.

    Try Activity Monitor.
     
  10. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #10
    Since iStat menus seems to indicate that the RAM is OK, and my HD is only half full and—I can only assume, since the machine isn't that old—not likely too fragmented, and Disk Utility shows S.M.A.R.T. status as "Verified," maybe it is a prefs issue. Should I be looking to trash any such files before messing around with new accounts?
     
  11. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #11
    Funny you should mention that: About 10 days after getting the machine, I did experience a kernel panic. (Not knowing what it was, I myself experienced a panic!) But that was a one-time event.

    ?? What whould I look for there that I can' see via iStat menus?
     
  12. applefan69 macrumors 6502a

    applefan69

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Location:
    Medicine Hat
    #12
    Welll when OS X shows the spinning beach ball it usually is a case of the system is trying to load files.

    A system with bad ram, and/or not enough ram will find itself constantly havin to reload files because it cant store them in ram. As a result you find yourself constantly waiting on the beach ball as these files load

    Soo right now im about 90% convinced your problem is bad ram... I'd wait for confirmation from another member, then phone apple.
     
  13. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #13
    Again, wouldn't bad RAM show up in iStat menus (or, equivalently, Activity Monitor)?

    (PS: My 90 days are up, so I'd have to rush out to get AppleCare—I was gonna wait a while to do that, even though I can get it from L.A. Computer Company (see <http://www.lacomputercompany.com/cgi-bin/rpcart/featured.cgi?group=appcare>) for less than Apple sells it, as I just ordered an external HD and am about to order a second one—one for use with Time Machine, one for use with SuperDuper!—which is really draining my wallet.)
     
  14. HLdan macrumors 603

    HLdan

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    #14
    You have a 1 year parts and labor warranty on your Mac. The 90 days is only for phone support. Don't use this as a reason to prolong getting Applecare as the 1 year runs out pretty quick. :) I don't know all of your needs but I would get the Applecare over a second external HDD.
     
  15. applefan69 macrumors 6502a

    applefan69

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Location:
    Medicine Hat
    #15
    Yeah thats correct your phone support is out... (its not that useful anyways, i find the members of these forums do a better job solving issues) but you have a year of hardware defects warranty

    Bad ram is an obvious hardware defect, so dont worry, you are safe apple should happily fix your computer. If they dont then i'd be REALLy angry if i were you, simply because Apple is a company known for its quality and your iMac is practically brand new.

    So since you dont have phone support, ignore my original advice of calling apple, instead go to:
    https://selfsolve.apple.com/GetWarranty.do
    fill it in, with your serial number and such, if all goes well (im not gonna lie... this online site is glitchy one time it said the serial number on my ipod touch didnt exist. >.< ) the website will take you through the steps to get the repair necessary.
     
  16. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #16
    I was hoping to put off the purchase—not to avoid it. Of course, I could drag the machine into my "local" Apple Store (where I bought it)—and, in fact, that might ultimately be necessary if a tech has to work on it—but I wanted to avoid that unless it became absolutely necessary (it's a half-hour drive, and lugging a 24" iMac isn't a picnic!). But if I do need help from Apple, the only way for me to get phone support to exhaust other potential remedies before having to make the trip will indeed be to buy the AppleCare now, rather than later. :(

    (Anyone wanna loan me some money? ;) )
     
  17. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #17
    Well, the couple of calls I made early on regarding some other issues didn't fill me with any impressions that I was chatting with technical heavyweights, that's for sure. But it was convenient, and they were responsive.

    I wasn't at all concerned about Apple honoring its warranty—I just wanted to avoid a pain-in-the-butt visit to the Apple Store.

    But your point is a good one: If it is bad RAM, they could send me a replacement (or I could pick it up at the Apple Store) and I could swap it out without involving an Apple tech.

    How would I convince Apple that the RAM is bad—would that be part of the exercise I'd run through at https://selfsolve.apple.com/GetWarranty.do?
     
  18. HLdan macrumors 603

    HLdan

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    #18
    Well, whenever you are ready, you can get it for $100 U.S on Ebay which is much cheaper than Applecare for a Macbook or Macbook Pro.

    It's always absolutely necessary to have Applecare. Apple bends over backwards when you have Applecare. Trust me, they will do what they have to with the included 1 year warranty but they will go out of their way for the customer with Applecare. You already waited past 90 days and now you are having issues. It's your choice but I think it's more beneficial to get it now rather than throw money towards extra peripherals, they are useless with a defective computer. Right now you can't even call them without paying $50.00 for phone support.

    Lend you some money?:D Dude, seriously, if you got money for an external hard drive you can pick up Applecare for $100, hope your issue gets solved soon. The reason I am pressing it so hard is because my 24" iMac had a failing drive in under 8 months. I got massive beachballs until it wouldn't start up anymore. Apple replaced the drive in 48 hours. They replaced it with Hitachi's top of the line Barracuda drive.
     
  19. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #19
    L.A. Computer sells it for $120, plus about $10 shipping. As far as eBay is concerned, I've never bought anything from the site...I've always been a bit nervous about the legitimacy of some of the sellers.

    My biggest concern for quite some time has been external backup: I've had a few mishaps in the past, and I simply wanted to do what's reasonable to be assured it doesn't happen again. And given the apparent recent downturn in in the quality of drives (too many are being manufactured in third-world countries by suppliers whose quality control is less than pristine), I wanted to get two different drives from two different manufacturers, to help minimize my "exposure."

    Buying AppleCare never was a question; it's only been a matter of "when."

    Ouch! (BTW: Did they recover and transfer your data to the new drive?)

    When did Hitachi buy Seagate? :p ;)
     
  20. Amdahl macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2004
    #20
    Bad RAM doesn't cause beach balls. It causes crashes.

    It is easier to create a new account than to mess with prefs, so try a new account first and see if the problem goes away.
     
  21. HLdan macrumors 603

    HLdan

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    #21
    I already have a Time Capsule so Apple just installed a fresh copy of Leopard. I got an even better deal, they installed an already serialized version of iWork. I don't think they would've done that or gave me one the best hard drives if I didn't have Applecare. They've done things like this before on my previous Applecare covered Macs.

    Oops, my mistake, yes it's a Seagate drive. :eek:
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #22
    I agree, bad RAM usually doesn't have this result. This is a very unlikely cause.

    Try Activity Monitor. Look for something hogging processor cycles.

    Also given that this Mac has kernel panicked once, I would check the hard drive with Disk Utility. An error in the disk directory is a far more likely cause.

    Or buy AppleCare. It's cheaper. :rolleyes:
     
  23. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #23
    Are you suggesting that I postpone running Apple Hardware Test? (Apparently, AHT can run both a "standard" 3-minute hardware test that checks the memory and logic board, as well as an "extended" test that performs an hour-long diagnostic of the entire system.)

    OK, assuming I can figure out how to do it (doesn't sound like it's a big deal), what if the problem does goes away under the new account? What would I then do?
     
  24. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #24
    I've run Disk Utility many times; and iStat menus (which provides a menu-bar view into Activity Monitor) shows each of the cores running at about 20-25%, mostly due to Safari. But that's now...when (as it so happens) the SBBOD is not being particularly bothersome. (FWIW, those percentages never seem to be particularly high in any event. But I won't be able to be sure until the next onslaught.)
     
  25. -Martin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Earth
    #25
    Which model? (I was about to buy one—the Barracuda 7200.11 ST3750330AS 750GB—along with an enclosure, and "roll my own" external drive.)
     

Share This Page