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Swirling Beachball of Pain

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This post is wickedly long - for a more concise summary of my problems, see THIS post.

I am currently having painfully frustrating problems with my computer intermittently freezing up... but it is much more complicated than that. I guess I should tell the whole story chronologically.

I first damaged my computer about 8 months ago. It was by my own doing (fell off my bed) and the result was, from my understanding, a broken fan. I sent it into Apple, who also believed it was a fan problem and sent it in to be fixed... it returned shortly thereafter and seemed fine.

Fast-forward about 2 months... my computer is now having serious problems with its hard disk. Some sort of error which i didnt' recognize - essentially, i couldnt' reformat it, i couldn't target-disk it, etc. So i sent it in to another place (not an Apple store since i had by this point exceeded my warranty time) and they replaced the Hard drive with a slightly larger and seemingly fine drive.

Fast-forward about 1 month... the fan's are running hot again. So hot, in fact, that it would frequently turn itself off. I was suspect that it was a software problem (after all, i had just fixed the fans) however it persisted while running XP under Boot Camp. The computer was only able to run by elevating it off the ground and putting a giant fan behind it. I had to leave the problem be for a while since i was unable to reach any store that could examine it.

About 1 month later, I am finally able to take it in to be looked at. Some guy (again, not at an Apple Store), tells me that this is clearly a software issue as he was able to run it with an external drive and not experience the problems. He was even able to check the fan speeds and temps (both fans were working) and the temperature was about 20 degrees Celsius less using his external drive. Convinced that I need to reinstall the operating system, I call Apple to send me new MBP disks (since I of course lost mine a long time ago).

Fast forward about another month... the disks never show up. Instead, I decide to go straight to the source and find an Apple Store that is willing to reinstall for me. The problem is dealt with, i take it home, and everything seems to work fine for a while.

Not so fast! The computer's running hot again, and the crashes/freezes are still happening. I finally decide to take matters into my own hands; i download smcFanControl, beef up the speed of the fans, and things seem to be running much better.

Again... not for long. Apparently this doesn't even seem to be the source of my problems. Currently i have the fans set at 5500 RPMs, the computer is running at a chilling 37 degrees Celsius, and yet still during just the time to write this post, my computer has frozen FIVE times equating to a lovely 3 minutes and 7 seconds wasted.
A couple notes about the problems itself:

When the beachball shows up, it initially just shows up in the frontmost application (usually), and i can even do some small maneuvering in the other applications. I assume this is because of minor RAM storage. However, as soon as i do something a little more intense (i.e. open an application or dig further into the finder), that application and usually every other one freezes up, leaving me nothing but a moving beachball. Usually, the freezes last for about 30 to 45 seconds, and the intervals between them vary from 15 seconds and 10 minutes.

If freezes happen at a frequent enough rate, eventually my computer will simply cease to function. In these instances, i force shut-down the computer and restart it. Sometimes (rarely) this works, and i can get back to work until it freezes again; however, after this happens enough, eventuallly the computer will become so angry that my hard drives simply CEASE TO EXIST for a short period of time. I can't boot up in either Mac or Windows, if i hold the Option key, nothing will show up, and the only way i can get to my computer is by booting off a CD or external hard drive. When viewing the Disk Utility under these circumstances, my hard drive isn't grayed out... it simply is not there at all. If i leave the computer alone for a couple minutes, it will usually come out of its tantrum and let me use the drive again - for a while.

The problem is NOT because of the fans or because of the heat, and smcFanControl is NOT to blame; however, this does not mean that high heat does not trigger a freeze cycle. If the computer's running hot, it will almost guarantee that i will have a freeze cycle, however it can turn out just as bad under cooler temperatures (such as now: the computer has frozen 4 more times since i commented on it).

My two theories are that it is either a hard drive problem or a logic board problem. I am about to receive a new hard drive from NewEgg.com, both for the purpose of larger capacity and a potential solution to this problem. I am frightened that this is a logic board problem... and if it is, what are my options? Would i have to buy an entirely new computer, or could i get a new logic board (and how much would that cost?)


Please, any help would be incredibly appreciated... i love my computer, when it works, and I just want to be able to write a simple page of text without having to experience (a grand total of) 12 freezes and over 6 minutes of wasted productivity.

(13)
post #2 of 22
try dropping it off your bed again? it can't be a software issue seeing as you reformated. mabye you need some more ram, or you need to replace your existing ram?
MacBook Pro
2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
120GB Serial ATA Drive@5400rpm
SuperDrive 8x
15" Glossy Widescreen Display

with a wireless Apple keyboard

and

iPod Touch
8GB
Reply
MacBook Pro
2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
120GB Serial ATA Drive@5400rpm
SuperDrive 8x
15" Glossy Widescreen Display

with a wireless Apple keyboard

and

iPod Touch
8GB
Reply
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich-Myster View Post

Try dropping it off your bed again?

Ah yes - the simplest solution is usually the correct one.


Quote:
It can't be a software issue seeing as you reformated. mabye you need some more ram, or you need to replace your existing ram?

I would certainly hope I don't need new RAM, considering that these are Apple sticks, put in by an Apple "genius" on the day I bought the computer (end of May, 2006). 2GB.

Maybe I'll try taking them out individually and see what happens. Although the thought of opening up my Macbook Pro makes my stomach twist a little...
post #4 of 22
Quote:
he was able to run it with an external drive and not experience the problems
...
my hard drives simply CEASE TO EXIST for a short period of time. I can't boot up in either Mac or Windows, if i hold the Option key, nothing will show up, and the only way i can get to my computer is by booting off a CD or external hard drive. When viewing the Disk Utility under these circumstances, my hard drive isn't grayed out... it simply is not there at all.

I believe, given your synopsis, that it's the hard drive that is the cause of your problems. It could be that a heat sink got detached in the fall or something, but I still lean towards the hard drive.
post #5 of 22
I think you have a RAM issue. Especially since it happens with any app. How much memory do you have in your MBP? If you have two sticks take one out and see what happens. If it still crashes, put that one back in and take the other one out and repeat.

Have you ever tried running your Mac without the battery (remove it and run off of the power cable). If so, did you system crash?

Download the trial version of TechTool Pro and run the diagnostic utilities:

http://mac.softpedia.com/get/System-...Tool-Pro.shtml

Dave
post #6 of 22
[QUOTE=Taskiss;1145082]I believe, given your synopsis, that it's the hard drive that is the cause of your problems. I/QUOTE]

Why do you think that? His hard drive was replaced?
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taskiss View Post

I believe, given your synopsis, that it's the hard drive that is the cause of your problems.

Why do you think that? His hard drive was replaced?

It ran fine from an external drive. When booting from CD and running the disk utility the hard drive doesn't show up, etc. Moving parts fail much quicker than solid state electronics. The HD replacement wasn't done at an Apple store.

It just adds up that way to me.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taskiss View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

Quote:
I believe, given your synopsis, that it's the hard drive that is the cause of your problems.

Why do you think that? His hard drive was replaced?

It ran fine from an external drive. When booting from CD and running the disk utility the hard drive doesn't show up, etc. Moving parts fail much quicker than solid state electronics. The HD replacement wasn't done at an Apple store.

It just adds up that way to me.

Well I should find out in a couple days whether or not this is an HD problem - my new drive should be showing up in the next day or two. Would an Apple Store be able to put it together for me or could I have the IT department at my school take care of it? or should I *gasp* do it myself?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post

I think you have a RAM issue. Especially since it happens with any app. How much memory do you have in your MBP? If you have two sticks take one out and see what happens. If it still crashes, put that one back in and take the other one out and repeat.

I've never done this before, how difficult would it be to do and should I just hand it over to a 'professional' instead? I'm anxious to learn how to do all this stuff, I'm just not sure if the first guinea pig should be my beloved Macbook Pro.

Quote:
Have you ever tried running your Mac without the battery (remove it and run off of the power cable). If so, did you system crash?

I ran it without the battery for a few hours last night. It ran exactly as it had, with the frequent and unpredictable freezes. Same goes with it being unplugged, w/ battery.

Quote:
Download the trial version of TechTool Pro and run the diagnostic utilities:

http://mac.softpedia.com/get/System-...Tool-Pro.shtml

Dave

Thanks for the link, I'm downloading it as we speak and will post an update once I finish running it.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
wth?



Not sure what this is about...


I should add that sometimes my computer runs GREAT. Not once today has my computer frozen up yet *knock on wood*, even when I didn't keep an eye out on my fans and the temperature rose to 68 degrees Celsius . Sometimes I can even run Bioshock on Vista (after setting the fans to 5500, of course) flawlessly for almost an hour before it will start the glitching cycle.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackarmstrong View Post

wth?



Not sure what this is about...


I should add that sometimes my computer runs GREAT. Not once today has my computer frozen up yet *knock on wood*, even when I didn't keep an eye out on my fans and the temperature rose to 68 degrees Celsius . Sometimes I can even run Bioshock on Vista (after setting the fans to 5500, of course) flawlessly for almost an hour before it will start the glitching cycle.

I really think this is an HDD problem. My ex's ibook use to have beach ball spinning and all kinds of weird stuff when it's hard drive crashed. See what happens with the new drive. After that I'd try taking a stick of ram out. If it's not either, it's got to be a logic board problem.
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

I really think this is an HDD problem. My ex's ibook use to have beach ball spinning and all kinds of weird stuff when it's hard drive crashed. See what happens with the new drive. After that I'd try taking a stick of ram out. If it's not either, it's got to be a logic board problem.

Ok, I put the new hard drive in... so far, everything seems OK, but like i said, it can go long periods acting fine before having a freeze attack. So i guess i'll just have to test it over the day and see how it goes
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
All seems well! I'll post back here if the problem arises again (it sometimes lies dormant for up to a week before striking again), but for now it looks like it was definitely a hard drive problem.

Thanks everyone for the help!
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Alas, I think the reply of confidence jinxed me. Only a half hour after posting that, I was flipping through one of my iphoto albums and began to experience intermittent freezes culminating from one every 15-20 pictures to the point where it would simply freeze, automatically perform my last command (go to the next picture), and immediately freeze again.

So it's definitely not a problem with the hard drive. At least I'm narrowing the list down *sigh*
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
The Hard Drive did basically nothing.

It's going through a freezing cycle as we speak - 43 degrees Celcius, five apps running (Mail, Camino, Newsfire, Azureus, and Pages), the freezes first started while running Pages and then spread to happen in any application.


One thing that I have just noticed, and that I think might have something to do with the problem, is that my fans have no automatic control. I thought this might be happening but never really looked at it, but now I know it's true. My computer will run at its minimum 1000 RPMs, and it can even be manually controlled by smcfancontrol to go up to 6000 RPMs, but if the fans are left alone and the temperature rises, they don't adjust - they just stay at 1000RPMs until my computer starts freezing uncontrollably or just shuts down. This is not smcfancontrol's fault, because this has been the case long before I installed the application, plus smcfancontrol only raises the minimum temperature and should still automatically adjust above the base.


Any ideas?
post #15 of 22
When you put the new drive in, did you do a new install of the OS?
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taskiss View Post

When you put the new drive in, did you do a new install of the OS?

No, I just restored an image of my previous harddrive, but
a ) I don't have the install disks, and
b ) I reinstalled recently via the Apple Store (about 3 weeks ago) and I am almost certain this problem was the case before then. After all, why would I have needed to have a big fan pointing at it constantly so it didn't have a thermal shutdown?

When I do run on windows (playing Bioshock), the system doesn't freeze as much - but that's usually cause I have the fans kicking at about 6000 RPMs and I keep a big fan pointed at it.
post #17 of 22
After eliminating the most likely hardware reason for the failure you're experiencing, it seems reasonable to start investigating the software. Unfortunately, in cases that follow the pattern yours seems to be following, a reinstall of the operating system is the easiest, fastest, and best first troubleshooting procedure to try.
Quote:
Currently i have the fans set at 5500 RPMs, the computer is running at a chilling 37 degrees Celsius, and yet still during just the time to write this post, my computer has frozen FIVE times equating to a lovely 3 minutes and 7 seconds wasted.

The temps you are experiencing - 43 degrees Celcius, etc, well, my MBP runs much hotter than that after several hours of WoW...
Quote:
45.0℃
Ambient Air

56.0℃
CPU A Temperature Diode

36.0℃
Enclosure Bottomside

56.0℃
Graphics Processor Heatsink 1

66.0℃
Graphics Processor Temperature Diode

56.0℃
Main Heatsink 1

48.0℃
Main Heatsink 2

51.0℃
Main Heatsink 3

54.0℃
Memory Controller

45.0℃
SMART Disk ST9160823AS (5NK01BHX)

59.0℃
Wireless Module

55.0℃
CPU Core 1

55.0℃
CPU Core 2
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
After all of the stuff going on today with the firmware updates, etc., I started to wonder if maybe my firmware is part of the problem. I looked at my ROM info, and it says that my computer is:

Model NametMacBook Pro 15"
Model IdentifiertMacBookPro1,1
Processor NametIntel Core Duo
Processor Speedt2.16 GHz
Number Of Processorst1
Total Number Of Corest2
L2 Cache (per processor)t2 MB
Memoryt2 GB
Bus Speedt667 MHz
Boot ROM VersiontMBP11.0055.B08
SMC Versiont1.2f10
Serial Numbert---------------
Sudden Motion Sensor:
StatetEnabled

Looking through the Apple site, it appears that my boot rom version is outdated... but I can't get the firmware restore CD to work. Any ideas? Or am i grabbing at straws?
post #19 of 22
Do you have the latest firmware restore cd?

http://www.apple.com/support/downloa...ationcd13.html

I'd say that starting there is a pretty good idea, since your firmware is out of date.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
*sigh* i can't get the install to work.

I turn off the power button, hold on the power button for 10 seconds, then when the light starts flashing, i put in the CD. I hear the loud tone, then my computer restarts. Instead of doing the Apple logo with the progress bar, it just takes my computer right back to the OS.

*sigh* I'll try again later, or maybe take it to the Apple Store later this afternoon to see if they might be able to make it work.
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ok, i'm going to post everything I know about my computer, mostly for my benefit but for anyone else who wants more concise of a summary regarding my computer and its utter failurisms.

Symptoms:
  • Intermittent, random, cyclic freezing of applications/operating system
  • Random disappearance of hard disk (through any medium)
  • Lack of automatic fan control (works manually but not on its own)

Non-problems (areas proven to not be the source):
  • Temperature (can trigger, but is not the ultimate cause)
  • Hard-Drive (recently replaced, no change in issue)
  • Battery (replaced), or AC adapter (happens plugged or unplugged)
  • Display (simply has never been problematic)
  • Any external peripheral (happens with or without anything plugged in)
  • Operating System (Have reinstalled, problem persists)
  • SMC (Has been reset, but maybe there's more to it?)

Potential (Suspected) Sources:
  • Firmware (up-to-date, but might need overall restore)
  • Logic Board
  • RAM

Interesting points
  • I just recently tested my computer by opening up every single application (~60), including the entire Logic Studio, at the exact same time. It worked without problem - albeit taking about 3-5 minutes to complete. Of course, as soon as I tried to quit one application, the computer froze and i had to force shut-down.
  • Control-Command-Power button combination, which usually triggers an automatic restart, does not do this for me. Instead, it just causes a complete freeze up including the mouse. In this case, i have to hold the power button for 5 seconds and force it to completely turn off.
  • These issues plague me even while running under Windows Vista.
  • I think that these issues apply while running an OS from external hard drives as well, but I may need to do more testing to verify this.
  • Attempts to manually restore the firmware (using the 1.3 Firmware Restore CD) have failed. I assume this is because it's designed only to restore failed updates.

Helpful Specifications
  • Model Name: MacBook Pro 15"
  • Model Identifier: MacBookPro1,1
  • Processor Name: Intel Core Duo
  • Processor Speed: 2.16 GHz
  • Number Of Processors: 1
  • Total Number Of Cores: 2
  • L2 Cache (per processor): 2 MB
  • Memory: 2 GB
  • Bus Speed: 667 MHz
  • Boot ROM Version: MBP11.0055.B08
  • SMC Version: 1.2f10
  • Serial Number: ---------------
  • Sudden Motion Sensor:
    State: Enabled



I think this information is a little easier to understand; I'll update it as I figure out more.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
I guess this probably answers the problem - and frankly, I'm pissed I didn't think of this sooner.

I loaded up the OS from an external hard drive (running Leopard), and lo and behold, my fans are running completely normally and automatically. So far, no freezes.

What does this mean? Motherboard, RAM, firmware, or what?


(even though the fans are running, it's still stupidly hot - is 75-80 degrees Celsius something to be afraid of?)
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