Macbook started to crash/freeze entirely intermittently

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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Hello,

Macbook late 2009 13", OS X 10.7.5.

My Macbook has started to crash/freeze entirely, intermittently. If I'm listing to something in iTunes, the sound, when the laptop crashes, it starts repeating about a second or less of the sound it was playing (I'm not always listening to iTunes when it crashes, sometimes it's not even open when the Mac crashes). The pointer stops being movable. The clock stays at the time it was when it crashed.

I've disconnected all attached things. No difference. Still crashes in same way.

What should I do to start finding out what's causing this?

Oh, it's quite often after it's been asleep. So I wake it up, a minute later say it crashes. Shutdown by holding power key down for a while, then start up again, it crashes a minute or two later, again. Then it'll go for the rest of the day with no crash maybe. Not always.

Any suggestions much appreciated. Thanks.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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> What is the % full of the Hard Drive?

It's often really close to full now; just a GB or two or three empty is quite typical. Could that be the cause?

> Is there any physical damage to the unit?

No, not that I'm aware of anyway.

> What RAM?

8GB 1333 MHz DDR3.

So near full drive. That could cause that?

Thanks.
 

corroded

Distinguished
Sep 5, 2011
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See it fairly often...

Disk capacity is an issue with performance. Back off music and photos or move to a larger hard drive, or better yet, a larger drive as an SSD. Easy on a mAc
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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I knew low amount of free space could slow it down but not all out crashes. I'll copy / delete some stuff, to get a decent amount of empty space, see if that fixes it. Hopefully that's all it is. Great, thanks for the info.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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I cleared some space, not that much, but so far, all's good, no crash. So at the moment, tentatively, I'd say that's fixed it. :) So thanks for that.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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It carried on doing it. Wasn't fixed. Got a new hard drive. There's more than 250 GB spare. And it's just done it again. Any suggestions? Thanks.
 

amtseung

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Jan 28, 2014
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It could be heat.

My friend's second hand MBP did this until I pulled out all the fans, did a thorough cleaning, and replaced a bunch of hard and crusty thermal paste. Temps dropped like a rock all around and his intermittent crashing was fixed. He still has file and memory corruption issues from previously overheating so much. He also liked to put the laptop on his bed. Go figure.

A while back, I noticed my own MBP (mid 2010, 15") getting slower and slower, week by week, and so I repeated the process, went and thoroughly cleaned out my own laptop, replaced a dying fan, and replaced thermal pads and thermal paste wherever I could find any. Problems I had previously chalked up to "only having 8GB" fixed themselves, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Mac OSX also really hates when you don't have at least 20-25% free space on the OS drive or partition, due to how the system caches things.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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Yes, that sounds really likely. I had overheating problems a while ago; the rubber thing on the bottom of the laptop is a bit warped now. I vacuum cleaned near the fans and got what dust I could get out out. Thought that would be that. But I guess not.

When I vacuum cleaned inside, I have a vague memory of not being able to get at the fans, or more importantly under the board where the fan services. I guess I need to put more effort into taking it apart to give me access in order to get dust out.

The board with, I think where the processor is, roughly half way vertically and on the left – looking at it while the laptop is flipped over, HD on the bottom right. Is it possible to get under that, so take that board off?

Thanks.
 

BadAsAl

Distinguished
I wouldn't remove any boards, just no reason to. The fans will come right out with a few screws removed and unplugged from the board. I would bet you will find a nice mat of dirt/dust trapped in there. You can blow some air under the board from where the fan(s) were just to get whatever is floating around underneath if you want.

Check ifixit.com and search for you MacBook model and you will find detailed guides on how to do all this.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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OK great, thanks.

One thing that doesn't quite fit the overheating possible cause though: The computer is now crashing sometimes/often on wake up from sleep (within a second or two of having started up again), after its been asleep for a long time, so hasn't had a chance to overheat yet I don't think. But maybe the overheating has done some damage which then causes crashing? Anyway, getting rid of any dust has got to be a good idea. Will do.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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Have taken the one fan out. Not much dust at all. On the fan or surrounding. Lot less than I suspected. Have cleaned it well. Still crashing. Increasingly. More now, quite a lot.

It seems to happen often soon after start up. Several times, then it might settle down and not crash for a good while. Spotlight indexing seems to set it off. Have turned that off now. Browsing, quite a few windows sometimes does. The Safari history file has just recently lost all its contents, during/due to one of the crashes I guess.

Any other suggestions for finding out what the problem is? Thanks.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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I found it (I think): Memory. One of the two 4GB memory cards. Tried taking the top one out, and haven't had a crash. Have turned spotlight back on, reindexing happened fine, etc. Maybe slightly early days, but given how much it was crashing, looking hopeful.

Any ideas what causes memory to go like that? I guess once it's gone, no way of possibly fixing it? Thanks.
 

BadAsAl

Distinguished
If you put the other RAM chip in the slot does it still work? What if you put the "bad" RAM chip in the other slot?
I would also try a good cleaning of the RAM contacts and the RAM slot as well to see if that makes any difference.
 

bpbpbp

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Jun 30, 2016
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I haven't tried any of that but will do. Worthwhile as at least it'll make it clear if buying a new 4GB memory card will be a waste of money/time or not. Thanks.
 
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