Thursday, April 25, 2013

Issues with Mac: Fix them Step-By-Step

A running Mac machine may suffer from a number of issues degrading its performance and giving unexpected outcomes. Such issues can be due to some internal as well as external factors (such as PSU (Power Supply Unit) failure, any software or hardware error, file system corruption, permissions or disk error, abrupt system shutdown, network errors, etc.), which sometimes result in system failure and hence data loss.


If your operating system often throws exceptions, spinning beach ball, startup issues etc., it is indicative of any hardware or software issue, such as

  • If you hear grinding, clicking, or any similar noise emitting from the hard drive, then go to Disk Utility to look on S.M.A.R.T status of the hard drive and click repair if bad. A hard drive may suffer from a physical failure more likely when it is 5 or more years older.
  • Similarly, bleeping sound issues might be the indication of faults in RAM or a damaged logic board. Replace it with a new one.
  • Videos distortion or zigzag lines on the screen indicate faults in the video card. Alternatively, “stuck pixels”or “thin straight lines from top to bottom” symbolize issues with the display.
Apart from these above mentioned symptoms of hardware issues, there can be some issues with the operating system or a few at application level interrupting normal startup, such as gray or blue screen during startup, a folder indicating flashing question mark, and more. Start step-by-step process of eliminating these issues:

Resetting PRAM

PRAM carries certain device and system settings on a hot location that Mac OS X can access quickly. This set of settings varies depending on the types of devices as well as the type of computer and drives attached to the computer.

Turn on the Mac while pressing and holding the Command, Option, P and R keys. Make sure you press these keys together and before the gray screen appears. Do not release the keys until you hear Mac startup tune twice.

After resetting PRAM, you need to reset the System Preferences for each user account; however, whether the problem is solved or not is hardware dependent.

Testing Hardware

Hardware test inspects the overall embedded Apple hardware in the Mac machine, and thus requires Internet connectivity.

Press and hold D key during boot (before gray screen appears) and run Apple Hardware Test included in the DVD shipped with the Mac. Those who are running an Intel-based Mac machine v10.5.4 or earlier should run this test from the install Disc 1; while for Mac machine v10.5.5 to v10.6.7, run this test from the install Disc 2.

Disk Utility

Disk Utility verifies Mac startup volume without starting up from another volume, which is termed as “Live Verification." If Disk Utility meets any issue that needs a repair, start up from your Mac OS X Install disc and run Disk Utility to make repairs.
  • Insert the installer disc, hold C key down, and press the power button to boot from it.
  • Run Disk Utility from the Installer Utilities menu
  • Select the volume and repair the associated permissions in the corresponding First Aid tab.
Live Verification supports only Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) volumes. Alternatively, Disk Utility displays "ERROR: could not freeze volume (Operation not supported)" message. Once you start the process, you may not be able to abort it, depending on the process status.

Safe Mode

Safe Mode (boot in safe mode) auto-checks the system files and probably resolves the raised exceptions.

Restart the Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key after you hear startup tone. Make sure you do not release the Shift key until you see Apples icon and a progress bar. Mac OS X v10.4 to v10.6.8 display Safe Boot option on the login screen (even in the normal mode), while OS X v10.2 to v10.3.9 display it on the startup screen.

User Account

If a program creates the problem in one user account on the machine, create a new admin account to check whether the issue persists. If you find the issue has been resolved, delete the previous user account, or else get into the machine to perform data backup. Erase and reinstall Mac OS X.

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