Posted on Mon - January 14, 2008

Apple Flakes

Examining the reasons for my iBook crashes

One of my really big frustrations the last few months has been Artus iBook's crash tendencies. Turns out that G4 iBooks have this problem after a while, and it is one of those problems that Apple doesn't like to admit exists.

The symptoms would stay the same. I'd hear the temperature relay click, the cursor would go into spinning beach ball mode, and if I was lucky, it would eventually go back to what I was doing.

Clicking on any application except the Finder would almost inevitably cause a freeze. And the only way out of that was a reboot.

If the beach ball was still spinning, sometimes a Command-J in the Finder would stop it.

Silly me, I had not read the latest help files. Ctrl-Command-Power does reboot the Macintosh, but repeatedly over time can cause problems with your system and may prevent your Mac from booting entirely. It's safer to hold down the power button.

Over time I had tried many things. Up until Monday morning, this involved manually shutting off the AirPort connection and manually putting the computer to sleep.

It was getting to the point where many programs caused problems, but iBlog would almost always crash the computer. Towards the end, even long documents in TextEdit were causing problems. Multiple Safari windows or many tabs could do it as well.

Finally I realized that the one thing that all the crashes had in common was hard disk use. Hmmm, I thought. If this were a PC, I'd say that the disk was fragmented. But OS X isn't supposed to fragment hard disks.

On the off chance and out of sheer desperation, I went looking. And I found this site, Macintosh Routine OS X Maintenance. There is a full discussion of defragmenting. And wonder of wonders, a relatively cheap program called iDefrag. I thought I was going to have to spring for a new hard drive.

From the first glimpse of the display, I knew I was on the right track. Although I had 22 gigs free HD space, no one block was bigger than three gigs.

A couple of notes. Of course, always backup before doing any drive maintenance. So I used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my user files and then update the bootable copy of my hard drive. Then I rebooted using the Artus Too partition of my backup drive because iDefrag can't be used on the boot drive.

A few hours later (including time to let the hard drive cool down) and I am back in business.

In fact, one reason for this entry is to test before I start on my other two blogs. I've lost some posts over the last couple of weeks.

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