: iMac spinning ball of death


CubaMark
Feb 22nd, 2016, 03:03 PM
Hey ehMacers....

I've been trying to remotely troubleshoot a friend's iMac (24-inch, mid-2007, 6gb RAM, ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256mb).

Nearing my wit's end, I thought i'd open it up to suggestions in case I haven't thought of something.

She has been running 10.9.5. Since nothing seemed to improve performance, we upgraded to El Capitan. The computer is running *slightly* better, but still not functional.

The SPOD is pretty much constant.

Non-specific to any particular App.

Mail seems to be the worst affected, but Pages 5 and Photoshop CS4 also unusable, Finder frequently locked up with SPOD.

A wait of anywhere from 30 secs to several minutes before control is returned to user, and then only briefly.

HD is not original: it's a hybrid that was installed a year ago to replace a failed stock HD.

HD has sufficient free space.

Troubleshooting has included removing all USB devices except Apple stock keyboard and a Microsoft scroll mouse (in use since forever, not a new addition - she's given away the stock Apple mouse, so we can't easily rule out that device).

USB hub (old 4-port) was recently replaced with a new 10-port USB 3.0 hub, but the performance issues predate this hardware.

Internet connection is a 50-megabit Cable (Eastlink).

Disk Utility has checked the HD (while in Recovery mode): minor problems reported and fixed; subsequent runs report no problems. SMART status ok.

All software updated.

Malwarebytes run

Examination of /Application Support/, /Internet Plug-ins/ , /LaunchAgents/, Launch Daemons/, /PreferencePanes/, /Startup Items/ show nothing obvious.

System Preferences--> Users--> Login Items shows nothing suspicious

Activity Viewer also doesn't show anything obviously chewing up CPU cycles or RAM (well, apart from the usual OS X native processes).

Next Steps
- going to reconfirm free space on drive
- attempt to check if a second user account shows same symptoms
- attempt to see if computer still acts up when disconnected from internet

(the "attempt" bit is due to the user being ...challenging... when it comes to technology, and having them troubleshoot, e.g., when offline and unable to talk to me isn't likely to go well)

If all else fails, she'll either have to cart it off to an AASP or wait until I'm in town again mid-April...

Anyone have suggestions for items not covered above?

SINC
Feb 22nd, 2016, 04:26 PM
Mark, I am no expert, but have you tried running OnyX on it to see if it turns up anything? Also EtreCheck?

monokitty
Feb 22nd, 2016, 05:14 PM
Endless beachballs in any application and seemingly random or very persistent is usually a failed hard drive - doesn't matter how old or new the drive is - can still be beat. The only way to know for sure is to boot from an external drive - if the issues are gone externally, the internal drive is almost certainly the problem.

CubaMark
Feb 22nd, 2016, 07:51 PM
Mark, I am no expert, but have you tried running OnyX on it to see if it turns up anything? Also EtreCheck?

I'll give those a shot tonight, SINC. Much of this remote troubleshooting depends on the patience of the person on the other end, particularly since Apple royally screwed up what was a flawless iChat Screen Sharing, and is now a fairly unreliable "Screen Sharing" App separate from Messages.

CubaMark
Feb 22nd, 2016, 07:54 PM
Endless beachballs in any application and seemingly random or very persistent is usually a failed hard drive - doesn't matter how old or new the drive is - can still be beat. The only way to know for sure is to boot from an external drive - if the issues are gone externally, the internal drive is almost certainly the problem.

Totally agree. We've checked the disk a few times, but as you say, those can't always be trusted.

The external drive is USB 2.0, and the last time we attempted to boot from it (it's a Time Machine backup), the iMac refused to recognize it as a boot drive...

When I'm home later in the Spring I'll have to set aside a solid day to get this thing up and running.

pm-r
Feb 22nd, 2016, 08:11 PM
Have you tried cold booting it using Safe Boot Mode?

If it still beachballs, I'd also suggest the hard drive is almost kaput — regardless of what app or utility might say it's OK.

Also a slight chance that some of its installed memory chip(s) have failed or gone goofy.

CubaMark
Feb 22nd, 2016, 08:13 PM
Have you tried cold booting it using Safe Boot Mode?

If it still beachballs, I'd also suggest the hard drive is almost kaput — regardless of what app or utility might say it's OK.

Also a slight chance that some of its installed memory chip(s) have failed or gone goofy.

Yes - safe boot doesn't appear to have much effect (again, I'm relying on observations of the person in Canada to tell me how it's performing).

Memory... hmmm... I wonder if that old RAM tester program I used years ago still works under El Capitan....?

pm-r
Feb 22nd, 2016, 08:20 PM
Do they have an Apple OS X Install DVD they could use to boot from, and maybe see if Disk Utility etc. will run normally???

CubaMark
Feb 22nd, 2016, 10:22 PM
Possibly... but wouldn't the DU that runs from the Recovery partition be superior to the DU that was released with the original OS nine years ago?

pm-r
Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:25 AM
Possibly... but wouldn't the DU that runs from the Recovery partition be superior to the DU that was released with the original OS nine years ago?


I wouldn't guarantee that, especially considering that everything on the "Recovery HD" partition is also part of the drive that might be failing. The DVD will just work unless it's severely scratched etc.

rgray
Feb 23rd, 2016, 07:00 AM
Endless beachballs in any application and seemingly random or very persistent is usually a failed hard drive - doesn't matter how old or new the drive is - can still be beat. The only way to know for sure is to boot from an external drive - if the issues are gone externally, the internal drive is almost certainly the problem.

Sounds like the behaviour of a HD gone bad to me too.

WCraig
Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:43 AM
Have you looked in Activity Monitor? Is something hogging the CPU? Is the memory swap file an excessive size? Is there heavy-duty drive activity during the slow-downs?

Craig

CubaMark
Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:08 PM
Have you looked in Activity Monitor? Is something hogging the CPU? Is the memory swap file an excessive size? Is there heavy-duty drive activity during the slow-downs?

:o From my post above:

Activity Viewer also doesn't show anything obviously chewing up CPU cycles or RAM (well, apart from the usual OS X native processes).

Page outs total 120kb.

Last night I put Onyx on the job, and left it creating a diagnostic overnight. Waiting to hear from my friend later today as to what, if anything, might have turned up.

If it is the hard drive, at least we have a good backup (I've been checking to ensure it's doing its hourlies).

pm-r
Feb 23rd, 2016, 04:02 PM

… … …
If it is the hard drive, at least we have a good backup (I've been checking to ensure it's doing its hourlies).


If it's a bootable clone backup, try booting from it and see how things go for a while, and just might confirm if the internal HDD is at fault.

CubaMark
Feb 23rd, 2016, 04:36 PM
The external drive is USB 2.0, and the last time we attempted to boot from it (it's a Time Machine backup), the iMac refused to recognize it as a boot drive...

:o

pm-r
Feb 23rd, 2016, 05:25 PM
:o

And probably thinking like the owner and helper at this point that the price of the cloning software might have been quite worth it after all… :o

chas_m
Feb 24th, 2016, 12:33 AM
Yeah, was gonna say. Time Machine drives are not bootable.

CubaMark
Feb 24th, 2016, 01:15 AM
Yeah, was gonna say. Time Machine drives are not bootable.

Huh. How did I not know that?

Guess it's time to switch her over to SuperDuper! or CCC.... I wonder if we can do that without having to start from scratch. She has a *lot* of data.... :(

SINC
Feb 24th, 2016, 07:29 AM
Huh. How did I not know that?

Guess it's time to switch her over to SuperDuper! or CCC.... I wonder if we can do that without having to start from scratch. She has a *lot* of data.... :(

Why not just buy a new external HD and save the current Time Machine drive? Then set up the new HD for CCC or SD and carry on. If the need arises, plug in the TM HD and recover whatever data is needed. No risk to the saved data that way.

CubaMark
Feb 24th, 2016, 10:45 AM
I may end up doing that - guess I'm getting to the limits of what I can do from 5,200km away....

pm-r
Feb 24th, 2016, 01:45 PM
You can use and have the TM and CCC on the same volume, but not recommended, or partition the drive to have one for TM (just leave it were it is), and add one for CCC to use depending on the size of the drive.

PS: There's a very good chance that there's a good cheap or reasonably priced Mac tech closer to them to help them. ;)

CubaMark
Feb 24th, 2016, 03:30 PM
PS: There's a very good chance that there's a good cheap or reasonably priced Mac tech closer to them to help them. ;)

There's also an Apple Store, but this is a 2007 Mac with a non-stock HD, so I guess it's going to have to be a tech if we go that route.

The issue is that on the couple of earlier incidents when a tech had to be called in, the system was significantly modified from the way we have it set up for her and I to work together, necessitating a good deal of post-repair mucking about to undo what someone else thinks should have been done to the machine. I dread having to clean up after someone else has had their hands on it... :o

rgray
Feb 24th, 2016, 05:01 PM
The issue is that on the couple of earlier incidents when a tech had to be called in, the system was significantly modified from the way we have it set up for her and I to work together, necessitating a good deal of post-repair mucking about to undo what someone else thinks should have been done to the machine. I dread having to clean up after someone else has had their hands on it... :o

If there ever was a situation that demanded cloning, sounds to me that this is surely it.

As some may have noticed I am not usually a big fan of cloning, preferring nuke 'n' pave with selective file replacement from a straight copy of the user folder, but in the case is stronger for cloning when special setups are involved...

pm-r
Feb 24th, 2016, 05:48 PM
… … …
The issue is that on the couple of earlier incidents when a tech had to be called in, the system was significantly modified from the way we have it set up for her and I to work together, necessitating a good deal of post-repair mucking about to undo what someone else thinks should have been done to the machine. I dread having to clean up after someone else has had their hands on it... :o


Such techs should be banished doing such changes, unless of course one of the changes was to correct some problem, but that's pretty unusual…

I can't stand such techs that change things to their way just because their arrogant attitude suggests it's better…

hexdiy
Feb 24th, 2016, 07:24 PM
Dear Mark, I have yet to see an Etrecheck report on this Mac. You can remotely deduce a great deal from that.
In the last week I've found at least one instance of a browser hijacker that was not listed as malware by Malwarebytes, nor to be found in The Safe Mac.
Very often, browser hijackers are indeed not listed as malware.
E.g.: Manroling:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7157858?start=0&tstart=0

Screenshots of the complete Activity Monitor main window could be interesting as well. A runaway PID could also be causing the beachballing.
Or even a lack of RAM.

Also, "handy tools" like MacBoosterMini, MacKeeper, Mac Paw's Clean My Mac etc. may cause a lot of havoc. None of them are actually listed as malware.
Avoid Apps Like MacKeeper, TuneUpMyMac and MacBooster | Sound Support (http://www.soundsupport.biz/2014/08/25/avoid-apps-like-mackeeper-tuneupmymac-and-macbooster/)

Last but not least, defunct/ non system compatible software migrated from a previous system may cause unexplainable hangs.
E.g.: Micromat's Techtool, Maintain's Cocktail etc..

All of this may be discovered in an Etrecheck:
EtreCheck (http://etrecheck.com/)

Good luck!

CubaMark
Feb 24th, 2016, 11:28 PM
Dear Mark, I have yet to see an Etrecheck report on this Mac. You can remotely deduce a great deal from that.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. SINC was the first to mention EtreCheck, but my brain didn't register it... hexdiy's suggestion was the push to got things rolling.

Hard drive failure, according to EtreCheck. 560 errors.

Apple's Disk Utility reported no problems.
SMART status was fine (so what the hell good is it then?).

She's going to cart it off to an AASP on Friday.

I'll update post-surgery and post-restore... We'll take advantage of this opportunity to move her up to a 2tb drive :)

Hm. Let me throw one final question out there: Given that this is a 2007 24-inch 3.06 iMac (https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+24-Inch+EMC+2134+and+2211+Hard+Drive+Replacement/8968), I believe it's the model that requires special attention with the temperature sensor.

Anyone want to suggest a 2tb or 3tb drive - maybe a hybrid - for this puppy?

pm-r
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:04 AM
Hm. Let me throw one final question out there: Given that this is a 2007 24-inch 3.06 iMac, I believe it's the model that requires special attention with the temperature sensor.

Anyone want to suggest a 2tb or 3tb drive - maybe a hybrid - for this puppy?
__________________


That iMac can use normal drives and the original temperature sensor. We have a 2.4GHz 2007 model with a WD Black 7200 RPM HDD replacement.
The unique temp sensor didn't start until the 2011 iMacs I believe, of which I use daily.

As for a replacement drive, I use and recommend the WD Black 7200 RPM SATA (Enterprise rated) HDDs. They run cool, quiet and are fast and have a 5 year warranty and only a few dollars more usually than the competition, and sometimes even cheaper when on sale. And the stick-on temp sensor works with it of course.

hexdiy
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:05 AM
Hey Mark, could you have them run this 1st?
https://www.corecode.at/smartreporter/
Not sure this is up to par with El Cap yet, but please have a go at it. Don't trust the Etrecheck data. Having a go at them presently.

Thank you SINC, BTW for mentioning Etrecheck! You're definitely a mentor here!

hexdiy
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:08 AM
Hm. Let me throw one final question out there: Given that this is a 2007 24-inch 3.06 iMac, I believe it's the model that requires special attention with the temperature sensor.

Anyone want to suggest a 2tb or 3tb drive - maybe a hybrid - for this puppy?
__________________


That iMac can use normal drives and the original temperature sensor. We have a 2.4GHz 2007 model with a WD Black 7200 RPM HDD replacement.
The unique temp sensor didn't start until the 2011 iMacs I believe, of which I use daily.

As for a replacement drive, I use and recommend the WD Black 7200 RPM SATA (Enterprise rated) HDDs. They run cool, quiet and are fast and have a 5 year warranty and only a few dollars more usually than the competition, and sometimes even cheaper when on sale. And the stick-on temp sensor works with it of course.
Good to know about the temp sensor, pm-r! Thanx.
Learning a lot tonight!

hexdiy
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:13 AM
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. SINC was the first to mention EtreCheck, but my brain didn't register it... hexdiy's suggestion was the push to got things rolling.

Hard drive failure, according to EtreCheck. 560 errors.

Apple's Disk Utility reported no problems.
SMART status was fine (so what the hell good is it then?).

She's going to cart it off to an AASP on Friday.

I'll update post-surgery and post-restore... We'll take advantage of this opportunity to move her up to a 2tb drive :)

Hm. Let me throw one final question out there: Given that this is a 2007 24-inch 3.06 iMac (https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+24-Inch+EMC+2134+and+2211+Hard+Drive+Replacement/8968), I believe it's the model that requires special attention with the temperature sensor.

Anyone want to suggest a 2tb or 3tb drive - maybe a hybrid - for this puppy?

Dear Mark, I must have studied about 500 Etrechecks by now, but have never seen an Etrecheck report HDD errors!

Please send me that Etrecheck.

Thanks!

pm-r
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:25 AM
Hey Mark, could you have them run this 1st?
https://www.corecode.at/smartreporter/
Not sure this is up to par with El Cap yet, but please have a go at it. Don't trust the Etrecheck data. Having a go at them presently.

Thank you SINC, BTW for mentioning Etrecheck! You're definitely a mentor here!


Why even bother with iffy software to check of test a NINE year old HDD that normally would have gone kaput several years ago???

But one could run it in test mode just for interest sake I guess. But I'd say it would sure be embarrassing if SMARTReporter actually gave it a pass!!!

BTW: The "SMART" status is builtin to such drives by the manufacturer and most software is just accessing that info.

My 2007 iMac's HDD died in the middle of the afternoon without ANY warning, and a slight bump type noise followed with the sound of a ricocheting bullet, and the iMac quit and went black. All software saying everything was hunky dory. Yeah right… ;)

At least I knew the HDD was the cause on the iMac not running properly!!! :) :D

hexdiy
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:32 AM
My 2007 iMac's HDD died in the middle of the afternoon without ANY warning, and a slight bump type noise followed with the sound of a ricocheting bullet, and the iMac quit and went black. All software saying everything was hunky dory. Yeah right… ;)

At least I knew the HDD was the cause on the iMac not running properly!!! :) :D

Pretty embarrasing for that software, no? Well, trust your ears all right...
Old school rules!

CubaMark
Feb 25th, 2016, 01:14 AM
PM Sent

CubaMark
Feb 25th, 2016, 01:15 AM
Why even bother with iffy software to check of test a NINE year old HDD that normally would have gone kaput several years ago???

Actually, from my original post (https://www.ehmac.ca/mac-iphone-ipad-ipod-help-troubleshooting/140994-imac-spinning-ball-death.html#post2164850):

HD is not original: it's a hybrid that was installed a year ago to replace a failed stock HD.

....thinking about it, it may have been 2 years ago - I need to check my emails to see if I have a record of it....

CubaMark
Feb 25th, 2016, 12:14 PM
I use and recommend the WD Black 7200 RPM SATA (Enterprise rated) HDDs. .

Unfortunately she needs to be up and running ASAP, with a couple of projects already delayed by the two weeks we've been troubleshooting this.

So we need to find a drive tomorrow or Saturday, in stock, on a shelf in a store somewhere in Halifax. Normally we'd buy on-line for better deals and wait it out, but she's in a rush.

I've poke around, but don't see that WD drive available (and the Caviar drive, not the one you mentioned, but at least it's a WD, is pretty damn pricey at Staples. Best Buy has practically nothing in stock locally).

I found a store that has the Seagate ST3000DM001 3TB 7200rpm (http://www.storagereview.com/seagate_barracuda_3tb_review_1tb_platters_st3000dm 001) in stock, and at a great price - $149 - but I'm out of the loop in reliability these days. Anyone want to chime in?

pm-r
Feb 25th, 2016, 02:03 PM
From what I've read, many seem to really have a thing against Seagate drives, but it also seems to depend on size. And I see some recent WD drives are dropping and some are getting better. May be close to a coin toss as a home user is no doubt going to use their drive differently to some server storage place.

I don't know how really valid this is for the home user OR some forums that just seem to be various opinions and not really based on fact.

3TB Seagate Hard Drives Have 43% Failure Rate, According to Backblaze - eTeknix (http://www.eteknix.com/3tb-seagate-hard-drives-43-failure-rate-constant-use/)
https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-reliability-q3-2015/
https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-reliability-stats-for-q2-2015/

CubaMark
Mar 27th, 2016, 02:29 PM
Just a belated update... a handy fellow up in Halifax was called in to check it out. Same results that we've reported above - very inconsistent with regard to whether it was an OS / user config / HD problem. In the end, he swapped in a new HD and all is well. Odd, but a happy ending.

hexdiy
Mar 27th, 2016, 06:47 PM
Thanx for the feedback!