What do you do when your Mac goes wonky? Panic? Cry? Curse? Carry it to the nearest Apple Store?
I troubleshoot. Why? It’s the most time consuming and expensive and frustrating solution available. I don’t ask for directions when I’m lost. Why ask for help when my Mac goes wonky?
Fortunately, down through the years, I have had few problems with my Macs, and some of those I figured out what was wrong, and that gave me confidence to keep up the prayer, trial, and error routine.
Trust me. It’s less expensive to take the Mac to a pro and have them fix it. Of course, that assumes you can figure out what the problem is.
Last week my main Mac, a powerful PowerMac G5 loaded with RAM and hard drives and external devices, popped up a warning about a device that was not put away properly.
You know the kind of pop up warning—unplug a Firewire hard drive without “putting it away” first, and you get the warning. I checked, and my Firewire drive was mounted and running OK. A few hours later the Mac froze. Solid. As in blank screen. Nothing happening.
Reboot. A few hours later the same thing in the same sequence caused me more grief and similar reboot. What was wrong? The Mac? The external Firewire hard drive? The Cinema Display (the hard drive was plugged into the back of the display)? The cable? RAM? Motherboard? Sun spots? Cat hair? Dirty keyboard?
Or, worse—could it be something else? After all, this Mac is loaded with USB attachments and other Firewire devices. Which one was causing the trouble?
The easiest way to check is to unplug everything—no USB or Firewire devices—then run the Mac to see if the problem repeats. That’s the trial and error part that comes shortly after the second or third prayer (or curse, depending on your religious affiliation).
With all devices unplugged from the Mac, the freezing did not repeat itself, so I ruled out RAM, Cinema Display, motherboard, and cooties. Then, one by one, I plugged in each external USB and Firewire device—and waited. Or, prayed and cursed, usually in sequence.
The external Firewire hard drive ran fine when no other device was plugged into the Mac. Once other devices were added, usually after the third or fourth device, the Mac would freeze up again.
Sigh. Actually, I didn’t sigh, but what I did isn’t allowed in print on a family friendly web site such as Mac360. Suffice it to say, I was not a happy Mac camper. I felt so abused. You know, like Windows users.
Now the rub begins. Not only do I still need to track down the problem to a source and seek a remedy, I have to be careful to whom I mention my Mac woes—Windows PC folks now lurk around Macs in growing numbers, and I don’t respond well to snickers, raised eyebrows, and that Windows grin (you know what I mean).
Again, devices are removed from the Mac. Nothing happened, all was well, I was happy again—except for not having anything plugged into my Mac. One by one I added devices, this time in a different order, and nothing happened—until about the third or fourth device, then the Mac froze up. Again.
This is like some terribly gone wrong loop in the space time continuum from a Stargate SG-1 episode. Am I doomed to repeat this sequence of plug in, pray, curse, trial and error throughout eternity?
Maybe. I wouldn’t mind so much except that I can remember each sequence, each trial, each error. It would not be as bad if my memory were purged each time the Mac froze, forcing me to relive the moment, over and over.
For now, the culprit within my saga appears to me to be the external Firewire drive, a nifty unit called the mini stack from NewerTek. With all my USB and Firewire devices plugged into the Mac’s various and sundry connectors, including the Firewire drive, everything works just fine—so long as the mini stack Firewire drive is powered down.
In other words, everything works fine so long as I’m not using everything. What’s your method for fixing a Mac that’s not working the way you want? Trial? Error? Pray? ProCare? Genius Bar? Share your tawdry details in the Comment section below.