Previous 1 2 Next 28 Replies Latest reply: Apr 1, 2011 7:06 PM by Ric Lobosco
Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
I'm seeing an increase in problems over the last 8 months since I got my iBook and installed OS 10.4.11, and am concerned it might be the System that's corrupted.

First problem (took months to learn what exactly was wrong), the System password keychain was corrupted. One of the good folks here guided me through that issue.

Next, after being VERY stable for several months, Firefox started crashing a few months ago, insanely frequently. It seemed to start right after an update. It acted a bit like a memory management problem, but I checked the Activity Monitor, and that's not it. Plus Safari does it, too! Sometimes I'll attempt to launch the app and it will crash instantly, sometimes it crashes when the computer is asleep or idle. It will crash on "simple" websites, with several or a few windows open, with no other apps running. Rebooting sometimes seems to help, but not always. I even deleted everything Firefox, and downloaded a fresh, up-to-date version... still crashes.

Initially, when I would use any of my old apps in Classic mode, this would start the instability problem, which would resolve when I rebooted, but the instability got worse, and Firefox or Safari can crash soon after a reboot, no Classic mode involved.

Last week, Office '08 crashed, and I couldn't launch ANY of its apps. I researched this, and learned that deleting the Preferences would fix this, but not in my case: the app starts to launch, then quits. MS technical support suggested some things (including fresh install), but no success (install failed, they've sent me a new disc). They suggested I try to download a free trial version, but an hour into that download, the browser crashed.

Also, one of the widgets in my Dashboard fell off the desktop. It's still in the dock, so I tried (repeatedly) to drag it back to the desktop, but after a few moments, it falls off again and generates an error report. I searched my install discs for a way to reinstall that, or to find the file on the Apple site or with Google, all with no luck. A day later, ALL the widgets fell off the desktop, but I was eventually able to get them back.

I never experienced a corrupted System or other s/w with previous Macs, and I'm still a neophyte with OSX, but I'm now suspicious of this OS as the culprit. Am I on the right track or not???

If I AM on the right track, and I need to reformat and reinstall everything (Geez, how "Windows"!), I'm lost at finding the files to back up. I've sequestered nearly all my data files into one folder, and found the Firefox bookmarks, etc. But I don't know where the Address Book data is, or Mail, or Keychain, or iTunes. Perhaps there's other files and settings I can back up?

(I need to know this info, to back up, anyway... long over due after 8 months! And I'm thinking of upgrading the HD in the iBook to 320G, so will need to know how to do this then.)

You might imagine how frustrating this is, and how much it interferes with productivity! But I'm reluctant to simply reformat, and go through all that entails, if that's not the problem. Any experience with something like this, anyone???

Thanks!!!

iBook 1.42GHz G4 (1.5GB, Superdrive), LaserWriter 360 Select/AsanteTalk, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Mike Harrison Level 1 Level 1 (90 points)
    Hi Ric...

    As you're obviously in need of some reassurance, and no one else has responded yet, I can tell you that one of the wonderful things about the Mac OS is this thing called 'Archive and Install.' It's a process that allows you to completely restore your OS but WITHOUT losing ANY of your personal data or the various settings. And it doesn't take a half-day to do, either. But as I'm not nearly as well-versed with exactly what steps you need to take and what to be careful of, I'll leave that to someone more qualified. I just wanted you to know your situation will probably be very easily solved, and you shouldn't have to wait too much longer for someone to come to your rescue!

    In the meantime, you can learn more about 'Archive and Install' for Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5 by scrolling about halfway down this page:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1545

    Good luck!
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,700 points)
    Great advice from Mike, just to add...

    Archive & Install, which gives you a new/old OS, but can preserve all your files, pics, music, settings, etc., as long as you have plenty of free disk space and no Disk corruption, and is relatively quick & painless...

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=107120

    Just be sure to select Preserve Users & Settings.

    To backup your drive...

    I strongly recommend that you get a good Firewire drive to Clone your Internal drive to ASAP!

    http://eshop.macsales.com/search/firewire+drives

    Many of those come with Backup SW, or...

    Get carbon copy cloner to make an exact copy of your old HD to the New one...

    http://www.bombich.com/software/ccc.html

    SuperDuper...

    http://www.shirt-pocket.com/SuperDuper/

    Or the most expensive one & my favorite, Tri-Backup...

    http://www.tri-edre.com/english/tribackup.html
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    Thanks for this... I didn't know about "Archive & Install", and went to "The Missing Manual" to see what Pogue had to say on this. There was no reference in the index, but I did discover that Tiger has a built in Zip utility, and he has another OSX StuffIt free download... I've held on to my OS9 version of StuffIt, for the occasional need, although it isn't reliable.

    I tried to access the link on A & I, and the one BDAqua suggested, but Safari hangs without actually loading the page. It's been doing this a bunch today, for certain pages. I guess I'll have to switch back to Firefox, and see if it will do any better, or find another computer to research this...

    I'm not clear about this process, whether it allows me to save MY data for later reinstalling, but not save the entire System and apps.

    Just like in OS9, I keep all MY documents into a folder for easy organization, backups, etc. (well, on my G3, I used a separate partition). I only had Netscape bookmarks and Eudora mail to back up that were kept elsewhere, but I knew where those were, and it was easy to back them up, or reload them (which I never had to).

    I'm having a tough time understanding how OSX organizes all my files (and it's own files), how to find things that OSX does for me (like where the **** my iTunes files are, or Address Book, etc.). I admit I haven't read too far in Pogue's book, as I haven't had time (and there's SO much to learn).

    If this A & I process just grabs what I want (my files in particular, but settings are good too), quickly allows me to back it up each month, then this is a great alternative to the way I used to do things, adapted to the new OS.

    Thanks again!
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    BDAqua, I've got a FW (external) drive with 23GB free (all the data I have can fit on 2 CDs).

    The drive has old backups, some of which are compressed, and can probably get rid of some of it, although capacity hasn't been an issue.

    I'm not sure why I'd want to back up an OS install that seems to be bad. (BTW, today it not only hung on some web pages I tried to access, as I said in my earlier post, but when I rebooted, it gave me some sort of error message that I THINK refers to the FW drive "The disk you inserted isn't recognized", offering to re-initialize it! I unplugged the drive, replugged it, and it's fine now, but that's a symptom I haven't seen before...

    I used to have a redundant (external SCSI) drive with my G3 and earlier Mac, with the entire contents copied over, but haven't had that in some time. I can see some value in having a full backup like that, and one of these days I'll get a bigger external drive.

    But for now, I'm hoping someone can help me solve the source of these glitches. I'm willing to start from scratch, and if I do get a big HD upgrade this month, I'll have that opportunity... Perhaps I have to try that, and see if it solves my problem, but I'll still need to know where to find all my files to drop into the fresh install of my OS and apps.

    Do these things you suggest allow me to grab these things, without backing up everything on my HD?

    Thank you!
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,700 points)
    I'm not sure why I'd want to back up an OS install that seems to be bad.


    Strictly so when you install a clean OS on the new drive, at first boot you'll have the option to Migrate all your APPs, Users, Data, etc., but Migration Assistant won't see it as an option unless it has some kind of OSX Install on the Drive.

    You can move everything on that drive into a Folder with a Unique name that won't get overwritten, (as long as you choose DON"T ERASE DESTINATION), something like a folder called OldDasta.

    Do these things you suggest allow me to grab these things, without backing up everything on my HD?


    I believe they allow allow you to choose, but I'm most familiar with Tri-Backup which does anything you wish, in fact it confuses some that expect a TV Remote like situation!

    We can work on your present problems, but if you could get a new drive, or a bootable one anyway, it'd be better.

    In fact, if your external is bootable, you could just Install the OS to that and migrate data from the Internal, & boot from the external drive.
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    I guess I just don't know anything about "Migration Assistant" (yet)! So MA allows me to bring back only what I desire? My current HD has less than 17GB used on it, so there's definitely room to move everything over to that drive (not a LOT extra, unless I either compress more, or dump old backups).

    If I understand you, I'd copy everything wholesale to the external drive, reformat, re-install the OS and other s/w, then use MA to bring back my data and settings?

    Your final comment seems like a great idea, one I hadn't considered: if I understand, I could install OSX on the FW drive, along with Firefox for example, change the Startup Disk to that drive, and test whether the OS (or even iBook HD) is to blame! Am I on the right track???

    If so, this seems like a quick test I could do for a few days, go ahead and order the internal HD upgrade, with confidence that this will solve my problems.

    (Heck, if it turns out the internal HD was to blame, I could probably use Disk Doctor on it, and I'm just out all the time to troubleshoot and reload everything... Although I'm not sure how to distinguish between a corrupted HD and OS without trying this.)

    Thanks, BDA!
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,700 points)
    If I understand you, I'd copy everything wholesale to the external drive, reformat, re-install the OS and other s/w, then use MA to bring back my data and settings?


    Sort of, move everything on it to a safely named folder, clone without erasing, you can pick many things, it'll move your APPs back too, so you won't need to reinstall them unless they are bad.

    if I understand, I could install OSX on the FW drive, along with Firefox for example, change the Startup Disk to that drive, and test whether the OS (or even iBook HD) is to blame! Am I on the right track???


    Correct, you can hold the Option key down at bootup to select which disk to boot from also... a slick thing about OSX really !

    I could probably use Disk Doctor on it...


    Yikes, not Norton I hope, your best bet is DiskWarrior from Alsoft...

    http://www.alsoft.com/DiskWarrior/

    Give NDD to someone you really dislike!
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    OK, I install the OS, then use MA to import all that data, settings, AND apps?

    Perhaps I'll freshly install the OS and Firefox on the FW drive, as I mentioned, test it for a few days. *If* this works (and identify that I can resolve my problems), should I use MA to move everything to the external drive, then repeat the process when I get the larger internal drive installed?

    Thanks for the Option-reboot tip!

    Yikes, not Norton I hope...


    My bad. I was thinking of Disk First Aid, in OS9. I guess the OSX version is Disk Utility? Is this not a good program to set-up/repair a HD?

    Just got a call about some work next week, so I'll probably go ahead and order the 320GB internal drive, if the FW drive trick works...

    Thanks again, will let y'all know what develops!!!
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,700 points)
    OK, I install the OS, then use MA to import all that data, settings, AND apps?


    Yep.

    Perhaps I'll freshly install the OS and Firefox on the FW drive, as I mentioned, test it for a few days. *If* this works (and identify that I can resolve my problems), should I use MA to move everything to the external drive, then repeat the process when I get the larger internal drive installed?


    Yep.

    I was thinking of Disk First Aid, in OS9. I guess the OSX version is Disk Utility? Is this not a good program to set-up/repair a HD?

    DU is OK but limited, it won't ruin it like NDD, but may or may not repair it.

    Just got a call about some work next week, so I'll probably go ahead and order the 320GB internal drive, if the FW drive trick works...


    Good news and good luck with the job!

    Thanks again, will let y'all know what develops!!!


    Please do.
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    OK, now I'm feeling dumb... I loaded the OS disc to my iBook, so I could install the OS onto my FW drive, and it automatically appeared to try to install itself on the iBook.

    I was looking for a choice, WHERE I wanted to install the OS, but several steps into the process, I never saw that dialog, so I bailed, before making a bigger mess. Was I jumping the gun? Does it just take many steps before the Installer gives me that option?

    (BTW, I've noticed another symptom: I installed my own desktop picture months ago, and it only has displayed twice since then, once being when I aborted this OS install...)

    I appreciate the help with this!
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,700 points)
    I was looking for a choice, WHERE I wanted to install the OS, but several steps into the process, I never saw that dialog...


    I forget exactly where that choice is, but it should be nearly first.

    "Try Disk Utility

    1. Insert the Mac OS X Tiger Install disc that came with your computer, then restart the computer while holding the C key.
    2. When your computer finishes starting up from the disc, choose Disk Utility from the Installer menu. (In Mac OS X 10.4 or later, you must select your language first.)
    *Important: Do not click Continue in the first screen of the Installer. If you do, you must restart from the disc again to access Disk Utility.*
    3. Click the First Aid tab.
    4. Click the disclosure triangle to the left of the hard drive icon to display the names of your hard disk volumes and partitions.
    5. Select your Mac OS X volume.
    6. Click Repair. Disk Utility checks and repairs the disk."

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106214

    Does the FW drive show up in DU from there?
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    Much wasted time, now no Mac at all! (using a friend's PC)

    I was reluctant to repair the iBook drive just yet, and with a friend's help and reading The Missing Manual, I decided to trust backing up my user account and my data folders to the FW drive, then try to install the OS on the FW drive (after dumping some very old, or unneccessary stuff). I should have done more documenting at this point.

    I tried to load OSX to the FW drive, so I could make it the startup disk, but it kept crapping out in the middle of the second install disk, asking me to try the installation again and it was difficult to get back to my iBook drive as startup. The FW drive would hang, so I had to power it down and unplug the FW cable, bring it back up. I even tried disabling all the optional extra installs, but it still wanted the 2nd disk, and kept hanging. When I could manage to boot the iBook, and view the FW contents, all the data seemed intact.

    I tried to repair permissions before calling Apple, no help. Apple had me verify the disk, it checked out. (I later did a checksum test, it also was fine.)

    I called Apple Tech Support to see about getting a replacement disk. They told me that the install to the ext FW drive probably wouldn't work. Two different techs told me to Archive and Install, and all would be fine. (They gave me some other tips, like dump my User account, and start from scratch, or dump ALL the preferences, and one of these might clear the problems.)

    But then the 1st disk started quitting mid-install, asking me to try install again. I tried washing the disk, running a CD cleaner in my drive, but it still wouldn't work.

    After 3 calls to Apple for replacement disks, they finally agreed to sell me THREE OS disks (instead of the 2 original ones) for $53, and promised they'll arrive within a week. The final "tech" thinks my optical drive is defective (although it's worked fine for me up to this point). She also encouraged me to pay an Apple tech $200 to make repairs.

    Being completely stuck, without a computer, I scanned "The Missing Manual" for any other tricks, info, etc. I tried a "safe" restart, and it gave an indication of a "kernal panic." (Besides a multi-language message in the background about restarting, the UNIX message ends with "panic: we are hanging..."

    So I still don't know if a fresh OS install will fix the problems I've been having (or the HD is bad), if restoring some of the settings from my user account or adding in my programs or some other thing will bring the problems back. I don't know what all I had on my iBook, how I had the stuff configured (like Eudora settings, that were difficult to get right).

    It seems like I'm in for many more days of my time and struggle, even if I pay a tech $hundreds to troubleshoot this mess. I've never heard of a Mac having this sort and extent of problems (let alone having anything like this myself). I miss the old days, when Macs and programs were simple, reliable, and it was productive to do simple work on one.....

    I guess I'm glad I decided to do this without spending a bunch on other drives: while I may have to repeat installations, I guess I know more about this system, and might get things working more directly as a result.

    Hopefully, in another week or two, all this will be resolved and behind me. It's been a hassle trying to access my email, web pages and Office docs, now I can't get to any of it, except when I can get to someone else's 'puter! ;-(

    When all is resolved, perhaps I can offer something useful to others who view this thread... or train wreck?
  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,700 points)
    Sounds like a definite Hardware problem at this point.
  • Ric Lobosco Level 1 Level 1 (115 points)
    ...Strange couple weeks, working on this when I can. And none of it has gone particularly well.

    I had backed up my user account, and my data folder to my FW drive (again), and finally received the new install disks from Apple. Following a discussion with the Apple support person, I tried to make a backup copy of the new install disks, but discovered they're apparently DL disks, and I don't have access to a DL burner.

    I tried to install from another Mac (just in case there's something flaky with my optical drive, damaging or not reading disks), but we couldn't figure out how to do that either. So I took a leap of faith, and tried installing just from my own drive, but one last attempt from the original install disks.

    I did the most stripped down installation of the OS, and it was successful, only using the first of the two disks. It did not give me the "Archive" option, since apparently, there wasn't anything left to archive. This confounded me earlier, but I was getting nowhere, so I went for it, and I could finally boot the iBook, and get into apps and data files again.

    The earlier attempt to Archive & Install apparently DID archive the system... more than once... before failing. I have four versions of "Previous System", although only the first has my user account, the others don't. There's also 3 folders I don't recognize, with differing amounts of similar files: OSinstall.mpkg.941Tm268, and so forth.

    I did not bring back any of my old settings, email data, and such that were in my user account. I simply ran Firefox, with many windows active; after 16 hours, Firefox crashed. I re-launched Firefox, and it ran another 3.5 days with many active windows, until it crashed this morning. I'm suspicious there's still something wrong here.

    I've been looking through my old user account on my FW drive, and it would appear that iTunes & Eudora data is intact. I went looking for Firefox bookmarks (I have a LOT), and in Profiles I found "bookmarks.html" that date back to my original install, missing all my bookmarks; but there's files named "bookmarks-2009-06-23.json" that SEEM to have my data. Will these restore my bookmarks, intact?

    I'd hoped that a new OS install might resolve the problems, but I don't think it has (evidenced by Firefox crashing). A couple tech people have said that a hard drive doesn't fail in the way I describe, although I've been told that HDs only last 3-5 years, and my iBook is apparently 4 years old. A friend said his iMac seemed to show similar failures, and HD replacement solved the problems.

    I'm reaching the end of my troubleshooting savvy (more specifically, my knowledge of OSX/iBook chops). I've sent an email to a local tech to ask what he'd charge to repair this, and what he thinks it might be... waiting for a response.

    The only option I seem to have left is to wipe the drive, run whatever disk repair options exist in Disk Utility, reload and try again (even before buying a new HD or taking it to a local shop). The one thing I'm still concerned about is my bookmarks (well, how to use Migration Assistant to bring back selected things from my FW disk, too).

    Sorry for the novels, but I don't know what might be useful. I appreciate your wisdom and help!

    Happy Interdependence Day!
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