Call Apple and speak to them about it. It sounds like bad luck to me. You also need to be aware of what you're doing when you experience a kernel panic. I had an issue with my MBP and was able to trace it to Safari 5. Every time I encountered pages with lots of Flash, my MBP would experience kernel panic causing a forced restart. If you can pinpoint the problem (like it happens every time you check Mail) or something, you'll be in a better position.
But the bottom line is that this should not be a regular occurrence. You're better off being without the machine for a week and getting it fixed now than dealing with a problem that may or may not resolve on its own.
My wife and I bought two identical 13" MacBook Airs (MBAs) with 256 GBytes flash, 4 GBytes RAM and processor upgrades, i.e., both are maximum configurations. These are fantastic computers, easily the fastest we own, including my desktop spec'd below. There may be a limit to what we can do with our MBAs, but it is not obvious and it makes me rethink owning a desktop computer.
Nonetheless, BOTH of our MBAs have kernel panicked and BOTH had to have a clean install from their USB sticks. So, what your wife is experiencing is not unusual, although it is unusual that it is as severe as she is experiencing.
The good news ... you can solve the problem by doing a clean install off the USB stick. Just be sure that you have a reliable backup strategy so little is lost if it happens again. The bad news ... it may happen again!
The late-2010 MBA is a radical redesign of the laptop computer ... Apple truly is "out there alone" with this design. Notice what the competition is doing ... abandoning their current ultralight laptops (e.g., Dell's Adamo and HP's Envy) or rushing similar designs into production (e.g., Samsung Series 9).
However, there is a price to be paid for such a radical redesign ... there's a weak link somewhere, but we don't know where! It may be the custom flash memory and controller stick that has never been used before, it may be the issue of flash memory having a limit on the number of times it can be erased and rewritten or it could be ... something else entirely ... and it probably is!
Be sure your wife's MBA has the latest software, watch for Apple to "sneak in" a firmware upgrade without mentioning why they had to upgrade and be prepared for the next kernel panic. Eventually, they will stop and you will know that Apple found and fixed the problem, but they may not tell us.
P.S. Macs don't crash ... they kernel panic Every Mac I've owned has kernel panicked, but it is so infrequent that it is more interesting rather than annoying and hardly a problem. As my Time Machine backs up everything every hour, the worst that could happen is to lose an hour of work ... and some time to run diagnostics and reinstall the operating system.
My wife has a MacBook Pro and it crashes often --when running MS Windows! But her Mac applications never crash or cause kernel panics. Not once. It's been a rock-solid machine for over a year now. I think you should ask Apple to replace your machine with one that works, either another Air or a MacBook Pro.
My wife requires Windows for specific work purposes. Using VMWare creates a perfect partition scheme, so her MS Windows "system" is very clean and fast. She never does anything with it except read her work email and run her work applications. She brought it into her office for support with the applications. At first the IT guy refused to look at it, but once he did, he said it's the fastest Windows computer he's ever seen.
I beg to differ. No offense intended but I run an office of mixed Macs and I can count on my hands the number of times they've experienced. That's 15 desktops and at least 10 laptops and 3 servers over 6 years. OSX does a good job of sandboxing applications so that when one freaks out it doesn't drag the entire system down with it. Kernel panics are frequently the sign of a hardware issue. That's not to say that software interactions can't cause it, as was the case with Flash in Safari 5, but generally those situations are fairly rare.
No, this person shouldn't have to be running hourly backups as a solution to his problem. Scheduled backups are always a good idea however that is a stop-gap measure. Experiencing even one kernel panic a month is more than the norm unless running on a system with customized hardware (user replaced RAM or an aftermarket HDD). Kernel panics of the frequency indicated by the OP are cause for concern and he should have it examined by Apple.
Thanks for the reference. She does run a lot of flash in safari 5, so she is going to try running it in firefox to see if it is any different.
Mostly it kernel panics coming back from sleep, but it has done it when appearing to do 'nothing', ie, it was sitting on the sofa while we were talking and not using it.
I am happy to send it off to get it fixed, if I believed that it was fixable, but as it is the third machine, I am not convinced. I was hoping (and in fact one of the geniuses said) that there would be a firmware update which might fix it.
I would count it as unusual. I have had a large number of macs since OSX came out (I ran the public beta) and most machines I have had in that time have never kernel panicked.
In fact I would say that her MacBook Air has exceeded the number of kernel panics I have ever seen on every other machine in the last 10 years.
I am hoping that there will be a firmware update. One is unlucky, two is really very unlucky. But three machines?
I find it strange....I'm on my 3rd mac (eMac, then Black Macbook, now this 13" late 2010 model)...and (crossing my fingers..) have yet to see a kernel panic.
I did have a problem just a few weeks ago...boot/power issue. Took it in to an authorized repair - a week later, was fixed and still working fine. All under warranty, which was cool.
The only thing I have happen every so often is an app which will hang (have to force quit). Has only happened a few times, so not chalking it up to any real problem yet.
Still...the MBA is the fastest laptop I've ever run. I don't do a lot of heavy work on it (some Aperture and some Final Cut Express), so far holds up very well...still a lot snappier than the Macbook Pro's I setup for work.
Very happy customer....
No problem. Search the boards here. I seem to remember a couple of threads where people were having similar problems of kernel panics related to sleep. I'm not sure I'm remembering correctly so you're best off searching for the thread, but I believe it was related to leaving certain programs open when putting the computer to sleep and then waking it up. I apologize if I'm misremembering this but I would swear there are a couple of threads on these discussion boards about that particular problem.
I've been dealing with wake from sleep issues (kernel panics) for the past few weeks since I got my 11" Air (128GB SSD).
I read your comments mentioning replacing the system a few times.
I finally spoke with AppleCare and there seems to be a known issue with Adobe Flash and kernel panicking after waking from sleep.
My recommendation is to do what I'm doing and make extra sure to update all software/firmware, including periodically checking for newer releases of Adobe Flash.
I installed click-to-flash to block flash content on Safari and Adblock plus on Firefox to try and keep flash from running when I don't really need it. I'm not sure if that's helping yet, but the last time it KPed was on the 22nd (3 days ago), so perhaps it may work well.
My 13" MBA experienced a kernel panic, followed by inability to launch applications. This happened upon waking from sleep. Safari had been opened with (Adobe) Flash content previous to sleep.
OS reinstall solved the issue. Took the machine to the Genius Bar and hardware checked out fine after an overnight (2-3 hr) diagnostic.
They stated that there is a known problem with Flash and wake from sleep, and there should be an update to address this issue 'soon'. For now I have uninstalled Flash.
Other than this issue the MBA is incredible.
I sympathize and I don't know what to tell you.. demand another model all together? A macbook rather than an air?
I have had similar problems, first couple of weeks constant kernel panic, then I did a software update and it seemed to help a bit, but it is inconsistent. I haven't installed any files on it yet and I bought it back in December. I am used to better quality from Apple. My problem with 11" MBA now aside from inconsistency is that the fan is out of control...it runs constantly. I don't know why....no pattern whether video or not. I had a powerbook (2007) before with a similar problem and I am certain it lead to the rapid demise of that machine...which included two hard drive replacements, one 3 days after my 12 month warranty expired. I love apple, grew up with apple...but I am starting to think that it is not worth the money, and perhaps just get a PC and install linux. i am so frustrated. I feel like I bought a sleek, beautiful piece of crap.