Very Important, how much Free Space is on your Hard Drive first of all? Click on the Macintosh HD on the Desktop, then do a Get Info on it.
One way to test is to Safe Boot from the HD, (holding Shift key down at bootup), run Disk Utility in Applications>Utilities, then highlight your drive, click on Repair Permissions, Test for action in Safe Mode...
PS. Safe boot may stay on the gray radian for a long time, let it go, it's trying to repair the Hard Drive
Reboot, test again.
If it only does it in Regular Boot, then it could be some hardware problem like Video card, (Quartz is turned off in Safe Mode), or Airport in 10.4 & below, or 3rd party add-on, Check System Preferences>Accounts>Login Items window to see if it or something relevant is listed.
Check the System Preferences>Other Row, for 3rd party Pref Panes.
Also look in these if they exist, some are invisible...
Useful article here on the causes of the Spinning Beach Ball and how to troubleshoot it:
So far no beachballs in safe mode.
I have removed these from 3rd party preference panes:
Mac-SwapperDemon - appears to be a phone application. I don't know what it's for, but maybe left over from when I tried a 3-G USB stick a few years ago when travelling (always crashed) the Mac - literally!
A backup utility which I don't use.
I have not found anything else that is obvious to me.
I don't want to speak too soon, but today has been a beach ball free day running in normal mode.
It might be a combination of removing the unnecessary tools & being aware of the root problem. WIth the Activity Monitor now running constantly, I'm amazed to see how taxed the system is just working on normal tasks.
I'm going to tackle my propensity / working style of having 50-60 browser tabs open at any one time.
Thanks all around
I was travelling, so little laptop had less use.
Now back to business and this problem raises its head once more. If the laptop is left switched on and unused for a longer period of time it locks up (beachball spinning).
SMART disc still working well.
Any futher ideas where I should be looking next please?
Please help. Problem still not solved and system crashing several times daily.
I have discovered the following apps running when I check the Activity Monitor. All of them show "PowerPC" in the "kind" column, however I'm running an Intel:
In standard start mode:
In secured start mode:
Are these a cause for concern?