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So, my MacBook Pro froze three times today, two of which about two minutes after startup. I could hear fans making noise. When I say 'freeze' I mean that both input an UI don't work.

I tried Apple Hardware Test (not the extended test, the quick one). The first time it reported an error, then I detached all the peripherals (that is, an iPhone), retried it and it said "no trouble found". Tried it a few times again and it reported nothing, even with the iPhone attached. The error code was 0xae81a618, but apparently it doesn't show up on Google, so I can't do much with it.

A while ago I had to use iDefrag because the computer was slow as hell. Apparently the hard disk was very fragmented; after using iDefrag it got fast again.

And by the way it just froze again, I'm now using an iPhone to write this. This time there was no fan noise, and I only had Chrome running. What do you suggest? Do you suspect it is an hard drive problem? Or a RAM problem?

Meanwhile I'm doing the extended hardware test, I'll post the result here as soon as it's done.

Update The extended hardware test 'froze' (input still working though) at about 25% so I just shut down the computer. Then turned it on after a while and it still hasn't frozen since then.

Update 2 Here's a copy and paste of the latest lines (which I think may be relevant) in system.log after a freeze (and subsequent hard-reboot). This time I had just put it to sleep.

 Jun 11 16:56:02 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: Cleaning up expired diagnostic messages database at path: /var/log/DiagnosticMessages/2011.05.12.asl
Jun 11 16:56:02 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: Cleaning up expired diagnostic messages database at path: /var/log/DiagnosticMessages/2011.05.11.asl
Jun 11 16:56:04 pt2ph8 system_profiler[964]: could not convert interface name
Jun 11 16:56:05 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: CFReadStreamCopyError() returned: The operation couldn’t be completed. (kCFErrorDomainCFNetwork error 2.)
Jun 11 16:56:05 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: Failed to submit crash report: /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/HWNetCfg_2011-06-09-234746_localhost.crash
Jun 11 16:56:05 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: CFReadStreamCopyError() returned: The operation couldn’t be completed. (kCFErrorDomainCFNetwork error 2.)
Jun 11 16:56:05 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: Failed to submit crash report: /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/HWNetCfg_2011-06-11-140841_localhost.crash
Jun 11 16:56:07 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: CFReadStreamCopyError() returned: The operation couldn’t be completed. (kCFErrorDomainCFNetwork error 2.)
Jun 11 16:56:07 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: SubmitProblemReport() failed with error (2)
Jun 11 16:56:07 pt2ph8 SubmitDiagInfo[963]: SubmitDiagInfo failed to submit diagnostic messages!
Jun 11 17:01:57 pt2ph8 loginwindow[46]: loginwindow SleepWakeCallback WILL sleep
Jun 11 17:04:43 localhost com.apple.launchd[1]: *** launchd[1] has started up. ***
Jun 11 17:04:51 localhost DirectoryService[11]: Improper shutdown detected

Update 3 Yesterday I was running Windows (installed through BootCamp) and it froze again. Then I rebooted with Mac OSX and watched a movie for about two hours, then after about half an hour it froze again. So I guess it must be an hardware problem, right?

Update 4 it has been working without freezes for about three days now. Played games, watched movies from both Mac OSX and Windows. Should I still send it to Apple? And if so, now that I'm unable to reproduce the problem, what should I tell them?

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If I was you I'd try replacing the RAM first. –  Uwe Honekamp Jun 9 '11 at 18:20
    
I don't have RAM to try with. –  pt2ph8 Jun 9 '11 at 18:21
    
What part of the hardware test was running when it "froze"? Are you running built in diagnostics (by booting with the D key held) or some other test? Lastly, what model is your mac? (paste your serial number after support.apple.com/specs with no space after the / to get the exact model) –  bmike Jun 9 '11 at 22:35
    
If your HW test froze, here will be probably "some" HW error. The error messages above suggest only some network errors, for example: "dns errors" or some network misconfig. IMHO nothing what can cause a "froze". Any advice here will be only guessing and trying. –  jm666 Jun 11 '11 at 22:57
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2 Answers

Since so many, many, many things could be causing this - you might want to try to first narrow down whether it's hardware, system software or user software.

My first step would be to Safe Boot. This runs disk verification and repair and disables much of the non-essential plug-ins, third party apps and helps eliminate them as a cause. If it's still sluggish - you might look into hardware tests or isolation there.

If that resolves it, you might proceed systematically down the checklist for a continuous grey screen at boot or make a new user to test if it's something specific to your account.

Good luck - please edit or comment if you can rule out some of the causes or need more detailed advice.

Based on the edit showing crash reports being submitted before sleep - I would add two steps to my general suggestions:

  1. turn off/disconnect all networks to ensure it's not a pause/network issue.
  2. See what programs are crashing in /Library/CrashReports and also in ~/Library/CrashReports - the system will pause to collect the crash, and if it's a system level process - the respawning / continuous crashing might be the root cause. If not - it may point directly to the issue.
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'you might want to try to first narrow down whether it's hardware, system software or user software.' Do you think there's really a chance it could be just a software problem and not an hardware one? –  pt2ph8 Jun 9 '11 at 20:38
    
can be. For example buggy kernel extension (driver) can cause froze. –  jm666 Jun 9 '11 at 21:18
    
Why guess when in three minutes time you can know? Most issues of freezes are software - but even an experienced tech can be wrong based on "best guess" When hardware fails, it often gets much worse very rapidly and the mac won't boot at all. –  bmike Jun 9 '11 at 22:19
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some basic things - but you probably already done them:

  • Console.app (check log-files)
  • ActivityMonitor - check activity for HDD, memory, swap etc...

here are other helpers (command line) - but 1st you should check the above two...

Start with "all messages" or "system.log" and try search for repeated messages what can suggest something. But you will see much cryptic (but otherwise harmless messages) - it is hard to advise. Simply read thru - maybe you got some idea.

Here is an nice dashboard widget - iStat Pro - what show your fan speed, HDD activity etc.. Maybe can give an idea what is doing inside...

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Thanks for the answer, but which log files should I check? –  pt2ph8 Jun 9 '11 at 20:02
    
just edited my question with the system.log after a freeze. Any advice will be appreciated. –  pt2ph8 Jun 11 '11 at 15:17
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