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I suspect a faulty drive. Anything that could perform a hardware scan (bad sectors?) built into Mountain Lion or available for free off the 'net?

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You can try Disk Utility. Click Verify Disk to see if the disk is faulty.

My last HD failed after a year of use. The past month has made the computer really slow. Most HD manufacturer gives out a replacement if it fails within 3 years though.

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Maybe try doing the verify (or repair) off an external drive or the recovery partition. – segiddins Oct 5 '12 at 2:18
Yep - forgot to mention, did it from the recovery partition. – Enrico Susatyo Oct 5 '12 at 3:32 has a free utility called Onyx which runs cron jobs, toggles hidden prefs and has many other uses but most importantly in this case runs a SMART test on the HD automatically at startup. I have used it for several years and recommend it. It also has a section for UNIX man info as well. Great little free doodad.

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Smart Utility is truly excellent and is far better than Disk Utility at spotting hardware issues. You can try it for free.

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