I have a mac book pro 2014 with MacOs 11.2.3

The kernel panics are driving me crazy and impacting my work seriously.
The usual pattern is the mac freezing followed by the question mark folder. It happens often after awaking, but also while is on since a while. The most common error is "Could not recover SATA HDD after 5 attempts. Terminating" but they are quite varied.
Also the frequency is quite random: sometimes is fine for days, sometimes it's every hour, with no discernible pattern in my usage.
I sent it to service to an authorized seller (unfortunately no apple stores nearby) and they said they found no hardware problems, only a lot of dust inside and a worn-out thermal paste. I run all possible apple tests and solution and just once the diagnostic tool showed a disk related problem, then never again.

I started to collect the panic log, maybe one of you will notice something recurring.


UPDATE I had an intuition and stopped using the airpods for one week. In that period no kernel panics occurred. As soon I started using them again the panics restarted (albeit at a lower frequency). So I'm starting to have compelling evidence it's them or the Bluetooth.

Apple does not seem to acknowledge the problem and insist about the SSD failing...


2 Answers 2


I see a troubling trend: Your panics have many different signatures. As you mention, a number of them point to your SSD, and when I see that, I immediately want to know if you have a full, current backup of your system. You should anticipate total data loss at any moment.

Once you know that your data is safe, we can start to gather more information about your panics. The first step is to enable symbolication:

  1. Disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) and reboot.
  2. Run the following command in Terminal: sudo nvram boot-args="kextsyms=1"
  3. Reboot.
  4. Collect and share new kernel panics as they come in.

Also, although I'm sure you and/or the authorized seller have already done this, it would be good to run Disk Utility and verify all your volumes for filesystem integrity. A corrupted filesystem is one common cause of mixed panic signatures.


Reading your comment on my answer, I now suspect that your SSD is overheating. Evidence:

  1. Numerous panics implicating the SSD.
  2. Panics with mixed signatures, which can be caused by failed filesystem transactions, such as those resulting from corruption or disk hardware failure.
  3. Panic frequency increasing with system uptime.
  4. Panic frequency decreasing after system rests.
  5. Service technician finding "lots of dust" and worm thermal paste.
  6. The age of the SSD. If you're still on the original device, it's been 7 years. Many consumer SSDs, especially older models, don't tend to last that long. Overheating is one possible failure mode.

You can test the theory by placing the system in the freezer after the first failure and seeing if it recovers more quickly.

For a more rigorous debugging process, I would start by attempting to clean out any dust and replacing thermal paste. Both are easy and inexpensive procedures.

If you have a spare drive available, you can try cloning to and booting from that drive and seeing if the problem goes away. You'll have to disconnect your internal SSD first.

Ultimately, if overheating is the root cause and cleaning up your insides doesn't help, it may be time to replace SSDs.

  • Thank you. yes, all the data is constantly backed up online. What do the steps you proposed do? Disk Utility and the hardware diagnostic tool do not report any problem "most of the times". When the panic frequency increases it reaches a point at which restart does not immediately work and in that case the diagnostics report an hardware error. But then I let it rest and no error is reported with the following panics. As said in the update, since I'm not using the airpods the panics disappeared. it's a strange mix of hardware and software problems.
    – Bakaburg
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 8:33
  • 1
    @Bakaburg This enables symbolication, which allows us to read the stack traces in the panic report. Your note about "let[ting] it rest and no error is reported" makes me suspect an overheating issue, possibly in your SSD. This does occur more often with disk age. Your original post mentioned a "lot of dust" and worn thermal paste, which only lend further weight to that theory.
    – pion
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 8:37
  • i'll try the terminal command with the bluethoot on and see if it replicates
    – Bakaburg
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 9:26
  • @Bakaburg Any updates?
    – pion
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 9:24
  • I brought it to service again, and again they waited too much to check it and it started working again. But they also think is an SSD related problem so they proposed I change it (300€). I hope that would solve it... If the new MBP was out I would not spend this money, but I cannot stop to work randomly for 1-2 weeks very couple of months...
    – Bakaburg
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 9:38

I'm probably late to the party, but I was in a very similar situation a while ago. Check out my question/answer about it, it might be the same issue.


  • 1
    nice! the service found no problem on my mbp, but I wouldn't be surprised they missed that. At the moment I solved using an external SSD to save the computer and bought a new one for me
    – Bakaburg
    Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 14:48

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