My machine is a 2010 Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 6-core intel xeon with 32 GBs of ram running Mac OS X 10.8.3. Just the other day it started to beach ball after about an hour of use. It doesn't make any difference what I am doing on it whether it be CPU intensive or the machine is just idling, without fail after an hour goes by it starts to beach ball and becomes totally unresponsive. I let it sit for an hour the other day but it just kept beach balling, so all I can do is hold the power button to shut it down and then restart it, but after an hour the same thing happens again. I have had this Mac Pro for about a month and a half now and everything seemed to work really well up until a couple of days ago. The computer is running a 30" and 20" apple display and it has the ATI Radeon HD 5870 1024 MB, also my hard drive is a Crucial M4 500gb SSD, I have it installed with APRICORN VEL-SOLO-X2. If anyone has any ideas what could be causing this please let me know.

  • A time bomb? just kidding.....So what does the Activity monitor looks like? You can leave a pop up running to see it all the time.When it runs I would do the hardware test, just to make sure there is no bad RAM. – Ruskes May 17 '13 at 15:48
  • @Buscar I can not figure out how to run the apple hardware test. I have done the Option + D key combination but nothing works. – Stephen May 17 '13 at 15:52
  • I wouldn't bother with AHT from that era and older Macs. If you have the training to interpret the results, you already know several other ways to run the same tests much faster. Rather than test the RAM - just perform a binary search on the installed RAM and boot the system to a known good, clean install. Unresponsive cursor is more a software issue than hardware. – bmike May 17 '13 at 16:01
  • @bmike I can't say that I know what you mean by performing a binary search on the installed RAM? – Stephen May 17 '13 at 16:05
  • @bmike I tried to just hold down D but it never did anything. It just went to the login screen. – Stephen May 17 '13 at 16:07

I found the CULPRIT, my SSD needed a firmware update. Crucial Offers Firmware Update For Crucial m4 SSD BSOD

  • Woah - that could be a nasty bug if it affected the data integrity. Sometimes a spinning beach ball is a great thing. – bmike May 17 '13 at 19:40

I would start with running sysdiagnose every time the Mac becomes unresponsive. Once you have 5 to 10 events, you could start the process of troubleshooting this for a software issue, but if the problem is something that happens all the time, you will quickly start to notice a pattern to what and when this happens.

If it's an infrequent issue (and it is cured 100% of the time from a reboot), it's more of a resource exhaustion / rare bug and having detailed sysdiagnose snapshots is even more invaluable for teasing out what part of the software stack is getting stuck and causing the Finder / UIServer to mark the cursor as non-responsive.

The next time this happens, press the shortcut and start seeing if the logs can help you.

  • How do you get system diagnostic files from OS X?
  • shift+control+option+command+. - You do have to wait for 5 to 10 minutes after pressing the key command before pulling the plug in some cases to let the tool finish. On a system where the CPU or IO or network isn't blocked, you can time how long a sysdiagnose runs by issuing it from the terminal: sudo date; time sudo sysdiagnose; date … and be sure to press enter after sysdiagnose warns you of what it will collect to start the collection.

Eventually, a Finder window will open showing the sysdiagnose report - or you will pull the power / forcibly shut down the Mac. Just knowing it was blocked to tight to not even be capable to run sysdiagnose is valuable troubleshooting information.

  • So you are saying to use this key combination the next time my computer starts to beachball again, and then wait 5 to 10 minutes before a restart? – Stephen May 17 '13 at 16:14
  • I don't know if this means much but I have run memtest and everything checked out fine.(osxdaily.com/2011/05/03/memtest-mac-ram-test) – Stephen May 17 '13 at 16:17
  • Yes - Once you have 5 events - hop into the chat room and link to the question here. Let's see if we can help you sort things out. – bmike May 17 '13 at 17:57

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