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Applications crash

by MarTayNy / January 2, 2012 7:36 PM PST

MacPro, Quad Core Intel, 3GHz, 4 GB RAM, OS 10.5.8
Working as a graphic artist, I most often use Adobe Photoshop as well as InDesign, and rarely Illustrator, etc. (CS 5). Sometimes I can work for hours, no problem and then applications freeze inexplicably, abruptly. They will not force quit and I cannot restart from the menu bar, and must turn off the power button and back on. I've zapped the PRAM and repaired permissions countless times, and removed all of my many fonts and carefully reloaded them one by one on an as-need basis. I've taken this computer to the Apple Genius Bar 4 times in the last several months, they've run a number of diagnostics and replaced a couple of minor pieces of hardware and say everything should be fine. But still the applications crash (Mail, Photoshop, you name it) and now job files that were saved sometimes become corrupted when I go to reopen them.

Any ideas as to how I can find out WHAT is wrong?

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Just to clarify
by Jimmy Greystone / January 2, 2012 10:09 PM PST
In reply to: Applications crash

Just to clarify, it's only the particular program that freezes, not the OS as a whole?

Off the top of my head, I'd say this sounds like a pretty classic case of bad RAM. Pull the side cover off and depending on your model you'll either see a couple of removable trays with the RAM on it, or a single large tray with the CPU and RAM on it. If the computer is running, don't remove either of these things obviously, all you're looking for right now is any red LEDs near the RAM. A perk of the Mac Pro is it uses ECC RAM, which basically has its own built-in error checking. So if there are any red LEDs lit around the RAM, then I'm right, you have either some bad RAM or possibly a bad memory tray. This SHOULD have come up if they ran any kind of memory test on the unit, but let's just say that calling Apple store employees Geniuses isn't just pretentious, it's often false advertising. Just like any other retail outlet, you have a couple of really good people who are surrounded by a bunch of drooling slack-jawed morons that probably can't even find their own rear end with a map.

It would be helpful if you could remember what it is they actually replaced in the past though. Gives us some idea of what they were thinking the problem was. Also if you could figure out what specific model Mac Pro you have that would also be helpful. It sounds like an Early 2008 model from the specs, but I sadly don't get a lot of Mac Pros to play with, so am not as familiar with the different model specs. So if you open the thing up, and look inside, do you see just a single tray with the RAM and CPU on it (there are two push levers on either side of the tray) or do you see two dark blue cards with RAM on them sticking out on the lower right? Some of the older model Mac Pros had recalls on the video cards which could also be part of the problem. So if you have a GeForce 7300GT, Radeon x1900 or Radeon 2600XT, that could definitely help narrow the problem down. You just want to hope it's not the 7300GT, because that program just ended, but I think the other two are still active, so would potentially qualify for a free replacement. You might even be able to convince them to retroactively reverse previous repair charges for being idiots and not looking up if there are any extended repair programs going on with the unit they're working on. Maybe, maybe not, but I'd say it's worth a shot.

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Applications crashing
by MarTayNy / January 3, 2012 5:00 AM PST
In reply to: Just to clarify

Thanks for your thoughts. BTW, my main tech guru (who alas now lives far away but gives email advice) also thought it sounded like bad RAM. Not to sound entirely dumb, but do I take the cover off to check the RAM while it's running?
<div>The diagnoses I got from Apple were: <div>1) the theory that I had corrupt fonts (waaaaaaaay too many loaded, now on an external drive and loaded back into Font Book one by one on an as-need basis) <div>2) A broken DIMM riser. Fixing this DID help with one form of crashiness I was experiencing a couple of months ago when my fan would labor and the whole computer shut down.
</div>3) I have two internal 465 GB drives; I clone the start-up drive to the other one about once a month. Theory 3 was that my secondary drive was defective; I replaced it myself with a new one.
My Mac Pro 2,1 was purchased in mid 2007 and has run just fine all along until last August when it began random occasional misbehavior, now freezing on a daily basis. Though not yet today.
</div></div>The video card IS the NVIDIA GeForce 7300GT.
So, kind Jimmy, how do I diagnose whether this is a defective DIMM or video card? Many thanks.

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No. Never do that with power applied or on.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 3, 2012 5:06 AM PST
In reply to: Applications crashing
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Bad Caps
by MarTayNy / January 3, 2012 5:30 AM PST

Bob,

Thanks for the tip. Is this something I can check myself? How? And how would I check if my DIMMS are dead? System Profiler says they're OK. I'm wondering too if 4 GB RAM is simply not enough to run Adobe CS5.

Marty

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All apologies in advance.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 3, 2012 5:33 AM PST
In reply to: Bad Caps

If one wanted to find out what to look for, google BAD CAPS and read how to identify?

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You can take the cover off
by Jimmy Greystone / January 3, 2012 10:09 AM PST
In reply to: Applications crashing

You can take the cover off and LOOK at the RAM, just don't remove the riser cards while it's running. You should be able to look between them for any red LEDs that may be lit up. That doesn't absolutely guarantee bad RAM, but it's a bit of "free" diagnostic info you have available to you.

And knowing that you have the 8X model helps narrow things down. What you may want to try doing, since the 7300GT program JUST finished maybe a month or two ago, and you've had a history of this issue... They may be willing to issue what's called a CS Code (Customer Satisfaction, or whatever it takes to make the customer happy) to cover the repair. What you would want to do, is shut the computer off, pull the video card, and there are two capacitors right by the metal bracket with the DVI connectors. Follow Bob's advice to google "bad caps" where you'll see some photos of what to look for. If the two capacitors right on the front of the card look bad, that could very well be at least A source of your problems, if not THE source.

Also, while you're checking on the RAM, if you see any LEDs lit further back on the MLB, make a note of that. The only time you should be seeing any of those lit during normal operation is if you press a special button on the MLB. So if one is lit, then that would help any tech narrow it down.

It also seems significant that, at least as I'm reading it, the only time there's been any forward movement on your problem is when they replaced a memory riser card. That does seem to point to the issue being related to the RAM somehow. Might just be that your other riser card is bad. If you want to test this idea, you can shut the system down, pull one riser card out, and then just run with half the RAM to see if the issue goes away or even gets worse. If the problem persists, remove the second riser card and put the first one back in. If the problem goes away, then shut the system down again, and put the first riser card in the slot where the second riser card was. If the problem comes back, you have a bad MLB, if it doesn't come back you either have bad RAM on that riser card, and you can start testing each module individually, or the riser card itself is bad. In my, albeit somewhat limited, experience with the 8X Mac Pros, I've found those riser cards to be kind of flaky, and when you replace one you almost always have to replace the other. At least the good news on that front, is those things are only about $50, so as repairs go, dirt cheap.

BUT, you did forget to answer one key question: Is it just one program that freezes/crashes, or is it the entire OS?

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Video card and DIMMs
by MarTayNy / January 4, 2012 2:53 AM PST

Thanks so much for the tips, including contacting NVidia. Will check for BAD CAPS and blinking red lights. It does seem likely that not enough RAM may be a factor as well. I'm running Adobe CS 5 and usually have at least 3 of those apps open plus mail, Quickbooks, iTunes whatever. So, regardless, I'm going to order a pair of 4GB DIMMs to add to my RAM, bringing my total to 12GB. And if one of my 2 GB RAM chips is bad, the worst case scenario is that I've doubled my RAM from 4 to 8 GB.

It can be any program that freezes. The most annoying factor is that I cannot force quit and cannot power down or reboot from the menu bar but rather have to press the power button on the front of the computer. It all takes just a few minutes, but still... several times a day? It's no way to work.

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Don't contact nVidia
by Jimmy Greystone / January 4, 2012 10:02 AM PST
In reply to: Video card and DIMMs

Don't contact nVidia, you need to contact Apple about that recall program.

And let me try asking this a different way... When a program freezes, is it just that program or can you still do other things, like click on the apple icon on the menu bar and get some kind of reaction?

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Video card and DIMMs.
by MarTayNy / January 4, 2012 12:26 PM PST
In reply to: Don't contact nVidia

Looked inside the box today and the video card looks OK, no signs of BAD CAPS that I could detect. And I did order a pair of 4GB DIMMs to add to my RAM.

When a program freezes up, sometimes I get an alert that the app unexpectedly quit, sometimes it just freezes, either way, it doesn't close and the only way to get back into that app is to power the whole system down and back up again. Sometimes another program or two will do the same soon after. Occasionally the whole system freezes up. But I am usually able to work in another application, send email, do other functions before I go through the power down and back up again routine.

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Applications still crashing
by MarTayNy / February 1, 2012 10:45 AM PST
In reply to: Don't contact nVidia

Thanks for all your ideas. I've tried every one of them: borrowed a newer but compatible video card (ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT) and ran with it for a couple of days, tried all different DIMM configurations, including removing the old riser card.

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