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PowerBook/iBook stays unresponsive after attempted wake-from-sleep (#4): New workarounds, confirmation for others

PowerBook/iBook stays unresponsive after attempted wake-from-sleep (#4): New workarounds, confirmation for others


We continue to cover an issue where PowerBooks and iBooks appear unresponsive when owners attempts to wake them from sleep mode; specifically, the screens remains black or, in some cases, the laptops experience a kernel panics. To recap, in most cases of this problem, the following traits are present:

  • The PowerBook/iBook seems awake, yet screen is black. It is at least partially powered: there is a faint noise that may come from the disk drive. Screen brightness cannot be adjusted.
  • The keyboard is not responsive. However, the caps lock and num lock lights can be switched on and off
  • The afflicted machine does not react to a network ping.
  • The CD works normally and will accept media, but the system does not react appropriately.
  • The battery continues to drain
  • The machine does not "Wake for network administrator access"

We've published several workarounds for this issue over the past few days, and today we have confirmation for some of the previously reported solutions, as well as some that are newly reported:

Confirmation: Do not connect, disconnect external devices during sleep We previously reported that avoiding disconnecting or connecting external devices -- USB, FireWire, etc. -- during sleep eliminates this issue. It also appears that, in some cases, all external devices must be disconnected before putting the machine to sleep.

Several readers have since corroborated this workaround.

MacFixIt reader Philip writs "Removing devices when the computer is sleeping (USB Serial) has usually caused the computer to hard crash in the kernel more times than it has fixed anything for me. My advice -- if putting the computer to sleep and about to say go home -- remove devices before computer goes to sleep."

Another reader adds "If I unlatch the screen and open it without plugging anything in, it works immediately. If I plug in the power cord, a FW drive, a USB anything and then open the screen, the screen is usually blank and the machine is unresponsive."

Finally, yet another reader writes "I zapped PRAM, reset the PMU, and followed all of the fixes reported except reinstalling with no results. Unplugging the USB devices however provided a foolproof fix. To sleep I unplug the USB and use the touch-pad to sleep from the menu. It has slept as long as 14 hours and still wakes perfectly. I suspect the culprit is my Microsoft wireless mouse."

Confirmation: Close the lid again and wait A number of MacFixIt readers have reported that the issue only occurs when putting the laptop to sleep by closing the lid, and thus suggest that people use software sleep commands.

Reader Joe Samuels confirms: This has happened from time to time to me. I have a 15" Ti-Book. I have always been able to fix the problem by closing the lid, making sure that the catch is holding the lid, waiting until the sleep light comes on and then re-opening the lid. The machine wakes perfectly and quickly each time.

"Each time it has happened, I have unplugged peripherals with the lid down, or plugged in peripherals with the lid down, so I try to remember always to plug and unplug with the lid up. Even when I forget to do the plugging and unplugging with the lid up, the problem does not always occur."

Confirmation: Disabling Network activity before sleep We previously reported that terminating all network activity -- in some cases necessitating a power-down of the AirPort card or disconnection of an Ethernet cable -- can eliminate the blank screen issue.

George Greene verifies "Each time I put the PB to sleep, I make sure that there are no network processes running; ergo network activity, mail checking etc.

"I observed that there was a correlation between my e-mail checking for new mail through my Airport as I was closing the lid and the sleep coma.

"Since then I have verified that my Airport is off and inactive prior to putting it to sleep, no issue"

Confirmation: Re-installing Mac OS X Though it is the most tedious of our previously reported workarounds, it may also be the most consistently successful. Several readers report that re-installing Mac OS X via an Archive and Install process, then updating to their previously installed Mac OS X incremental release has resolved this issue.

One reader writes "I finally got around to completely reformatting and reinstalling Panther, and all the apps, and it has been one month now without even one occurrence. We'll see if it starts happening and gets worse again over the next few months. But I hope it is finally fixed."

Another adds "I wiped the drive clean and did installed Panther from scratch about 2 months ago and haven't seen the problem surface yet. Maybe this did it. I still make sure I save my work before closing the lid to be on the safe side."

New workaround: "Slowly" putting the PowerBook/iBook to sleep MacFixIt reader Wally Dixon was able to workaround this issue by "babying" his portable when it is about to enter sleep mode. He describes:

"Here's how I 'baby' the PowerBook: in the office I'm connected to a monitor, AC power, USB keyboard, mouse, etc. I unplug everything, especially power, and then kind of loaf for about 10 seconds before closing the lid. I always close it 'active' i.e. no screen-saver or not already asleep. I don't plug anything back into it until I wake it up again.

"Part of this stems from a theory that the PB might get confused if you sleep it in one power state and wake it up in another power state (i.e. on AC vs on battery) so I 1) make sure it's in the same state when it wakes as it was when it went to sleep; 2) give it time to figure out the new state when I unplug or plug in the AC. [...] Seems to have helped a lot."

New workaround: Never allowing the PowerBook/iBook to automatically sleep We previously reported that some users have been able to avoid this issue by putting their PowerBook to sleep via the Apple menu rather than closing the lid. It now appears that, in some cases, never allowing Energy Saver's timer to put a portable to sleep has similar positive results. This is accomplished by accessing the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences, clicking on the "Sleep" tab, and sliding the "Put computer to sleep when it is inactive for:" bar to "Never."

Jan Morren writes "I just wanted to add something to the "failed waking from sleep" issue. I'm a System Administrator at a large laboratory, and we've been suffering from this issue. But there is one thing that seems to make things work again: We have about 120 Macs in the network, and on every machine where this issue appeared, I turned off the ability for disks and monitors to sleep separately, and I put the lever for automatic sleep to "Never" in Energy Saver. People now have to put their machine to sleep by themselves. The problem never appeared again."

New workaround: Turning off all Wake/Other options in Energy Saver Some readers report that turning off all special automatic sleep options has resolved this problem. This can be accomplished by entering the Energy Saver pane of System Preferences, clicking on the "Options" tab, then upchucking all options, including:

  • Wake when the modem detects a ring
  • Wake for Ethernet Network administrator access
  • Restart automatically after a power failure

One reader writes "I called Apple Tech Support back the day (Dec. 10) your latest article on this issue came out. [...] After I mentioned your article, and he told me that he had handled several calls on this problem. He said the following workaround had worked consistently to fix the problem: Open the Energy Saver preference pain and click on the Options button; Uncheck every option in the Options section, then close System Preferences."

Another reader found success by turning off the "Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible" option, which is located under the "Sleep" tab of System Preferences:

"Apple Support suggested that I uncheck the 'put HD to sleep when possible' box in the Energy Savings prefs and I never let it put itself to sleep."

New workaround: Setting processor performance to "Highest" In another Energy Saver-related workaround, MacFixIt reader Dan reports that setting processor performance to "Highest" using Energy Saver (in the "Optimize Energy Settings" pull-down menu) has eliminated the issue on his portable:

"I had not seen this problem on my 6 month old AL 15" PowerBook, but I have always had it set on "Highest" processor performance. After reading these articles, I tried setting the processor performance to "Automatic" and the first time I put the PB to sleep (closing the lid), it failed to wake up. I closed the lid again, waited a minute, and it woke up cleanly. I have now set the processor performance back to 'Highest' and have had no further problems. I have 1 GB of factory-installed memory."

For more potential causes and solutions for this problem, see parts 1, 2 and 3 of this articles series.

  • re-installing Mac OS X
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