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Thread: System Freezes with Integrity Tester

  1. #1
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    Recently purchased Intech's Hard Disk Speed Tools, mostly out of a last
    ditch effort to correct a problem I was having with an external Firewire
    drive, but now involving other drives as well.

    System: G4 DP500
    OS 9.1
    Master: Fireball 30GB (Apple Drivers)
    Slave: IBM 60GXP 60GB (Apple Drivers)
    Miles 2 UW w/ 2 Cheeta's, 9GB w/ Softraid, stripped
    External LaCie "Fast Firewire" 60GB (SilverLining 4.6)

    All's been running fine for some time, until I started getting weird
    system freezes while in Photoshop, usually using the cloning tool.
    Weird because I would work on it for 8 to 10 hours straight without a
    hiccup, then the next day; bingo, freeze within the first 10 minutes.
    Resorted to stripping down my extension to bare minimum, and all
    seemed...well....kind of OK.

    Started getting system freezes/hangs while copying large chunks of files
    (3+ GBs) over from the internal drives to the external Firewire. This
    was repeatable, both with a LaCie firewire PocketDrive and their larger
    externals. I fixed this (I think) with a flashed ROM upgrade (had
    migrated from 9.04 to 9.1).

    However, the IBM started to make noises, and started crawling along;
    Disk First Aid and Techtools found it passing all tests, yet it made a
    horrible noise, and anything after 2MB during bench testing would induce
    it to CRAAAWWWWLLLLL. Then the external LaCie started behaving badly,
    needing the attention of Disk First Aid, Disk Warrior, and TechTool's
    Pro; these DID find problems with system files and structures.
    To make a long story short, the IBM has been replaced under warranty,
    and the LaCie has currently been sent back.

    I purchased HDST mostly for the Integrity checker. However, while
    running it on the Master drive, as well as the IBM (replaced one) the
    machine consistently freezes up around the 37th cycle. I get the same
    results with the IBM disconnected. I can run it over night on the Raid
    drive without a problem under the same circumstances. I did run Device
    Test on the Master, and it passed without errors or freezing.

    I have not been able to get any tech support from IntechUSA, hence I'm posting it here.

    What would be causing the machine to freeze/hang while using the
    Integrity testing on the internal ATA drives, while the master passes
    with one run of the Device Tester? And why hang while testing the ATA
    and not the SCSI Raid system?

    All ram has been tested by Apple Hardware Tester 1.0, and has been found to be fine. I'm getting the same freezing whether I run all four 256 chips, or just one.

    Any help would be appreciated, as always.

    Thanks

    Mark

  2. #2
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    Mark,

    I have asked Intech to join us here. k

  3. #3
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    Did you look to see if SL Pro 4.6 was their latest? They recently in the last weeks upgraded, I thought it was 6.4 (typo?).

    I'm not big on FireWire for more than simple backups even now, having waited and hoped that the latest Oxford-911 would work. I've seen that there have been firmware updates on many FireWire devices, often for PC versions first, but many CDRW FW devices are waiting for Jaguar for drivers and whether they are working on drivers for OS 9.

    I would try a cheap $30 PCI FW card; latest SL Pro drivers; partition the drive and only use it when erased, consider FireWire to "in want" and not reliable enough for production. ie, there may not be anything you are doing wrong.

    As for memory tests, I'd go by DIMM First Aid and an over-night memory test if it seems warranted.
    www.xlr8yourmac.com has reports on FireWire drives, disk drive database. it is a shame that StorageReview lost their server at one point and did not have a backup of their user "reliability" database of user input of drives, how long in operation, rating, etc. We need that kind of data.

    I'd slap a couple 36GB Cheetah 10Ks out there, knowing it is faster, reliable, and not prone to the issues FireWire has yet to totally solve and overcome. I think OS X does have much better support, and will under Jaguar when drivers and more mature and less buggy.

    InTech updated HDST to 3.5 to better conform to Apple's requirements.
    What if you take the drive, place it inside and use Drive Setup, which is what I have done for FW? Another option might be to put it off a PCI IDE, maybe even RAID IDE. It may not be perfect, I think Rick has had some misgivings about his hard RAID IDE in QS for reliability etc, but it might be slightly better than FireWire... but fall short of SCSI.

    Gregory

  4. #4
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    Gregory,

    What is SL Pro 4.6?

    I've placed Intech's drivers on the one slave unit (IBM), and it continuely hangs during the Integrity Tester at about the 59th cycle. This occurs whether I "tune" the drivers down to the slower ATA 33 settings. As well, the drive passes the Device test, which I assume checks for any bad sectors (I could be wrong about that). So.....if it's hardware related as Intech's user's guide says, I can't think of anything effecting it other than the nature of ATA drives, or my computer's ATA bus system. Weird though that it can run 59 cycles of the test before it freezes.
    Mark

  5. #5
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    SilverLining Pro. I would assume you've email LaCie or APS? There is the IDE to FireWire bridge along with the firmware that can get in the way. not all FW cases are the same.

    I like to buy the drive and case separately, format the drive with Drive Setup 2.07 if possible inside the mac before putting it in a case. Others have also found as have I that Disk Utility under OS X 10.1+ is very good for formatting FW/IDE drives, and FW support may be better under X.1.

    However, I find it to be slow, not totally reliable, and use FW only for an additional backup.

    To be sure if it is the FW bridge, I'd remove the drive and hook it up inside the G4. A zero-all does the most thorough test if you use Drive Setup on the drive.

    Any IDE drive can or should work in a FW case, though.

    Gregory

  6. #6
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    One thing make sure to update to the latest version of LaCies programs/drivers. I have a freind who's been having many random issues with his LaCie ext. FW HD. I, myself, after his problems and researching stuff for him will never purchase a LaCie drive. He has a FW CD burner that the bridge has burnt out twice on, as well. The thing that gets me is that your supposed to be able to just plug the damn thing in and have it work...not install some specific vendor supplied software. It's a Mac, after all...

  7. #7
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    I just received back my LaCie 60 gig external drive that was repaired under warranty (one year). Reason: "Bad Firewire Board". Hmmm....seems odd to have that happening with a drive I rarely use, other than for back-up storage.

    As for the trouble I've been having with Integrity Tester utility, I've taken the advice from Intech's manual, and placed their drivers on the hardrive, and have still been having computer freezes, even after "tuning" the drive down to the speed of ATA 33. Mind you, this is on the stock drive, as well as the 2nd slave (IBM) drive. Again, runs just fine on my internal SCSI raid system, yet totally freezes at the 59th or so cycle with any or the ATA drives. If Intech states this points to a serious hardware issue, they have not given any more information other than that, which seems odd that the stock system is hanging with their tester. Alas, "Tech Support" from Intech has been less than helpful.

    Mark

  8. #8
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    There is discussion on XLR8 as well as MacFixit etc about FW and hot-swapping frying the built-in FW port.

    FW itself has been buggy and the latest developer driver kits seem to help.

    In order for FW (and USB) to support 127 devices, there has to be a dynamic device tree, there has to be an entry for each device. Polling devices may be a problem. It is with unplugging and replugging FW web cams.

    There are still problems with FW even in OS X 10.1.5 that are 'fixed' in the latest SDK but may not have been in 9.1. The most current extension drivers are included in 9.2.2 I believe. I don't see any available since then in say ADC software downloads. "Drivers" can be extensions, but usually mean the format utility also. I'd trust Drive Setup, maybe Charismac and Intech 3.5 first.

  9. #9
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    "I just received back my LaCie 60 gig external drive that was repaired under warranty (one year). Reason: "Bad Firewire Board". Hmmm....seems odd to have that happening with a drive I rarely use, other than for back-up storage."

    Actually, using a device infrequently doesn't reduce the chance of hardware problems -- it's more likely to delay their arrival, at least until you've got some "burn-in" time on it. In my opinion, one of the best things to do with new gear is to leave it powered on for multiple weeks, at least at first, and use it whenever the mood strikes you, as at backup time.

    Two typical failure zones are DOA (fails immediately or within a day of first installation) and what's called "infant mortality", failure within the first month or so. Both of these are made more obvious sooner with my recommended burn-in, which means you've also got fewer of your assets committed to the new gear when it goes. Some data centers won't install upgraded CPU boards, for instance, without running 'em in a test machine for a month first.

    The last point for me with most computer hardware is that I don't power it off, at all, except when rare circumstance calls for it. Not very environmentally friendly of me, but avoiding power cycles extends the life of just about everything except the brushes in motors. In my opinion, of course!

    Jazzbo

  10. #10
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    As a follow up: after days/weeks/hours of pulling things out, reseating, rebuilding, retesting etc....I narrowed the problems down to a bad RAM chip. After pulling it, the machine became stable once again.

    Finding the cause of my problems was masked by the fact the chip at times would pass the ram tests (Apple Hardware Tests), and other times fail. Repeated testing was necessary to isolate it.

    As for the disk problems, I can only assume they were related to the above and the ensuing restarts from freezes. The IBM and LaCie drive problems could have been just a bad drive, or a repeatably corrupted driver as a result of bad RAM. Things seem stable at this point.

    Still no idea as to why the Integrity tester would work fine on the SCSI raid, while all internal drives would freeze.

    Mark

  11. #11
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    Mark,

    I don't see that you ran DIMM First Aid - just the Apple Hardware. Do you know where that chip came from?

  12. #12
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    Gregory,

    I did run DIMM First Aid, and it passed as being OK. I don't thing it really tests anything, other than the ram's specs to see if it matches Apple's requirements.

    As for the chips, they're from MacGurus. They replacing the defective as per their lifetime warranty. So kind!

    Mark

  13. #13
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    Mark,

    DIMM First Aid can repair PROM code on G4's but the Apple Firmware update to test RAM should do a better job As long as it was 7.5 ns or better it should have been good.

    Glad to hear it's been taken care of - a $60 critical component that cost a lot more in lost time and troubleshooting -

    Just curious, how long did you have that RAM?

    Gregory

  14. #14
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    Gregory,

    I had it less than two years, I think. About the time ram prices fell, I filled the machine up. The machine was pretty stable for some time, though I can't say just when it started to show signs of trouble.

    I tend to stay away from updating my system, software and computer with the "latest" unless it's essential for my workflow. As well, anything that's not directly related to the purpose of my workstation, which is digital imaging, stays off it; there's a lot of "fun" third party stuff out there, but it just add's one more item that has the potential for conflict.

    In as much as I'm pretty careful in terms of keeping my system clean and lean, I have over time installed different software and drivers for the pro level digital backs, as well as updates for Wacom pads and other adapters. When my problems began to show up, I usually associated it with extension conflicts, and created sparse sets in a hopes to correct it. It seemed to work at times, and other times it did nothing. It wasn't until I started getting corrupt data, weird Photoshop freezes, damaged boot blocks and lost drives that I began to suspect something else. Let's hope this has fixed it. So far, it's been stable!

    Mark

  15. #15
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    Mark,

    Under OS 9.1 a couple thoughts.

    Do you have a copy of ResEdit? Also, maybe Conflict Catcher? Some people don't like CC but I have found it useful and safe. A clean copy of the system file from after doing an install, put it (the system folder) on a disk image.

    Also, test and verify that the system file is reported fine by ResEdit and/or Conflict Catcher. If not, replace or use ResEdit to repair a copy, then replace yours.

    Some programs seem to damage the System file. Not postitive but when NetBarrier stores the serial number, it adds a resource to the system, which should be okay even if I disagree with the practice, but the file's length is incorrect afterward. Whatever, if it says it needs minor repair, you want to do it.

    Bleeding edge is just that, but in some things, like having the most current drivers, that are compliant with yor OS version, is essential, not even an option. Because of changes in 9.1, some modems stopped being supported and other issues forcing some users to stay at 9.04. Or move to 10.1.

    I like 10.1 to be able to scan and continue working. I use to have one mac just for scanning, then have to move files over to another mac. it's just been more stable and faster (disk I/O under 10.1 is a huge improvement). But no SoftRAID - and it's an 'either/or' as they won't be able to be seen under both OS 9 and 10.

    OS X is 'hard' on RAM and any weakness usually shows up immediately. Sure did for me. Dimm First Aid didn't exist, but when it did, it was sort of obvious that the 10 ns. RAM was the cause (and one was Apple RAM too). I use to think it was OS 9.0+ or IE 5.0 causing a crash once a day or once a week.

    RAM prices are still looking great, too.

    Gregory

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