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Thread: MacPro3,1 with Unresponsive Finder, Demanding Reinstall of Operating System

  1. #21
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    Default Chronosync

    Downloading a fresh installer now.

    Chronosync looks great! Does it completely replace SuperDuper?

  2. #22
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    Default

    The difference with Chronosync is it can back up anything to anything with any rules you care to create. I don't do much in the way of rules, but I like being able to backup a folder to a folder or whatever. It is flawless at getting the backup perfect. I like being able to configure it to mount and dismount the backup drive. That helps a lot with the new MBP workstation that wanders all over the place.

    Superduper can only back up a drive to a drive.


    They both work great at what they do. I personally replaced SynchronizeProX with Chronosync because at the time SyncProX was stopping on dates and permissions all the time and every day I had to manually fix it. I'm sure that got fixed, but at the time Chronosync was something I wanted to test. CHronosync is the highest customer rate backup software. BUT, if you switch to it, you have to learn all new methodology and word descriptions. Every backup app has its own language, so the annoyance is figuring out what the mean by anything.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  3. #23
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    Default Fresh Install Still Beachballing

    Downloaded a new installer, installed onto a fresh partition on a separate drive, and…

    Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage

    …still results in beachballing.

    Does this mean that this OS, which should work on this computer, somehow dislikes something about my hardware? Can hardware pass all sorts of tests, and yet still be incompatible? Or, might the hardware tests have missed something?

    This frustrating computer works perfectly in every regard, except in the Finder and System Information!

    <><><><><>

    Oddly (and as before, although I have not yet mentioned it), when About This Mac beachballs, it is listed as "Not Responding" in Activity Monitor, but does not show in:

    Apple Menu > Force Quit…

    <><><><><>

    I can confirm that downloading the installer from the App Store yields the latest version, even if the date in the "Purchased" list suggests prior download of an older version. Even after downloading a newer version, "Purchased" will continue to list the date of first download.

  4. #24
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    Default Chronosync for Me!

    Quote Originally Posted by ricks View Post
    Chronosync is the highest customer rate backup software. BUT, if you switch to it, you have to learn all new methodology and word descriptions. Every backup app has its own language, so the annoyance is figuring out what the mean by anything.
    No worries, but thanks for the warning! My secret confession is that I always found SuperDuper confusing, so I'm happy to learn something new. Worst case appears to be that it will be no more confusing, but much more capable.

  5. #25
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    Default

    Any PCI cards installed? I had to remove one from my G4 due to a similar issue.

  6. #26
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    Default No PCI cards installed.

    Installed hardware:
    • Newer hard drives from MacGurus in bays 1 and 3. (Bays 2 and 4 are empty.)
    • Stock video card.
    • WiFi card. (This is not in a PCI slot. Although not purchased with the computer, it is OEM, and plugs into a dedicated slot on the logic board.)
    • Two DVI drives. I believe the stock one connects over ATA, and the MacGurus over SATA.

  7. #27
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    Default About This Mac vs. System Information

    Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage

    always results in beachballing, but:

    Apple Menu > About This Mac > System Information > Hardware > Storage

    works every time, without fail! Does it hang when it tries to read the disk, to report how much space is used for apps and music and whatever is reported in the currently beachballed result? It seems to be okay with just reading the names of the disks and listing their capacities and mount points.

  8. #28
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    Default

    This is starting to look like a logic board/chipset/firmware issue.

    The USB/FireWire PCI card I had in my G4 worked fine for many years. Then one day I started getting odd kernel panics, Finder crashes, and beachballs. Finally found that anytime I went to System Profiler, and clicked on FireWire the Finder would beachball, and eventually crash. Removed the card, and everything went back to normal. I figure something went sideways with the FW chip on the card. I remember having issues with a few different cards before I found the one that eventually failed.

  9. #29
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    Default "This is starting to look like a logic board/chipset/firmware issue."

    If the problem were firmware, could it be repaired by downloading a firmware update and flashing the logic board? That would be a lucky, low-cost solution, but I don't know much about it. I have only ever run firmware updates in the context of software upgrades.

    If the problem is on the logic board, does that necessarily mean it needs to be replaced, or might there be a workaround? Maybe the problem is isolated to a part of the logic board that I could avoid. Is there a chance, for example, that if I completely bypassed the internal drive bays by booting from a built-in FireWire port, the computer would stop beachballing? If that worked, might installing new hard drive ports via a PCI card also work, but be faster? No point spending too much money fixing an older computer, but if it could run off external drives, at least those would stay with me through future computers.

    Are there any hardware tests that could find the hidden problem? So far, I have used these without finding any errors:
    • Apple Hardware Test
    • Disk Utility
    • Micromat TechTool Pro
    • Micromat ATOMIC memory tester
    • DiskWarrior

  10. #30
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    Default

    Have you checked the system logs? They can often give clues as to the nature of the issue.

    You could try booting from an external to see if the internal drive controller might be the culprit. Either way at this point I'd be looking at a good used 5,1 tower. Picked mine up from a local for $500. It was a backup machine from a video editing house. Very little use, and squeaky clean.

  11. #31
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    Default "Either way at this point I'd be looking at a good used 5,1 tower."

    Sounds as though you are pretty sure there is an expensive problem somewhere.

    I have no idea how to read system logs, or even how to find them, but am willing to learn. Is there a manual that could help?

    "see if the internal drive controller might be the culprit"

    Tomorrow morning, I'll put the drives into external FireWire cases, and with no drives in the internal bays, see how the computer runs.

  12. #32
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    Default

    To view system logs simply open Console. There will be a lot of cryptic stuff in there to wade through, but sometimes you can find something useful.

  13. #33
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    I wouldn't be ready to call it a motherboard problem. I doubt it is internal drive controller since there are six of them. Be pretty tough to break more than one. And even that is not something I have ever heard of happening. Starting off a Firewire connection is easy though and will instantly prove/disprove your theory.

    I'm with Brane that pulling any and all attached hardware is a useful step. That includes your current mouse and keyboard, WiFi card and even the graphics are suspect. Maybe especially..... but nothing really points at any one thing.

    If you can get it up and running you can run Activity Monitor and see if any one process is eating CPU processing capacity.

    No one I know really has a clue how to read log files. I've spent years staring into the monitor trying, usually with very limited success, to glean a single item of insight out of log files. They are arcane and meaningless for the most part. Every software genius uses his own made up and very brief truncated message system to tell him, and usually him alone, how his code is handling, or not, the environment. Worse yet, every time they make it easy to understand, like putting the word 'error' or 'fault' along with developer name, any problem the computer has will cause everyone to jump to conclusion it was caused by said engineer's employer's device/software or whatever. Doesn't matter how innocuous the original problem was. So said engineer very carefully limits what is actually stated on log reports from his code/firmware/driver or whatever.

    Am I saying don't read the logs, NO!. Read away. Just don't expect that you will see anything all that useful. Maybe a small note about a failure to load or an access problem that leads to an inkling of a source.

    Another possible source is a power supply issue. I no longer have a source for the service manuals, not since the Intel switchover. That is what we need here to see if there are any LED indicators that can tell us anything, or voltage tests. Even those may not be all that useful since Apple's servicing methodology is typically a replace parts till it fixes it - IE: If computer doesn't boot replace the CPU. If that doesn't get it replace the motherboard, if that doesn't get it replace the power supply.... you get the idea. An Apple Repair facility uses these methods and thens sends the replaced parts off to get tested and possibly repaired by a dedicated facility. Customers who bring their computer in for repair are always shocked at the number of parts swapped, but that is how the system is set up and it works for Apple. God help you if your pockets aren't deep and your Mac is out of warranty.

    Keep at this until you fix it or the MacPro melts down. That's as good a path as Apple's.

    Rick



    Like you, I don't give up easily.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  14. #34
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    Default

    Thousand thanks to all of you! I am grateful for your ongoing help. Yes; I'll keep trying to fix this, on the belief that the most likely culprit is not a major failure, which would have been easily diagnosed, but some stupid thing hidden in plain sight.

    "…pulling any and all attached hardware is a useful step. That includes your current mouse and keyboard, WiFi card and even the graphics…"

    Had no idea mouse and keyboard could be trouble. Will switch them immediately.

    Would the aftermarket Radeon graphics card from my Beige G3 266 tower work? Seriously; I don't know, nor do I have any other graphics card to test whether the MacPro's card has failed.

    Will test WiFi card last, because it is so hard to pull (or, actually, to replace). Is turning off WiFi of any help?

    "run Activity Monitor and see if any one process is eating CPU processing capacity"

    Everything about this computer runs fine, until one gets unlucky while using the Finder or About This Mac > Storage. Activity Monitor has not shown any one process hogging the processor. I've looked for this in relative terms, too. It's hard to saturate all eight cores, so I check to see whether any process may be using an undue percentage of processing bandwidth. All is well.

    "Another possible source is a power supply issue."

    The computer received a rebuilt power supply six months ago, which seems to be working fine. The Mac tech at the local shop tested those lights when he installed it. He's a rarity, 24 years tenure; analytic, never random.

    The current from the electrical outlet on the wall is good in my city, so need I worry that the batteries in the backup power supply are older? I could plug the computer into just a surge protector to test whether the battery backup were problematic.

    "I no longer have a source for the service manuals, not since the Intel switchover."

    The computer is a MacPro3,1 with Intel processors.

    I've heard of applications that replace the Finder. As a workaround, maybe I should install one!

    https://perishablepress.com/os-x-tot...-alternatives/

    http://www.cultofmac.com/385622/this...r-wants-to-be/

    http://www.cocoatech.com/pathfinder/

    Who knows what trouble that may invite!

  15. #35
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    Key to troubleshooting: only change ONE variable at a time otherwise you will likely become hopelessly lost. Simple, and cheap fixes first ALWAYS. You don't want to be the guy that replaced that expensive component only to find a bad cable.

  16. #36
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    Default Gremlins in the Machine

    Wouldn't want to say we're out of the woods yet, but here's what happened:

    I plugged in a chain of two FireWire drives to test them with whatever discs were already in the cases. One disc was bad; it hung the computer hard, requiring a restart to stop the beachballing. Turned off power to the drives, but left the FireWire 800-to-400 cable plugged into the Mac's FireWire 800 port, if it makes any difference having a cable plugged when there is no power to the devices.


    FIRST TEST:

    Changed the keyboard and mouse (to a venerable Apple Pro Mouse, if anyone remembers those), restarted the computer, booting El Capitan from the same old drive in the same old internal bay. Tried:

    Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage

    …and the Storage panel opened with NO BEACHBALLING!

    Seemed too good to be true, so I then changed back to the original mouse and alternative keyboard, restarted, and found NO BEACHBALLING!

    Thinking maybe we'd found the culprit, I then returned to both the original mouse and original keyboard, restarted, and again found NO BEACHBALLING!

    Suddenly, all the original stuff works, at least for this issue, after many, many, many months of trouble.


    NEXT TEST:

    Disk Utility has not worked in months. Opening it has always caused the computer to hang (never an exception). This time, it opened immediately, with NO BEACHBALLING! and easily ran First Aid on every volume.


    FINAL TEST:

    The computer needs to keep showing this good behavior, and the Finder needs not to hang at random moments. I can only become confident of that over time.

    Seems odd, if just changing to a different keyboard and mouse, and then switching back to the originals, would fix a computer. Is that really possible?

  17. #37
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    Bad connection?

    I periodically blow the dust out of my towers, and give the ports/cable ends a little shot of DeOxit.

  18. #38
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    Default DeOxit

    Thanks for the tip! This stuff?

    http://caig.com/

    Never heard of it before. Is it for all connectors, even, for example, when installing RAM or PCI cards? Sounds as easy as spraying canned air at dust! Where would one buy this?

    Is it really possible that a bad connection on a keyboard or mouse could cause the Finder, About This Mac > Storage, and Disk Utility to hang? Or (if the computer stays fixed), have we just seen the coincidence of sudden, random self-correction with my swapping peripherals?

  19. #39
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    Yup that's the stuff. You can use it on pretty much any connections, but if you use it on slots make sure you blow out any excess before use.

    Anything is possible when it comes to computers especially when space monkeys are involved. I still believe they were behind most SCSI voodoo.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Brane View Post
    Anything is possible when it comes to computers especially when space monkeys are involved. I still believe they were behind most SCSI voodoo.
    Or motorcycle racing.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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