Sleep that's too deep
September 13, 2009 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Why can't my Macbook Pro wake from a coma?

I have a Macbook Pro 2.4 ghz pre-unibody 17” with 4 gb of RAM running Leopard (10.5.2 I think? 10.5.something). I’m having trouble getting my computer to start up from a sleep-like mode, and I’m not sure what has caused the problem, so here are the possible factors:

1. Since I bought the computer a year and a month ago, the graphics card had been malfunctioning intermittently. Sometimes when I would scroll, the screen would stutter, leaving a trail of whatever I was scrolling. Other times, when I played a video, squares of video would flicker, missing.

So I sent it in (I have Applecare, luckily), and 5 days later, they had replaced both the logic board, and some connector for the battery, which I hadn’t asked them to do. Ever since, there have been moments that the computer doesn’t recognize that there is a battery in it, which is odd, because even when the little battery with an x icon was present, the computer didn’t immediately shut down when I unplugged the AC adaptor.

2. A was doing a video editing project recently that took up way more hard disk space than I expected. There was one point when I received the warning “Your startup disk is almost full.” When I got this warning, I immediately shut down, booted up again, and transferred 30 gb to an external hard drive.

3. I started to have trouble waking the computer from sleep, but I could always hard boot by shutting the computer down holding the power key for a few seconds, and then rebooting. I wondered whether something was wrong with the sleepimage, so I turned off safesleep (hibernation) mode through the console using the instructions in this link.

4. That fix worked for a couple of weeks. Then, the other day, I took my computer out of my bag, and to my horror, it had been turned on with the lid closed for what I assume was an hour or two. Either it never went to sleep, even though I closed the lid, or it spontaneously woke up with the lid closed in my bag. The fan was going full throttle, and the screen was still on. I turned the computer off, let it cool down, and then later when I started it up again, it seemed fine.

5. Then, by accident, with safesleep still disabled, I let the battery on the computer completely drain. After that, even though I recharged the battery completely, when I try to boot up, I hear the beginnings of the process (the optical drive engaging, for one) and the sleep light goes on, but the screen never does anything. I’ve tried to use a flashlight on the screen to see if there was any activity, but as far as I can tell, nothing is happening. Target disk mode, safe boot, external hard drive boot, zapping the pram don’t change anything.

6. Another thing that I feel I should mention is the fact that I’ve been using the Freedom freeware program, which I assume affects the network preferences temporarily to block all internet connections while you’re using it. I include this because, based on what I’ve read on-line, a couple possible causes of this problem could be this one—that waking from sleep gets messed up if a certain system program isn’t present—or this one, in which somehow ethernet preferences being messed up causes the problem.

What do those of you who know about these things think? What should I do?
posted by umbú to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm no expert and for the most part don't know what you're talking about up there but I also have a MacBook that often refuses to wake up from a sleep state. Otherwise in perfect working condition. Even if it is plugged in, it won't wake up and I have to turn it off and then boot it up again. Very annoying. So I am wondering about this too! Sorry to be no help. But maybe it's a MacBook thing.
posted by beccyjoe at 3:12 PM on September 13, 2009


5. Then, by accident, with safesleep still disabled, I let the battery on the computer completely drain. After that, even though I recharged the battery completely, when I try to boot up, I hear the beginnings of the process (the optical drive engaging, for one) and the sleep light goes on, but the screen never does anything. I’ve tried to use a flashlight on the screen to see if there was any activity, but as far as I can tell, nothing is happening. Target disk mode, safe boot, external hard drive boot, zapping the pram don’t change anything.
I believe that resetting the SMC will resolve this issue.

As for 1-4, perhaps you should complain to Apple since the problems seem to have gotten worse (and different) after they serviced your laptop.
posted by polyhedron at 3:16 PM on September 13, 2009


I have a partially untested theory about this.

Both my computer, and my sons mac book were behaving similarly.

My sons computer was worse because the fan was also making a terrible noise.

We opened his computer up and found the fan was clogged with dust, we cleaned it. it got a little better. we replaced the fan and the problem went away entirely.

My computer is still behaving the same way as yours, I suspect the fan is full of dust and dog hair.

I have installed 'fan control' and my computer seems to be running very hot.

I think it is failing to wake from sleep because it is overheating, so i plan to clean it out soon.
posted by compound eye at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2009


I had the exact same sleep problems on my MacBook about a month ago when I was using hibernation mode via the Deep Sleep Dashboard widget. Everything was working fine with the widget at first, then I suddenly I started having those problems in late August. My personal theory is that one of the latest updates changed something in a way that ends up interacting poorly with hibernation mode and/or safe sleep mode.

The fix that worked to get my MacBook working the way it was before was to completely uninstall the Deep Sleep widget (not just disabling it on the Dashboard, but also deleting it entirely) and set my sleep mode back to the most basic one (mode 0). I haven't had any of the sleep problems you describe since then.
posted by limeonaire at 4:04 PM on September 13, 2009


New dc in-board (you can replace yourself) or new lid (close mechanism may be faulty.)

Write back if your Apple Care is kaput. They should accept your machine for a complete overhaul for $200 or so, even w/out the insurance, but I think that option is customer service rep specific. You might need additional advice.

Problem sounds hardware related (I've been there) but the right mac genius can help you determine for sure. Or post back to this thread.

Best.
posted by jbenben at 4:41 PM on September 13, 2009


Unless the definitions are different in Mac OS, I'd recommend against using sleep at all. When the computer is sleeping, stuff is still happening and you are running your battery down. Eventually, it will (hopefully) realize that it is getting low on battery and either hibernate or shut down gracefully.

I'm of the opinion that there is no point to sleep mode. Set it to hibernate when you shut the lid or hit the button. After 20 seconds it is OFF. When you turn it back on, you will actually have a charged battery to use.

And the other stuff about cleaning it out. If you are handy, consider pulling the heatsink off and regreasing it.
posted by gjc at 6:12 PM on September 13, 2009


gjc - on a Mac, hibernation only happens when the battery is almost dead, or when you use a third-party tool to trigger it. By default a Mac will use "smart sleep", meaning it writes RAM to disk as if it were hibernating, then goes to sleep. If you wake it up again, all is good. If the battery dies, it will recover from the saved RAM image on disk when power up again as if it were coming out of hibernation.

Yes, as a former Windows user I think this is silly, and wish the thing would just hibernate without the need for any additional fussing around. But that's the way Steve Jobs thinks it should be, so that's how it is.

umbú - display issues might be a sign of a dead or dying display. Apple extended the repair / replacement period for Macs with nVidia graphics due to known issues with the manufacturing quality.

Also, do the system updates and run the installers for the firmware updates as well. You might be experiencing problems that could be resolved by updating the firmware or system software. If you're at 10.5.2 then you're at least 4-5 updates behind.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:57 PM on September 13, 2009


I have had two unibody macbooks which have done the non-wake-from-sleep issues you were having. Each have been cured by putting their original RAM back in.

If you have upgraded your RAM, try putting the default Apple RAM (Hynix or Samsung may be the brands Apple has used in the recent past) back in and see if you can replicate the issue, or NOT replicate the issue.

It worked for me (luckily I saved the original RAM which came with my MacBook).

I've successfully returned the 4GB of upgraded RAM for new modules which worked... I think as software upgrades have occurred (the latest was to Snow Leopard), some code has changed the way the Macs access the memory during sleep.

Good Luck!
posted by lonemantis at 8:44 AM on September 14, 2009


Response by poster: Just to follow up, I took it in to be repaired, and they ended up having to replace the logicboard. I was so grateful that I didn't lose my data.

Thanks for all your suggestions.
posted by umbú at 1:45 PM on October 14, 2009


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