Laptop crashed - what might be wrong?
October 11, 2014 8:49 AM   Subscribe

My MacBook Pro (15-inch, few years old) just crashed. I'm thinking I should pack up and head over to Tekserve now (my AppleCare is still in effect), but can anyone tell me what might have happened and whether it's a bad idea to try to reboot?

I was on the other side of the room when I realized there was a loud unfamiliar beeping noise coming from the laptop (kind of like a truck backing up beep but lower toned, 3 beeps then a pause, then repeat) and the screen was black instead of a sleep mode display. Touching the trackpad & keyboard did nothing, so I held the power button down until it shut off completely.

The machine felt a little warm, but not insanely so, and the power cord was plugged in & showing green. Should I try to reboot? Does this sound like a fixable glitch or a catastrophic meltdown where I should be preparing myself for buying a new laptop and hoping that my latest Time Machine backup will restore itself smoothly into the new machine?

I was at Tekserve a few months ago because of a different unexpected shut-down, but my data was fine, they had to do a quad-core(?) replacement.
posted by oh yeah! to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Rebooting is fine, that's what the techs will do.

The googles suggest that 3 beeps is a memory problem. If it happens at boot and refuses to boot its the ram. If it happens during use it could be hardware or software. Google drive has caused this problem for others, do you use google drive?

If you take it in, have them run a memory diagnostic test. That should be able to tell if its software or hardware related.
posted by TheAdamist at 8:58 AM on October 11, 2014

As TheAdamist suggests -- rebooting is safe/fine.

Laptops can experience problems when they warm up. As with any intermittent problem, I would keep a log of when the problem happened, what the symptoms were, and how you were using the laptop. If it happens again I would bring the laptop and log back to Tekserve and push them to help. A single lockup is an anomaly, a trend is what you want to find.

Also -- its a good time to ENSURE your backups are working correctly. A replacement laptop is an annoyance/cost -- but losing your data (be it from this, or theft, or damage) could be a much bigger problem.
posted by SirStan at 9:05 AM on October 11, 2014

Response by poster: No Google Drive (not even sure what that is, I am just a noob Mac user).
posted by oh yeah! at 9:06 AM on October 11, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, rebooted successfully - was stuck at the "Checking iTunes Library" dialogue box for a worryingly long time, but that appears to be fine now. I will take the wait & see approach for now, thanks!
posted by oh yeah! at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2014

Google drive causes a three beep issue, but only with OS X 10.6.8. It's an incompatibility, and it will not likely be fixed as the OS is now far out of date.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:47 PM on October 11, 2014

Here is the link to the Apple page explaining the various signals a Mac can give you when in trouble. From what you described it appeared that there was a problem with the memory (ram).
Sometimes the memory modules get unseated while traveling with the laptop. Open the unit and reseat the modules.
If this keeps happening, you might want to check the memory using a tool like Techtool Pro. However given the price of this software you might consider replacing both modules for an upgrade. Please buy good quality memory modules from OWC or Crucial. I have very bad experiences with brands like Kingston....

Seriously if reseating the memory doesn't permanently fix this problem check or replace the memory modules. I have seen some sad cases where all the data including the back-up was slowly but surely corrupted by a faulty memory module that was injecting bad data each time it opened and closed a file...
posted by Mac-Expert at 5:10 PM on October 11, 2014

Response by poster: Just to update, I might as well have gone to Tekserve that afternoon. It worked ok for a few more days, but then something happened overnight while it was in sleep mode, was super-hot and the screen stayed black when I tried to wake it. Did a forced shutdown & let it cool off, took it in for service. They were able to do some diagnostics and it appeared to be a problem with the logic board, but possibly a hard drive problem, and estimated it would be ready for pickup by 10/23. They shipped it back to Apple, but now Tekserve can't tell me when it will ship back - apparently Apple is currently having a shortage of logic boards and isn't telling them when the part will be available. So frustrating.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:54 AM on October 25, 2014

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