Help me trouble shoot my Macbook Air
December 2, 2017 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I have a three year old Macbook Air that freezes then reboots itself at random times and does not like to be updated. Help?

Here are the basic system specs:
System Version: OS X 10.11.6 (15G31)
Kernel Version: Darwin 15.6.0
Model Identifier: MacBookAir6,2
Processor Name: Intel Core i5
Processor Speed: 1.4 GHz

My computer has basically always had this problem. It periodically freezes up and then reboots itself. Once it starts doing that, it will keep doing it frequently for weeks while I fiddle with things and try to fix it.

It's always something that triggers it in particular. Usually it's an update. This time around, it might have gotten too hot from me running Universal Paperclips on top of some other resource intensive things and that triggered the first resetart. But that was a week ago, and now that it's in this cycle, there are two things that automatically cause it to reboot: opening Gmail in Chrome (opening Chrome is fine, opening Gmail in Safari is fine) and opening Facetime.

It also doesn't take updates well. I'm not still on El Capitan because I want to be. I'm still on El Capitan because I never went to Sierra for incompatibility with some software I needed for University reasons and now when I try to download and install High Sierra, the download will just stop for days for no apparent reason. I can't install something the Installer won't even pull down off the internet.

Usually it restarts, it opens to the black screen with the Apple and the status bar and about half the times that it restarts, it just hangs up on that screen, and I have to power it down and manually restart it to get it to go again.

I've done about a zillion different things to try to solve this over the years. Safe-mode restarts, PRAM and SMC resets, reinstalling the current OSX. I apply whatever updates I can, though upgrading to new versions of OSX haven't worked. Eventually some combination of something works and I am able to start using the computer normally again for a few months, provided I don't ever let it load any more updates but it's pretty frustrating.

The most useful cure to date has been making an appointment at the Genius Bar. About 24 hours before my Genius Bar appointment, it will spontaneously start working again, so that I have no symptoms available to show the Geniuses. Apparently the placebo effect works on computers, too. You just have to tell them you're thinking of taking them to the doctor and they're cured.

But really -- what are some things I can do to actually fix this problem so it stops happening?
posted by jacquilynne to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's a hardware problem. Back it up, and hassle Apple until it gets fixed (ask them to soak test it). You can't fix an Air yourself.
posted by Leon at 2:00 PM on December 2, 2017

Don't bother with the Genius Bar right now, AppleCare is actually more equipped to help something like this, generally speaking. Next time it happens, note the date and time, down to the second if possible. Call AppleCare and ask for a Senior Advisor.

Be patient, they will likely have you go through the same steps but it's important you do so they know the steps were done correctly. Don't let them bully you into an NVRAM reset or reinstalling because that will clear the crash data. Tell them you want Engineering to investigate. They'll have you run Capture Data. It'll take at least a few days to hear back.

Edit: Leon is likely correct, but doing this through AppleCare first will save you time in the Apple Store. Once Engineering confirms hardware through the Capture Data, the Store doesn't really need to do any troubleshooting while you slowly melt into the floor.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 2:01 PM on December 2, 2017

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