By Graham K. Rogers
Over the last four weeks, my late-2013 13" Retina display MacBook Pro began to experience a series of Kernel Panics. I have taken a number of steps to analyze and solve the problem; but eventually had to accept that the causes might not be software-related. I finally took it in to one of the Apple service centers in Bangkok and tried to work round the lack of a Mac.
My initial response was to move as much work as I could to my iPad, but I quickly realized that - as good as this is in certain situations - the work bringing together several files and file types as are needed to manage a website, was better suited to the way I understand an OS X environment.
My response was to bring my iMac home from the office and install a Time Machine backup from the MacBook Pro. That worked well initially, but the speed difference of the two was too great. The MacBook Pro has a 2.6 GHz quad-core processor and 16 GB RAM; the iMac has a 2.4 GHz Core 2 duo processor with 2 GB RAM. I guess the RAM made a major difference, and I was unable to find any more when I went hunting on Saturday.
Heading for work on Monday morning, I saw email from Maccenter, telling me that the MacBook Pro was ready for collection. I left work a little early and headed for Siam Discovery Center and collected the Mac.
The good news is that nothing was found to be wrong with the hardware. The bad news is that nothing was found to be wrong with the hardware. That indicates a software or installation problem, so my next step would be to reformat the disk. The shop had already done this, but there will be no harm me doing this again. But first, preparation.
I have two options: wipe the disk completely and start all over again; or wipe the disk and recover using the Time Machine backup. If that second option does not give me a completely Kernel Panic-free system, I will have lost nothing by starting over.
At the service center, I was shown that a whole battery of tests had been carried out. When I asked about RAM, I was told that had been found to be fine as well. It was returned to me in a basic state with OS X 10.10, Yosemite (10.10.1 actually - the most recent version), and a basic Admin account with no password: at its most vulnerable. We will soon fix that.
My plan to use the Time Machine backup that had been transferred to the iMac was thwarted in part, when on Sunday I found it had stopped backing up to to the disk I was using.
There are three possibilities: the disk is broken; the Firewire 800 port on the iMac has ceased to work; or the Firewire cable is faulty. I do not have a spare and have not been able to find a replacement. I did try another disk with the suspect cable, but that did not work. When I tried the same disk, linked to the iMac with a FW400 cable, the disk appeared on the desktop. The Thunderbolt disk cannot be connected as the iMac is too old: fair enough.
Plan C: I brought home the USB 3.0 disk that I keep at the office and connected that. By the time I had opened System Preferences > Time Machine, that little disk was already hard at work, preparing.
When I am ready to reinstall the backup, I plan to use this. This is an argument for redundant systems: you do not need three backup disks: until you do.
Plan C was derailed slightly when the iMac reported that the Time Machine backup failed as there was not enough space. I moved some files off the disk and tried again. That was also unsuccessful, so I removed the disk from the Time Machine list and erased it.
The data is on other disks, so little (if anything ) will be lost. When the reformat was complete, I added it again to the Time Machine list and began backing up anew. That may take a while.
I sat and wrote my notes using the iPad and the text was synchronized to the iMac: this makes it much easier to work. After a while, with the USB 2 disk writing data really slowly,. The last time I looked, Time Machine told me that there were only 7 more hours to go.
Patience. Patience. . . .
5 December 2014: Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (now apparently cured)
8 December 2014: Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (not apparently cured)
9 December 2014: Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (preparing for the service center)
10 December 2014: Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (sailing into dry dock)
11 December 2014: Kernel Panics Galore: Unwelcome Problems (adapting to change and making changes to images) - Resize, Auto Resize and Simple Resize)
12 December 2014: Kernel Panics Restore: Macbook Pro Time Machine Backup onto a Spare iMac
13 December 2014: Back to the iMac with a Time Machine Backup - A Quart in a Pint Pot
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.