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Random Acts of Shut Down

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It’s been two months since I proudly carried my new MacBook home. I love this machine. It’s crazy fast, it’s light-weight, the keyboard rocks, and the glossy screen is much better than I could ever have hoped. I’m rocking it with 2gbs of RAM (is there any other way?) and a 100gb 7200rpm disk. Boot-up takes just around a half minute with ALL the background apps running – compared to my old G4 PowerBook, that’s really fast! Everytime it boots up I’m tickled by how quick it is.

What I’m not thrilled about is that I get to appreciate this boot-up speed ALL THE TIME. The Mac savvy reading this probably know already, that you don’t boot a Mac all that often. Generally a software update is the main reason, so uptime on these lovely machines is /weeks/months at a time. It just so happens that the “Random Shut Down” problem is one that now plagues my dear MacBook.

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon, here’s sort of how it goes:
While typing away on my MacBook, downloading photos from my camera, surfing the internet, or any other number of things, the Macbook just shuts down. Like, it’s on it’s on it’s on, and BOOM! Off. Look away a moment and you’re staring back at a black screen.

There seems to be no correllation between random shut down events. Plugged-in. Running on AC power. Minutes after boot-up, while still cool as a cucumber. After hours of hot and heavy use. Like I said, random.

In reading the discussion boards, and talking to a couple local friends with MacBooks, the symptoms all seem very similar.
– It happened once or twice a week or two ago, but seemed more like a strange one time deal.
– Then in the past few days to a week, it’s happened more and more frequently.
The fact that everywhere I’ve read, and those I’ve talked to, put these events in the same timeframe leads me to believe it’s from some software push – how do several different hardware units all go bad around the same point in time??

Yet when I dropped it off at the local Apple Store to be shipped out to AppleCare (Saves you a couple days waiting for packaging to be shipped out) today, it’s predictably going for a new Main Logic Board. I sincerely hope this takes care of my MacBook’s problem. However, I am doubtful. I can only wait and see for now.

What other problems have I had? Well, I had an Invisible Shield for my MacBook before I even owned it. Before starting it up, I applied the Invisible Shield in hopes of avoiding any yellowing of the palm rests. Yet the right side and the trackpad button show faint yellowish areas. It wasn’t enough on its own that I was going to send it off for repair, but it’ll get a new shell on this trip too.

It runs hot. Pretty darn hot. I use Photoshop a lot, and it seems when Rosetta kicks in, so do the afterburners, but this is to be expected with emulation processes. Plus, you cram that kind of speedy processor into a small package, and what do you expect? I keep the MacBook away from my precious bits and I’m a happy guy.

I suppose it all comes down to, “Don’t ever buy Revision A products.” Words of wisdom. And if you’re the type who makes snap judgements, probably words to live by. Yes, I’m dismayed at having to send my notebook in. The problem was jarring, and quite frankly a huge hassle. But at the end of the day, I’m not about to make a rash decision and work off of my Dell fulltime – the idea makes me queasy. Live without my OS X, Quicksilver, or the portable speed that I’m now accustomed to? Not on your life.

67 Responses to “Random Acts of Shut Down”

  1. I feel for ya! I had that happen to me last year to my 20″ iMac G5. I did end up having to take it to my local Mac service place (1 hour away) BUT I have not had a problem since. They replaced the power supply. And fortunately I have the extended warranty so it didn’t cost but the gas to go down there.

  2. Just started having this random shutdown problem with our 17″ iMac G5 that is now about 2-3 years old.

    Not cool!

    Will try the power reset solution that someone mentioned, but I am not looking forward to have to replace the power unit or main logic board to get rid of this issue.

  3. well, interestingly I found this blog looking for answers to RSD problems with a 17″ G4 Aluminum PowerBook.

    The symptoms y’all have described fit my situation exactly. The system has a brand new drive, fresh install and all subsequent updates of Tiger and virtually no other software.(OK, Firefox) I’ve done all the apple voodoo of resetting the power manager and PRAM, running from only AC or only battery. Still seems to be happening. Another poster mentioned that it could be RAM related, and indeed I just upgrade to 2GB. I “inherited” this machine so I don’t know how stable it was previously. I’m going to put the old RAM back in and see how that goes.

    The RAM issue seems pretty likely given the symptoms and range of systems on which it’s occurring. Although, I would expect RAM problems to lead to system crashes (of which I had 2 or 3 before the RSD started) rather than a complete shutdown.

    Anyone having this problem still on Panther or an earlier version of Tiger? It sure would be interesting if everyone here were on the same system rev.

  4. I bought my first ever iMac G5 20″ thinking that this is da machine to have. no previous experience with apple and guess what? total disappointment. after a couple of months of very light usage the iMac had to quit. was told its a manufactures’ fault so i replaced the power supply unit and it worked fine. Now the iMac shuts down every 30 – 45 mins without warnings. put in mind that i dont use it that much may be 30 mins a week. I am about to throw it from the roof as am happy with my windows xp hp laptop.
    iMac! ya right piece of crap.

  5. Brian from the Philippines

    this is getting to be really annoying. i’ve noticed that most of the random shutdowns are happening with the intel macbooks and macbook pros. its also happening with the imac g5s, but guess what fellas? its happening on my intel imac 2ghz 20″.

    any ideas on how to resolve this problem?

  6. Lukas

    Lukas, again :)

    A week ago i got my imac G5 (2nd gen., right before those with supplied remote-control) back from repair. Because the callcenter of Apple Germany refused to accept my SN for the exended repair-program, i decided to pay for repair. I couldn’t work with it no more, no chance.

    There are no Apple Stores here in Germany (yet), but i brought it to an authorized service provider here in Berlin. And you know what: after 11 workdays i got it back with a new powerunit and it works till then nicely. No problems, no hardcloses, nothing. And the best: they managed to get it into the repair-program, so it didn’t cost me nothing at all :)

    For those of you, whose computers suffer from the same problems my experiences in short:

    – the first gen. imacs G5 had the motherboard to be changed
    – for the following generations the powerunit was the failure
    – as i could read in several discussion forums the german Apple-Support is known for it’s poor service towards private customers, and it’s unfriendlyness
    – inspite of the risk to pay it for yourself, it seems to be quite a chance that a service provider gets you in.

    I’m glad that it work out for me this way.

    Greez from Germany


  7. Jim Conroy

    Same as Lukas. My iMac 20″ G5 suffers from random shutdown. It’s out of warranty (Sept 05 purchase) and Apple have washed their hands of it as the serial number is out of their range for a warranty extension. Recomendation from an independent repair shop is to replace the logic board/trad-in for a. refurb (£500 up). After 15 years building PCs and installing Windows I did not switch to a Mac to be crapped on from a great height. I’ve reset the PMU, hoovered the insides, reinstalled Tiger etc etc. I am now pinning my hopes on improving the power supply as per this discussion:

  8. Same thing on my iMac G5 20 inch 2 GHz :P

    The problem emerged about one month ago shortly after my guarantee passed. A few days ago i called the apple-hotline after i found this ( on the apple homepage. they told me, that my Serial-No. is slightly out of the supported area. Though the symptoms are as described on the page and the EMC-No. is right. After screening lots of blogs and forums i have to say, that the wave is HUGE, man, it’s growing from day to day! It’s not only the MacBooks and iMac G5, it’s the Desktop G5, too! Seems that a hole year of production (2005) is suffering from this problem.

    But reading the comments it seems that for a lot of people it was the power unit replacement that helped. But not for all :( I called the appleservice here in Berlin, and if you have to pay it by yourself, it’s FUCKIN’ EXPENSIVE: 150-250 Euros for power unit replacement, 800 Euros for Logic Board.

    I’m VERY ANGRY about Apple, because it’s not the customers fault, that they build in a not properly working piece of electronics. And their service is shite (at least for me, who called their hotline for the first time). But – on the other hand – it would be really expensive for them, if they would give a recall for a whole year of production. February 6, 2007

  9. I’ve had a G5 IMac (Power PC processor) flatscreen running well for over a year and it has in the last month developed the random shutoff problem. A techie talked me through resetting power management and PRAM, but my IMac did a random shutdown a couple of hours later, so that didn’t solve the problem. It feels like a power switching problem, actually. Any news about this problem? February 2, 2007.

  10. Having the shutdown issue with my IMAC G5. Initially had the logic board replaced by Apple authorized service center(took a month and a half before getting mac back!) After getting back, the fan is so loud(infamous “jet engine” noise).

    3 weeks later my mac starts shutting down on me on its own again. Took to Apple Store, they replaced power supply. Still noise as hell and the machine still shutting down. Going to call them tomorrow morning.

  11. Regina –
    yeah, when I originally brought mine into the Genius Bar they did the same thing – zapped it like 12 times in a row in fact. Started it up, and 1 minute later, BOOM! they sent it to applecare and I got it back 3 weeks later and it’s been working like a champ since.

    Of course this was almost 2 months ago now. There’s been so much hooplah about all of this, that most people shouldn’t experience the 3 week turn around that I did. Most of the parts are on hand now to make things all better…

    Hope it gets rectified quickly for all those still dealing with this.

  12. Tuesday night I called AppleCare and the girl had me completely shut down everything. Unplug everything that goes into the computer. Unplug the computer itself. Wait a couple minutes. Then I plugged the computer back in the very same time I hit the power button twice. She told me that reset the power unit. She also had me zap the PRAM. It has been running good since… although it has only been 24 hours! So I am praying that does the trick.

  13. Hi rennie foster – so far so good with the change of power unit – the iMac has been running fine (but saying that it hasn’t been used as frequently as it was before) – will post a new comment if anything changes

  14. rennie foster

    well. its good to know i am not alone in this problem with my imacG5, ryan , weavel, regina. i wonder if replacing the heatsync might work> similar to the notebook troubles?
    i know if i send my mac in .. they will of course replace the logic board.. seems to be thier cure all for everything. unfortunately it creates mass havok for me.
    i will also change the power unit first.. please let me know , weavel, if its still a successful solution.

  15. Just to update on the random shutdown of our iMac G5 (and I know this is probably different to the Macbooks) but got the power unit changed and it’s been running fine for the last couple of days – fingers crossed!

  16. After two repair cycles I finally got Apple to agree to replacing my Macbook. They fight this a lot but you must insist on a replacement and tell them that you no longer have confidence in the repair service.

    But, they will punish you for getting the exchange by forcing you to first send the defective machine back before they will send you a replacement. This means you have no computer for two weeks. Oh, and your applecare? If you bought extended applecare you are responsible for writing in to get it refunded and repurchased, or transferred to the new machine and lose some time on your warranty.

    Apple makes fantastic products, and I regret that they had problems with Macbook production, but where they are real failures is in the service. Absolutely terrible post-sales support, so buyer beware of Apple Canada.

  17. I have had my iMac G5 since August and it has been running great. But in the last month it has been randoming shutting down. I have run Tech Tool Deluxe and it passed everything. Today I ran the Apple Hardware test and it passed as well. And this checked the hardware. So if any of discover anything…please share!

  18. Really good to see the last message left by rennie foster as we too have an iMac G5 which has run fine for over a year with no problems and then a couple of months ago just started intermittently shutting down for no reason – sometimes in the middle of running applications and sometimes on start-up. At the moment it won’t even turn on at all! Trying to find out why and how to resolve this at the moment…..any ideas appreciated

  19. rennie foster

    i am having big problems with random shut doown on my imac g5. just started doing it.. ive had this machine more than a year and no probs.
    if anyone knows what i should do.. please tell me.

  20. misterbond

    I FIXED MINE!!! i have a black macbook and all the problem was was the heat sensor next to the cpu. i just opened it up and put a little peace of tape around the melted part of the sensor and inbetween the heatsensor and heatsink. it has been almost a week and no shut downs since, it used to be about 8 shutdowns a day. i dont know if it voided the warantee but i know that it worx!

  21. It’s my 1st time to buy MAC, and i am soooo disappointed after several shut down’s. I thought it was just me. Will be going back to singapore next week (where i bought it). Will have it checked. I am really disappointed. I guess in some way, i am glad to know it’s not just me!

  22. Hello to all,
    thats not a problem only in MacBook, I have a iMac 20″ intel coreduo that is a nightmare to work with. It´s sick of RSD i see no exit than demand a new one or refund…

    Greetings to all.

  23. I feel your pain… my MacBook has been at the repair center for over a week not waiting on a part for the Random Shut Down as well. I just checked the web site and it still says waiting for part.

  24. Walter Cordier

    Today is Friday, September 8. My MacBook has been waiting at Apple repair for 8 days for a replacement part to fix the same problem discussed above (mine began immediately upon downloading 10.4.7). According to “Danny,” a customer service manager in Austin, Texas, if the part isn’t in and the machine ready to ship by Wed, Sept. 13, a new machine will be sent to me. In order to get this to happen I first had to wait on hold for a total of 1 hour and 37 minutes and then furiously demand a refund. “Danny” advised me that a refund was not an option because the 14-day return period had expired. (Yeah, we’ll see what my lawyer has to say about that.)

    I recommend that everyone with the problem demand a new MacBook, one that is guaranteed not to fail in this same way.

    (And to think I’ve been an Apple user since Steve Jobs was still in short pants. Has he no sense of decency?)

  25. Hmmm, I’ve had my MacBook since week one and I haven’t noticed many random shut downs if any. I had one instance where I thought I had shut it down, and it was actually asleep, during which time it got super, super hot. After that, I rarely put it to sleep intentionally and instead choose to shut it down if I’m not using it for an extended period of time. So, although I’m sure you’re experiencing problems, just thought I’d add that this Macbook user hasn’t been experiencing the issue…

  26. > Maybe intel is the problem and not Mac?

    The way I think of it Peter is that Apple is the gatekeeper of what goes in the Mac. If that means they made a poor choice of vendor or model, or that they engineered the introduction of new hardware into a Mac, it’s still their mistake and Apple is to blame. When Macs work, they work so freaking awesome – the 12″ powerbook that has kept me working and online while my lemon Macbook goes through a merry go round of repairs is a testament to that. A big reason that powerbook works so well is that Apple made great choices about the hardware and how to put them together. So in the end, no matter what component is causing Macbooks to suddenly shut off, it’s Apple’s call, and I think Apple has to accept the blame.

  27. Wahahahaha @ Peter
    You do know that pc’s also have other choises than intel right? It’s good to know that mac users made their choise following a good search to the alternatives.

    But in any case the problems are(as far as i know) only with the Macbook, so no it’s got nothing to do with the intel chip. If that was the case the rest of the intel mac series would have the same problem.
    Also apple would not be able to repair it, and by the reactions i read it has been repaired for many people!

    We could simply accept that for once apple made a mistake right?
    It is a company you know, their goal is to make money, not make the computing world a better place, so they are bound to make a mistake in their effort to save production money.