How To Run The Apple Hardware Test On Your Mac

After I did my last post on 4 Months After Switching Over From Windows To A Mac, I got asked about how I actually ran the Apple Hardware Test on loop mode.

To do so, you’ll need the Applications Install DVD that came with your Mac. This is the one that has a little block of text in the upper right corner that says to press D to launch the Apple Hardware Test when starting up.

apple logo

Follow those instructions, and you’ll come to the Apple Hardware Test screen. After selecting your language, press Ctrl+L to go into loop mode. Remember to check Extended Testing too.

This test is a pretty good diagnostic tool for finding problems with your hardware. The bundled TechTools utility test in Mac OS just doesn’t do anything for intermittent, hard-to-find hardware errors – I mean, come on, it finishes in 5 minutes. This hardware test will take you at least an hour to finish just one loop. I highly recommend running it overnight while you sleep so that it can complete 5-7 loops. This so that you can know that it did a comprehensive test, and that any intermittent hardware faults (such as faulty RAM) can be triggered.

Now if the test does find an error, you’ll get a prompt about the problem it found. It could be for a variety of reasons, so write down the error and do your research afterward. If the test didn’t find an error, it may mean your system is fine, or it may be because the hardware test did not find the problem. Remember: This test is good for superficial errors, but it’s known to be unable to test for and detect the entire gamut of hardware issues.

To stop the Extended Test and exit Loop Mode, press Cmd+. (that’s a period). I found that pressing the Stop Test button didn’t work that great and the program didn’t seem to respond to it, but that shortcut worked immediately.

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4 Months After Switching Over From Windows To A Mac

Surprisingly, the transition from a Windows to a Mac wasn’t as jarring as I had thought, and it turned out to be pretty uneventful. It’s been 4 months since I bought my Macbook Pro, and the overall experience’s fantastic, save for 2 cases.

1. Windows-only Applications

I deal with Windows-only applications that do not have alternatives on the Mac, and the only way to run these is in a virtualised Windows environment on my Mac (I use VMWare for this). Problem is, it’s equivalent to running 2 systems on one machine, and I don’t like the performance hit that I’m taking because of this. One workaround that I use is to connect to my Windows server (I have a VPS that I use from Vodien), so all my processing is handled there.

2. Kernel Panics

I have NO idea why, but I’m getting kernel panics on my Mac. It’s annoying as heck, especially since I’m used to never ever shutting down my computer. I find it such a huge disruption in my workflow that I have to have everything reset when the computer boots up from scratch. Oh, and I like to call it BSOD – not Blue Screen of Death, but Beautiful Screen Of Death. Still a BSOD, still annoyingly infruriating. For the Mac though, the BSOD gently slides in from the top, and presents to you a multi-lingual description of what you must do (namely, reboot).

bsod windows mac

I checked the RAM on this Macbook Pro by running the memory test on extended loops (5 loops, no errors found), TechTools didn’t find anything, but then I suddenly had the haunch to try Disk Utility, and -gasp- I found disk errors. It’s something to do with invalid file counts and volume records. Doesn’t sound like something that would cause kernel panics, but I’m hoping badly that it is, and that I’ve seen the last of the kernel panics.

mac osx disk utility

So I fixed the disk errors by booting up with my Mac Snow Leopard Install DVD and running Disk Utility off it to repair the errors. If you need to do this too, just put in your DVD, and restart your computer while holding down the “c” button until you’re brought to the Mac OSX installation screen. Instead of hitting continue, just go to Utilities in the top menu bar.

I’m not sure if these disk errors are the root cause of all my kernel panics, but I’ll be monitoring this closely – hopefully I don’t get the BSOD anymore.

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