Mail crashes ev­ery sin­gle day

Mac Format - - APPLE TALK -

Q Since I up­dated to OS X 10.9.4, my Mac has crashed at least once a day. Mail seems the worst and crashes al­most ev­ery time I try to open it. I have re­sorted to us­ing web­mail, but even if I don’t open Mail, my Mac still falls over ev­ery hour or so. How long will it be be­fore Ap­ple re­leases 10.9.5 to fix the prob­lem? Mar­cus Step­ney

A This isn’t 10.9.4, it’s your Mac. The crash logs you sent me con­tain lots of mes­sages say­ing things like “ker­nel[0]: disk0s2: I/O er­ror”. That looks a lot like a fail­ing hard disk to me. Open Disk Util­ity and click on the hard disk icon (not the Mac­in­tosh HD vol­ume icon be­neath it). If the S.M.A.R.T. Sta­tus shows fail­ing, then you should def­i­nitely back up your data as soon as pos­si­ble and re­place the drive.

Some­times hard disks fail cat­a­stroph­i­cally and your Mac sim­ply re­fuses to boot. In that case, stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure is to re­place the failed drive, or add a fast ex­ter­nal drive, and re­store your last full disk im­age. This is a com­plete bootable im­age of your hard disk that you pre­vi­ously made with disk cloning soft­ware such as Su­per Duper! or Car­bon Copy Cloner. But a drive that is fail­ing pro­gres­sively, like yours, might well have cor­rupted some of the ker­nel files. In par­tic­u­lar, when you were up­dat­ing to 10.9.4, lots of im­por­tant sys­tem files were over­writ­ten and a file cor­rup­tion at this point could eas­ily ac­count for the er­rors.

In this sit­u­a­tion, the risk is that your backup also con­tains cor­rupted files and you just end up recre­at­ing your prob­lems. So it’s bet­ter to restart with ç+R held to en­ter Re­cov­ery Mode and re­in­stall a fresh copy of Mav­er­icks on the new drive, then re­store your doc­u­ments and data. If you don’t have a re­cent Time Ma­chine backup to re­store from, you’ll just have to copy as much as you can from the fail­ing drive.

If Disk Util­ity starts throw­ing up lots of er­rors, it might be time to re­place your hard disk.

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