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I have a Mac mini using OS X 10.5.8. Recently I've been having problems that are becoming increasingly severe.

Particular symptoms:

  1. Firefox "quits" but the dot on the dock remains. If I try shutting down at this point I can't and have to use the power button. I can't start Firefox either.

  2. Significantly higher than normal crash rate for CS4 Illustrator Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

  3. If Firefox remains open when sleeping the Mac, on waking up firefox is completely unresponsive and must be restarted. Can cause problem 1.

  4. Today I lost all my FTP settings for Dreamweaver CS4

  5. Bluetooth switches on when booting despite being switched off.

  6. Network password retention is somewhat erractic.

  7. Tried running Apple Hardware Test as described in the manual. Cannot access install disk by pressing D at startup.

  8. My pen tablet (Bamboo) lost my preferences. Tried unstalling software and now cannot re-install.

I've never had problems of this level outside warranty before so I don't know much about debugging Macs.

Solutions attempted:

  1. Disable bluetooth (see problem 5)
  2. Disable time machine
  3. Run appple harware test (see problem 7)
  4. Tried using activity monitor but don't know which processes are normal
  5. Tried uninstalling more recent software.

I don't have any idea what to do. It seems like a hard disk failure but I don't have the know how to continue.

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Have you tried force quitting Firefox when it won't quit correctly? Either use the Force Quit menu in the Apple menu or hold Control and the Option keys when clicking on the Firefox icon in the Dock. – Chealion Jan 17 '10 at 19:45
I have problem 3 as well. although, it SEEMS that it has to do with re-connecting to the net after wakeup. I can do a few things, in firefox, but once it re-establishes connection to the net, it dies. Sometimes, if I can do a "reload all tabs" early enough, that seems to solve the problem, but not always... – Brian Postow Apr 19 '10 at 13:43

I'd try resetting the PRAM (hold down Apple + Option + P + R on boot until you hear the 2nd startup chime), and booting from the system disc to run Disk Utility's "Repair Disk" routine on the hard drive.

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Should I expect something to happen reseting the PRAM? I'm getting a regular startup. – Oliver Jan 16 '10 at 21:41
After the 2nd chime, your Mac will boot normally. See also Apple's official document: – Eric3 Jan 18 '10 at 16:42

It sounds like hardware or severe directory corruption. Not sure PRAM would cause all these symptoms.

If the Apple Extended hardware test won't work (a pretty bad sign), you could try Tech Tools Deluxe if you have the AppleCare or buy Drive Genius or Tech Tools Pro. When you tried the Hardware Extended Test - what happened exactly? Is the DVD drive OK?

Also repairing disk using disk utility is a good plan - if you get unrepairable errors then its Diskwarrrior for the repair or an archive and install of the OS.

Backup as soon as possible, use SuperDuper or Carbon Cloner.

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