Woe Is Mac

I have a number of Macs in the house and they all share a common attribute: they just work. No crashes, no viruses, no spyware. Just a pleasant computing experience.

Until last week.

One of my Macs, the iMac in my office, started to exhibit a very unusual symptom. When I used Adobe Bridge, the application would lock. Since I had not experienced such a symptom before, I had to scramble to find the key sequence to force quit the application.

Except that the application would not quit. The only way I could recover was to perform a hard reset. That is, turn the power off and then power up. I call this the BRS routine. Named after the Big Red Switch on my original DOS-based IBM PC.

This happened repeatedly with Bridge. Which is a major concern as I manage all of my digital photos with Bridge. And then it started to happen with Photoshop CS2. Unexpected and apparently random locking of the application.

I scoured troubleshooting forums in Adobe and then for the Mac. I repaired permissions and volumes. I trashed preferences. I was almost to the point of performing the standard Windows routine of reformatting the disk and starting over.

And then I noticed something. Another application exhibited the same problem: SuperDuper. SuperDuper is my backup program. It locked in the same way as Photoshop and Adobe. However, I could quit the application. But why?

I have no patience. The Bridge and Photoshop apps were trying to access an unresponsive drive. I would not wait long enough for the system to call it quits on the unresponsive drive. So I waited a minute or so and then shut things down. The backup utility ran unattended while I was asleep. Which is why I could quit that application normally.

I have a 500GB Western Digital MyBook external USB hard drive for my nightly backups. Although it checked out okay in terms of testing, the disk falls asleep after ten minutes or so when it is not accessed. The problem with my system is that the disk no longer wakes up after it falls asleep.

I disconnected the drive and everything in my Mac works as it should. I need a new backup drive.

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