A few weeks ago my mid-2011 Mac mini started randomly beach balling across all applications. The only way I could get it back to normal was to hold down the power button and force a restart. Last week it escalated to randomly restarting itself (saved me the trouble of holding down the power button, I guess ). These random restarts persisted after a nuke and pave, and even cropped up when I was booted into the recovery partition, so I’m pretty sure it’s a hardware issue.
Eventually it got to the point where the mini would sometimes restart before it even got through the boot cycle and displayed the login screen. I reluctantly concluded this problem was fatal (or at least not worth spending a lot of time and money to fix in a 7 year old computer).
Thinking back on this troubleshooting process, one thing that strikes me is the dog that didn’t bark. I have enough backups that I really had no concerns about loosing data: Time Machine, a hard drive clone that runs every night, and for the things I used this computer for, everything important was in the cloud anyway. If I’d waited until things got bad before trying to backup I would have had a very difficult time. Towards the end it wasn’t running long enough between random restarts to get a lot of data off of it. Backups save the day again.
7 years is a good long time and while having it go down like this is a pain I feel like I got my money’s worth out of this machine. It served as my main home desktop, a headless server, sat on the shelf for a while, then got resurrected with an SSD and pressed into service as a secondary desktop at work. I’m very thankful that it didn’t die until after the new 2018 Mac mini was released. If it had died a year ago when the mini hadn’t been updated in years I really would have had some difficult decisions to make about how (and whether) to replace it.
As it is, this is a problem I could solve with a visit to the Apple website; I’ve already got a new 2018 Mac mini on the way.
The Mac mini is dead, long live the Mac mini.