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startup / shutdown issues

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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I've been having frustrating startup delays with my stable production system (2015 MacBook Pro 15") running macOS Sierra, where there's been a long wait after pressing the power key before the apple appears and boot starts. To make a long story short, the solution is simple enough, if an extra hassle: Disconnecting my two 2TB backup drives (SSDs) from USB3 eliminates the delay.
I isolated the problem to the 4-port Anker USB hub I was using. Startup happens without any delay if I remove the USB hub, even with both 2TB SSDs plugged (directly) into the MacBook Pro. (It's strange, as I haven't encountered any other problems with the USB hub - it has been in constant use for Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner backups.)
 


Don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I have a 500GB Samsung T5 external SSD connected to a USB-C port on the back of my 2018 Mac Mini, and the external drive will not mount during boot up. It never has. To mount it, I have to use Disk Utility to do so. Dunno why that is.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I have a 500GB Samsung T5 external SSD connected to a USB-C port on the back of my 2018 Mac Mini, and the external drive will not mount during boot up. It never has. To mount it, I have to use Disk Utility to do so. Dunno why that is.
I'm currently seeing something something similar with a 2015 MacBook Pro running macOS 10.12.6.

Is your Samsung T5 encrypted with FileVault? That may be a factor. I would expect a non-encrypted volume to mount automatically at boot.
 


Don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I have a 500GB Samsung T5 external SSD connected to a USB-C port on the back of my 2018 Mac Mini, and the external drive will not mount during boot up. It never has. To mount it, I have to use Disk Utility to do so. Dunno why that is.
I've got that same drive on a late 2013 MacBook Pro (El Capitan) and have had no problems. Of course, it has USB 3.0, not USB-C ports. I presume you reformatted the drive to Mac specifications.

Also, it came with a utility to mount and manage the drive. I installed the utility but don't know that that has anything to do with standard mounting.
 


Don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I have a 500GB Samsung T5 external SSD connected to a USB-C port on the back of my 2018 Mac Mini, and the external drive will not mount during boot up. It never has. To mount it, I have to use Disk Utility to do so. Dunno why that is.
My T5 is also my boot drive, FileVault encrypted, and my 2018 Mini boots into it just fine. If I boot from the internal SSD instead (also FileVault) it asks for the password to decrypt the external T5. I wiped the T5 as soon as I got it without looking at any of the software it might have contained.
 


I don't know specifically what's happening in your case, but network factors can be an issue, whether it's something related to your local network or iCloud or whatever. I also have a theory that slow shutdowns can be caused by Apple writing out large amounts of cache from memory to disk/SSD storage, and I theorize that this may be worse with large-RAM configurations where only a fraction of the RAM is being used by active apps. (I haven't had time to test that out, however.) Safari caching seems like it could be consistent with this sort of issue.
I use Cookie, which I've set to delete Safari's cache upon quitting Safari, which I do before I shut down. I thought it might be a network cause, along with Little Snitch, so I uninstalled Little Snitch and manually removed all related files. Things didn't change, so I reinstalled Little Snitch.

I've spoken with one other person who seems to have the same experience and attributes it to necessary housekeeping by the Mac. It could be related to some of the quiet updates Apple makes behind the scenes.

Other than that, the Mac runs great.
 


I'm having a problem booting from my usual "External" backup boot volume. I use it for backup file storage and diagnostic booting. This is on a 2012 Mac Mini running OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks.

After I select External as the startup disk and reboot (this was the first time in about 3 months I tried to boot from External), I eventually (after one minute or so) get a black screen with a few diagnostic utilities.

I have never seen this before with OS X 10.9. It looks like the black screen I've heard comes with Macs and the T2 chip. No matter what I do, I can't get past this. When booted from "Internal", I have run Disk Utility, DiskWarrior, and SMART Utility on External. All passed. External is only about 2-1/2 years old.

I have tried reinstalling OS X 10.9. After the install is complete and the machine reboots (it should boot into External with the refreshed OS), same problem: the black utility screen shows up again. I then tried to reinstall OS X 10.9 using a 10.9 installer I had kept as a backup on Internal. At the very end of that installation attempt, I get a message that the installer couldn't access my App Store account, and I should try to do the install by booting from Internal and going to App Store Purchases. When I do that, the Mavericks item at the very bottom of the list of Purchases is completely inert - no way to launch an install from there that I can figure out.

I was able to boot as normal from two other externals, so the problem doesn't seem to be with the Mini. Of course, the obvious answer may well be that External is defective. But then why did it pass with all three test utilities? Further, I seem to be able to read from and write to External with no problems.

Anyone have any ideas what's going on and how to fix it? Thanks in advance.
 



How is the external drive connected? USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, other?
Thanks for the question, Michael. “External” and the other external drives are all connected via USB 2. The Mac Mini has USB 3, but all my external drives are only USB 2. Once upon a time, I had used FireWire 800. "External" is a CRU-Dataport box with USB 2, FireWire, and SATA. The FireWire connection developed a delay on mounting at boot, so I changed to a USB 2 connection. Surprisingly, the transfer speed via USB 2 was almost as fast as FireWire for me.
 


Thanks for the question, Michael. “External” and the other external drives are all connected via USB 2. The Mac Mini has USB 3, but all my external drives are only USB 2. Once upon a time, I had used FireWire 800. "External" is a CRU-Dataport box with USB 2, FireWire, and SATA. The FireWire connection developed a delay on mounting at boot, so I changed to a USB 2 connection. Surprisingly, the transfer speed via USB 2 was almost as fast as FireWire for me.
I was thinking about how macOS firmware changes now will only boot from older FireWire devices if you hold a key (Option?) down during startup. But if that were the case, you wouldn't get as far as you do.
 


My Mac Pro 5,1 system is very finicky lately, booting up. I have a 960GB OWC Mercury Accelsior_E2 PCI Express Solid State Drive w/ eSATA as my main boot drive, plus other boot-capable drives inside and outside the chassis. I have this drive selected in System Preferences as my boot drive.

Lately and frequently, the computer boots from cold to a gray screen with nothing on it. I have the wireless keyboard, so I have to put a wired keyboard in the USB port to make sure the next steps run as they should:
I zap PRAM. I hold option key after that, but the boot volume choices don't appear. I do a hard shutdown. I unplug. I reset the whatever-it-is with the cord disconnected and the power button held down ten seconds. I start back up and go into single-user mode. I run the /sbin/fsck -fy command, and it tells me that the wrong startup disk (an external one attached to the eSata port of the OWC Accelsior) is OK. I boot into that disk, then select the PCIe card (again) as my boot volume. I restart, and it finally boots to that volume.

Anyone experience similar? likely culprit?

Model Name:: Mac Pro
Model Identifier:: MacPro5,1
Processor Name:: 6-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed:: 2.66 GHz
Number of Processors:: 2
Total Number of Cores:: 12
L2 Cache (per Core):: 256 KB
L3 Cache (per Processor):: 12 MB
Memory:: 64 GB
Processor Interconnect Speed:: 6.4 GT/s
Boot ROM Version:: MP51.007F.B01
SMC Version (system):: 1.39f11
OS X Sierra 10.12.6
 


Seems like it could be battery related. You might want to try replacing your presumably original Mac Pro battery with a fresh one.
 


Seems like it could be battery related. You might want to try replacing your presumably original Mac Pro battery with a fresh one.
I think this might be the right answer based on the description of the symptoms.

One way to test this would be to disable System Preferences > Date & Time > Set Date and Time Automatically.

If it is the battery, then the time will be wrong when you start up. Having it check automatically means that it is already reset by the time you get logged in.
 


My Mac Pro 5,1 system is very finicky lately, booting up. I have a 960GB OWC Mercury Accelsior_E2 PCI Express Solid State Drive w/ eSATA as my main boot drive, plus other boot-capable drives inside and outside the chassis. I have this drive selected in System Preferences as my boot drive. Lately and frequently, the computer boots from cold to a gray screen with nothing on it.
I regret comparing your nice system to the 2010 Mini I had Apple drop ship to OWC for an SSD install when SSDs were rare, but they have these in common:
  • Frequently, the computer boots from cold to a gray screen with nothing on it.
  • I have this drive selected in System Preferences as my boot drive.
  • OWC Boot SSD
  • Per specs from OWC, both drives use SandForce Controllers
Overall, I can't complain that this old Mini and its now-venerable drive haven't given good service. They have. But the odd "boot to gray screen" began when the system was fresh. I contacted OWC about the issue within the return / warranty period, and OWC offered to replace the drive, but as I recall (been a while), there were shipping charges and other financial impediments, as well as "back then" there was no way known to me to secure-erase the drive before shipping back the system, and it was filled with confidential data. So I chose to just live with it.

My thought is the issue is the SandForce controller and the way that controller manages the SSD.

Suggestions it might be the PRAM batttery could be right in your system, but in the now-old Mini, the problem occurred when the Mini was new and continues years later. I was using the SSD before TRIM, back when OWC was blogging [claims that] TRIM isn't needed and SandForce garbage collection was sufficient.

I do know there were many issues with SandForce controllers. (Let your internet search engine be your guide). There were improvements in SandForce firmware; don't know if those improvements reached end users, but worth a check. Also may be worth a check to see if it is possible to do a Secure Erase, as that would (in theory, at least) reset the drive, including the areas reserved for Garbage Collection.

Back about the Mini, I tried everything I could think of. Wired vs wireless keyboards and mice, no connected USB peripherals, other than keyboard and mouse, powered USB hubs, no hub, connected FireWire 800 drive, no (been a while) drive. Leaving it plugged into live power through the UPS, pulling the plug from the back of the Mini after powering down.

Silver lining? That happy moment when the Mini finally boots after several "grey screens."

Ominous portent? The Mini is in a common area and is a shared system. We tend to turn it on, and like in the old days, go off to start a coffee pot. If it doesn't boot and goes to the grey screen, and is left in that status for some time without attention, the poor old Mini gets really hot.
 


That happy moment when the Mini finally boots after several "grey screens."
You might try setting the Mac to boot in verbose mode to see if it reveals where it is getting stuck during the boot process. From the Terminal command line, simply type:
sudo nvram boot-args="-v"

Alternatively, you might try looking for errors in the system log using Apple's Console utility (El Capitan or earlier) or Howard Oakley's Consolation utility (Sierra or newer).
 


Seems like it could be battery related. You might want to try replacing your presumably original Mac Pro battery with a fresh one.
One further piece of information about the battery: I have this unit set in the Energy Saver preferences to automatically boot every morning at 9:00. So far that has not failed to work, even if the gray screen was the result. If the battery was bad, would this setting still work?
 


I would also like to see this one solved or at least explained. I have a 2009 Mac Pro 4,1 updated to 5,1. It has this problem with both OWC SSDs and a Samsung 860 EVO. (I think it even does this with a spinny drive, but it has been a while since I tested that).

The macOS is 10.13.6. I have replaced the battery, done PRAM resets, et. al. The firmware is not quite up to date. (MP51.0087.B00 instead of MP51.0089.B00), but I am a little afraid to go through that process, since otherwise all works ok.

By the way, I have an RX280 card with Mac firmware, so it does show the boot screen. The same problem exists with the original graphics card, so that is not it. I am not of the opinion that the battery is the culprit, based on the fact that I replaced the battery to no effect. Thanks for listening.
 


My Mac Pro 5,1 system is very finicky lately, booting up. I have a 960GB OWC Mercury Accelsior_E2 PCI Express Solid State Drive w/ eSATA as my main boot drive, plus other boot-capable drives inside and outside the chassis....
I ran my Mac Pro 5,1 from a 480GB Accelsior E2 for years with no problems. I do recall that a software driver/firmware update is required for these. I don't think I ever had to re-run the updater through several OS X changes, but you might try. It's possible there have been OS changes that are affecting booting, perhaps unfixable.

I now run their Accelsior S card, which takes any 2.5" form-factor SSD and needs no drivers for my boot drive, and the old Accelsior is now my legacy Mavericks boot drive.
 


I ran my Mac Pro 5,1 from a 480GB Accelsior E2 for years with no problems. I do recall that a software driver/firmware update is required for these. I don't think I ever had to re-run the updater through several OS X changes, but you might try. It's possible there have been OS changes that are affecting booting, perhaps unfixable.
I now run their Accelsior S cardm which takes any 2.5" form-factor SSD and needs no drivers for my boot drive, and the old Accelsior is now my legacy Mavericks boot drive.
Thank you - I will try this tonight.
 


I did the firmware update this morning... and still it booted to gray afterward, even though from the other boot volume I had selected the Accelsior as the Startup Disk. I'll try the battery next, but probably this weekend.
 


I have a 2017 iMac 5K. It sometimes has trouble shutting down. It's running the same 10.14.3 Mojave that it shipped with, because I have not had a proper backup drive. That will be changing soon.

Sometimes, when I shut the computer down, it will get to the point where the screen goes black, but the backlight is still on. Additionally, the mouse pointer is still on the screen. I've left it for a good long time (around a minute) and it still has not shut down.

I often have to force the computer to turn off by holding in the power button. When I reboot, it tells me that I shut the computer down due to a problem, and asks me if I want to reload all the apps that were running when I shut down.

When this first began, I thought that this was probably because I shut down too hastily (ie., with programs still running), so I made sure to quit all my apps manually before shutting down... only to find that this had no bearing on the problem.

This is not a problem that happens with every shutdown, but it is common enough to be extremely annoying.

I have two questions:

1. Do you think there's a chance that this is simply a bug that might be fixed by upgrading to the current build of Mojave, with the firmware updates it will bring?

2. Should I be worried that this could be a potential hardware issue manifesting in some way? This computer is less than five months old. I do have AppleCare. It's safe to say I am a little nervous because a faulty screen and/or video card was the cause of the untimely demise of my previous iMac (late 2012).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
have a 2017 iMac 5K. It sometimes has trouble shutting down...
Well, yes, it’s crazy not to have a good backup, so that’s the first order of business... (I like SSDs for backup, if that’s feasible for you - e.g. Samsung T5).

Second, I haven’t seen the problem here on a 2017 iMac 5K with SSD internal drive, mostly running macOS Sierra 10.12.6 but also Mojave (either original or up-to-date versions).

Third, I definitely recommend updating as soon as you have backup.

You can probably run Apple’s hardware diagnostic... start up while holding down the D key.


And try Safe Boot to see what happens in that mode.

You could try Disk Utility’s prriblem checking/repair.

Any third-party software that might be the trigger?

Some unfinished/problematic network operation?
 


I have a 2017 iMac 5K. It sometimes has trouble shutting down...
I have been having trouble with shutting down on my 2012 MacBook Pro running Mojave. It behaves in the manner you described.

What I have found to consistently produce a clean and quick shutdown is to log out of the user account first. When that has completed I then shut down the machine and it completes the task quickly.

I haven't seen this problem on my 2011 MacBook Pro or 2010 Mac Pro—both running macOS Sierra. FileVault is enabled on both the laptops but not the desktop.

Could it be an issue with FileVault and Mojave?
 


Third, I definitely recommend updating as soon as you have backup.

You can probably run Apple’s hardware diagnostic... start up while holding down the D key.


And try Safe Boot to see what happens in that mode.

You could try Disk Utility’s problem checking/repair.

Any third-party software that might be the trigger?

Some unfinished/problematic network operation?
I will be trying all of this. I'm not sure what network operation could be occurring, since I have closed all apps, so I'm not sure what would be requesting network access (I don't use iCloud). And because the screen has already gone black, there is no way to see what's going on. I suppose I could disable the Ethernet interface prior to shutdown; if the problem goes away, it would indicate that's where I should focus my troubleshooting efforts.
 



I have a 2017 iMac 5K. It sometimes has trouble shutting down. It's running the same 10.14.3 Mojave that it shipped with, because I have not had a proper backup drive. That will be changing soon.
Sometimes, when I shut the computer down, it will get to the point where the screen goes black, but the backlight is still on. Additionally, the mouse pointer is still on the screen. I've left it for a good long time (around a minute) and it still has not shut down.

I often have to force the computer to turn off by holding in the power button. When I reboot, it tells me that I shut the computer down due to a problem, and asks me if I want to reload all the apps that were running when I shut down.

When this first began, I thought that this was probably because I shut down too hastily (ie., with programs still running), so I made sure to quit all my apps manually before shutting down... only to find that this had no bearing on the problem.

This is not a problem that happens with every shutdown, but it is common enough to be extremely annoying. ...
I have seen this too = not very common, but it does happen. I have seen it on multiple OS versions, so not OS-specific.

One method that seems to work is to clear Parameter RAM. To clear, hold down Option-Command-P-R at boot start (hold down through 3 restarts of computer; I miss those startup “bongs” — I think a major boo-boo by Apple [to eliminate]).

Also another thing to look at is File Sharing — try turning Off, then On again —sometimes, how you connect, whether by AFP or SMB protocols can affect Restart/Shutdown.
 


I had it on my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina 15" running macOS High Sierra. No amount of troubleshooting would fix it (also had the syndrome of not being able to startup with hardware diagnostic), and I had to force it to shutdown every time. Shortly after it started happening, the computer began a series of slowdowns, and I suspected that perhaps the drive was going south. I bought a new Mac Mini (I was due for a new computer anyway) and eventually wiped the laptop's drive and reinstalled High Sierra. Now it seems to be working fine.
 


I have a 2017 iMac 5K. It sometimes has trouble shutting down.
Do you, by any chance, have "Reopen windows when logging back in" selected? If so, how many apps/windows do you have open? I find shutdown in this mode is especially delayed if iTunes, Photos, or Final Cut is open when shutting down.

I also prefer to use sleep, not shutdown, unless I am leaving the house for more than 24 hours.
 


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