I enjoy using a MacBook Pro laptop in my business because of the unique ability to run both OS X and Windows 8 apps, side by side. This ability allows me to view a web page in both Internet Explorer on Windows 8, plus Safari on OS X. All is well when the laptop is operating properly, but this week that pleasant reality was quickly shaken when my laptop started rebooting.
At first I thought that the rebooting was caused by Google Chrome, so instead I started using Safari for web browsing, but the reboots kept happening even with Safari. After each reboot I had to use the Disk Utility to do repairs on the hard drive, and sometimes I could go for an hour or two before rebooting. Eventually my backup hard drive became broken, and my Windows 8 with Parallels would no longer work.
I searched the Apple support forums and found that others were having rebooting issues, but their solutions didn't really work or apply to my situation. Finally, this morning I found one useful suggestion - try testing the RAM (Random Access Memory). According to Apple there was something called the Apple Hardware Test, where I could reboot my laptop and press the D key to get some hardware diagnostics running. Oddly enough, pressing D while rebooting did nothing.
Ready for Plan B, I found a wonderful little free App called EtreCheck that quickly identified that my RAM chipset was defective.
I was excited to finally identify the cause of my reboots, but then again I was saddened that my 16GB of RAM had already failed after only a few years of use. How could RAM go bad so easily?
Jumping into the car I made my way to Fry's in Wilsonville and purchased 16GB of replacement for $159.99, returned home and installed it. The good news is that when I reran the memory test, it now passed everything with a clean bill of health:
The moral of my story - do a RAM test if your computer is randomly rebooting. My 2011 MacBook Pro still allows me to change my own RAM, however starting in 2012 Apple decided to solder the RAM to the motherboard, so this repair would not be possible with the newer MacBook Pro laptops - which is a big mistake on Apple's part.