Users of mid-2010 MacBook Pros continue to experience frequent stalls/hangs, accompanied by the spinning beach ball progress indicator, under varying conditions (previously noted here). The problem appears to be hard drive-related, and occurs most frequently with the standard 320 GB 5400 RPM drive, but is also occurring with the 5400 500GB and 7200 500GB drives.
When this problem occurs, the hard drive becomes unresponsive for up to 30 seconds. During the stall, all applications will stall and or cease to properly function, but the mouse cursor can still be moved. CPU usage does not spike.
Initial reports implicated Seagate hard drives as culprits in this issue, although this no longer appears to be the case, as Hitachi hard drives are also exhibiting the issue, and many systems using Seagate hard drives are not.
As previously reported, traditional fixes, including re-installation of Mac OS X, resetting PRAM, turning hard drive sleep off, and diagnostics via the Apple Hardware Test and/or disk checking tools such as TechTool Deluxe have proven unsuccessful.
Boot from external hard drive. Several users have reported that they’ve been able to eliminate the constant freezes/hangs by booting from external USB or FireWire hard drives. Albeit not an ideal solution, this can provide a stopgap measure until a permanent fix is available.
Apple testing/replacing units. Meanwhile, some users report that Apple is replacing select units, in some cases even seeking out owners of improperly functioning machines and reclaiming their units for testing and replacement. Apple Discussions poster redwoodtree writes:
“Apple has asked to examine my laptop. I’ll be returning my laptop for them to examine. Sad to be without a computer, but it’s nice to be able to help the engineers fix it and they’re building and shipping the new machine as soon as my old one is scanned by Fed Ex. […] I received a new computer from Apple last week. I was disappointed to see it had a Seagate drive in it and that it was negotiating at 1.5 (500 GB, 7200rpm). However, it hasn’t frozen once, it’s running great and I couldn’t be happier.”