Test for MacBook Random Shutdown Syndrome (RSS)

Test for MacBook Random Shutdown Syndrome (RSS)

Summary: This is only a test. MacBook Random Shutdown Syndrome seems to becoming more common with MacBook owners. Luckily there's a simple test to diagnose if your MacBook is afflicted.

This is only a test. MacBook Random Shutdown Syndrome seems to becoming more common with MacBook owners. Luckily there's a simple test to diagnose if your MacBook is afflicted.

Ash from Techpaedia.com was annoyed by his new MacBook shutting down randomly so he developed a simple test to see if a MacBook suffers from Random Shutdown Syndrome (RSS). To see if your MacBook has RSS:

1. Open Terminal
2. Type the following command and hit return: yes >/dev/null &
3. Repeat step #2 again in Terminal: yes >/dev/null &

The command yes is a seemingly useless command which sends an endless stream of y's to standard output. For more information on the innocuous "yes" command check out Matt Welsh's Web site.

The above commands will now be making use of both processor cores and shortly you'll hear the fans kick in pretty loudly. Keep Terminal open and running for at least 15 minutes.

If your MacBook suddenly shuts down, then you're affected by the problem and you need to contact Apple. If it does not shut down after 15 minutes, then quit Terminal (your fans will slowly disengage) and wait another 20 minutes. If you have a problem the machine will usually randomly shut down during this period.

If you still haven't experienced the bug you should re-run the above steps at least two more times. If your machine doesn't shut down by this point, you're most likely in the clear.

If your MacBook shuts down randomly you should contact Apple Care (1-800-APL-CARE) or make an appointment the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store to have it checked out.

There is also a video of a MacBook shutting down randomly on YouTube.

Topic: Apple

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  • Power Source Question

    Does anybody know if it matters whether your macbook is plugged
    in or on battery power for this test to work? Do the results vary
    based on this variable?
    • probably doesnt matter

      it probably doesnt matter for the test, considering that random
      shutoffs occur plugged in and unplugged. It also doesnt matter if
      it's plugged in with the battery in or removed.

      also see my other message - not all random shutoffs are related to
      heat/processor usage. so if you pass this test, your odds for
      avoiding RSS are better, but you still may encounter the problem.
      Jason Yee
  • might work

    the problem with the RSS is that it is _not_ always heat related.
    prior to sending my macbook to applecare for repairs, it would
    shutdown when running a tar zip backup of my home dir (similar
    in processor intensiveness to the yes > dev/null). after resetting
    the pmu (unplug, remove battery, hold down power button for 5
    seconds), it would not shutdown when running the tar zip
    backup. It did power off 7 times immediately after the startup
    chime the following morning after having been off all night (so it
    was as cold as possible without putting it in the fridge).

    if you check the apple discussion forums there are many
    incidents of RSS that occur immediately after cold start and
    other non-processor intensive tasks.
    Jason Yee
  • macbook shutdown

    As previously stated, I bought two macbook recently and both of
    them have been randomly shutting down. I am very
    disappointed. Apple won't replace or reimbourse me. I
    understand from this thread that I am not the only one dealing
    with this problem.
    How many are we ?
    If you have this problem with your macbook, can you please
    send me an email at macbookproblem@mac.com with the
    complete serial number of your computer, model , date of
    purchase,outcome and as much information as you want.
    I plan on publishing weekly stats about number of computer
    affected and contact apple with the information.

    any suggestions welcome.

    This is the first stats report:


    serial numbers / model / purchase date

    4H619 / ? / ?
    4H619 /White 1.83 GHz /June 15 / email
    4h6199n2u / ? / ?
    4H6199X8U9C / ? / 20-05 / email
    4H620 / white, 1.83 GHz / 31-05 in SF/ email
    4H620 / white, 2GHz, 1GB / ?
    4H620033VMN /black macbook 2.0ghz / 19-05 /email
    4H6201 / white, 2GB / ?
    4H6208TGVMM / 2 GHz / ?
    4H621 / ? / ?
    4H621 / black / case#65194196
    4H6211 / ? / europe
    4H621276VMM / black / 10-6 in Germany case#67490518 /
    4H62128KVMN / black, 2 GHz, 1GB ram / 26-5 in Canada /
    4H6213M / white / end of May
    4h6215ueu9e / ? / ? /email
    4H622 / ? / 13-06 / email
    4H6228STU9C / white, 2 GHz, 2GB ram / 13-06 in Belgium /
    4H623 / ? / ?
    4H62413RVMM / Black, 2GB / July*/ email
    4H6242DPU9D / white, 1.83 GHz / 14-06 in France / email
    4H625 / 2 GHz, 2GB ram / USA
    4H625 / white, 2 GHz, 2GB ram / USA
    4H631KXTU9B / 1.83Ghz / 19-8 / email
    4H6317RR / 2 GHz, 100G HD, 1 GB / 4-8 / email

    some example of the problem:

    A lot of users are reporting problems even after repair.

    Time for a recall ?

    Stephane Elkouri, Montreal, Canada
  • At the hardware level, the "Mac" is just another PC.

    At the hardware level, the modern "Mac" is just another PC. And if it's made from good parts and designed properly, including adequate cooling (i.e. not relying on undersurface vents etc.) it should work fine. Else not.

    There's nothing special about Apple, or whoever they subcontract to, that ensures the hardware will be immune from generic (and well-known) hardware issues - but when parts are vendor-specific, you are locked out of replaceing duff components with better generic alternatives.

    There's more to building quality hardware than ensuring white plastic goesn't turn yellow (though if your main value is "style", expect to be kicked hard on that issue as well)

    BTW, most laptops cook their hard drives at around 45C (at ambient ranging 20C - 30C), whereas for generic desktop PCs, I don't accept over 40C if ambient is below 30C. (These hard drive temperatures as seen via S.M.A.R.T. using HD Tune from Windows).
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