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Ask Max: Programs Shutting Off Randomly On My Mac

Asked on 12/09/2008:

I don't know what has happened but for about a month now I'm having major problems. Programs shut off for no reason, including Safari, Firefox, HP software, Word

I suppose there is a virus but how do I fix it? I have run disk utilities repair & nothing changes. I am also getting messages that say certain images, movies, etc cannot be opened -- I have Adobe reader & shockwave-so I need some other software?


It is nearly impossible for a virus to be the cause of your problem, that is why we love Mac computers. It is far more likely that you are suffering from "bit rot" of your system. This term is often used in to describe failing digital media due to age, but it can also be a less accurate way of describing how, over time, a Mac computers operating system will start to corrupt. It is always a good idea to perform regular maintenance on your computer's OS every few years. Make sure that your Back up plan is working, or if you do not back up, this is a good time to do it. Then you need to dig out your OS X install media and startup your computer off that disc. From the OS X install disc, you are going to do an Archive and Install. That will replace your current Operating System with a new one, but it will leave your personal data intact. Here is a link to Apple's instructions on Archive and Installing the Mac OS.

After the Archive and Install, run Software update to get your system back to the most recent OS version possible and reinstall your non-Apple applications. This will replace the failing files causing these problems and it should also improve the performance of your Mac.

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