OS X & the Spinning Beach Ball (Part 1)

April 15, 2009

beachballWe’ve all seen & experienced the frustration of OS X’s rainbow-coloured beach ball (frequently referred to as the Spinning Beach Ball). Applications stop responding & sometimes the entire system seems to grind to a halt once the cursor has changed into that seemingly cheery multi-coloured ball.

Despite the friendly colours, there’s really nothing pleasant about the appearance of this particular icon, & the frustration of losing control of your applications (or entire computer) is compounded by the fact that it’s never really clear just exactly what is going on & why things are locking up in the first place.

Unfortunately, there’s no single solution to this particular issue. The beach ball can be a symptom of any number of issues & the possible solutions are as varied as the symptoms. So what is happening that causes the ball to appear? & how can we minimize its occurance?

What can cause the Spinning Beach Ball

Basically, the cursor will change from the regular pointer into the multi-coloured ball any time that the processor (CPU) finds itself waiting for a response, whether from the operating system, an application or a piece of hardware. The changing cursor is meant to inform users that the CPU is stuck waiting for a response from somewhere & cannot continue until it receives one. (Please note, this is a very basic breakdown of the issue, & not at all a proper technical description!!!)

There are a number of potential causes for this system ‘hang’ & the solutions vary, depending on the cause although they can be broken down into 3 basic categories: hardware, operating system, & application. Follow the links below for more information…

Hardware Causes (coming soon…)

Network Causes (coming soon…)

Application Causes (coming soon…)

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