Could bad PRAM battery be cause of startup kernel panics?
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Author:  johnbrandt [ Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:59 am ]
Post subject:  Could bad PRAM battery be cause of startup kernel panics?

I have an old G5 iMac (20", 2.0GHz) that I just upgraded to Leopard. (Yeah, I know, kinda late but it was donated by a friend...) The power supply was replaced upon initial receipt due to kernel panics and lockups, and it ran pretty well thereafter, except when using the ancient, slow original SuperDrive. But while attempting to upgrade from 10.4 Tiger to 10.5 Leopard, it started having major kernel panics again. Optimized system & drives, made all common software repairs using Disk Utility, TechTool & others, and finally got it to take 10.5 install. (Hadn't initially noticed the "skip" button on the DVD check that hung it up several times previously.)

When the iMac sits idle for 12 hours or more (and the more the better), it becomes usable again, at least for a time. Shutting off as many background functions as possible tends to increase functionality. Since it only works without instant or near immediate kernel panics when its been idle (but connected to power) for up to a day or more, is it at all possible the problem could be the PRAM battery that's supposed to be on the motherboard? As it seems to possibly be a recharge issue, not just a cool-down and full power down—which I'd assume would free it to boot within minutes or at max a few short hours—I can't imagine much else besides the PRAM battery.

The same thing happened months ago before Tiger was optimized, as well as some apps (disabling some things, uninstalling some, cleaning caches and the like.) If it's only the motherboard, why would waiting many hours (or days) longer allow it to not only boot, but function? And function longer the longer it's idled? While Tiger was installed, it had gotten to having no more than a couple kernel panics a month. It's back to often, if it boots at all. With the significant full system install (archive and install) and all hardware pushed harder than usual, could it merely be the battery? Any thoughts?

Author:  justin-pbmedic [ Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Could bad PRAM battery be cause of startup kernel panics

I'm not really sure what the issue could be. I would first just make sure you have enough RAM and free hard drive space to rule out the easy things. I haven't really heard of the PRAM battery causing kernel panics like you are describing. I'd say its more likely to be a more severe problem such as something wrong with the main logic board such as bad cache or processor. But it really is a weird issue, so I'm mostly just shooting in the dark.

Hopefully someone else has seen a similar issue and can help.

Author:  johnbrandt [ Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Could bad PRAM battery be cause of startup kernel panics

RAM is at max (4GBs for this iMac), far more than half the 250GB internal hard drive is free. Hard drive was fully checked, repaired via usual software, as well as defragged and completely optimized (compacted with free space contiguous).

Although this is a problem I've never before encountered, so far it seems (intuitively at least) to possibly be less than the motherboard, similarly to many cheaper fixes in the past with a variety of Macs and Apple products I had been told needed tossing or "open heart surgery" when all were discovered to be far more minor fixes. At least that's the hope. Putting several hundred into a PPC Mac of any sort is mostly a waste, and as I'm trying to rebuild my freelance graphic biz while now on disability, would rather save that expense for something far more usable and newer, Intel, capable of running current apps at reasonable speeds. But funds are too tight. If anyone has encountered anything remotely like this, I welcome, I plead for, any suggestions, or perhaps I'll either be forced to pay someone to install the $3 battery or risk learning how to do it in an iMac myself to test my theory.


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