Kernel panic

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A kernel panic prior to 10.2
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A kernel panic prior to 10.2
A kernel panic from 10.2 - 10.2.8
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A kernel panic from 10.2 - 10.2.8
A kernel panic from 10.3 or later.
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A kernel panic from 10.3 or later.

A kernel panic is the most fatal crash that can occur under Mac OS X. They are often referred to as "KPs", "panics" or compared to a BSOD - Blue Screen of Death on Windows operating systems. To recover from a kernel panic you will need to reboot your machine by holding down the power button for several seconds, wait until the computer has completely shut down and then press the button again to start up as normal. Kernel panics are extremely rare. A healthy system should experience no more than one kernel panic per year at the most.


Causes

Common or known causes of kernel panics include, but not limited to;

  • Faulty RAM modules
  • Faulty internal hardware
  • Faulty or non-compliant external peripheral
  • Buggy or outdated drivers
  • Buggy or outdated programs or utilities
  • Incorrect permissions set on a crucial file


Dealing with Kernel Panics

  • It is a good idea first to see if you can recreate it. For example, does it occur when connecting a certain device or loading a specific application? If the panics are happening at random, try removing RAM modules and use a process of elimination to see if this is the cause. Try using the computer with no peripherals apart from the keyboard and mouse.
  • The panic could just be a one off. All computer components are subject to errors every several billions operations. If it is happening more often than you can remember when the last one was, that suggests there may be something more to it.
  • Recently installed software. Have you installed anything new? Such as a GUI enhancement or Hard Disk utility?


Links

Apple Technote: "What's a kernel panic?"