Do Mac computers really never crash?

OSX is probably very stable, as it’s UNIX, which has had 30 years to evolve into a good operating system. wWin2k is Microsoft’s best offering to date, IMO, and it’s pretty stable. But keep in mind that direct comparisons between MS and UNIX aren’t really fair, as UNIX is 15 years older than any version of Windows.

I suspect that a lot of the additional stability in earlier version of the Mac OS was due to Apple’s strict control of what hardware went into their machines. If you use good hardware and are good about maintenance, win2K and winXP are pretty stable. But a lot of the OEM’s (Dell, Compaq, HP, etc.) use cheap hardware, and that directly impacts the stability of the machine.

My experience and YMMV.

Usually, with slightly less frequency than PCs, but by no means “never.” And the ones I’ve worked with rebooted more slowly than the comparable PCs, but not terrifically slower.

The exception there’s my mother’s Mac (G4) which seems to crash from my just looking at it. (She claims it’s never gone down while she’s working on it. I managed to kill it 3 times in 45 minutes from merely web surfing. The PC next to it was fine.) It takes an incredibly long time to reboot - and then, once it’s done rebooting, it doesn’t work at first (no indication of this state, no watch icon, it just isn’t done rebooting for a while after it looks like it’s done rebooting, and you have to wait for a while. How long is anybody’s guess). But I think her machine is truly an evil exception.

Great stuff, folks.
FWIW I’ll add my own experience, and my reason for originally posting.
The most stable machine I have worked with is a DOS computer running software I wrote - it automates a test system with about a dozen users, and (other than the time I programmed a 16-bit integer to count something that could happen hundreds of thousands of times) it has never crashed in several years.
Second best is my cell phone. It crashed and I had to remove the battery twice to get it to come back. Well, now, that doesn’t really count…
So, second best is my work desktop computer running Windows NT. If I click on the indent function in Microsoft Word, it freezes so completely that not even the mouse cursor will move, and the three finger salute does nothing. And twice now it has turned the monitor off (?!) when I tried to edit a text file. The monitor clicks and everything. But other than that it has not crashed in 3 years.
Third best would be the several Sun Sparcstations I had, running both BSD and SVR4. They’d crash maybe once a month or so.
Various computers running Windows 9x would rank a good deal worse. At the bottom of the list is the wretched Windows 98 box I am using now. It crashes about once per hour of use. If I leave the Zip drive plugged into the USB port and try to turn it on, it often won’t recognize the keyboard or the mouse or the off/boot button, and I actually have to pull the power plug. In fact, it crashed when I submitted this OP and I didn’t know if SDMB actually received it. I am considering getting rid of the machine - not just trading it away or something, actually taking it to the dump myself so I can hurl it to the bottom of the big metal crusher canyon and asking them to cycle it.
Now I am trying to find out if I can get Quicken for Linux…

I could probably break an anvil; I could definitely wreck a tank. Operating systems have no chance whatsoever.

I’m pretty happy with the Macs I’ve used over the years, but no, it is not true that they do not crash. I have crashed every Macintosh operating system from System 3 to MacOS X. I’ve also crashed NT and XP while using other folks’ PCs.

You get more stability out of any OS by learning what programs behave nicely, and ditching the ones that don’t in favor of their competitors; by doing maintenance chores on your volume structures; by doing housekeeping on your settings and preferences; weeding out your extensions and other optional routines and tweaks and background processes and whatnot; and by avoiding substandard hardware.

      • Uh, , , , -it depends. Name-brand computers tend to use proprietary motherboards (and often cases). You shouldn’t have any problems if you add RAM, HD’s or CD/ATAPI variant drives to these computers, but if you start adding or changing internal slot components, you often will. They build the mobo substandard to save money and/or tie it to their OS install CD’s but they only test it well with the OEM components. 'Tis why nerds build their own PC’s from name-brand retail parts…

The last Mac I owned was a Performa 630 running System 7.x, and it crashed just from thinking unhappy thoughts. On the other hand, the only crashes I’ve had in Windows XP were caused by hardware/driver conflicts.

Realistically, the biggest advantage in Apple’s court, as far as stability, is their ability to have absolute control over the hardware that the computer contains. Since Apple computers cost far more than the competition, it stands to reason that they can afford to use higher quality components. With PCs, you can spend the money and get a rock stable system, or spend less money and get a system using substandard components. Windows developed its reputation for frequent crashing primarily due to being commonly installed on substandard hardware, not any intrinsic failings of the OS.

Really, the OP is a bit like asking “Do Ford cars drive fast?” ie - yes, but it depends which model.

As many people have pointed out, the critical question is “Do certain Mac computers really never crash?”

Because from my experience across all platforms, in crashability comparisons, OSX and OS9 and below are as different as OSX and Windows ME, or OS9 and Windows 2000.

OSX rarely to never crashes.
OS9 and below can crash frequently.

At me school, my Mac computer crashed 1-3 times a day, if not more.

I design web-based database systems for a living.

One of my clients uses 2 IBM Netfinity monsters each running 2 CPU’s and a truckload of RAM and RAID Array disk systems. They’re mission critical to the company and they are online on the web 24 x 7.

Both machines were purchased in September of 2000 and they use Windows 2000 Advanced Server. They don’t have to do anything other than run SQL Server thru the webserver interfaces. They talk to each other via ethernet but other than that, every possible measure has been taken to make them invisible to hackers etc.

Is Win2K stable? Both machines have been running now, WITHOUT one single reboot since January of 2001. In that time, they’ve serviced 347 GIGABYTES of user requested data via the web. They both hover around 5 - 10% CPU. I check them daily.

I can’t get over how rock solid those two machines are - in the context of their designated roles.

I’m sure, however, if I was to try using those machines to run a fiersome audio program like Pro Tools for example with incredibly complex audio interfaces etc etc, then I could get 'em to hang probably.

But in the context of being world class database webservers, they’re awesome. 13 months without a reboot - 24 x 7 x 365. That’s pretty impressive.

I’ve spent quite some time learning about all the subtle tricks you can use to “fine tune” Windows 2000. I’m assuming those tricks would extend to Windows XP too.

One thing I’ve learnt is this - if your computer is tuned to provide a service which you aren’t using - then disable it. Also, avoid loading “resident background” programs like AOL Instant Messenger as an example. They all chew up 3-5% CPU even if you’re not using them. It all adds up and makes your CPU run far more inefficiently.

OS9 isn’t that stable. I’d put it on a par w/Windows 98 as far as stability goes.
OSX is extremely stable. I’ve had one crash (kernel panic), and it was in 10.1, not the newer 10.2. Very occasionally an app w/crash or lock up, but that’s about it. I run several apps at once, including Logic (audio software) and Photoshop, and almost never have a problem.

In my experience, the majority of Mac crashes can be blamed on frequent and indiscriminate installation of third-party software. Iffy shareware titles, web browsers, and IM clients, can bring the entire system down with them when they crash. User error is another cause. I’ve seen machines that were administered by people who weren’t familiar with Macs and personally did things or let other users do all kinds of stupid things, such as moving around or deleting software components they didn’t understand, and installing and running programs while ignoring the system’s specs and the software’s system requirements.

In my experience, if your machine and OS are current, if you are a savvy user, and if you are discriminate with what you install on your machine, your Mac should rarely crash.

My own Mac has not crashed since I installed OS X in August. It’s always on, and it’s in use for at least 6 hours each day. Back when I used OS 9, I used it even more (for graphics, website work, games, word processing, and web browsing), and still, crashes didn’t happen more than twice per month.

Convenient… but Mac didn’t gain its reputation for being stable in the few months since the release of OSX. Mac-advocates have been telling me for 10 years how their machines were so much better than Wintel. It wasn’t demonstrably true then, and it’s not now. In my experience, if either side says their gear is better, it’s usually zealotry or a hidden agenda (e.g. they’re a salesman), not fact based on benchmarks. I’m not saying OSX isn’t stable; I’m saying that it is no more stable than Win2K on similar hardware running similar apps (and yes, I will install third-party hardware and software because I need the computer to actually do something).

A couple of corrections here…

This isn’t entirely correct. Windows 95 did support premptive multitasking. Actually it used a combination of both. Legacy 3.1 applications were cooperatively multitasked, while Win32 applications were premptively multitaksed.


XP is simply the next evolution of Windows 2000 which was the next evolution of Windows NT 4.0.

Yeah, “merging” wasn’t exactly the choice word in the technical sense at all. From the consumer standpoint, we can say “merging” though, since it’s where both previously-separate product lines come together.

Micco, I could counter that there are no data to back up that it’s zealotry! :slight_smile: Mostly though, I don’t imagine there’s any real hard and true data that can exist – it’s all anecdotal. Sure there are the posers that are Mac zealots that don’t have the experience to back up their non-crash claims. Then there are those have use both systems and given a fair analysis of their own as well as stated anecdotal evidence. Really, it comes down to what you run. In general and in my own experience, the old Mac OS was more stable than the old Windows, and I constantly pushed them both to the limits. Anecdotally, my two Macs have crashed less than my XP machine, but because of my small data size, I can’t claim that one’s better than the other – they both are impressive, though!

I won’t claim that MacOS 9 is inherently more stable than MacOS X or Windows XP, but if you’re willing to spend the time to tweak and weed and otherwise find the hardware/software match that works for you, you can end up with a very very stable MacOS 9 system. (This was even more so for MacOS 8.6, btw).

As I said before, I can crash any OS. But I can work all day long in 9, day after day, with FileMaker updating records to accomodate a new calc field I just entered, in the background; iCab serving me SDMB pages, Eudora fetching my mail, a second copy of FileMaker open to let me respond to bug reports and change requests while the first copy is tied up doing the update; SoundApp playing MP3s; file copies and deletes taking place as I weed out my downloads folder; BBEdit up to do find and replace-all string modifications as I write scripts; Photoshop up to create or modify button icons for the database; Virtual PC up and running a copy of NT Server running FileMaker so I can see layouts from the PC perspective and address script calls that are OS-specific and so forth.

Since a system crash would take out the file containing the calc field I’m updating, and we’d have to restore from yesterday’s backup, this is a lot of additional processing to have around. But I do it all the time.

Important disclaimers: My computer is a laptop. It gets shut down every evening when I go home and gets a fresh boot every morning when I start work. My stability is good for hours at a time. I don’t shoot for days or weeks. I take my browser to SDMB but not to any old random site, as sites do exist which are capable of hosing the OS as a consequence of taking down the browser (RealPlayer media and bad Java being possible culprits there).

Generally speaking, for the tasks I use my computer for and the fashion in which I use it, MacOS 9 is more stable than XP or MacOS X (also more so than 95/98/ME). With any of the others, while the OS itself may remain unaffected, are more prone than 9 to having specific apps crash or become unresponsive requiring a force-quit.

I’ve got a short, beautiful phrase for those who would claim that Macs never crash (note odd capitalization):

“sorry, a system error occurred. <Restart>”

And who could forget that cute little bomb icon?

Apples, and oranges… yadda yadda yadda…

Mac OS 8.6 was probably the most stable operating system apple had before OSX… and when compared to home based OS’s at the time… 95, 98… it was probably more stable.

When OS 9 came out, there were a few bugs, that all seemed to be fixed with 9.2.2

I would equate OS 9… to Windows ME… and since both have upgraded the OS significantly…

Win2k is not exactly a user friendly home based OS…
People who use 2k do not usually have to worry about crashing, because they will take the time to maintain the PC.
and when it does crash, they will know why, and how to fix any problems…

OSX seems to be a step above XP as far as stability IMHO… I use both…

On my new OSX Mac which I got last semester, I have had one “big crash”, where it became totally unresponsive to keyboard, mouse, and network (yes, I did try SSHing in from another computer to kill the offending process). But it’s only happened once, which is less than on any Microsoft machine I’ve ever used (including Windows 2000). I only reboot when a software update requires it, which is once a month or less. And I have admittedly had individual programs crash, but except for the one case mentioned above, they’ve never hurt the rest of the system at all.

We have brand new Macs in my school, with the ultra thin 600 dollar monitors, the silver cube computers where you put your finger over the sensor on the top to turn it on, and, I think, Mac Os 9.

And they crash all the time. In class, every fifteen minutes or so, you’ll hear someone roar or curse because their computer locked up in AppleWorks and they lost all their work. It’s only a matter of time before I pick up that oh-so purty but completely useless piece of garbage computer and hurl it against the wall. Give me a PC any day.