Apple OS X crash when importing in iMovie

Just now, I had a terrible experience with my new Mac Mini. It crashed on me, two times in a row. It did this while importing a movie from a Sony Handycam with iMovie. During the import, suddenly the screen goes blank, and the machine does a “hard boot”. I restarted iMovie, dragged the imported files from the trashcan and continued as normal. But now I’ve noticed that my Spotlight is no longer returning search results. Looking for “Terminal” resulted in amsolutely no results at all.

I checked the /var/log/system.log for errors, but I can only find the things logged during boot. I expected to find some kind of error just prior to the unscheduled boot, but there is none. The problem is so “hard” that the system doesn’t even get (or takes) the time to write information about it.

I tried to repair the Spotlight database with the tips found here, and found the solution. Open the Terminal (from Application/utilities) and do the following (requires root password, be carefull!):

rolf:/var/log rolf$ sudo mdutil -E /
Password:
/:
        Volume index removed.  Index will be rebuilt automatically.
rolf:/var/log rolf$ sudo mdutil -i off /Volumes/MAXTOR\ FS/
/Volumes/MAXTOR FS/:
        Indexing disabled for volume.
rolf:/var/log rolf$ sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/MAXTOR\ FS/
/Volumes/MAXTOR FS/:
        Volume index removed.

Yes, you noticed correctly, I turned off indexing on my Maxtor 250 USB disk and cleaned it’s database as well. Spotlight indexes USB disks, and I thought it best to focus on indexing the system disk first.

After doing this I waited for Spotlight to finish indexing. You can tell when it’s finished by clicking on the magnifying glas. It takes about 2-3 minutes to finish on my machine. After it finished I still had no results. To give the system a chance to clean up and restart I shut it down, and powered it back up. Problem solved! Spotlight works fine again (phew).

Oh and another tip: don’t minimize iMovie when importing a movie from your camera, it will stop importing, but leaves the tape running, letting you think it is still working fine.

It seems that although OS X is more stable than Windows, and can cope better with unexpected reboots (never lost a file during this whole adventure), it is not entirely bullet proof. If I find a way to avoid reboots in iMovie I’ll let you know. Smaller projects and more saving is the way to go for now.

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