Repeated Kernel Panics with macOS Big Sur


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I have a MacBook Pro that I've used for less than a year. For the past several months, I've had serious kernel panic issues (at least 3 shutdowns a day, usually more). I took it into Apple support, but they weren't much help beyond a factory reset. I reloaded my previous files and applications via Time Machine, and the issue kept happening.

I've tried a lot of the standard troubleshooting methods (turning off applications that launch on startup, trying a safe boot, removing peripherals, etc.).
I also went from Catalina to Big Sur, which didn't remove the issue. I'm guessing the issue is with a file, an application, or specific kext(s), but I don't have the knowledge necessary to read the crash reports and piece together what's causing the issue. I'm a designer, so I run a lot of Adobe programs, but I don't have a lot of extra things added to this Mac beyond that.

The last started kext in these reports is almost always AActuatorDriver, AHIDKeyboard, ATopCaseHIDEventDriver, or UAudio. I put three of the reports in this Google Doc (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hiGAstKfmC_-AMTEncvl4lVcgvnagH24oPrVDAvzdRk/edit?usp=sharing) if it would help to look at them. Thanks in advance!
 
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Check if the apps you use have been updated to 64-bit. The new Mac versions do not support 32-bit apps.
 
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Have you tried reinstalling Big Sur? If you don’t have the installer file you can try using Recovery. I have gone to such lengths as completely erasing the startup drive (in Recovery, using Disk Utility), reinstalling Big Sur and restoring my data from Time Machine.

It did not completely solve my woes with Big Sur so I took the leap of upgrading to Monterey at a very early beta stage (beta 3) which I never did before until this last time. I usually waited until the 6th or 7th beta when it was more reliable but Big Sur was turning out to be a real pain. Anyway, notwithstanding some scary moments, it turned out to be a wise move.

I also work extensively with Creative Cloud, almost entirely with InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Working with institutions, printers, authors, and other designers, I also rely on such suites as Office 365, multiple text editors, PDF apps, etc. macOS Monterey, in spite of the early stages, proved to be more reliable than Big Sur.

If your Mac is able to run Monterey, which was officially released a few days ago, you may want to give it a try. It’s best if you have the Big Sur installer file available, should you decide to downgrade; and Time Machine backups, of course. I never regretted my decision to make the leap back in July—and turned out to be a great learning experience.

 
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I'm wondering if there is a hardware issue at the root of the problem such as a bad RAM stick.
 
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You can always run Apple’s built-in hardware test by rebooting and holding down the “D” key until the utility comes up.
 
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I'm wondering if there is a hardware issue at the root of the problem such as a bad RAM stick.
I thought that could be possible as well! I took it into the Apple store, and they said that there weren't any hardware issues beyond "normal wear and tear." Maybe it'd be worth checking again?
 
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Have you tried reinstalling Big Sur? If you don’t have the installer file you can try using Recovery. I have gone to such lengths as completely erasing the startup drive (in Recovery, using Disk Utility), reinstalling Big Sur and restoring my data from Time Machine.

It did not completely solve my woes with Big Sur so I took the leap of upgrading to Monterey at a very early beta stage (beta 3) which I never did before until this last time. I usually waited until the 6th or 7th beta when it was more reliable but Big Sur was turning out to be a real pain. Anyway, notwithstanding some scary moments, it turned out to be a wise move.

I also work extensively with Creative Cloud, almost entirely with InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Working with institutions, printers, authors, and other designers, I also rely on such suites as Office 365, multiple text editors, PDF apps, etc. macOS Monterey, in spite of the early stages, proved to be more reliable than Big Sur.

If your Mac is able to run Monterey, which was officially released a few days ago, you may want to give it a try. It’s best if you have the Big Sur installer file available, should you decide to downgrade; and Time Machine backups, of course. I never regretted my decision to make the leap back in July—and turned out to be a great learning experience.

I've tried some more troubleshooting options, and it looks like upgrading the OS might be the best move. Thanks for the advice!
 
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If they did a factory reset at the Apple store and that didn't solve the issue and installing an OS upgrade didn't help either, I would certainly be looking at a hardware issue. The thing is, sometimes hardware issues are intermittent and not reliably reproduceable when it comes to troubleshooting. It's like that strange noise your car makes until you take it in to the shop when it quits. The mechanic tells you he can't fix anything unless he can hear the noise. So, you take it home and the noise starts again. The Apple hardware diagnostic tool only covers basics. I have experienced what you describe with windows computers and it was usually a memory or a motherboard issue.
 
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I’m assuming you are still running Big Sur and have not yet upgraded to Monterey. If you have enough free space on the drive, and I assume that your drive is APFS formatted (I think it has to be to intstall BigSur), can you create a new volume in Disk Utility by selecting the container with the main drive (probably “Macintosh HD”), right-click and select “Add APFS Volume…”.

Give it a name, and install a fresh copy of Big Sur (or whatever macOS version you are presently running). Once completed, set it up with your Apple ID but do not migrate anything from your old data. From there, you can install your most important apps and utilities and basically do some “normal stuff,” and watch for any hint of the problems that you were encountering in the old system. If nothing odd comes up, if space permits, start reinstalling other apps, utilities, and extensions (start with the ones most important to your normal routine). If nothing untoward happens, then the problem is probably from an errant extension, plist, or other detritus from your previous installation.

If all is good, I suggest copying/cloning your old system to an external drive, then deleting that old volume (system and data), and carefully migrate data to your new volume, avoiding the ones that you suspect could be causing the problems. If you wish, you can rename the new volume “Macintosh HD” again.
 
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Tony's suggestion about doing a clean install of the OS and then running it as a vanilla profile without any apps is a good one. If it has been spontaneously restarting multiple times a day it shouldn't take you long to determine if it's a hardware/kext issue or an app issue. If the vanilla installation gives you the same problems then it's either a hardware problem or a kext issue. If it does not then it's an app issue. Then start adding the apps back in one at a time until the problem reappears so you an isolate the offender.
 
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I have a MacBook Pro that I've used for less than a year. For the past several months, I've had serious kernel panic issues (at least 3 shutdowns a day, usually more). I took it into Apple support, but they weren't much help beyond a factory reset. I reloaded my previous files and applications via Time Machine, and the issue kept happening.

I've tried a lot of the standard troubleshooting methods (turning off applications that launch on startup, trying a safe boot, removing peripherals, etc.).
I also went from Catalina to Big Sur, which didn't remove the issue. I'm guessing the issue is with a file, an application, or specific kext(s), but I don't have the knowledge necessary to read the crash reports and piece together what's causing the issue. I'm a designer, so I run a lot of Adobe programs, but I don't have a lot of extra things added to this Mac beyond that.

The last started kext in these reports is almost always AActuatorDriver, AHIDKeyboard, ATopCaseHIDEventDriver, or UAudio. I put three of the reports in this Google Doc (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hiGAstKfmC_-AMTEncvl4lVcgvnagH24oPrVDAvzdRk/edit?usp=sharing) if it would help to look at them. Thanks in advance!
I have a MacBook Pro that I've used for less than a year. For the past several months, I've had serious kernel panic issues (at least 3 shutdowns a day, usually more). I took it into Apple support, but they weren't much help beyond a factory reset. I reloaded my previous files and applications via Time Machine, and the issue kept happening.

I've tried a lot of the standard troubleshooting methods (turning off applications that launch on startup, trying a safe boot, removing peripherals, etc.).
I also went from Catalina to Big Sur, which didn't remove the issue. I'm guessing the issue is with a file, an application, or specific kext(s), but I don't have the knowledge necessary to read the crash reports and piece together what's causing the issue. I'm a designer, so I run a lot of Adobe programs, but I don't have a lot of extra things added to this Mac beyond that.

The last started kext in these reports is almost always AActuatorDriver, AHIDKeyboard, ATopCaseHIDEventDriver, or UAudio. I put three of the reports in this Google Doc (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hiGAstKfmC_-AMTEncvl4lVcgvnagH24oPrVDAvzdRk/edit?usp=sharing) if it would help to look at them. Thanks in advance!
I have had a similar issue some years back. Intermittent panic attacks getting the black screen with the many languages. Like you I tried everything and Apple was of no help. I finally used the hardware and diagnostic tool that’s available. Shut down the computer and disconnect all peripherals and restart holding down
“command-D”. It turned out after running the test “several times”, I caught an error in one ram chip. These came from OWC and contacted them. They seemed to know about A problem some of the chips I purchased from them, and immediately sent me a whole new set of four RAM chips without question after explaining the situation. The diagnostic test showed that one chip was failing and this was the cause of the panic attacks, as after replacing with the new RAM chips , all has been good for years. Best, Zephar
 
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