The OS X alternative of the Windows BSOD is the Kernel Panic error (also referred as Black Screen Of Death). The Kernel Panic issue can be categorized as a denial of service caused by a hardware or software error/malfunction. In some cases, the Kernel Panic issue can be just a onetime glitch. Sporadic errors of this type are pretty much normal for all operating systems. This shouldn’t be so, but unfortunately that’s the reality. The current article focuses on the excessive occurrence of the Black Screen Of Death. The reoccurring Kernel Panic black screen is a really annoying disruption of the daily computer tasks, and can even damage the main OS X installation, which could lead to data loss, system instability, and big doses of frustration. The idea behind this article is to save you time and lost nerves by providing you with the most quick and accurate troubleshooting solutions.
Kernel Panic can be caused by various hardware and software malfunctions/errors. I have listed the most common causes and the utmost solutions below. Please leave a comment after the article if your have a better solution or suggestion.
Test your MAC in Recovery Mode
The first test that you can perform is starting your Mac in Recovery mode through Safe Boot. Once the Mac loads completely, you should run the Repair Disk utility in order to check and fix any file system errors (if such exist). In case that another Kernel Panic occurs during the recovery mode, you should skip this step and continue with the next possible cause and the corresponding solution.
Firmware is the software that controls the main components of your Mac. Think of firmware as the behavior instructions of all hardware components. Sometimes an outdated firmware can cause various software problems, such as the currently described one. Thus, you should check for any available firmware updates for your Mac model, and update the firmware if new versions exist. Please also make sure that your Mac is compatible with the installed version of OS X.
Testing the Hardware
Testing All Peripheral Devices
If the Kernel Panic occurs constantly regardless of the mode or the firmware version, then you should check your Mac and all peripheral devices for a possible hardware malfunction. First, you should switch your Mac off, and then disconnect all peripheral devices. Please also check the condition of all cables, sockets, and hubs. After that, you should test how your Mac behaves without the peripherals. If the Kernel Panic issue doesn’t appear, you should start testing your peripheral devices one by one in order to find out the problematic component. Once you have found the defective device, you should reconnect all operable peripheral devices and continue being a happy Mac/OS X customer. Please keep on reading if the Kernel Panic issue appears even after all peripheral devices have been unplugged.
Testing RAM Modules
Your Mac uses the Random Access Memory modules to store all files that are currently needed for the OS X and your apps. This includes all OS X system files. Please note that you can see the Kernel Panic window even if the free RAM or disk space of your Mac are insufficient. Thus, you will experience various system stability problems, such as Kernel Panic errors, if any of the installed RAM modules fails. To check if the RAM modules are correctly installed, you should switch the Mac off, disconnect the power supply cord, and then remove the battery. After that, you must remove the cover of the RAM compartment, and then make sure that all RAM modules are properly seated into the RAM slots. Now, you must reinstall the compartment cover, and then test the computer. In case that the Kernel Panic occurs again, you should download a RAM/memory test program, such as TechTool and Memtest, and then use the program to test the installed RAM modules. All defective RAM modules should be replaced. Proceed with the next BSOD solution if the problem is still present.
Try using another HDD/SSD
A dying hard disk or a defective solid state disk could cause the Kernel Panic errors to appear. Therefore, you should make a copy (with the appropriate specialized software) of your current OS X installation on another HDD or SSD, and then use the new HDD/SSD to test your Mac. You have a bad HDD/SSD if the Kernel Panic window does not appear while using the replacement HDD/SSD. In this case, you can use an HDD recovery software to check and try to fix any bad sectors, or the utilities provided by your SSD manufacturer to check the health status of the SSD (I/O meter, Health, Raw Errors, etc…).
Install a Clean OS X
If none of the above solutions solves your problem, you should backup all your data, and then install OS X from scratch (format the hard drive or the SSD, and then install a fresh copy of OS X, all drivers, etc…). A virus, bad system administration, or a corrupted file could lead to Kernel Panic.
Still seeing the black window of Kernel Panic
Well, it seems that you are out of luck. Your Mac is probably suffering from a defective mainboard/motherboard, video card/chip, or other major hardware component. It is time to return your computer to the dealer, Apple Retail Store, or send it to an authorized repair/service shop.