A kernel panic is a measure taken by the system when it detects a fatal internal error. If this issue is a rare occasion, it should not alarm users. However, if a crash happens to a recently purchased Mac on a regular basis, one should not turn a blind eye to it.
A sudden need to restart a Mac is symptomatic of various problems, related either to software or hardware. To investigate the cause, follow the next steps:
- Go to the ~/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports in Finder. The panic report should have “kernel” and “panic” in the file name.
- View the error description in the report.
If it does not give the sufficient explanation, run down through the list of possible reasons for a kernel panic.
The most common ones include:
- Problems with internal hardware;
- Incompatible peripherals;
- Conflicting or buggy applications;
- Faulty kernel extensions.
How to define the cause of the Kernel Panic?
In order to check if the problem lies in hardware or software, use Safe Boot, when the system does not allow some apps to load automatically running only its core elements. To start a Mac in this mode, press the power button while holding down the Shift key until you see the Apple logo. Alternatively, you can launch it via Terminal. Open it, type sudo nvram boot-args=”-x”, press Return and reboot a Mac.
If you still experience a kernel panic in Safe mode, the most likely reason for it is hardware.
Internal hardware issues
The internal hard disk may have bad sectors or physical damages. Try using Disk Utility, the built-in disk repair tool. If it does not help, a disk replacement is needed. If additional hardware is installed, there is a possibility to run Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test to find if it is defective or needs to be reinstalled. For this, detach all peripherals, click on the Restart in the Apple menu and hold down the D key during the restart process.
A kernel panic can also happen due to external hardware: thunderbolt adapters, capacitors on the logic board, wired routers, switches, printers, etc. If you have several peripherals connected to a computer, you need to turn the computer off and unplug all devices in order to isolate the issue. Connect them one by one to see which one is to blame for a kernel panic.
Conflicting or buggy applications
If you connected the dots and everything points to the software-related problem, weed out startup items one by one to reveal the culprit. To do this, disable them by choosing Users and Groups in the System Preferences, then go to the Login Items tab, select all the items and click on the “minus” sign. Also, disable startup items in the Library/StartupItems.
Check out all third-party apps you have installed on a Mac and remove the ones that may potentially cause troubles.
Faulty kernel extensions
If Mac is in use for some time, there is a chance you have troubles with kernel extensions. Go to the Utilities folder and choose System Information → Software → Extensions. Sort the list by “Obtained from”. Some of them will be defined as “Identified Developer”, “Unknown” and “Unsigned”. To find the ones causing problems, contact Apple support.
Reinstalling High Sierra is the final step in case measures already taken did not work.