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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Problem Regarding Slowness of MacBook Pro 2011 17" MacBook Pro - Hard drive dying?

Problem Regarding Slowness of MacBook Pro 2011 17" MacBook Pro - Hard drive dying?
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Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: May 2007
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Jan 26, 2014, 10:19 AM
Hi All,

Thank you in advance to anyone who can help with this problem...

I have a 750GB HDD in my MacBook Pro 17" (2011), which seems to be running slowly. I say this because apps seem to be slowing down, and moving from folder to folder in the Finder seems to be becoming more and more laborious.

Does this sound like the HDD is about to fail? Or is the fact that I only have 160GB RAM available a reason for this? I have 8GB RAM running and only have a limited number of apps running at any one period of time...

If it is, will Apple replace my HDD with a SSD for a charge? I'm tempted to convert to a 512GB SSD, and moving my iTunes library to one of my externals, as it's the films and tutorials I have in there (from CreativeLive) that is taking up all the space...

Thanks to anyone who can help...

MacBook Pro 17" 2.2 GHz quad-core, 2x4GB 1333MHz RAM, 750GB Hard Drive, Intel HD Graphics 3000,
AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5, Mid 2011

MacBook Air 13" 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel i5, 4GB RAM, 128GB Flash Storage, Intel HD Graphics 3000, Mid 2011
iPhone 4 32 GB, Mid 2010
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
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Jan 27, 2014, 03:49 AM
First step if you suspect any sort of disk damage is to back up immediately. Second step is to make sure that it is not close to full - you should have at least 20% free. If those two things are done, go to Disk Utility and check the disk. Both check the SMART status and verify the disk directory.

You say that you only have 160 GB RAM available. Presumably you mean MB, and by available you only count Free. This is an annoying feature of Activity Monitor that keeps tripping people up. Check again how much RAM you have that is Free + Inactive - that is the best measurement of much RAM you can use. If that number is low, then yes, you have a RAM issue and should consider a RAM upgrade.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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Jan 28, 2014, 06:20 PM
Having 160 GB of free space on the drive shouldn't be impacting its performance much (there will be some, but it wouldn't be dramatic) - getting under 10% tends to make it worse for sure. If that is as the other person mentioned "160 MB" RAM available, that isn't a major concern, there should be several categories of how the ram is used, most of the 8GB is likely "Inactive" - this is disk cache, programs that have been quit, etc... and the OS will re-use it as needed. So unless the actual amount of RAM required by several programs is getting close to or exceeding 8 GB of physical ram in your computer, it shouldn't be an impact.

Open up "Console" in the Utilities folder.
in "All Messages" look for I/O Error (or put in I/O in the search field)

I/O errors on Disk 0sX (X being a number - like around 5-6) indicate there are read or write issues to the boot volume.

(This may be Disk 1sX if you have FileVault turned on)

I have seen disks without I/O errors that got very very slow - even trying to backup was an extremely slow process - with copy speeds being 1/2 to 1/100th or worse compared with their normal speeds. The disk had the same slow performance when removed from the original Mac, and connected to another Mac, either through a USB-SATA case, or connected as a second drive in a tower. (Some software that shows performance
After a backup, format and additional testing continued to show the extremely slow speeds on all or part of the disk - had to be replaced (some were in-warranty, some out of warranty)

That being said, if you have the money to change to an SSD, it is very much a big boost in performance, and is much less likely to fail (do keep good backups always) Apple may not offer this kind of change, but many/most 3rd party Apple dealers should (either with a clone of your existing drive to the new SSD, or a new OS setup depending on what you desire) - as a side note, an SSD can even make low RAM situations a little more tolerable - the SSD is so much faster than traditional hard drives that RAM swapping to disk isn't nearly as painful - the MacBook Air's that only had 2 or 4 GB of ram, but the fast Flash memory felt much faster than the "faster" MacBook Pro 13" with more ram, but a traditional hard drive, when both had a few programs open. Still not as good as having enough RAM... but still better than how things used to be.
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Feb 13, 2014, 12:59 AM
I have the same box except with SSD. I very, very strongly recommend replacing the boot HDD with an SSD (IMO HDDs have been obsolete for boot for years now). Note that your HDD is overfilled (a cause of slowing) and is 3 years old; time to upgrade.

512 GB size is a sweet spot for SSDs at this point in time. Personally I upgraded the original 128 GB SSD to 512 GB and replaced the optical drive with a large HDD. It makes our 17" a spectacular performer even at 3 years old.

I also upgraded to 16 GB RAM, but that was because my Aperture/Photoshop workflow was paging out with 8 GB RAM. Obviously YMMV.

I bought my upgrades from OWC.


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Feb 13, 2014, 01:41 AM
He has a 750 GB, of which 160 GB are still free.

His drive is not overfilled.
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