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Macbook Pro stuck in molasses
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Helmling
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Nov 1, 2014, 12:38 PM
 
My wife's Macbook Pro from 2010 is ridiculously sluggish, has been for awhile. I have no idea how she even stands it. Every few seconds the cursor turns into the rainbow ball.

I tried creating a brand new profile to see if that helped, but the new profile is slow too.

I see these Mac Clean Up apps advertised, but I've never thought they'd work.

Does anyone have any tips that might address this kind of thing?
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Nov 1, 2014, 01:00 PM
 
Well, the first time I'm told a computer is ridiculously sluggish, the first place I always look is the hard drive. You'd be surprised how much of a computer's real-world performance is based on that. In my experience, hard drives dying can take a remarkably long time to actually croak, with performance deteriorating as they go.

Don't bother with the clean up apps.

If you've got one laying about, try a new drive, and a new OS install. If it snappier, then the problem is the drive. And as always, go SSD! Yeah, they're more expensive than a spinning drive, but WAY faster.
     
turtle777
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Nov 1, 2014, 02:14 PM
 
My wife also has a 2010 MBP. Similar issues

I'm going to get a SSD for her to replace the old HD.
That should give the MBP another 3 years life.

-t
     
angelmb
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Nov 2, 2014, 12:12 PM
 
Slower than a snail on Valium.

That’s how I would describe my MBP 17” Late 2011 750GB hard drive.
But then, it’s a 5400 rpm model, so it embraced slowness from birth.
     
donaldkepler
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Nov 4, 2014, 01:33 AM
 
Till now, I have seen many post about sluggish Mac. Deleting unwanted widgets from dashboard, log out from unused apps, deleting unused apps etc. make Mac drive a little better to work. After doing all these, if you still feel bad for your sluggish Mac then go for third party applications (for me, these apps works well), new OS X Installation and if you can afford an SSD then replace with Mac HDD.
     
pottymouth
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Nov 4, 2014, 04:53 PM
 
Have you checked Activity Monitor to see if there's something hogging the processor?
     
Helmling  (op)
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Nov 4, 2014, 09:01 PM
 
I thought that a fresh profile manifesting the same symptoms would pretty much rule out errant processes and such. Wouldn't it?

Is there any way to be sure it's the hard drive?
     
turtle777
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Nov 4, 2014, 11:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
I thought that a fresh profile manifesting the same symptoms would pretty much rule out errant processes and such. Wouldn't it?

Is there any way to be sure it's the hard drive?
Yes, get a SSD and never look back

-t
     
Helmling  (op)
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Nov 5, 2014, 01:31 AM
 
Yeah, except I just priced those suckers. Not gonna happen.
     
ghporter
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Nov 5, 2014, 07:46 AM
 
My 2006-vintage MBP is not "sluggish." It has a 500GB laptop drive in it (still 5400 RPM), and though I keep getting notices from Google that my hardware is no longer supported by Chrome, it's not slow. My drive is probably over 60 percent empty, and I think that's pretty much why the machine is still quick.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
turtle777
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Nov 5, 2014, 11:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
Yeah, except I just priced those suckers. Not gonna happen.
What's your budget ?

240GB is $150 at Other World Computing. Doesn't seem that expensive if you consider this will add at least 3 years of life.

-t
     
Helmling  (op)
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Nov 5, 2014, 11:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
What's your budget ?

240GB is $150 at Other World Computing. Doesn't seem that expensive if you consider this will add at least 3 years of life.

-t
Well, I need to match the current size, so I'm getting quotes of $400 plus for 500Gb. This Other World looks strangely cheap. What's the catch?
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Nov 6, 2014, 07:31 AM
 
Nothing, really. The new crop of SSDs is reasonably inexpensive, but price does escalate dramatically as capacities go up.

$200 for a 500GB one here. We liked it.

Amazon:
Amazon.com: Crucial MX100 512GB SATA 2.5" 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive CT512MX100SSD1: Computers & Accessories

Our review:
Review - Crucial MX100 256GB SATA-3 SSD Review | MacNN
     
P
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Nov 6, 2014, 10:31 AM
 
Thirded (or whatever) on the SSD, but if you can't swing that at the size you want, consider a bigger hybrid drive in combination with maxed out RAM. 500 gig with 8 GB flash is $69. It is not an SSD by any stretch, but it is faster than a laptop drive. IME, it's like having a desktop (3.5") HDD instead of a laptop (2.5") HDD.
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.
     
turtle777
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Nov 6, 2014, 12:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by Helmling View Post
Well, I need to match the current size, so I'm getting quotes of $400 plus for 500Gb. This Other World looks strangely cheap. What's the catch?
I don't know about their SSDs (yet), but OWC has been around forever, and has a very good reputation. I have purchased from them in the past (just not SSDs).

-t
     
D R Turbo
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Nov 9, 2014, 05:52 AM
 
I use a product named Scannerz to check drives out. It's a very effective tool. On their website they have a set of pages dedicated to hard drive problems, as well as problems that can act like hard drive problems. Here's the web site address if interested:

Bad Hard Drive Signs and Symptoms - A Guide for Mac Users

The two most informative articles are "General Symptoms" and "User Problems." User problems is particularly useful because it can point out things that a user may not be aware of. In some cases it might be unawareness of a problem, like they're not monitoring their disk space and they're running out, making file access slow.

Other things that I can think besides the hard drive are:

1. The MDS process used by Spotlight and Time Machine is messing up.
2. Bad kernel extensions
3. A failing I/O cable

If you open up Activity Monitor during the times of slow down and see a lot of high CPU consumers with names that start with "mds" or "mdworker" then it's the mds process messing up. If the index files somehow got corrupt it can cause the system to go into a perpetual indexing process and it will definitely slow the system down.

Bad kernel extensions can often be exposed if you boot into safe mode and the problems go away. The problem that needs to be resolved, if this is the case, is just exactly which extension is causing it. I had an extension for SoftRAID in my system a few years ago and when I upgraded from Lion to Mountain Lion there was some type of incompatibility and it completely bottlenecked the system.

A bad I/O cable can act just like a bad hard drive. They often get worse with heat because a failing cable has intermittent connections, and when hotter, the intermittent breaks expand making the problem worse. A way to isolate this (if possible) might be to boot from another system in target disk mode and see if the problems go away. That may also be a way to make sure the problem isn't really with the system itself. Some of the MBP's in the 2010-2013 era seem to have this as a fairly common problem.

Before throwing money at a problem or even test software like Scannerz, I'd try more conservative approaches first. It may just end up being something simple, if you're lucky.

Good Luck!
( Last edited by D R Turbo; Nov 9, 2014 at 06:04 AM. Reason: add more information)
     
Helmling  (op)
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Nov 18, 2014, 09:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by D R Turbo View Post
I use a product named Scannerz to check drives out. It's a very effective tool. On their website they have a set of pages dedicated to hard drive problems, as well as problems that can act like hard drive problems. Here's the web site address if interested:

Bad Hard Drive Signs and Symptoms - A Guide for Mac Users

The two most informative articles are "General Symptoms" and "User Problems." User problems is particularly useful because it can point out things that a user may not be aware of. In some cases it might be unawareness of a problem, like they're not monitoring their disk space and they're running out, making file access slow.

Other things that I can think besides the hard drive are:

1. The MDS process used by Spotlight and Time Machine is messing up.
2. Bad kernel extensions
3. A failing I/O cable

If you open up Activity Monitor during the times of slow down and see a lot of high CPU consumers with names that start with "mds" or "mdworker" then it's the mds process messing up. If the index files somehow got corrupt it can cause the system to go into a perpetual indexing process and it will definitely slow the system down.

Bad kernel extensions can often be exposed if you boot into safe mode and the problems go away. The problem that needs to be resolved, if this is the case, is just exactly which extension is causing it. I had an extension for SoftRAID in my system a few years ago and when I upgraded from Lion to Mountain Lion there was some type of incompatibility and it completely bottlenecked the system.

A bad I/O cable can act just like a bad hard drive. They often get worse with heat because a failing cable has intermittent connections, and when hotter, the intermittent breaks expand making the problem worse. A way to isolate this (if possible) might be to boot from another system in target disk mode and see if the problems go away. That may also be a way to make sure the problem isn't really with the system itself. Some of the MBP's in the 2010-2013 era seem to have this as a fairly common problem.

Before throwing money at a problem or even test software like Scannerz, I'd try more conservative approaches first. It may just end up being something simple, if you're lucky.

Good Luck!
Wow, thanks. I'll go through all that.
     
turtle777
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Dec 6, 2014, 02:30 PM
 
Well, I'm back to report my experience.

MBP mid 2009. Extremely sluggish.
Got the 240GB SSD from Other World Computing. see above. Installation took only a few minutes, very easy, my mom could have done it.

The result is absolutely amazing. This MBP now feels like brand new. It's so snappy and responsive as it's probably never been before. Absolutely amazing difference. This will give the MBP at least another 3 years of life.

Best Mac hardware "investment" in my life.

-t
     
turtle777
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Dec 6, 2014, 02:32 PM
 
Oh, and one more thing. no TRIM needed with OWC SSDs:

To TRIM or not to TRIM (OWC has the answer) | Other World Computing Blog

-t
     
Mac128guy
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Dec 9, 2014, 10:11 PM
 
Yes adding SSD drive and more DRAM to any older Mac would speed it up.

It can indeed be hardware like failing hard drive or cables.

But at least check for these before spending money (unless money is no object).
1)runaway app caught in some loop or error might consume high %CPU. That can be checked in Activity Monitor. That would cause slow downs.
2) need more DRAM memory: If you are doing something memory intensive you just might need more RAM.
3)an app might have memory leak or coding errors causing page out & disk SWAPS. This uses up ALL your RAM memory and OSX starts SWAPPing data out to disk in large chunks & page outs. CHECK this with Activity Monitor. This can SLOW things to a crawl.
4) in rare cases an app might be producing very large amounts of errors stored in Log files. Use CONSOLE to check for that. I recall some users who have posted in times past with GBs of errors in log files.
5) do try SAFE BOOT or also try running in a new account. If your Mac runs better in either of these situations there is something wrong with addons, kernel extensions, background apps or daemons, or something running in a particular account like a utility addon.
     
   
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