A very slow Mac Pro ...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by snaps042, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #1
    Hello All,

    I bought a Mac pro 5 years ago - my pride and joy. However, I have noticed that the overall operation of this machine has now slowed right down.

    On a regular basis I run FCP7 but the old girl is getting slower and slower. I conduct regular 'Verify Disk' checks and monthly checks using TechTool Deluxe - each and every test it passes without so much as a hitch. Each time there is an automated software update from Apple, I upload it. I also opened it up, cleaned all the contacts, hovered out the interior and made it all spick and span, before putting it back together (followed by a TechTool system check).

    What it used to do (rendering etc) in 10 minutes, now takes the best part of half-an-hour, sometimes longer.

    It is running OS X 10.6.8, has 2 x 2.26 GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon processors and 15 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 memory.

    This is what's in the machine:

    Disk 1 - Macintosh HD Applications
    Capacity 639.79 GB
    Availability 292.4 GB

    Disk 2/3 - RAID 0 (Scratch disk for FCP7)
    Capacity 999.66 GB
    Availability 687.28 GB

    Disk 4 - Backup

    GFX card - ATI Ratheon HD 4870

    So, what on earth is slowing this machine up?

    Your thoughts and suggestions would be most welcome.

    snaps
     
  2. macrumors demi-goddess

    costabunny

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    ~/
    #2
    Could be a dodgy ram stick causing errors or a hard drive on the way out.

    Difficult to diagnose.

    Might be something in the logs (at /var/log )

    You could try installing OS X on the raid or backup disk (and have dual boot) and see if booting from the different disk helps the situation (that could rule out a hdd failing).

    Also I guess you could try pulling the ram sticks and trying different combos and maybe one combo will return to full speed?
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #3
    I wouldn't rely on Tech Tool to accurately identify any problems. If the Mac Pro runs, but not as optimally as before, I would start looking at software first, and when system and application program file "gremlins" have been ruled out, then start looking at hardware.

    As a first step, I would try to identify what programs are running and what processes are going on by opening up Activity Monitor, and taking a look at what is going on. See if any program or process is eating up CPU cycles.

    By the way, it may be useful ask people using FCP if they have also noticed a similar problem...

    Memory and hard drive(s) would also me a next step. You can go into your System Profiler and look at the current RAM status and hard drive status. This may or may not give you the info you need.

    At some point, if you suspect the RAM or drives and nothing is showing up in System Profiler to indicate a problem, you will have to go in and start moving things around and taking things out, to physically go through a process of elimination. There may be programs out there that accurately report the status of parts, but each one has pluses and minuses, and I haven't used any recently. Maybe other members can report in on what has worked for them.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #4
    costabunny and blesscheese,

    Thank you both for your replies.

    Being the easiest to do, I started with the RAM. As I wrote my initial question, I checked the RAM of my machine and it was saying “15 GB” (3 x 4 GB and 3 x 1 GB).

    Once moved, I rebooted the machine and it told me the recommended configuration;

    S1 - 4GB
    S2 -
    S3 - 1 GB
    S4 -
    S5 - 4 GB
    S6 - 1 GB
    S7 - 1 GB
    S8 -

    That left me with a 4 GB strip free. I put it in slot 2.

    On rebooting the machine a second time, a panel appeared saying that “The memory modules are installed in the recommended slots”.

    However, it tells me that I only have 11 GB, not the initial 15 GB. So, there’s a duff 4 GB RAM in slot 2. Yes, they are all well-seated and properly locked in place.

    I have already started using the Activity Monitor to see if power is being drained anywhere. It is not apparent. However, I will go back to TechTools Deluxe and then back to the Activity Monitor. I can easily delete some of the software on this machine as it is rarely used.

    Thanks again for your help.

    snaps
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #5
    That's odd...so it started off saying that you had 15GB RAM, you re-configured, and then now it is telling you that there is only 11GB of RAM...

    Well, that certainly could mean the 4GB stick is shot. Or maybe a slot is bad...

    I would still jumble things around a bit, and see if the same 4GB still is consistently reported as bad.

    I'm assuming System Profiler is telling you the stick is ok (or not?). When you open it up and look at the Memory, look at the rightmost column (dunno if you haven't done this...).
     
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #6
    blesscheese,

    You know, since I bought this machine I have known exactly how much memory it has but for some reason I double checked before I posted. I suppose I am becoming somewhat anal in my later years!

    The configuration I had previously was:

    S1 - 4GB
    S2 - 4GB
    S3 - 4GB
    S4 -
    S5 - 1 GB
    S6 - 1 GB
    S7 - 1 GB
    S8 -

    At no time did I receive a message to say that it was wrong, so I changed to the 'recommended configuration’ as stated previously. That was when I discovered that I was 4GB down.

    System Profiler is showing that S2 is empty when, in fact, there is a 4GB card.

    I have spent the latter part of the afternoon/early evening, run a full TechTools check again and despite ‘Surface Scan’ taking hours to complete on both HD and RAID discs, every box is ticked green ...

    I will jumble things around tomorrow as I have other things to attend to now but I think we may narrow this down to too many applications on the HD disc. I will also load OS X onto the Back Up disc too - see where we stand with a second boot.

    Thanks again blesscheese and have a good evening.
     
  7. macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #7
    BTW, "Verify Disk" in Disk Util isn't the same as "Repair disk"

    Same with "Verify Permissions"...you should just run "Repair Permissions"

    "Verify" just looks and tells you if there are problems, "Repair" does that, and then does something about it.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #8
    If a memory stick was wonky and not working correctly, that could potentially explain a slow down.

    I don't know much about your software (FCP7), but if you lost 4GB of memory, could it possibly be writing to VM on the disk more? If you previously could do all your work in RAM, or the majority of it, but now have to write to the disk to compensate, that could really slow things down.

    I could be wrong...
     
  9. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #9
    i had the same issue as the OP (RAM sometimes being recognized, and other times not). Definitely a bad stick of RAM in my case. Called the manufacturer and had it replaced. I'd start with that and see the results after swapping in RAM that you know is GOOD (or in the meantime take out the problem RAM, although if it's your 4GB sticks that will dramatically cut down on your RAM)
     
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #10
    So, this morning I did the jumble exercise.

    Yesterday it was:

    S1 - 4 GB
    S2 -
    S3 - 1 GB
    S4 -
    S5 - 4 GB
    S6 - 1 GB
    S7 - 1 GB
    S8 -

    … and the supposed 'duff' 4 GB was then placed into slot 2. The machine then told me that I only had 11 GB of RAM.

    Following the shuffle (when I put the supposed 'duff' 4 GB into slot 4), the machine told me I had 10 GB of RAM so I put the 6 RAM cards back to where they were to begin with:

    S1 - 4GB
    S2 - 4GB
    S3 - 4GB
    S4 -
    S5 - 1 GB
    S6 - 1 GB
    S7 - 1 GB
    S8 -

    … and the machine told me that “The memory modules are installed in the recommended slots”.

    Geez Louise …

    So now that I have my 15 GB of RAM back, let's move on …

    I have conducted a 'Verify Disk Permissions' followed by a 'Repair Disk Permissions’ on Macintosh HD. I seem to have a whole load of stuff that isn't good and could not be repaired and quite a lot of 'Permissions differ' … I have also saved the results as a .rtf file if anyone out fancies the role of Sherlock Holmes …

    I'll load OS X onto the Back Up disk and see where that gets me with a second boot disk.

    Stay tuned and thanks for all your input - it really does help to be able to talk!

    snaps
     
  11. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2009
    #11
    When my 3.1 MP felt a bit sluggish I invested in a pair of ssd's and did a fresh install of ML. Did wonders for the machine
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2008
    #12
    Disk fragmentation?

    I know it's obvious, but do you periodically defrag your disk? If the slow down was a gradual process, and not an instant drop, that could likely be the cause.
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #13
    OSX manages its HDD resources very well and defragging tends to be a Windows necessity.
     
  14. macrumors 604

    MacsRgr8

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Netherlands
  15. macrumors 6502a

    blesscheese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Central CA
    #15
    Geez Louise is right!

    Those don't look like the recommended memory slots to me...I have a very similar set up; I started off with 3 4GB sticks and 4 2GB sticks, and the machine told me to put them in
    S1 - 4 GB
    S2 - 4
    S3 - 2
    S4 - 2
    S5 - 4
    S6 - 2
    S7 - 2
    S8 - empty

    The idea being, the CPU utilizes the upper slots, and things are optimized when the slots are even...

    Maybe it is getting cranky in its old age? I know I am...
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2011
    #16
    Do a clean install on your startup drive, that should help quite a lot
     
  17. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #17
    Hi All,

    OK, so looking through all the suggestions, I think I might take the following route :

    Install OS X on the BACKUP disk and rename it to something like BOOT DISK. Once that it done, unplug MACINTOSH HD. Although the disk ‘seems to be working correctly’ (as per DISK UTILITY), there are quite a few mismatches with the permissions that cannot be fixed so a new disk with a new instal of OS X could be required.

    However, I have found the OS X install disk for the Mac Pro but whatever I try, it automatically wants to load onto MACINTOSH HD so I cannot choose where I want it installed (on the new BOOT DISK).

    Any ideas how I might get around this or should I just do a fresh install of OS X on the existing MACINTOSH HD?

    I look forward to your ideas as my poor old machine is in pain (!).

    snaps
     
  18. macrumors demi-goddess

    costabunny

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    ~/
    #18
    what format is the backup disk? if its not in GUID format then the OS will refuse to install on it as the mac needs guid to boot. (MBR will not work). if you need to change it then thats an issue as you will need to wipe the backup disk :(

    can you pinch another disk from somewhere that can be wiped for this test?
     
  19. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #19
    coastabunny,

    Thank you very much for getting back to me.

    You are quite right, the BACKUP disk is MAC OS Extended Journaled and not GUID. Sadly, I have no other disks with which to perform this operation - the BACKUP disk it is.

    I trawled the net and found this : http://gigaom.com/2010/03/24/how-to-image-snow-leopard-to-a-hard-drive-for-quick-install/

    However, I am unable to complete this as the ‘Restore’ was a failure ... probably down to the GUID problem (he says talking like a pro but really as someone who’s lost and doesn’t know what he’s on about!)

    Any further help would be greatly appreciated!

    snaps
     
  20. macrumors demi-goddess

    costabunny

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    ~/
    #20
    hi hi

    A disk can have its partitions formatted in HFS+ or other schemes. The underlying type of the disk is MBR or GUID. In disk utility when selecting the partition, the bottom pane will show if its Apple Partition Map, MBR or GUID. if it is not GUID then it cannot be used as a startup drive.

    When you have a drive that can be blanked, set it up as one partition and click the options button to change the mapping to GUID; then the disk will be wiped and set to GUID which is suitable for booting from (and hence installing OSX) - this WILL WIPE all data from the drive.

    There is a pretty comprehensive article about the partition types here http://macs.about.com/od/usingyourmac/qt/partition-types.htm
     
  21. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #21
    coastabunny,

    Wel I’ve had a good look around and, obviously, the disk that I would like to use is ‘Mac OS Journaled’.

    I am unable to post images but looking at the new boot disk (old backup disk) it appears to be attached to the RAID system (I have a pair of disks used as RAID for Final Cut Studio).

    If I click on the root of the old back up disk, then it shows me (bottom right) that it is GUID disk but if I click in the disk itself, then itis simply ‘Mac OS Journaled’.

    If I was to unmount the 2 RAID discs (only used as the scratch disks for FCP, might this allow me to reformat the new boot disk to GUID?

    snaps
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

    monkeybagel

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Location:
    United States
    #22
    I admit I have not read the entire thread in its entirety so I apologized if this has been mentioned.

    I would recommend using Disk Utility and shrinking your OS X partition down to about as low as you can, and make a new Mac OS Extended (Journaled) partition and name it Snow Leopard Test or something of the like, and install a fresh copy of 10.6 on that partition. Update it to 10.6.8 with the Combo Update V2 and see how the machine performs overall. It could be the OS has bloated over the years (yes OS X can do that but it is not as obvious and prominent as Windows) or it could be the hard disk getting old. Newer drives will typically give you a noticeable performance increase due to their cache, possible rotation speed upgrade, and density of the data.

    Anytime you do partition work like above, be sure to have a good backup just in case Disk Utility has issues.
     
  23. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    #23
    monkeybagel,

    Many thanks for your reply.

    I have tried to partition my old BACK UP disk but OS X will not write to that disk as it is not GUID. It tells me that ‘it has issues’. I have tried rescanning OS X but no good. I think I will have to invest in a new disk from an Apple retailer - and a disk which is GUID ready.

    snaps
     
  24. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles!
    #24
    I second this idea.. Try defragging your drive(s)....
     
  25. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2013
    #25
    I've read through the suggestions here and although I think a fresh install of the OS would be useful, I think part of your noticeable slow down may be attributed to the consumption of space on your drives over time. As mechanical drives fill up they will perform slower - the data transfer rates decline way before they are completely full.

    Your current stats show that your main drive, which I assume holds the OS, applications, your account profile and data is around 2/3 full and your Raid 0 scratch drive pair used for FCP (Final Cut Pro?) is at least 1/3rd full approaching the half way mark. Also does your Raid 0 pair use two 500GB drives? I assume that size based in your 1TB capacity in Raid 0.

    All those drives are likely several years old as those capacities are less common today - older drives dont perform as fast as modern drives. Also once you fill a drive to the half way mark you're getting into the 'slower' portions of the drive vs when its less full. Some here suggested using solid state drives, which would give you a really huge boost but at the capacities you require it would be an investment.

    You could get back to lower content creation times by improving drive performance and increasing capacities, which can be done at lower cost than SSD by choosing modern 7200rpm performance drives. Your main drive should be in the 1.5TB range so that with your existing consumption it's less than 1/3 full and you can use two more of the same size (or use two 1TB) in a Raid 0 config for the scratch drive. That together with a fresh OS install would be the best chance to return to your earlier creation times using your exiting Mac Pro.
     

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