Do Macs slow down over time?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Tom Foolery, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    I've had my MBP for 3 years (specs below). and recently I've noticed a significant reduction in speed. I can't even play a 720p mkv without the video skipping sometimes frequently. I have plenty of ram and my CPU should be fast enough. I was jsut wondering if macs slow down over time. or could the reduction in speed be due to all the installation of programs and defragmentation and stuff.
  2. macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    The slowdown that all computers experience is due mostly to the fact that you are constantly installing updated software on them. For example, your macbook from 2007 ran all of 2007's software lightning fast. The problem is, you're now running a lot of newer software. Newer software (updated safari, flash, etc) is more resource intensive and therefore taxes your system more, making it seem slower.

    The reality of it is, the slowdown is due mostly to newer programs being more power hungry.
  3. macrumors 6502


    Aug 29, 2008
    Chicago Area
    I'd say backup all of your data, format your drive, and reinstall Snow Leopard (or whatever you're using). Reinstall only the apps that you need, and you should notice a significant improvement.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2007
    It might not necessarily be your computer that can't play those files. I use Movist to play most of my video files. It plays most files fine but whenever I throw a 720p MKV at it, it skips and loses audio like crazy. VLC on the other hand plays the MKV files flawlessly.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Jun 1, 2009
    I have had my macbook for almost a year and recently I have also noticed significant slowdowns. It takes nearly 30 seconds for firefox or word to open, and 15 for itunes and other apps. I don't understand why. I have almost 100GB of free space, and I have the stock 2GB of ram. I usually just have iCal, Firefox and Word open at one time. Any suggestions? I'm really frustrated.
  6. macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2008
    My Macbook can usually play my 1080p rips fine. 2.2 GHz w/ integrated graphics. Mind you it usually chugs if the aspect ratio is straight 16:9, but if it's a wider 2.4:1 and the movie resolution is 1920*800, I usually don't get a problem. 720p is always smooth.

    So, reinstalling OS X sounds like a good idea. Your computer is just getting clogged up with unnecessary processes. Put all your documents on an external hard drive (if you don't have one - buy one. Everyone should have a backup), and do a completely clean re-install.

    I also find XBMC is a more processor-efficient player than VLC and can usually play something my computer skips on, but seems to have a lower playback quality (seems to be a bit juddery)
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    I think mine has slowed down but it's been 2 years since my last clean install and it's not bad to extent that I actually want to do something about it. It never slows down as much as my XP machine did and I used to reformat that every 6 months.

    The slowdown is most obvious in the boot time.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Feb 13, 2010
    I reformat my mac every year after school gets out. It normally helps a bunch. VLC is the way to go
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    +1 for clean install.

    Just reinstalled Snow Leopard on my 5 year old core duo MacBook and it's lightning quick now.

    OS X does suffer from file fragmentation whether apple likes to admit it or not.
    Possibly not too the same extent as windows.
  10. thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks for the suggestions. Looks like I'm gonna do a clean install. I thought that might be the answer but I hoped not... o well I've got an external HDD so I guess it's not a problem
  11. C64
    macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2008
    Clean installs aren't always the best solution. After the clean install you'll install the same software, do updates again, use it the same way. Unless you really messed something up that justifies the format, eventually you'll just be back at where you were before the clean install.

    What helps a lot is some simple maintenance. E.g. using apps like Cocktail do run some maintenance scripts, clean up logs and caches, repair disk permissions, etc.

    Other than that, control what's running. Go to your user profile and make sure there aren't a lot of apps that get started after logging on. Also check for 3rd party add-ons and stuff like that. Those might cause problems with specific apps as well.

    And like mikeo007 said, a lot of it is just the experience of using newer software that requires more from your aging machine.
  12. macrumors 68000


    Sep 20, 2008
    Holly Springs, NC
    Two tricks I've done to get my stuff back to being snappy. Disk Utility -> Repair disk permissions. Also, I clean out all the junk that I don't want history of, it's nice Mac keeps these logs but honestly not necessary, by using Onyx. Other than that I do a clean install of the OS every year or so.
  13. macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2007
    I'd say your problem with the skipping of the 720 mkv is due to the plug-in or player that you're using. My MBP, lower specs than yours, has no problems playing the same videos with VLC and the last OS install I did was when Leopard (10.5) came out.

    There's really no need to re-install the OS. If you really want to just to feel better, just use onyx - you´ll get all the same benefits without the hassle.
  14. macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    Everyone here is so so wrong.

    After a while the hardware on the compute gets tired. Imagine how you would feel if you had been running every day for two years - same with computers.

    If you give your computer a week off and put it to sleep at a reasonable hour every day after that, you should be able to see significant improvements.

    If you do not see improvements you could try to give it a massage -- but avoid spa treatments; computers are generally hydrophobic.

  15. macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Maybe a nice all inclusive cruise would help it relax a bit :D
  16. macrumors 68030


    Feb 20, 2004
    Something tells me you're lying ;)

    Make sure you have about 10-20% of your hard drive's capacity available as free space at all times. Your computer will get really slow once you let its hard drive fill up to the limit. Other than that, check if there are any rogue processes running wild and make sure the hard drive is still OK.
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    Personally I've never come across this issue on a Mac.

    Maybe I've just been lucky.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2009
    Macs don't slow down over time and a clean install won't do much (to nothing) to speed your computer up.

    Try a good player, since it's MKV and hardware support is non existent. I recommend this very nice player for mkv at least.
  19. macrumors 68030


    Feb 20, 2004
  20. macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Yes. Especially if you install a lot of programs that have start-up items. It's no different from Windows.
  21. macrumors demi-god


    Jul 24, 2009
    To add to the above list I would add a can of compressed air to the list and give the heatsink a good blow through.
  22. macrumors 65816

    Jan 15, 2009
  23. macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2009
    I have a 2007 iMac and three months ago it was really slow. Safari was taking 5-10seconds to bring up all those little pictures of the different websites in the "top sites" view, as well as other regular beachballing.

    Anyway, the hard disk died about one-two months later. I installed a new hard disk, reinstalled from my time machine backup and it's fast as it was new.
  24. macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2010
    Things like NetShredX help keep things running fast. Get rid of non-essential apps.

    I found that on Windows (especialy Vista) we were having to wipe and clean format those machines every six months to keep them running top notch.

    However, Macs we never have had that issue. But I do see (and have tested) definite performance hits on machines with more loaded on them and having been running for some months versus a nice fresh new install (on the same hardware).
  25. macrumors 68030


    Feb 20, 2004
    I don't think they ever claimed that it didn't though? They are simply of the opinion that, for various reasons, defragmenting on OS X "can be a major effort for very little practical gain".

    Here's what they said about this for OS X <=10.5. I don't know what their official position for 10.6 is...

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