unobvious causes of mac running slow?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Sic, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. Sic macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #1
    sorry for all the n00b questions recently, but i'm reading around the board, and i cant find anything that specifically answers my question so i'm afraid i'm starting another thread. i daresay i'm comparitively not the worst offender ever! :D

    i was working away on my powerbook last night, putting music into itunes, chatting away on MSN, browsing the web, with thunderbird and mytunes running in the background and it was seriously slow...like to the point of almost grinding to a halt. skipping a track in itunes was just out of the question.

    from reading around on the board, i've noticed that OSX does its own scheduled defragging...cool. but i've also read that fragmentation on a MAC OS hard drive isn't really a thing to worry about, it's file ordering i should be worried about! as i understand, this can't be done whilst the OS is running, it has to be done at boot. what kind of apps am i looking for to create a boot disk to reorder my files, and perhaps some 3rd party defragging (hey, i'm from Windoze....we just loooove to defrag - it answers ALL our problems!!) just to set my mind at ease!!!
     
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #2
    Even on PCs, a fragmented hard drive rarely slows things down. OSX de-fragments files less than 20MB on the go so you really don't need to worry about it. Only OSX users with massive files (tens of GBs) really need to do anything and that's only if they have relatively tiny hard drives too.

    As for your problem, it sounds like you may need more RAM. OSX will take as much as you can give it so max it out if possible. How much do you have at the moment?

    Oh, and one other thing, don't worry about how many threads you start. So long as they're legitimate problems (which they are) then people 'round here never mind helping and giving advice. :)
     
  3. Sic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #3
    lol, thanks :)

    i upgraded to 768Mb RAM at the time of purchase because i heard that OSX was quite resource hungry...is that not enough? i'd love to max out on RAM, but it's the money thing again :( think i might just put up with it and get loads of RAM when i upgrade in a couple of months.

    might it have been the fact that i was adding cd covers to itunes at the time? i expect that mytunes could be quite a resource hog.
     
  4. mrichmon macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    #4
    For the list of applications you mentioned at the start of the thread 768MB doesn't sound much. My guess is that your machine ended up thrashing. Thrashing is what happens when the OS spends most of the time swapping data from memory to virtual memory on disk and back rather than on executing the programs. If when things slowed down there was a lot of disk access happening then this would seem to indicate thrashing.

    Bumping yourself to 1GB total for this usage should make things workable for the usage that you mentioned, but going to 1.5GB will give you more head room. It also helps to occassionaly restart Safari since it has a habit of leaking memory (that is loosing track of the memory it allocates so over time it ends up using a large amount), also don't keep dozens of web pages open especially if they are complicated pages.
     
  5. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #5
    Check to see what's using your resources (RAM and CPU) in Activity Monitor, which is kept inside your Utilities folder within Applications. I would have though 768MB would be fine for general usage but importing tracks into iTunes will use up a lot of CPU. That could be your problem. :)

    I have 640MB on my iBook and it handles most things well enough.
     
  6. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #6
    I've got 768MB of ram as well, and none of that slows down. At the moment I find Safari a bit buggy and slow. When it loads into the beach ball I find that iTunes in the background will grind almost to a halt as well. Is this when it happens to you?

    Also another consideration is have much hardrive space do you have left. I go my iBook to about 3GB of space and I found that tasks were slow including iTunes causing play errors on the odd occasion. When I deleted some files and got the iBook to about 8GB it ran more faster.

    On top of that how much widgets do you use? As I find them a ram hog.
     
  7. Sic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #7
    tried to recreate it just now, and everything's running flat out. using all the ram and all the cpu :( think i'll just have to be a bit more conscientious when using multiple simultaneous proggies!

    cue the reformat queries in the next few weeks...getting a 15" PB, and i'm going to reinstall to sell it :)
     
  8. gekko513 macrumors 603

    gekko513

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    #8
    I suspect that the browsing could have been the problem. Sites with lots of flash animations seems to burden Safari and OS X more than it does IE and Windows. If you have several pages like that open, it will slow down the system. Could this have been the cause of your problem?
     
  9. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    Jan 20, 2005
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    Brisbane, Australia
    #9
    What task is using most of the CPU? Is the CPU used alot all the time?
     
  10. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #10
    Yeah, this is a really good comment. You should avoid having less than 5-6GB of free space on your boot volume. OS X will make use of all the resources you have available, and as a general rule for computers, your available swap space should always have room to expand to at least 2-3GB, plus enough space for the filesystem to manage files and defragment on the fly. It has a hard time doing so without a few gigs of space to shuffle files and bits of files around on top of the virtual memory.
     
  11. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #11
    A couple of thoughts:

    1) Ripping CDs into iTunes is one of the most CPU intensive tasks you can do. That alone will take up most of your CPU, making all other apps pretty sluggish.

    2) When browsing the web in Safari, if you have several tabs, some of which has loaded Flash intensive pages (flash contents as ads or games) Safari will take up very much resources. If it's been a while since you cleaned out Safari (RSS articles, auto-completing forms, favicons, etc) it will slow down Safari even further.

    3) The problems didn't start occurring at 3 AM, did they? When the periodical maintenance scripts are started by launchd (in Tiger, cron in Panther).
     
  12. Sic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #12
    i wasnt ripping cds...i was copying mp3s...but they're in turn copied to my itunes folder so i guess it's swings and roundabouts really.

    i'm currently using camino...no matter how many tabs i had open, the usage was always pretty low. i might have a scout around for an adblocker to use on sites i use regularly that have flash content...i didnt realise they were that processor hungry but i suppose it all mounts up :)

    no, it started about half 11...i'll watch it for the next few days...thanks for your advice
     
  13. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2002
    Location:
    Palookaville
    #13
    Surprised nobody has said this yet...

    If your Mac starts grinding, the first thing to try is a reboot. This will delete the virtual memory swap files (and free up HD space). This almost always speeds things up again. If it doesn't, the next step is repairing permissions using the Disk Utility application.

    You really do have plenty of RAM for the tasks you are attempting. Just reboot once in a while, perform a bit of routine maintenance, and you'll be fine.
     
  14. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2003
    Location:
    sitting on your shoulder
    #14
    When I was in Ireland, I always loved hearing the time. "I'm going to see a film at half three", which was pronounced "I'm going to see uh fill-m at hahf tree". :D
     
  15. Sic thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #15
    lol...im not from Ireland but ooook ;)

    i had a conversation with someone about my using the phrase "half something" for the time....she's German and it opens a whole new can of worms!!
     

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