Will OS X get slower as more apps are installed?

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by Lastmboy, May 31, 2013.

  1. macrumors regular

    I'm having way too much fun with my iMac, and there are hundreds of apps and demos I like to try. Some I keep. Some I toss. However, I've got quite a stack of them installed, and many more to try. In the "Windows world", installing all these apps, even if uninstalled after, would cause the system to get slower and slower and slower... until finally you format the drive and re-install Windows to get some performance back.

    Supposedly Macs don't have that issue, but I'm just wanting to confirm that this is the case. My iMac is running so well, and I don't want to compromise that in any way. Does it make no difference what all I install and/or uninstall? I'm using App Zapper when I uninstall to cleanup the extra files. OSX doesn't have a "registry", so I know that won't become a problem. Will OSX get slower, the more apps that are installed? Thanks.
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Well if you have a standard hard drive then yes. If you have an iMac with a SSD then it should technically be as fast as the day you got it.
  3. macrumors demi-god


    No it won't. The only time this can become an issue is if you have installed so many apps the drive is almost full. When drives get close to full it can slow them down a bit.
  4. macrumors demi-god


    The performance of your Mac is not determined by how many apps you have installed or what you have stored on your hard drive, unless you're running out of disc space. The only effect on performance that apps have are those that are running at any point in time.

    As far as AppZapper is concerned, if you elect to use such apps, be aware that in most cases, app removal software doesn't do a thorough job of finding and removing files/folders related to deleted apps. For more information, read this and this. If you just want to delete the app, drag the .app file to the trash. No other software needed. If you want to completely remove all associated files/folders, no removal apps will do the job. The most effective method for complete app removal is manual deletion:
    If you're having performance issues, this may help:
  5. macrumors regular

    I have OSX installed on an internal 256GB SSD. About 75% of the space on that drive is free. My "data" drive (where everything else is) is a Thunderbolt connected Promise Pegasus RAID box with 12 TB in RAID 5 and several terrabytes free. I can copy a 4GB file onto the box and back off of it in 15 - 20 seconds (i.e. it's extremely fast). Therefore, I would assume that my hardware won't be an issue... and you're saying the OS won't care how many .app files are on it (assuming space is not an issue)?
  6. macrumors demi-god


    The first response in this thread is false. Whether you have a HDD or SSD, performance will not be impacted by simply installing apps. Performance is only affected by apps that are running.
  7. macrumors regular

    That's the answer I was hoping for. But you understand what I mean, right? It sounds obvious, but this problem does exist in Windows. The registry get's bloated, drivers get overwritten, files get installed everywhere, and the system gets slower and less stable the more you install. I've seen it happen many times. I was just looking for "re-assurance" that this doesn't happen in OSX. I'm not experiencing any performance issues whatsoever, at the moment. Just want to make sure I keep it that way :)
  8. macrumors demi-god


    I understand what you mean, but there is no registry in OS X. My five-year-old MacBook Pro runs as fast today as it did the day I opened it.
  9. macrumors regular

    Ya just gotta love that! :D

    I had started thinking that if it was like Windows and I'd have to wipe out and re-install OSX every year, the OS re-install wouldn't be a problem, but it would sure be a pain getting all the apps installed and re-configured the way I have them now. Sounds like it will run for quite a while before I have to worry about that. Thanks for the info.
  10. macrumors demi-god


    OS X does not have a central "registry" in the way Windows does. Most apps will install the app itself in your Applications folder, then often there is a cache or app settings folder in your user ~/Library folder and then also a .plist file is normally placed in ~/Library/Preferences. This .plist file is the closest to what the Windows registry does, but since there is a separate .plist file for every application even if one gets corrupted it does not impact the others.

    One thing you may want to be careful about though is apps that "launch at login." Usually you will get a question at install or first launch if you want the app to launch on its own in the future. Pay attention to this as it can cause issues if you have a ton of utility apps launching on their own, particularly if they perform similar functions.

    Let me give you an example. I use a utility called Display Maid that auto resizes app windows based on which display I am using. So if I attach my 13" Macbook Air to my 27" Thunderbolt display all the windows pop up to a larger size to fit the 27" display. I have Display Maid set to launch at login. Recently I have been looking at an app called Moom that (among other things) also will auto resize the windows. If I forgot to disable launch at login for Display Maid while testing Moom... neither app would work and I would have a bad day. So you just need to be aware of what you have auto launching and apps do not overlap in function and cause problems by both running at once.
  11. macrumors 604


    Applecare told me that my hard drive was failing, due to extremely slow load times. I told them it wasn't, and it was taking a long time to load the OS due to the number of applications installed which run at startup and the age of the OS. They told me that my hard drive was failing, and it needed to be replaced. I respectfully declined, and 5 years later the HDD still works perfectly.

    Lesson learned: OS X suffers from OS rot just as much as Windows - really, compare a fresh OS X install to one that's 5 years old on the same hardware. OS X takes steps to prevent it, such as using SSD and Fusion drives, any apps from the app store must follow restrictions that make uninstalling easier, etc... but it exists. And to deny its existence would be incorrect.
  12. macrumors 601


    I've never wiped and reinstalled OS X. However I have had my main hard drive fail. In that case I install a new drive and recover by copying a cloned backup to the new drive. In other words, it's a new drive, but still the original OS installation!
  13. macrumors 68000

    For OS X, I'd say it depends on how full your disk gets. If you have a mechanical hard disk and stuff it very full of apps and their data, access times can slow down quite a bit. Otherwise, fragmentation isn't much of an issue on OS X, so your disk would have to be very full (say, more than 85% of capacity) for this to be an issue.

    Otherwise, as others have pointed out, OS X is not burdened with Windows' awful registry architecture, which works fine for moderate usage but contributes significantly to fragility and "bit rot" as Windows machines become heavily used and/or are subjected to lots of application installs, changes and updates. Plus, registry issues are difficult to unravel and fix, leading to more frequent (and more disruptive) OS reinstalls that necessitate reinstallation of all software from scratch. OS X has none of that nonsense.

    There's another thing which is universal across platforms and hasn't yet been directly mentioned: if the apps you're installing are the type that run in the background, festoon your task bar with indicators and so forth, then those can sap performance (and, in laptops, battery life) since they're loaded and consuming possible RAM, compute, disk I/O and networking resources. This includes great stuff like Dropbox and Backblaze, so my point is not to impugn backgrounded utilities but to point out that as you add them, you may at some point start to feel a difference in system responsiveness.

    Some antivirus utilities (and Sophos, I'm lookin' at you) can cause surprising performance hits, so that would be another thing to mind.
  14. macrumors regular

    Question about that...
    I've have TimeMachine backing up everything on both my SSD (system) and RAID array (data) drives. If my system drive did bite the dust for some reason, can I rebuild it from the TimeMachine backup, or do I need to have some type of direct clone of the system drive?
  15. macrumors 604


    You can reinstall the OS and during initial setup, there is an option to choose to use your Time Machine backup to move all your stuff back.
  16. macrumors regular

    That should only be an issue with "auto-start" apps, though, right? In my case, I am trying out 10 different text editors to see which one I like. They don't seem to fight with each other at all. I also am trying out multiple utility apps. However, if they have the same purpose, I only run one at a time, and I shut down the others. From what I've seen, OSX has no problem with everything being installed. It could only be an issue if you have them all running at the same, such as with your start up example, or if I manually started them all.


    Great! Thanks! ... and it will restore everything, including system settings, app preference settings, etc.?
  17. macrumors G3

    That's not OS rot, that is you having too many things installed that run at startup.
  18. macrumors demi-god


    Correct. What you are doing with the text editors for example would not be a problem.

    You can restore the OS and all your apps and data directly from a Time Machine backup on an external disk. There is no need to reinstall the OS first.

    Just option key boot and pick the TM drive as the boot source. That takes you to a recovery screen and from there you just click restore. You do not need a separate clone to do this.
  19. macrumors regular

    Thanks all, for taking the time to respond. I keep finding more things to like about my Mac every day :D
  20. macrumors 604


    Too many things that run at startup, too many programs on my machine, poor cache optimization... I don't see how that isn't the definition of OS rot?
  21. macrumors G3

    Too many programs isn't OS rot. OS rot is when the OS degrades without installing more software or when you actually remove software and the performance still gets worse and worse.

    Too many things running at startup is an issue caused by the user installing stuff and not removing software that is no longer used.

    Too many programs on the machine is pretty much the same user issue.
  22. macrumors 604


    An OS that can't handle having "too many" programs installed at once I would argue most definitely suffers from some form of rot. After all, what's the point of an OS but to run programs?
  23. macrumors demi-god


    It makes no difference how many apps are installed. What matters is how many are running. Simply having apps installed has no effect on performance, unless those apps are running.
  24. macrumors 604


    Or if the computer suffers from OS rot...
  25. macrumors 6502a


    If the original poster filled his/her hard drive to 90% with apps or media files you can bet it will slow down, not in terms of calculations for video rendering but when accessing apps or data. The reason for this is because on a hard drive when it starts to fill up the data gets closer to the outer edge of the drive which is far slower then then center. SSDs don't have this problem as they are not mechanical drives.

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