Beachballing (still loading) after every action

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by cerwik, Sep 22, 2016.

  1. cerwik macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    I find these threads with same problem: gestions.1956948/ 22572555

    I have iMac late 2012 (CPU i5 2,7 GHz, RAM 8GB, HDD 1TB 5400) with OS X El Capitan. For all the time I did not do a clean install of system.

    In last months I have problem with smoothness of system. System very offten (every 1-10 minutes) loading - beachballing. In "loading mode - beachballing" are:
    • mouse cursor is rolling - beachballing
    • music from iTunes stop play for a while
    • video in VLC stop play for a while
    • I can do nothing at this time
    Last week I made clean install of OSX (El Capitan) with format HDD. After install, system gone smootly for few days. Then I copied some files from backup (maybe 100GB of itunes media) and next day system was very slow. After reboot or wake up mouse cursor still rolling (beachballing) for 5-10 minutes and then after every operation (every mouse click) cursor rolling (beachballing) from 10 seconds to 5 minutes. I couldn't do nothing.

    Therefore I made clean install again 2 days ago and system go smooth again - still without my data from backup, only clean install without thirt party apps and data.

    I tried Apple Hardware Test (AHT) before boot. Everything was OK.
    I tried some diagnostic tools for test HDD and system (DriveDx, EtreCheck). DriveDX find some problem with sector on HDD with SMART, but I don't know if it is that problem.

    I send report from EtreCheck:
    After clean install without solution, I thing that problem is in HDD or RAM. It means, I must go to service. Before that I woult like to know, is it really HW problem.

    Do you have any idea, where is problem and how I find/fix it? I will be very happy.
  2. cerwik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    JohnDS, as I wrote, I tried Apple Hardware Test (AHT). Everything was OK.
  3. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
  4. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Please can you download SMART Utility and screenshot the result? If the outcome shows anything other than 'Passed', it's likely to be a failing drive:
  5. Fishrrman, Sep 22, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016

    Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I believe that the 5400rpm HDD inside the iMac is your problem.
    It's just -too slow- for modern versions of the OS, such as El Capitan.

    Others might advise, "open it up and change the HDD for an SSD".
    But I won't.

    Since you have USB3, the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to breathe new life into the iMac and give it MUCH faster speed is to buy an external SSD, plug it into a USB3 port, and set it up to be your "external booter".

    THERE IS NOTHING DIFFICULT ABOUT DOING THIS (the shouting is intentional).

    1. buy it
    2. plug it in
    3. initialize it
    4. install a clean copy of the OS onto it
    5. migrate over your accounts, apps, data (Note: if you have large libraries of pictures, music and movies, might be best to leave them on the slower internal HDD).
    6. set it to be the startup drive using the "startup disk" pref pane.

    This will transform the iMac and you won't really believe how much of a difference it will make until you've tried it.

    Here's an example of a "ready to go" SSD:

    240gb or so should be "enough".
    Or even 480gb if you want to spend a little more.
  6. cerwik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    I posted result from these diagnostic tools (see attachment files):
    • SMART Utility
    • DriveDx
    It seems, that is some problem with HDD - PENDING BAD SECTORS (id 197). But maybe it is normal for HDD with same age (4 years). Or not? Do you thing that new HDD (maybe repair HDD?) it solve my problem with beachballing?

    5400 HDD is default for late 2012 iMacs. Many people have got same configuration like me (also my friends) without problem with beachballing. And maybe all with El Capitan/Sierra.
    As I wrote, maybe my HDD is crashed and replace it will solve my problem.

    Now, I writing and using 3th day after installation my iMac, which is smooth and with no problem. Problem maybe come with copying my data to HDD. If is really HDD crashed, why now my mac go smoothly without beachballing?

    Attached Files:

  7. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yeah, the drive's failing. Best replace or do a workaround. There are quite a few bad sectors there.

    There's a little more than 'it'll work, or it's dead' with a hard-drive. Imagine that every block on your hard-drive contains data. If a block is corrupted, any data on that block will become corrupted. As such, the hard-drive will automatically try to avoid bad blocks on your drive. So hypothetically if you have lots of corrupted sectors, but very little data, you won't notice any performance deficit as the bad blocks are never used.

    However this isn't quite true when we're talking about physical drives. HDDs almost read data like an old record player; you have a big old platter, and a clumsy needle that scrapes along it to read the information. It's a horrible, awkward, antiquated technology. When you have reallocated sectors, corrupted sectors, or even calibration retries, this will inevitably affect the entire drive. Read and write speeds will be vastly reduced. Seek times will increase. And once you've got issues, they'll only compound over time. Hard-drives can practically fail naturally just from wear-and-tear alone.

    It's partly why you get the illusion of performance increasing when you do a nuclear wipe/reinstall. It's like giving a man with a shark bite a gentleman's measure of morphine. He'll feel better in the short term, but boy – he needs surgery.

    Not only that, but the newer OS X iterations really, really don't run well on 5400RPM drives. They run very poorly indeed. So even if the drive was fine, it would be recommended to move to an SSD at your earliest convenience.

    Best thing to do is get rid of the drive and swap with an SSD. If you're not comfortable with ripping apart the iMac, you can get a USB 3 SATA dock and buy any 2.5" SATA SSD, then run OS X off that as a boot drive. You can very easily install OS X to an external drive. Even running OS X from an SSD on USB will immediately have much better performance than your 5400RPM drive, even if your drive was brand-new. Plus you can still use the internal drive for data you rarely access.

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope this clears things up a little. Please feel free to quote my post if there's anything I may clarify. :)
  8. hartleymartin macrumors regular


    Jul 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    You can swap out the HDD with an SSD in an Icey-Dock adaptor, but it is a big job to get at it.

    The easiest work-around would be to install an SSD in a USB-3.0 caddy, install OSX and make that the default boot drive.

    I did something similar for my MacBook pro when the original HDD started to go bad, though I did end up installing the SSD in place of the original HDD once I knew that it would work.
  9. cerwik thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 22, 2016
    Before I will replace HDD for new one (HDD/SSD), yesterday I tried repair it - I formatted my HDD with secure formating with "7-Pass Erase" option -

    It took about 24 hours and after that I done tests with same tools as before:
    • EtreCheck
    • SMART Utility
    • DriveDx
    Results from SMART Utility and DriveDx seems better than before. There was 32 bad sectors with id 197 (see my previous reply's attachment) and now there is only 1 bad sector with id 197 (see attachments in this reply).

    Do you still think, that my problem with beachballing is in HDD and I should replace it?
    When I had problem with beachballing (after install I still have without problem, but still only clean osx without data from backup) it stop play music from iTunes or movies in VLC for a while during beachballing. But what I forgot to mention, that also stop music from youtube or spotify in web browser. Is could be problem with HDD when stop play from browser - not from HDD?

    I still thing, that could be problem with RAM memory. I post you report from EtreCheck after fresh instal and formating with "7 pass errase" and fresh install OSX. You see, that I have only 660 MB free RAM. It is too litle for 8GB RAM after fresh install systems without any application.

    Please write me your opinion. Thank you very much.


    Attached Files:

  10. JohnDS macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2015
    I would replace the drive. I wouldn't worry about the RAM usage. That is just a snapshot of what is being used at the time the Etrecheck was done.
  11. hobowankenobi, Sep 26, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016

    hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2015
    on the land line mr. smith.
    Replace the drive ASAP.

    Backup important stuff if you don't have a current backup. Failiing HDs...sometimes limp along for a long while.....but sometimes continue to eat (corrupt) files.....and sometimes fail. Shut off. Dead.

    There have been some exhaustive studies Including one by google looking at their fleet of servers) that show: most HDs, once they report bad blocks, will continue to fail. It is rare that they can be used safely, or that they will only lose a few blocks and be OK.

    Bad blocks are usually like water in the bottom of the boat. It is going to sink, the only question is when. The prudent thing to do is get off the boat before it sinks.

    As noted, worry about RAM after your data is safely backed up or migrated.
  12. hartleymartin macrumors regular


    Jul 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    Your particular model of iMac will support up to 32GB of RAM. Whilst 32GB is probably not necessary, an upgrade to 16GB will basically ensure that your mac will never need to make use of the swap-file. 8GB should be plenty for most things though. (Right now I am using a very old MacBook with 6GB of RAM!)

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12 September 22, 2016