best utility for clean/defrag before OS install?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by patent10021, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. patent10021 macrumors 68020

    patent10021

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2004
    #1
    About to install Mountain Lion over Lion. I'd love to do a clean install but can't because of the amount of apps and data I'd have to re-install.

    In the meantime what's the best way to clean my system before installing ML? I'd like to delete old prefs, duplicate docs, and "defrag" although I believe that's not necessary as of Lion?
     
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #2
    Defragging has been unnecessary for much longer than that. Since at least Tiger (2005), if not earlier.

    My general advice is that cleaning apps are not to be trusted: they frequently do more harm than good. Second: OS X does not need its oil changed at regular intervals. You do not need to run any periodic programs for "maintenance", other than the ones which the OS does automatically itself.

    However, if you want, you can trawl through your user Library folder and delete anything that is no longer needed. Application Support, Caches, and Preferences are a good place to start.
    It's worth bearing in mind that any files there are likely to be very small, and if left unattended will do no harm to your Mac. They won't slow it down, or wear it out.

    OS X is designed to be installed "in the place" of an existing system, and should leave your data, prefs and apps alone. (But you do have a backup, right?) Doing a clean install achieves very little, particularly as most people immediately follow it by migrating everything back to where it was.

    I've installed Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion on several different Macs "in place", and never had a problem as a result.
     
  3. patent10021 thread starter macrumors 68020

    patent10021

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2004
    #3
    Thanks

    Just making sure cause I want the most optimized system for my audio work station.

    I guess upgrading my Mini to SSD would be more effective ;)

    Btw, I'm waiting to upgrade from 16GB to 32GB; 16GB x2 kit. Wonder if they will be available for the Mini this year :cool:
     
  4. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #4
    Unlike Windows, you don't need to "optimize" OS X in any way.
    An SSD and lots of RAM will certainly improve things. But that's it.
     
  5. patent10021 thread starter macrumors 68020

    patent10021

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2004
    #5
    Just installed ML.

    OMG, for some reason my system is soooo slow.

    ML on a fairly new Mac Mini i7 / 16GB RAM should be screaming fast.

    Even opening a text document I'm sitting there waiting for TexEdit to open and even when I open the Finder Applications window all the little icons for the all the apps take FOREVER to show up.

    Hmmm
     
  6. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #6
    Well, that's not right.
    Have you installed any third-party software -- device drivers, low-level background processes -- that might need updating?

    Check the Console log for any relevant messages.

    As ever, create a brand new user account and test the problem. If everything is fine there, then you have pinpointed the source of the problem as in your original user account. (The Library folder, mostly.)

    You could also try booting up in Safe Mode, which will clear caches and run a cut-down system. If that works, then that does suggest corrupt caches or third-party software.

    You can try an app like Onyx to perform a number of troubleshooting tasks. As said above, you don't need to run these regularly, but when you do have a problem, then you might want to give them a try.
    Emptying caches might be in order, though I'd be surprised if that wasn't done when the OS was installed.
     
  7. justperry macrumors 604

    justperry

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Location:
    In the core of a black hole.
    #7
    ^^What Benwiggy said, but I would suggest to do the following first.

    You could check out if Spotlight is messing up your System, to do so open Activity Monitor and look for these 2 processes:

    MDS
    MDworker

    I had trouble with them as well when I upgraded and wasn't the only one, best way is to reindex the HD('s) is to open up Spotlight Preferences, add all your HD's into it, close it and then later add them again, it will reindex the HD9's), might take a while.

    You could post a screenshot here of Activity Monitor with ALL selected in the drop down menu in the top of the window and then select the CPU tab to see the most active processes.
     
  8. Drew017 macrumors 65816

    Drew017

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Location:
    East coast, USA
    #8
    Definitely not normal. Did you end up doing a clean install? If not that might attribute to the slow speed. Also, Spotlight may be indexing your computer, which will slow it down as well.

    If you want to do a clean reinstall boot into recovery mode (hold down Command- R right after you hear the chime, and before the Apple logo shows up during a reboot) and then reinstall after wiping the disk with disk utility (OS X will download from Apple's servers)
     
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    My post goes against what many Mac users will say, but I -DO- recommend that you do a defragmentation -- but AFTER you install or upgrade the OS.

    After an upgrade (which will delete many thousands of files, and replace them with thousands _more_ files), your data will be scattered all around on your drive, with many MANY bits of "open space" between the [thousands of] pieces.

    Doing a full defrag will eliminate the free spaces, and re-concatenate the fragmented files. Most Mac users do not understand that while the Mac OS endeavours to re-concatenate _some_ files, it passes over many of them, leaving them fragmented.

    All you need to do is to _use_ a defragmentation app, which will show you a visual of the drive's sectors. Look at it before, look at it afterwards. That's enough to understand.
     
  10. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #10
    If it's a new install, then all the files will be written sequentially, with no fragmentation, so that's nonsense for starters. And there's no performance penalty for having non-consecutive free space on a modern hard drive.

    Here's some venerable Apple documentation that dates back to 10.2:
    http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1375
    Things have probably improved even more for Snow Leopard and later. There are two things to note:
    1. OS X minimises fragmentation.
    2. The effect on your system of some files being fragmented is minimal. This isn't Windows 95.

    Googling "OS X disk fragmentation" or similar brings up hundreds of articles all supporting the position that defragging is irrelevant. The only thing it achieves is extra wear on your hard drive.
     
  11. Fishrrman, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

    Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    "If it's a new install, then all the files will be written sequentially, with no fragmentation, so that's nonsense for starters. And there's no performance penalty for having non-consecutive free space on a modern hard drive."

    As soon as one runs a major software update, nearly everything will become "dispersed" about the drive -- that is to say, scattered about, with free space between various files. Do this a couple of times, and the drive sectors will look like Swiss Cheese with all the "free sectors" between used files.

    "Googling "OS X disk fragmentation" or similar brings up hundreds of articles all supporting the position that defragging is irrelevant. The only thing it achieves is extra wear on your hard drive."

    I've posted about this before and will continue to advise users that not everything Apple writes is correct.

    We see post after post after post after post after post from users complaining that their several-year-old Mac has become "sluggish". I've never had that problem, ever, and I keep my Macs longer than do most folks. One problem is see is that users typically clog up their drives with files, and with the increasing development of "scattered space" that results by never defragging/optimizing a drive, the drives tend to get slower. This is particularly so if the user doesn't have enough memory to prevent the swap files from becoming "too busy".

    Direct question to you, Benwiggy -- have you ever used a program such as Drive Genius or iDefrag to "look at" the sectors of your personal drives, to see how the files are scattered about, and to see how much free space is being wasted?

    If not, I challenge you to do so.

    I will guess that this problem can be minimized if the user installs enough RAM so that the swap files aren't needed. But a lot of folks don't do this. And when their drives start to get full, the swap files being active will slow things down considerably because:
    - There isn't enough contiguous free space to write them in a single pass, and
    - The drive is forced to "go hunting for free sectors" here and there, and
    - In the process of doing this, the entire user experience slows down.

    Use an optimization utility to eliminate the all the unused sectors scattered about, and it results in a larger contiguous area of free space at the tail end of the drive -- leaving the OS more free room in which to read/write the swap files.
     
  12. benwiggy, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

    benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #12
    I didn't say "Apple articles". I said you will find hundreds of articles all saying the same thing. You will not find one saying "Shock: OS X does need defragging, Apple are wrong!" (Great headline!)

    You have not shown that "sluggish" Macs are caused by fragmentation. There are plenty of reasons why Macs might become sluggish. But the fact that you defrag (among other housekeeping) and have not had a problem does not prove causality.

    No, because I have seen no evidence to suggest that this would be a worthwhile use of my time. Out of the whole body of information available on the subject, you seem to be the only person espousing it.
    I have owned and been responsible for many Macs, several of which have led long happy lives, with nary a defrag.

    There may well be some small holes between files on my disk. The point is that it's not a problem that needs solving.

    I suspect that neither of us is likely to change our mind on this one. All the best.
     

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