Does a "clean install" really makes your Mac faster?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by 66217, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. 66217 Guest

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    Jan 30, 2006
    #1
    I've been having some terrible experiences lately with my Mac. Whenever I restart, it takes above 1 minute or more to get to the desktop. And then, the Mail application takes some more time to open up, and while it opens up, everything freezes, and then it goes back to normal.

    Also, it never closes when I use Apple+Q, so normally I need to Force Quit. Seeing this, it seems the problem is the Mail app, but I haven't been able to correct that.

    Some other apps also take longer than they used to open in the past.

    So was thinking about a clean install. Do you guys think this really helps?
     
  2. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

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    Jan 13, 2008
    #2
    It usually does, yes, but it's not always good to skip to that without considering alternatives.

    How much of your disk space have you used up? If your hard drives almost full, your computer will go slower, no matter how clean the install. How much RAM do you have? Upgrading your RAM is (relatively) cheap and a great way to speed up your system.

    How long has it been since you've opened up Disk Utility and repaired permission? Checked the disk for errors?
     
  3. stevehp macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I just did a clean install the other day for similar reasons...It's been 2 years since I got my MBP and it feels as if I have a new computer right now...

    Additionally, I got to set it up exactly the way I wanted to...When I first got my mac, I wasn't nearly as organized, so the clean install allowed me to do things right the first time.
     
  4. slu macrumors 68000

    slu

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    #4
    A clean install will probably solve your problem.

    That being said, we don't know what caused your problem and it may happen again. I would bet that this problem could be solved without a clean install, but it might take more time as you'd have to figure out exactly what the problem is.

    A clean install will not make your Mac faster if you have no issues. This is not Windows. Unless you have a problem, there is no performance gain to be had by a re-install.

    Many of the newer switchers and many users here will say the opposite, but they have nothing but anecdotal evidence and have no way to prove that it does make your Mac faster.
     
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #5
    Will a shotgun kill a fly? Maybe, but it's a pretty sloppy way of killing flies. If you do this before attempting the many other methods of finding and fixing problems, you're doing no better than blasting away aimlessly with the hope of hitting something.
     
  6. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

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    #6
    A clean install will get rid of all the preferences, cookies, and applications that you have acquired over time. These are the cause of most problems, so if you don't have them, it is much more likely that you will have a successful user experience.

    TEG
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    This logic escapes me. If you don't know what application is causing a problem, won't you simply reinstall it, and have the problem all over again? Or are you planning on using your Mac with no applications installed?

    BTW, the only applications which could cause issues are those which install kernel extensions or startup items. Which is to say, very few -- and you should be able to figure out which ones. Preferences and cookies can't slow down your Mac generally. Preferences are benign text files which do nothing unless you run the associated application, and cookies apply only to your web browser, and they can be flushed easily without reinstalling OSX.

    Reinstalls are a solution looking for a problem.
     
  8. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    #8
    Thanks for the input.:)

    I do have made many things. I booted from the Leopard DVD and repaired permissions and also repaired the disk. I downloaded Onyx and cleared the caches and so.

    I uninstalled many apps I no longer used, and moved my photos to an external drive to empty some space. Currently I have around 50% of the drive space free. I checked up startup items, and there are none that could be causing problems.

    So, now this seems to be the last option. One thing tho, I have a Time Machine backup, and I know I can use the migrate assistant to copy my documents again after the install. But, will doing this leave my Mac just as before, meaning that maybe the problems would persist? I won't be copying the apps again.
     
  9. NeoMayhem macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Cant hurt to try. Its not like windows, but a clean install can make the system faster.
     
  10. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #10
    It could be update-related, and their juxtaposition with other software,etc. I had a number of issues in Tiger for example which was introduced after a while. After wasting the best part of a day and a half in total trying to work around the issue through the usual maintenance + selective removal, etc, I reinstalled. It helped.

    Sometimes there is a clear way to solving your issues, usually through removing something which wasn't apparent or through a few command line switches. However finding it can take longer than a fresh start.

    Up to you.

    Also, I don't know what your vintage of Macbook is, but I've recently helped someone load Leopard onto their Core Duo Macbook Pro. I elected to do a fresh install than an upgrade since some problems were evident, and on booting it up after all the updated apps were fully installed, I immediately noticed how glacial the thing was compared to my current MBP's. Stands to reason that if you keep your machine up to date, it will seem slower over time.

    Funny isn't it. It's exactly the same as Windows - and I seem to recall a lot of carping by the Apple crowd that you didn't have to do this.
     
  11. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #11
    But it isn't the same. I have never reinstalled OSX -- ever.

    I always ask the same questions about the effectiveness of reinstalls, but I never get any answers. Now that's funny. In a way.
     
  12. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #12
    It's a very rare occasion for me as well, as it is in Windows. With at least one personal XP install, I carried it across multiple machines for several years with no major detriment, with less minor maintenance than my OS X installs have to undergo to keep them running.

    But it is possible where the time taken to troubleshoot will be longer than the time taken to reinstall. It's a judgement call you have to make, as a fairly quick and relatively hands-free reinstallation might or might not cure your issues either if it is specifically an update problem and not just an update + alpha quotient for example.

    If you don't move from your basement often, and using / mastering the operating system is your endgame as opposed to seeing it purely as an application platform, perhaps it is just as time-efficient to troubleshoot your issue in detail without considering a reinstall after a while.
     
  13. slu macrumors 68000

    slu

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    #13
    No it cannot. Like IJ Reilly has stated, it may fix your problem, but if you don't know what caused the problem in the first place, you will eventually get it again.

    Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

    Like IJ Reilly, I have never done a re-install. I have a Rev A iMac G5 that I bought the day they were announced and it is now a bit over 4 years old and I never had a re-install and the performance is the same as the day I bought it (actaully it is a better since I maxed out the RAM and upgraded the HDD). My wife has a Powerbook G4 that is over 3 1/2 years old that has never had a re-install either.

    And I also UPGRADED them to Tiger! From some of the posts you read around here, you'd think this is heresy. It is not.

    And it is not like I only use Safari and iCal on this thing. I use FCE and GarageBand routinely, as well as using all the other stuff everyone else uses.
     
  14. marbles macrumors 68000

    marbles

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    #14
    Have you tried reseating the RAM in the machine ? or tried different RAM sticks ?, they can & do go bad ....also I see no mention of a PRAM reset , give that a go if you haven't already .
    Oh , have you a external HD you could boot from ? , possibly the HD is going south ? ...hope not ...good luck :)



    side note , I do a reinstall every year just for the sake of it :eek:
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #15
    This is the wrong assumption. Mastering the issues involved with reinstalls is more complex than finding and fixing problems, which the reinstall might not address anyway.
     
  16. AutumnSkyline macrumors regular

    AutumnSkyline

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    Oct 5, 2006
    #16
    A month ago I noticed my boot up times were slooooooooooooooow and I was dissatisfied with the performance of my less-than-two-year-old-iMac. I zapped the PRAM (holding down Cmd+Opt+P+R before the grey screen and the apple) really did the trick. I am again, a smug Mac user ;D.
     
  17. Amdahl macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Steve Jobs does not defeat the laws of Computer Science or Information Theory. Mac filesystems do fragment, and doing a clean install (with format) cleans it up. If you use Time Machine, it is easy to boot your DVD, format your drive, and then restore your backup. It is restored perfectly defragmented.

    I am a fan of defragmenting Safari cache, and the Mail app also uses SQLite3, which has the same fragmentation problem. Perhaps I should create a script for defragmenting Mail. Other folks on the Internet have reported big speedups in Mail, going back to 10.4 when you defrag the mailbox files.
     
  18. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #18
    That, and more, are 'the usual tricks'. It is assumed that if a user is considering a reinstall, those have been tried.

    In most cases - far more often in my case than Windows where no such fix is required over a very long period of time - a variety of small, fairly standard fixes does the job - and in that respect, it could be said that most people who run through the fixes don't actually know what the problem is either.

    There are however situations beyond that. It depends of course on the range of applications you use, the level of misbehaviour they might exhibit and how that has an impact on the OS, among many other factors. As I said, in some of those cases you have to exercise a judgement call.
     
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #19
    You never really have to do a "clean re-install". But for most users this is the easiest way out because actually fixing the problem requires some skill and knowledge that may be lacking.
     
  20. mashny macrumors regular

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    #20
    Whenever I've noticed my computer slowing down, no matter what I tried to do to speed it up, and experienced weird little program glitches that returned no matter what I tried to do (including zapping the PRAM), I would do a clean install. In every case, it solved the problem and sped up the computer. The downside is that I would kill a weekend reinstalling everything. You can also spend a weekend trying to troubleshoot the problem and still not solve it, so, yeah, a clean install will often help.

    Just make sure you back up your files first!!!
     
  21. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

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    #21
    The problem is that many people, myself included, install several programs that are only used a few times, and forget about them. Then those programs install plists in the system, which can interfeer with other plists. Needless to say, If run into a problem that will take more than a few hours to fix, or a glitch that occurs regularly, I just blow the system away and start again.

    TEG
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #22
    Just the opposite, I'd argue. First of all, there's no such thing really as a "clean install." The options are "archive and install" or "reformat and install." Big difference, right? So already, an essential bit of knowledge is often left out. Second, we see frequent posts on these boards from people who didn't understand what they were going to lose in a reinstall. They're often screwed. Third, how many people attempt this to fix hardware issues? A majority, I'd estimate. Fourth, how many attempt it without a complete backup?

    So quite a bit of skill, knowledge and preparation is required to do this right. That's a lot of effort for something which probably was unnecessary to start.
     
  23. NeoMayhem macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 22, 2003
    #23
    If you click Advanced you can do a 'Clean Install'. It has been this way since at least 10.2 (when I switched to mac).

    Once you install the 10.5.5 update it will not be 'perfectly defragmented' anymore, but it should be a little better then after using the system for a few years.
     
  24. Amdahl macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Actually, it will be defragmented. Time Machine restores the entire system, including whatever updates were already installed.

    If you use VMWare, make sure you have version 1.1.3 or higher and OS X 10.5.3 or higher, and double check your Time Machine. In earlier versions, VMware virtual machines were NOT backed up, and many people exclude their VMs as a rule. So, make sure you actually have all your data in the Time Machine backup before you do an erase and restore.
     
  25. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #25
    What problems were evident before you elected to do a fresh install then an upgrade? I have a CD MBP and it runs the same as it did two years ago. If your friend's MBP is glacial, maybe there's still a problem that hasn't been properly addressed yet.
     

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