So last July, I bought a new standard (non-Retina) 15" MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 model) with 8GB RAM, 2.6GHz i7, and 750GB HDD with ~200GB free. Recently, it has begun to slow down considerably, and overall its performance over the past few months is not what I would expect from a $2500+ laptop. I have noticed that even right after I boot up, there is only ~5GB of free memory. Is this normal? Shouldn't it be close to 8 right when I boot up? Surely it doesn't require 3GB of RAM just to start up? Furthermore, the free memory drops quickly and requires cleaning often. Additionally, I use iStat Menus to display my CPU activity in the menubar, and even though I rarely see it jump above ~10%, I still often see the spinning beach ball in many applications. iStat Menus also freezes a lot, and when this happens, the wifi, spotlight and other stock Apple menubar icons also give the spinning beach ball when I hover over them. I have also noticed that, about twice weekly, I have to force shut down using the power button because either Google Chrome or iTunes has frozen the whole computer. Occasionally, force quitting by holding down cmd-option-shift-esc will quit the application successfully, but if I try to open the force quit window and force quit the application from there, the window itself will also freeze, forcing me to shut down the computer using the power button. Sometimes, the dock will also freeze, which makes switching (and sometimes using) applications impossible (since LaunchPad and Mission Control will also freeze when the dock does), again requiring a forced shutdown. I have found that by installing Memory Clean and freeing up the memory when it drops below 2GB (which happens extremely often), that everything freezes less than normal. However, things still move slowly. iTunes takes forever to start up (gives a Checking iTunes Library... window that will stay up for up to 10 minutes before actually opening iTunes). I have a fairly large library, but one of my friends, who uses a 2011 13" Macbook Pro with 4GB RAM and 250GB HDD, and has a larger iTunes library than myself, doesn't experience this problem. I try not to have too many applications open at once, usually I'll have Google Chrome, Mail, and iTunes open, as well as my menubar applications: Dropbox, Mint, Evernote, Memory Clean, Plex, Moom, Caffeine. I am an engineering student and I bought this laptop so that I could have AutoCAD open while using iTunes, Chrome, and Mail, as well as using my Windows partition in Parallels. I have Sophos Antivirus installed, and check for viruses/Malware often. Are there any tips anyone has for me? I have considered swapping the optical drive for an SSD and moving OS and application files to the SSD while keeping other data on the HDD. Would this be worthwhile if there are no other solutions to my above problems? Thanks in advance for any help, it's much appreciated.