Is it necessary to format your Mac every once in a while?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by iPocrates, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. iPocrates macrumors newbie

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    Jan 30, 2011
    #1
    I have a MacBook Pro (Unibody) with OSX 10.6 since about a year or so.

    I have installed and uninstall many Apps and Games, and though I use Onyx every now and then I still get the feeling that things arent running as smooth as before.

    So my question is: (Just like in PCs) do I have to format my Mac every once in a while?

    If the answer is yes, how often would you recommend me to do so?
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    If you're experiencing issues such as slowdowns, then it might be worth it to give it a try
     
  3. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #3
    As stated above, only if and when you are experiencing problems
    Which is usually rare
     
  4. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

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    #4
    The typical answer is no, however if you experience issues, or just feel like the system isn't behaving correctly, then by all means go for it. It certainly helps, and cannot hurt, so long as you are using TM or back things up on your own.

    Then again, I know some Mac Gurus that say you should reformat before upgrading the OS. I usually do that myself.

    TEG
     
  5. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

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    United Kingdom
    #5
    Let me put my answer this way: One of my Macs (A PowerMac G4/400) has been running 1 install of OS X for 5 years now, perfectly fine. (10.4 From Launch to now), nothing else done to the install at all.
     
  6. iPocrates thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 30, 2011
    #6
    I am... mostly at startup though. When I start a computer it takes far longer to show the desktop and even then it takes a couple of minutes before I can effectively use my mac.

    Maybe my questiong was about this rather than formating. How can i keep my Mac perfectly clean (system wise). Onyx seems not to be enough.
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #7
    Sounds like you just got some startup items that slow down the boot time. Sleep it instead, it's better
     
  8. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #8
    I'll add my testimony to this too. I've never had to format any of my 3 Mac's ever. My first one is a MBP (2,2) and it came with Tiger on it, I upgraded to Leopard and then Snow Leopard but never formatted it. I use it still to this day with no problems at all.
     
  9. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

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    #9
    Onyx really doesn't do anything more than what the OS maintenance scripts do on a regular basis. It just allows you to do them manually.

    As suggested, check your startup items
    System preferences -> users -> startup items
     
  10. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #10
    Yes. I had a "genius" tell me that my drive was failing because my logon took so long. I made a new user account, and my drive "stopped" failing. Ugh.

    So yeah, OS X has what's called "drive rot", just like Windows does. I'd recommend just making a new user account, and manually migrating all your files over. Also, making sure that you have a lot of free space on the hard drive helps... My computer was running slowly-ish, but after cloning everything to a 3x larger HDD, it got much faster, even just launching apps.
     
  11. iPocrates thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 30, 2011
    #11
    Didnt know that about Onyx. Thx for the Tip.

    I will try to make more space available... Just checked i only have 5.7 gb free space!!!

    My Startup is pretty clean though... Will try also to make a new User Account ;)
     
  12. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

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    Apr 29, 2005
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    San Francisco
    #12
    Try and free up another 10gb. As far as formatting I'd just do a reinstall of OS X. I used to believe you never needed to reinstall OS X but after doing it once I realized it does help slightly. But peace of mind is worth the 30 minutes needed to reinstall.
     
  13. snberk103 macrumors 603

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    Oct 22, 2007
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    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #13
    I agree with the posters above that think you need more free space on your HD. I just did a quick Google, and I'm seeing advice to keep at least 10Gb (at a minimum) of space free, or another sites says 10% to 15% of your HD free.

    I'm thinking you are way below any of these levels. One of the symptoms is slow startups.

    Cheers
     
  14. santaliqueur macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 7, 2007
    #14
    Drive rot? No.

    OS rot, which Windows surely has. I've experienced OS X slowdowns over a year or two, I backup/format/reinstall, and it's as good as new. However, the OS X slowdown is likely associated with the huge amount of downloaded apps and other junk, all caused by ME. My parents have been using their OS X installation for a few years now, just as snappy as it ever was, and they are using an old PPC Mac mini.

    It depends entirely on the user, not some silly "drive rot" phantom scenario.
     
  15. Mactrillionaire macrumors regular

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    Oct 16, 2010
    #15
    It isn't generally necessary. If the computer is slow, try determining if any of the programs you have installed are taking up a lot of processor cycles/physical memory or are incurring a lot of disk activity. If you find that that isn't the case then you should suspect a problem with your hard disk. Reinstalling the operating system won't help if there is a problem with the hard disk and it also won't help if the problem is with your choice of installed programs since you will presumably install the same programs again. My advice is to enable Spaces if it is not already enabled and launch Activity Monitor as a Login Item under your user account. Then, when the computer starts to slow, you can go right over to the Activity Monitor and see what is causing the computer to get slow. I would only recommend reinstalling if there are anomalies which are attributable to system corruption or if the Finder hangs a lot and you can't figure out what other process is causing it to hang.

    Bit rot is extremely rare with hard disks. You don't usually see it happen until a hard disk has been out of use for a year or longer.
     
  16. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    USA
    #16
    I am typing this from my dual 2.0 GHz PowerMac G5 running MacOS X 10.4.11. It shipped with MacOS X 10.2.7 and been updated successively through each version of MacOS X 10.2, 10.3, and 10.4. I have other Macs running MacOS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6. On none of them have I ever reformatted the hard drive.

    BTW, the most effective maintenance that you can perform is to run File System Check (fsck -fy) from the command line in Single User Mode.
     
  17. millar876 macrumors 6502a

    millar876

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    Peterhead, Scotland UK
    #17
    My macmini seems to slow down a bit now and then, but it's on 24/7 and is acting as a media server htpc, and is often using and erasing data as I watch on demand services like BBC iplayer and skyplayer on it. I solve the slowdown by having a small (40GB) external hard drive with a completly clean and up todate os install on it with idefrag and diskwarrior. About once a month I boot to this drive, run a full defrag, optimise and erase free space on my system drive, then run all checks and maintenance scripts from diskwarrior before running another optimise defrag on idefrag. I then reboot onto the internal hdd, and all iz well. At this point I usually make a clone of the internal hdd, Just in case anything was to go wrongin between times.
     
  18. walshlink, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011

    walshlink macrumors regular

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    Oct 21, 2007
    #18
    I have gotten into the habit of keeping all my data on external sources. I also create a clone (backup) of a clean OS install using Carbon Copy Cloner. This along with MobileMe sync can drastically cut down OS re-install times.
     
  19. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    May 28, 2005
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    Pa
    #19
    Sorry, I meant OS Rot... not drive rot. It definitely exists though, you don't realize it until you reinstall/make a new account, and apps open in 1-2 bounces instead of 4-5
     
  20. astrodog macrumors newbie

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    Jan 17, 2011
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    Australia
    #20
    17" MPB 2.66 (i7)/8GB/2x 100GB OWC Extreme Pro RE SSDs (RAID 0, 32k stripe)


    Sounds like a good habit to have to keep things fast, that, and having RAID-0 SSDs as your boot volume! :) Nice machine mate!! drools.....
     
  21. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #21
    Nonsense. I have been running MacOS X 10.4 on two computers for half a decade with no OS rot. I have a beige Power Mac G3 with MacOS 9.2 installed for about a decade with no signs of OS rot. In fact, your own description of your computer disproves the existence of OS rot on it. Each user account runs the same OS. If a new account behaves OK, then your OS is fine. In fact, it is proof that your OS is fine. With that knowledge, you then look for other causes of your computer's problems.
     
  22. iPocrates thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    #22
    Thanks ppl! I cleaned my drive and now i have about 30 GB of free space and i can tell a difference. Now I bought an external hard drive to set up time machine and i'll do a clean install of OSX 10.6 just to be sure ;)

    Thanks a lot for the help! U guys rock!
     

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