Macbook pro mid 2009 extremely slow

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by bastiaanonline, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. bastiaanonline, Aug 23, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014

    bastiaanonline macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #1
    Hello,

    My MacBook Pro of mid 2009 is running very poorly. Since a half year or so it even became difficult to open Safari or another Finder window but the last couple of weeks I can only close Safari by force-quitting it.

    There is 4GB memory installed, I have 90GB of 250GB disk space free. I am running OSX 10.9.4 and using a secondary 1080p screen.
    Sometimes it flies through stuff, but as I'm typing this it hangs every couple of sentences or so with beach balls quite often.
    I checked Activity monitor and it shows the memory use is 3,99GB (of 4GB installed), virtual memory is 5,72GB and memory swap is used with 3,8MB at the moment.
    Disk speeds are around 20MB/s read and 12MB/s write according to BlackMagic Disk Speed Test.

    I do not want to spend a lot on this machine as I'm planning to upgrade to a new iMac the next release. Does anyone have tips on how to improve the performance or is that impossible without upgrading?

    Thank you

    edit: to illustrate, sometimes when a tab in Safari hangs, it even manages to show a scrambled webpage in a text field of a tab or other program I already closed. To let's say I closed iTunes 5 minutes ago, a website in Safari hangs and a textfield all of a sudden show a blocky view of iTunes all mixed up...
     
  2. lokster macrumors 6502

    lokster

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    #2
    back everything up and start with a fresh install of mavericks. :cool:
    Load everything back on and hopefully it should be much better
     
  3. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2014
    Location:
    Brossard, QC
    #3
    Lack of ram is your issue mostly.

    But you should get better speed than 20/10MBs with the original hard drive. So either because it was swapping while you did the test or your hdd is failing.
     
  4. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 17, 2014
    #4
    The problem is I cannot be without a computer for a long time (e.g. for work) and a system update takes a long time even. I'll try when I have the possibilty, thank you for the tip!

    A couple of days ago it was 50/50 but when it is under a heavy load (read: Safari and Activity monitor open) it will drop down to those values. I will backup my files but I do not have a extra hdd to use as a TimeMachine backup unfortunately, so I will put all of my personal files on another drive I'm already using. Thanks :)
     
  5. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #5
    Before taking any of the suggested drastic measures, have you tried doing an SMC reset?

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964
     
  6. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2014
    Location:
    Brossard, QC
    #6

    If you only have safari open and it is doing that, something might be consuming your ram. Use activity monitor to see what apps are using your ram and try SMC reset.

    And honestly, I highly recommend using time machine or a clone of your drive (CCC or SuperDuper) since you can't afford to have downtime. Else, at least have a back up of your personal files at all times...
     
  7. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #7
    Thanks, I have a backup of all my personal files already. Activity monitor shows that kernel_task is using a bit over 600MB, Safari around 300MB, Finder 200MB and then a lot of other processes that consume a tiny bit. I'll try a SMC reset when I have time, I'll update with the results, thank you!
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #8
    What you are describing sounds like a hard drive dying. Do a command-r boot to recovery and from there run Disk Utility and do a repair disk. Does that show any disk errors?

    Also, try a boot to safe mode and see if the issue persists while in safe mode. A safe mode boot stops any startup or login items from running and will eliminate that as the problem.

    Also, try running the Apple Hardware Test.
     
  9. jg321 macrumors 6502

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    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    My thoughts exactly, so this check would be my first port of call.
     
  10. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #10
    Does using Disk Utility in recovery mode to repair disk have the risk of data loss? I do not have startup or login items set up for my user. The same for the AHT, does that have the possibility of data loss? Thanks for the tips, I will run these tests when I have the possibility.
     
  11. T5BRICK macrumors 604

    T5BRICK

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    #11
    AHT doesn't have any higher risk of data loss than just using your computer. But if your HDD fails, data loss is almost guaranteed.

    You are backing up your data, right? If so it shouldn't matter. If not, stop what you're doing and get your data backed up RIGHT NOW.
     
  12. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #12
    Running repair disk if there are serious errors will try to fix the disk errors, and yes that has the possibility (although slight) of causing data loss. A more conservative approach would be to use Disk Util to just "verify disk" and that will just show errors, but not fix them. Then if you see errors you can make a decision what you want to do next.

    AHT will never cause data loss.

    Hopefully you have a good backup.
     
  13. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #13
    OP wrote above:
    [[ I do not want to spend a lot on this machine as I'm planning to upgrade to a new iMac the next release. Does anyone have tips on how to improve the performance or is that impossible without upgrading? ]]

    You asked for advice so I'll give mine.
    It will be different from all the others here.

    My suggestion:
    - Back up the internal drive to an external drive
    - Re-initialize the internal drive
    - Install OS 10.8.5 "Mountain Lion" onto it.
    - Use Migration Assistant to migrate your stuff back to the drive (and the older OS)

    I've seen many, many, many reports about how sluggish Mavericks is on an older Mac with a HDD (spinning hard drive).

    I tried Mavericks on my late-2012 Mini (booting from an external HDD), and it was S-L-O-W as molasses.

    Evidently, Mavericks was "brewed up" on SSD-based Macs of late vintage with larger amounts of installed RAM. Yes, it will run on an older Mac like yours with the minimum RAM configuration.
    BUT -- you're seeing HOW it will run -- that is, slowly.

    Again, I suggest you go back to Mountain Lion.
    I sense that you'll be pleased with the results.
     
  14. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #14
    Thanks for your answer and concern. I have backed up all my personal files I use on the computer to an external hard drive. I did not make a disk clone or TimeMachine backup, since I don't have a external hdd left to format for a backup. I just copied my personal files to the external drive.

    As described above, I have a backup on a external drive of my personal files, so not of the entire internal disk.

    ----------

    I need to continue running Mavericks for certain programs and features of the OS, so I cannot downgrade to ML. Thank you for your suggestion, if I'm able to use ML I'll try to see if it's an option.
     
  15. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #15
    Sorry for my many replies but I said I would report back my findings.

    First I tried the SMC reset which did not change anything I think (activity monitor did show only 2,5GB memory used, but that's also possible because of the reboot). Afterwards I booted into recovery mode and ran 'check disk' on the disk itself and the volume 'Macintosh HD'. Both came back with a green light: no problems found. So that's that. I will try the AHT when I have some more time, but thanks everyone or their suggestions. If the AHT doesn't give any results I think I'll try to wait a bit when I'm able to purchase a new iMac and/or start with a new fresh install of Mavericks in the meantime.

    Thanks again to everyone who replied with their ideas, I will keep you updated after the AHT.
     
  16. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    California
    #16
    If the drive is good, a bad drive cable can also cause symptoms like this. Do you have an external USB enclosure you could use to swap the internal drive into then option key boot to it and see if the problem persists?
     
  17. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #17
    Unfortunately I do not have that. I guess it is simply a combination of too little memory, a slow drive over sata and weak processing and graphics power. I'm so looking forward to a new machine :)
    I'll try the AHT and let you know what that resulted in.
     
  18. iBook_Clamshell macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #18
    Put more RAM in it, virtual is a lot slower. A hard drive takes seconds to transfer a file that the CPU needs; real RAM takes milliseconds. Your laptop can take 8gb of RAM, here are some links from ebay:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Corsair-PC3...8271559?pt=US_Memory_RAM_&hash=item2ed55f0bc7
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Crucial-8GB...4162386?pt=US_Memory_RAM_&hash=item20eb271c52
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-8GB-DDR...4559124?pt=US_Memory_RAM_&hash=item3cb9c25794
    If you upgrade this laptop, you could use it for another decade.
     
  19. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #19
    I installed Mavericks on my daughter's 2008 MBP and it runs fine. You have plenty of power etc to run Mavericks. You have some sort of hardware issue going on causing all this beach balling IMO.
     
  20. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #20
    I was planning on upgrading for a longer time, and even with a memory upgrade I won't be able to use it for decades. I need power for video editing and code compilation so this won't cut it unfortunately. Besides, I prefer an iMac over a laptop but that's my personal preference. I'll look into adding some more ram, thanks for the links :)

    ----------

    Yeah I guess so too. Does that MBP have 4GB memory as well? A couple of months ago the fans kept spinning so loudly I couldn't even concentrate when beach balling etc, but now I haven't even heard them in weeks...
     
  21. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #21
    Yep... 4GB and standard hard drive. Runs fine. I know people are trying to be helpful, but you don't need 8GB and an SSD to run Mavericks. Those things will of course speed up any system, but 4GB with a hard drive and Mavericks certainly does not result in the issues you are seeing.

    I am rereading your first post and that blocky view of iTunes is troubling also. I fear you have a serious hardware issue cooking here. Will be curious what the AHT shows.
     
  22. bastiaanonline thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    #22
    iTunes was just an example. It might as well be a site I closed earlier and it doesn't only happen to text fields, but also happened in Tweetdeck once. It only occurred a small number of times but it is indeed not particularly a good sign... I'll keep you updated.
     
  23. nperei macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    #23
    If you like to take a chance add SSD. it would be huge benefit. I just starting to see SSD price is falling down. Right now I see newegg.com Crucial M500 240GB for 99.00 not bad also Samsung eve 250GB 118.00 and Crucial MX100 112.00.
    you might want to check it out before price change. u can run 4GB with SSD it would work well. or add 8GB to get over with it. it like you spend less $200 for 8GB and SSD for almost like new machine.to you.
     

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