Poor HDD cause of my slow MBP? (mid-2012)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by macstatic, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. macstatic macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    #1
    My MBP (13" mid-2012, OSX 10.9.5) has been slow from the very start as far as I can remember. By slow I mean that the spinning beachball pops up just about all the time and especially if I say want to surf the web while Adobe Lightroom imports photos from the SD-memory card slot, but also at other times when for instance I just go to a different menu or something in the same app, which is just plain ridicilous.

    I've got the standard hardware configuration (500 MB/5400 RPM HDD and 4GB RAM) and suspect the slow hard drive to be the reason for this though I still find it hard to believe it should be this slow! Then I read somewhere about defective HDD cables, but I'm not sure if this was an isolated case or if this is a production problem for this particular model MBP. Can anyone shed some light on this?
     
  2. JTToft macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #2
    Defective SATA cables are real. You can take out the hard drive and connect it externally to see how it works there.

    But no matter what you'll benefit greatly from ditching that hard drive and putting in an SSD instead.
     
  3. Spudlicious macrumors 6502

    Spudlicious

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    Bedfordshire, England
    #3
    Things do get old and tired, some of us can see that in the mirror. Replacing your HDD, which could be extra slow because it's in its death throes, with an SSD would most certainly give the computer's performance a massive boost, and you could replace the cable while you're poking around in there. A memory upgrade wouldn't go amiss, either, if you're planning to keep it a while.
     
  4. wegster macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2006
    #4
    I'd also go to 8GB of RAM (or more, 16GB is peanuts nowadays at ~$50) while you're at it.
     
  5. T5BRICK macrumors 604

    T5BRICK

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    Aug 3, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    #5
    I agree with the previous comments about the SATA cables. They seem to be a common point of failure in the 13" MBPs.

    Also, if you have the extra cash you should upgrade to a SSD. It'll breathe new life into the computer and make it feel better than new.
     
  6. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2005
    #6
    I forgot to mention that many apps also seem to hang indefinitely (or almost that long)...
    for instance if I do a backup (to an external USB-3 hard drive), and start Firefox before the backup is done it takes forever for it to launch, so I finally press CMD-ALT-ESC and eventually "not responding" shows up next to Firefox in the list of active apps. Usually "not responding" goes away after a while (a long while that is), or after the backup is done which seems to prove that the issue is disk related.

    OK, so the defective SATA cables is indeed a common error with this particular Mac model. Is it something Apple acknowledges and can be repaired by them (I believe mine is still under warranty), or undocumented (by Apple) failure but still something I should look into on my own?
    Yes, I'll try and see what happens if I run it from an external drive. I'm not sure I have any external enclosure that can be opened to accomodate for the internal drive, but I could clone the internal drive and boot the computer from another external drive to see what happens. Should I go for a USB-2, USB-3 or a Firewire external drive for the most equivalent comparison to the internal interface?

    Yes, the drive could be nearing its end of life, but Onyx and other apps tell me its SMART status is fine, then again I've experienced that drives can still fail...
     
  7. T5BRICK macrumors 604

    T5BRICK

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    #7
    If you're still under warranty, take it into apple and explain the issues you're having. They'll run their diagnostics and if it turns anything up they'll repair it.

    USB3 will be the fastest.

    I've seen failing drives report good SMART status, and I've had drives with SMART status errors that worked for years(couldn't ever trust them though).
     
  8. wegster macrumors 6502

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    Nov 1, 2006
    #8
    Quick question - how full is the current drive?
    Especially w/4GB of RAM, you really want to leave a buffer of 10%+ free disk space, or things will start to churn to a halt as you open apps, swap to virtual memory, and start running out of disk space as well.
     
  9. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #9
    - That won't tell you anything. The idea is to find out whether the issue is with your drive or with the internal SATA cable. If you change both variables, the test is useless.
     
  10. Clete2 macrumors 65816

    Clete2

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    #10
    I did a home-made Fusion Drive by removing my SuperDrive and replacing it with a caddy and I put an SSD in it.

    For you to do this, you should put the SSD in the spot where your HDD currently is and move the HDD to the SuperDrive spot. That is because I believe that the SuperDrive spot is SATA II while the HDD spot is SATA III. For me it didn't matter because my laptop only has 2 SATA II spots.

    This revitalized my Mac. I thought I was going to have to buy a new Mac 3 years ago and it has been going strong ever since. It is amazing how much faster my laptop is now. For reference, I have a 15" April 2010 MacBook Pro.

    http://www.macworld.com/article/2014011/storage-drives/how-to-make-your-own-fusion-drive.html
     
  11. hallux macrumors 68020

    hallux

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2012
    #11
    It absolutely is recognized by Apple. In fact - I'm an Apple-certified tech, supporting a large corporation, Apple actually sent us TWO of those cables to use for troubleshooting and repair of this issue (on warranty-covered computers)

    The 2012 MBP has SATA-III on both ports. I would actually suggest leaving the HDD in the original location on that model (if planning to run 2 drives) as moving it will remove the drive from the slot protected by a feature called a sudden motion sensor - this attempts to stop the drive to prevent a head collision in the event of a drop while the computer is on.
     
  12. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    #12
    It's got 350GB (out of 500GB) unused disk space, so that can't be the issue.
    As for RAM: which numbers should I look at in "Activity monitor" to figure out if insufficient memory is/is part of the problem?
     
  13. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Apr 27, 2010
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    Aarhus, Denmark
    #13
    - The memory pressure graph. It should be all green under normal use.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 07.06.27.png
     
  14. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    #14
    Gotcha.
    Will any cheap USB-3 enclosure from eBay do? (i.e. search for "USB 3 HD external enclosure").
    As for Activity monitor's memory pressure graph: mine's green like yours, so it appears most likely to be something with the hard drive. Are my symptoms typical of those for a damaged SATA cable, or is it hard to tell as they could be the same as for a soon to be failing hard drive as well?
     
  15. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #15
    - Technically, yes. Though if it were me, I would get something good that could also be used as a permanent enclosure in the future. Here are recommendations for a specific enclosure and a specific cable (you only need one of them):

    Enclosure: https://www.amazon.com/Inateck-Inch...273&sr=8-1&keywords=usb+3.0+enclosure+inateck
    Cable: https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-2-5-...d=1471348379&sr=8-3&keywords=usb+3.1+sata+usb

    - Indeed. Upgrading RAM is unlikely to do all that much for you, but will still be beneficial, I would say.

    - Your symptoms do sound a bit extreme for it to just be caused by the slowness of the hard drive. It's very difficult to know if the drive is faulty or if it's the cable. But based on experience, cable failures are more common than drive failures.
     
  16. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2005
    #16
    Thanks. An external enclosure is on top of my list, so I'll take it from there. I'm quite sure even a 5400 RPM drive shouldn't be as slow as I'm experiencing.
     

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