Slow HD - fresh install or new drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Drewski, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. Drewski macrumors regular

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    #1
    2011 2.7 GHz i5 27" iMac on 10.9.5, 12 GB RAM, stock 1 TB WD 7200rpm, about 50% full, mostly video/pics/audio.

    When new, I used to brag to my PC friends about the 5 sec shut down time and 35 sec boot up and online time. 4 relatively trouble-free years later, I'm shutting down in about 35 sec and booting up and online in about 2:25. :eek:

    Disk Drill / SMART say there is nothing wrong with the HD, and permissions are all in order. If that is the case, then maybe a purge & reinstall is the key to restore earlier performance (of course, it could just be Mavericks too). Assuming however that it is just in need of a cleaning /defrag / reinstall, what is the preferred method to maintain all my data and apps, while losing all the clutter? I run Time Machine, CCC, and Backblaze, but I think those all will back up everything, including the garbage, yes? I've got loads of (legit) software including add-ons, extensions, scripts, etc. that I'm not sure how to corral, plus whatever I've got running with Parallels/Windows.

    However, as SSD prices continue to drop, e.g. I see the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB for under $400, I'm wondering if it might be easier to just migrate everything from the WD to an SSD (other than the install, of course). But then wouldn't a migration just carry all the fragmentation and cruft with it? :confused:

    The more I read on this topic though, the more confused I get. Any direction is appreciated.
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #2
    Aside from the somewhat slower boot times, is it otherwise slow?

    For example, does it take way way longer to launch Safari than is used to? I mean like a minute vs. five or ten seconds. Often a failing hard drive will start to get really really slow as it is dying.

    Take a look at memory and CPU usage.

    Open Activity Monitor and in the memory tab look at the memory pressure at the bottom. Is that in the green like it should be?

    Also look in the CPU tab and sort by CPU%. Anything there consuming high % CPU?
     
  3. R2D2WD macrumors newbie

    R2D2WD

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    #3
    Hi, Drewski

    You are right that it may be time to perform some actions on your drive. I would recommend you to start with a Disk Utility check. Weaselboy has a point, check those activities for some excessive usage. You may need to update your anti virus software and do a complete scan. On the other hand, check if you have some software doing some background scans or updates at start up.
    Talking about a SSD drive, it really could be a noticeable upgrade. I would recommend you to go for it, but the truth is that your drive may not be failing. Try copying some large files from one location to another. If the process is slower than usual, without any excessive usage on the Monitor, I would advise you to do a data backup.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1544280 – I recommend you to check this topic.

    Hope this helps
     
  4. Drewski thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Thanks for responding. Overall, the computer is slower than it was. Firing up iTunes, iPhoto, and especially iMovie takes longer these days. I gave up on Safari a while ago due to too many beachballs, crashes, blank screens. Chrome and Firefox work fine for me.

    The memory pressure display seems within normal range and is green, 0 on the swap and as usual the big memory / cpu user is kernel task and/or Vmware, although I don't run a VM often. So nothing seems out of order on the surface. This makes me wonder if a fresh install will help. I know "defrag isn't required like in Windows" but I can't imagine that an HD with 4 years of continual use doesn't get messy even if the hardware itself is fine. As I mentioned, I'm apprehensive to try though as I'm not sure how to reliably keep a hold of all the data and apps I want, while ditching the inevitable crap that has accumulated in 4 years.
     
  5. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    #5
    Also download the free utility EtreCheck and run. Anything that shows up in red is not compatible and needs to be manually deleted, the reboot.
     
  6. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #6
    I'm not a big proponent of the clean install as a fix for things. If you don't really know what you are doing, you can lose data and it can be a lot of work.

    Try running the utility sat comer mentioned and post the results up here. That will show any utilities or startup items you have running that may be slowing things down.

    It bothers me that Safari won't run properly, but other browsers do. Do you have any extensions installed in Safari?

    Also, try giving this adware removal tool a run and tell us if it finds anything.
     
  7. Drewski thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Satcomer - I forgot to mention the Etrecheck results; I have been using it for a while, and the results are not significant. The only red message is that the 1TB external HD used for Time Machine is too small. I don't have too much running at Startup, and the few things that run are safe (backblaze, CCC, Scansnap, Google Drive, Mint).

    Weaselboy - I haven't used Safari in a couple years. I had one too many hiccups that seemed unnecessary, so I tried out the other big names. I got used to Chrome and I'm content with its performance, so I never bothered going back. FWIW, I have more extensions installed in Chrome. I'm much less of an Apple fan than a computer pragmatist; I go with whatever works best. Ironically, one of the reasons I jumped to the Mac (long startup/shutdown times) is the reason for my initial inquiry here. While it isn't reason enough to try a different system, it seems to indicate some issue that did not exist previously. And with no glaringly obvious red flag, hardware or software-wise, I fall back to my old (and possibly incorrect) Windows catch-all solution: the hard drive is clogged up with crud and needs to be "reset."

    I do like reading your posts as they are logical, sensible and mainly devoid of the emotional attachment to all things Apple, like so much of the conversation on MR contains. So I'm curious, why the opposition to a clean install? I could see that as a problem for a real computer-illiterate, but assuming an average or slightly better level of literacy, wouldn't a clean install be a good option if other obvious solutions don't apply? I've used that option many, many times on previous Windows machines, but I was much more used to them. I'm a bit unclear on how to keep all the pertinent ones and zeroes from the Mac's storage, while ditching the junk.

    Of course, that in itself is a testament to the Mac & OS: I haven't had to try this in 4 years. :cool:
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #8
    It is not so much that I am completely opposed to it, but I just get scared when I see threads where someone says "my Mac is doing XX" and two of the next four posts tell the user to do a "clean install" without any effort to get to the underlying problem or find out if the user even understands exactly how to do a clan install without data/settings loss.

    The way OS X is setup, it is fairly easy to get it back very close to a state like a clean install for troubleshooting purposes and I just find that that gets the job done most of the time.

    Here is how I look at the troubleshooting process. If things were humming along just fine for weeks on end, then all of a sudden got really slow, it pretty much is one of two things. You installed something that broke your Mac, or if you did not install anything, you have a hardware (or imminent hardware) failure. A failing hard drive is a very common one here. They start to get really really slow before they die, sometimes with no other symptoms.

    I am not saying people that report a clean install fixed things are lying. I just think in doing the clean install they got rid of troublemaking software we could have removed without the clean install.

    If you have nothing but iCloud data and some files in the Documents folder, you can get a clean install done fairly quickly. But I have a ton of customization and other data that would take me hours and hours of work to manually put back.

    I have couple more ideas to try if you are up for it? :)

    How about try a safe mode boot by holding the shift key at startup. That bypasses all startup and login items and can eliminate that as the cause. If things get better in safe mode, that tells you it is a startup/login item (listed in Etrecheck) causing trouble.

    Also, you can try making a new, temp admin account then login to that and see if things improve. That will eliminate any settings in your user account as the issue.
     
  9. Drewski thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    Ok, safe mode boot up time: (start up tone to activity online) 7:17 :eek:
    On the other hand, the shut down time dropped to about 0:06 :D

    Login via new admin account: 1:21, shut down still under 0:10.

    So... looks like I have some startup clean-up to do.
     
  10. Drewski thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Thanks, unfortunately I haven't kept a log of speeds over the life of this drive, but I think the speed is off the results I saw at Tom's Hardware tests. Or not. I'm not sure. WD1001FALS

    [​IMG]
     

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