Slow MacBook = frustrating

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by alt75, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. alt75 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm sorry I know this has probably been discussed before but I'm hoping someone can at least point me in the right direction. I have a 2GHz MacBook with 2GB RAM and I find I get the beach ball quite often while doing nothing (usually in Firefox but also in other programs). I also find Office for mac is really really slow at loading up, so much so I have ditched it and got iWork '08 last week - but still to find that loading up the programs is painfully slow - 20-30 seconds!

    This doesn't help me in my attempts to convince my mate to switch...

    I used to Quit programs whenever I was not using them, thinking that would keep the RAM free and quick but I found it more annoying than anything because when I DO need to open something I have to wait again.

    I thought getting 2GB of RAM was over the top and I would have no problems like this. So I wonder if it is something I might be doing wrong.

    I went into Activity Monitor. I don't know what any of this really means but I know you people like to know Page ins/outs so these are my numbers: 530846/304379. I have 944MB 'wired', 713MB active, 366MB inactive and only 28MB free. Again, none of this means anything to me but I suppose 28MB free sounds like not very much.

    And I found that some program called kernel_task is gobbling up 212MB of my RAM and I don't know what it is. I want to quit it but I am afraid I might wreck something since i don't know what it does.

    At the moment I am running a few programs simultaneously, i.e. Parallels, Adobe Acrobat, Firefox, NoteBook, Numbers, Pages, iTunes, Google desktop and Virtue desktops as well as a few widgets. Like I said above i realise this is a lot of programs to be running simultaneously but most are idle and just open so that when I do need something I don't have to wait 20-30 seconds for it to open.

    Besides, the same problems happen when I have only one or two programs open.

    My questions:
    1. Is there something simple I can do to speed my computer up?
    2. Do I need to shut down/restart more often? At the moment I usually just close the lid and perhaps restart once a week.
    3. Should I QUIT my programs when I'm not immediately using them? Problem is it just takes so darned long to reopen them afterwards.


    I have taken a snapshot of my activity monitor window in case there is anything else I am missing. I note Firefox is really very greedy, not sure if this is normal for Firefox? Problem is, I much prefer it to Safari because a few webpages I need don't work that well with Safari, e.g. my Outlook web access doesn't let me scroll when I am typing an email, and The Age (Australian news) website doesn't work that well, neither does Yahoo Mail beta. They all work better in Firefox but if Firefox is the cause of my problems then I'll have to try another browser.

    Thanks in advance for your sagely advice

    And if there is a thread somewhere that answers all of these questions I'd be most grateful if you could point me in the right direction.

    Spin.
     

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  2. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Utopia
    #2
    I just googled "kernel_task" and came up with a bunch of stuff.

    One interesting post I found was “Are you guys running an HP printer or scanner on your macs? I am, and that thing has caused me no end of trouble in terms of hogging resources. The HP device seems to cause some sort of polling of the USB ports, running up the kernel_task memory requirements. Try searching for an HP Communication or some sort of HP scan activity and quitting it. The kernel_task memory might not drop down immediately, but I think you’ll notice system response is snappy once again.”

    Seems like a lot of stuff can cause this. Are you running Parallels?
     
  3. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Utopia
    #3
    Open up your Console in your Utilities folder and see what's being written to your Console.log.
     
  4. alt75 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #4
    Thanks, Frisco.

    I do have a HP printer at home but I barely ever use it (that's what work printers are for!). I might uninstall that and see what happens.

    Oh and in response to your other questions - yes I am running Parallels and I do find it gets a lot worse with Parallels, even though I only assigned 512MB to the virtual machine, leaving (I thought) 1.5MB of RAM for my Mac.

    I checked console - there's heaps on the log - it doesn't all look like error stuff though, just activities like to say I have changed my status on Skype, etc.

    Thanks again. I will try to uninstall the printer and see if that makes a difference.

    Spin
     
  5. sparkyms macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #5
    Looking at your activity monitor. Looks like Parallels is causing a little trouble. Have a look at the CPU usage it has.. 105%?!

    Also, are you running mega amounts of tabs in Firefox? It's using almost a GB in Virtual Memory?

    Your macbook is not a supercomputer, and its certainly not a powerhorse.
    x
     
  6. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Utopia
    #6
    Clear the Console Log and see if anything is continually being written to it.

    Also install OnyX and run all the maintenance scripts.
     
  7. alt75 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #7
    Thanks, Sparky. I do notice a big difference when Parallels is running, but the machine still doesn't run as smoothly as I'd expect even if Parallels is off.

    With Firefox - I had 3 tabs open I think - that figure really did make me raise an eyebrow too. I am thinking I might give Safari another chance and put up with the few incompatibilities. I really like the plug ins with Firefox but the memory it is using is just ridiculous!
     
  8. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #8
    Parallels is your problem, it's using 105% of your CPU power- that's all of one core and 5% of the other.
     
  9. alt75 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #9
    Thanks. Any idea why it might be doing this, and how i can stop it from happening (I still unfortunately need Parallels at work). I thought I had limited it to 512MB RAM.

    Really appreciate everyone's help!
     
  10. Luigi239 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    #10
    You may want to download a trial of VMware Fusion. Fusion uses alot less system resources then Parallels does.
     
  11. WannaGoMac macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    #11

    Piece of advice, switch to VMware Fusion. Parallels is known to use MUCH more CPU than VMWare
     
  12. alt75 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #12
    Thanks to everyone for replying. I am a bit reluctant to change to VMware because I already have everything I want/need installed on parallels, not to mention that I'm not keen on forking out another $80 for VMware. I will see how I go with using Safari instead of Firefox, and opening Parallels only when necessary.

    PS does anyone know if I can stop the "kernel_task" process safely?
     
  13. iBunny macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #13
    As many said, parallels is your problem. Its taking up 105% of your available "200%" of your CPU.

    It has already been mentioned, however I find VM Ware Fusion to be superior to parrallels. I would go that route unless you already have dropped 80$ for Parrallels.

    Also, It seems you have alot of programs open at once that you arent using, I would close them.

    Despite what people say, 2GB of ram really isnt enough anymore. I find that I can go through 4 GB quickly myself.... espically when we are Multitasking and Virtulilizing Windows.
     
  14. WannaGoMac macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    #14
    You can migrate/port the Parallels image to VMWare so you don't have to re-install anything. Also it is $60 after rebate. Considering how much time you have lost trying to get Parallels to work right, I would think spending some money is less expensive than spending more of your time?

    P.s. You can also ebay your copy of Parallels...
     
  15. sparkyms macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #15
    I'm also pretty sure you don't want to end Kernal_Task either.
    Heres a quote i found on a thread on macosxhints.com:

    "The "kernel_task" is the core of the OS. It handles everything from managing multi-tasking to networking. When it is busy, that is usually because it is doing something at the request of one or more applications - which often are idle, waiting for the kernel to finish servicing their requests."

    so its important.
     

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