That dang beachball is chasing me!

Discussion in 'macOS High Sierra (10.13)' started by heycal, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. heycal macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 25, 2013
    #1
    Hi Folks -

    I've got a 13" Mac Air, mid-2013, 1.3 GHz Intel Core i5. I'm using High Sierra, 10.13.3. I don't really know what any of that means, being both older and ignorant of tech stuff. I also don't know much about these two images I've posted, but I think they are of import in maybe figuring out my problem.

    And that problem is this: A few months ago, the beachball starting showing up, and lately the problem has gotten much worse. The computer just basically freezes for a bit whilst typing an email in yahoo or working on Final Draft screenplay software, the two main things I use this for. Usually the beachball makes an apperance at these times as well. Sometimes I'll type a few words and nothing happens at first, and like 30 seconds later the words spit out on the screen in an extremely delayed reaction.

    Is there any chance a fool like me who hears RAM and thinks of an animal can address this problem on my own, or am I sentenced to a trip the Mac Store? Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 3.43.16 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 3.43.16 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 12.18.27 PM.png Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 3.43.16 PM.png
     
  2. treekram macrumors 68000

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    Honolulu HI
    #2
    The OP originally posted about their problem in an older thread in the Sierra forum so I suggested they come here. In that post, I thought both the free disk space and RAM usage was not ideal, but should be OK. I then suggested that the CPU usage in Activity Monitor be looked at when there was a problem.

    I suggested a possible trip to the Genius Bar but the OP would like to see if it can be solved through this forum.

    So, for the OP, post the results of the CPU utilization when you're having a problem - but it has to show a process(es) with a consistently high CPU utilization to be of any help. If you don't observe that over a period of time when you're having the beachball problems, report that back and we can suggest something else.
     
  3. heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 25, 2013
    #3
    So if I'm understanding you right, next time I have the problem, quickly check the activity monitor, then the CPU tab, and screenshot it?
     
  4. Honza1 macrumors regular

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    US
    #4
    Hello,
    to check the CPU tab just leave the activity monitor open so it can be seen. It is possible that even that will simply lock, though.

    I have had some beach balling when I had errors on hard drive. I would try to run Disk Utility and perform First aid on your drive. It may not be fixable while it is used as boot disk, but at least you will figure out if that is the problem. If it is problem - and if it cannot be fixed while running, you may need to boot from different disk and repair it.

    IMPORTANT- FIRST: You do have current, reliable, backup? If not, get it first and NOW. At least Time Machine, preferably Carbon Copy cloners (or Disk duper).

    Personally, I would try to offload some files from the SSD drive to give it more working space. ~15% is getting low. Buy one of those customized SD cards which hide in the slot and you can get even 250Gb of (slower) storage for something like $100 or so. Offload what does not need to have fast access. I did this for my daughter and placed whole iTunes library there.
     
  5. treekram macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2015
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    Honolulu HI
    #5
    Yes - if there are processes which have a high % over a sustained period of time (some processes may have a quick burst of high % utilization but quickly diminish - you're not likely to be able to screenshot that anyway).

    What the previous post suggests (drive problem) is a possibility as well. It's more likely for a hard-drive than a SSD but it is a possibility. Moving files to an external drive, at least temporarily to see if it's a problem, is something you may want to do but if you don't have an external drive handy, you need to get one and as the post mentions, make sure you have a backup before doing that. I thought about moving the iTunes library off to an external drive as well, but that is a bit of work with no promise that it will solve the issue.
     
  6. FNH15 macrumors 6502

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    Apr 19, 2011
    #6
    My SSD in my late 2013 just died, and it was having issues similar to the OPs, despite being a much more powerful machine. The issues were resolved after the drive was replaced (by Apple, under extended warranty).

    OP, try opening Disk Utility (in the "other" folder in Launchpad), and try verifying your internal drive. Can't hurt.
     
  7. oldhifi macrumors 65816

    oldhifi

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    Jan 12, 2013
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    USA
    #7
    I have High Sierra on my Imac and El Captain on my MBP, I only get the beach ball on High Sierra
     
  8. Honza1 macrumors regular

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    US
    #8
    This has nothing to do with High Sierra vs El Cap. I do not have beach balling on either of my machines (4 machines together) independent of OSX version (HS, ElCap, Sierra). Except in case of some application going crazy, beach ball is typically hardware problem or system corruption problem. Any version of OSX has about same chance of seeing beach balling. Assuming you are runnign release versions (and ideally not .0 or .1 versions).
    In my experience, after fixing any possible disk drive problems, next step is reinstall (in place is usually fine), and if that does not help, then it is usually hardware problem (trip to Apple Store).

    All of the above should be done ONLY after having proper backup. Even Disk Utilities testing - it puts more stress on disk and that (may be) can accelerate failure. Why risk it? Backup, check backup, and then start anything else.
     
  9. heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 25, 2013
    #9
    Thanks, guys. I believe I do have Time Machine and this thing: "Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Slim Portable External USB 3.0 Hard Drive". (Not that I'm an expert at using either of them...) So is this enough to begin attempting some of the trouble-shooting measures suggested above? If so, I will give it go if I can understand what you are guys are saying:) You folks know your stuff!
     
  10. treekram macrumors 68000

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    Honolulu HI
    #10
    I like to have two backups of different types but that's a personal preference. However another backup would require another external HDD. Before doing the Disk Utility thing, please check the following. Run System Preferences. In the 4th row of items should be "Time Machine". Click on that. You can either post a screenshot or just type what you see for the following: the amount available on your backup disk, when your last backup was and when the next backup is scheduled (or if you have automatic backups off).
     
  11. Asliceofpie, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    Asliceofpie macrumors newbie

    Asliceofpie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2017
    #11
    When I encounter this problem now I know what to do to fix it based on prior help from the Apple Care Support team. First I check the Activity Monitor (click on launchpad and click on "Other" to open, then find and click on Activity Monitor) and click on the Memory Tab. If you see memory pressure (the green bar) is midway or higher you need to do some maintenance to clean up how many files are sitting in Ram and making it difficult on the system to do it's job swiftly (it's bogged down). As we put more stuff on our machine that is running in the background etc. it just gets progressively worse over time. So here's what I learned to do when I recognize the symtoms and the activity monitor confirms memory usage is high.

    IMAC (2013) Sys Maint - macOS Sierra 10.13
    Clean Caches -
    1. Open Finder
    2. Click Go Menu Bar
    3. Hold down “Opions” on keyboard and click Library
    4. find Caches and double click on it
    5. Hold down “Command” & letter “a” this highlights files
    6. Click Action gear and click “move to Trash” this clears Cashes
    Safari
    1. Clear History
    2. Clear Cookies
    Once your done with the above, do a complete shut down (not a restart) and turn off your PC and unplug. After a few minutes, plug back in and press the on button to turn on your computer and let it load everything nice and clean. You will be amazed at how well your computer functions after this procedure. This is something you will need to do once in a while so keep these instructions handy for the future because this problem will reappear again sooner or later. I guess if you upgrade your computer's memory or remove stuff to free up memory that will also help too.

    A quick note, I don't remember having this problem prior to installing Sierra...that's why continuing to upgrade to a newer OS every time another one comes out will eventually lead to operating problems as it needs more resources and not as comparable with an older machine. So then you just have to except it may be better to just leave well enough alone except for updating the browser.
     
  12. heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 25, 2013
    #12
    Btw, another thing I've noticed is dramatically increased battery drain in the last month. This coincided with me putting imessage on my computer and using it fairly frequently, so I sort of attributed it to that. But I just checked under "Energy saver" and there is a yellow caution flag and the message "Battery conditon. Replace soon."

    I backed up last night. It says 720GB of 1TB available.


    One of the reasons I finally updated to High Sierra three months three months ago was because I was seeing the beachball a little more often, so probably not a factor in my case.

    Here are some memory screen shots from this morning.The less green one was when I first starting using the computer this morning, the next one, with more green, when I began experiencing beachball and sluggishness after a 1/2 hour or so. Around that same time there was a moment it showed mostly yellow, with a red line here and there, and just a sliver of green, but I didn't get a chance to
    capture it.

    1stss.png 2ss.png
     
  13. FNH15 macrumors 6502

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    Apr 19, 2011
    #13
    You’re running out of RAM- not a whole lot you can do on an Air, unfortunately. What browser are you using?
     
  14. heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 25, 2013
    #14
    Safari 11.0.3. I believe it happens with Chrome too.

    When you say there's not much I can do, does that mean I'll need a new computer soon?
     
  15. bbnck, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    bbnck macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 19, 2009
    #15
    Yes unfortunately so. You can't upgrade the memory in a MacBook Air as the modules are soldered in place. We are all hoping new MacBook Air models are introduced this year, hopefully this month or in June. You may wish to wait until then to see if new MacBook Air models are introduced. Just be aware that some Macs don't come with full size USB ports which you may be relying on, so make sure you take some advice from people here when you are planning your next Mac purchase.

    When your Mac runs out of memory (RAM), it will start using the hard drive or SSD to store the data it would usually store in RAM, but this is slower. When a computer starts doing this, it's called paging to disk. However, the SSD in your MacBook Air is fast so even when it starts paging to disk, there shouldn't be a dramatic reduction in overall performance that you might notice with a mechanical hard drive, but it will still certainly be noticeable. I probably wouldn't go as far as to say it could cause long beachballs, but it might cause a sudden beachball here and there as it tries to retrieve data from the SSD.

    What I would suggest doing is freeing up some space on your SSD. You can get macOS to make some recommendations for you to consider by launching the Storage Management app. You can open it by navigating to the Apple menu and selecting the About This Mac menu option. From the window that appears, select the Storage tab and click the button labelled Manage...

    In the Storage Management utility, click each item on the left side to see what apps and files you might not need. Some items such as movies and TV programmes purchased on iTunes can take a lot of space and because you can easily re-download these purchases from iTunes, they might make the biggest difference to the total storage space you can reclaim.
     
  16. treekram macrumors 68000

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    Location:
    Honolulu HI
    #16
    Regarding your RAM usage, it depends on what happens over time. If it's like your initial graph (all green) most of the time, you should be OK. If it's yellow/red when you're experiencing the beachball, then the 4GB RAM you have is a limiting factor. The MBA's now come standard with 8GB - Apple knows that's a more realistic number with their current macOS.

    Another factor is your battery. If the battery isn't fully healthy, the system will do things to protect the battery - mainly in the form of slowing down your computer. This may or may not be a factor in the beachballs. The "battery service" (replacement if Apple deems so) for the MBA is $129. Considering this and the fact that you can't upgrade the RAM and it's limitations, maybe you should consider a new machine. As mentioned in the previous post, there's a possibility of a new machine "soon". But there are also pretty good deals on the current MBA. An Apple-refurbished (typically a computer the customer returned) 13" MBA with 8GB and 128GB SSD is $809, the faster model is $849. I think these are pretty popular so they're not always available from Apple. To get the 256GB SSD is $160 more. If you can live with your iTunes library on an SDXC card as suggested in one of the posts, maybe you don't need 128GB. A new MBA may not have the SDXC slot - the current MBP doesn't have it.
     
  17. oldhifi macrumors 65816

    oldhifi

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    USA
    #17

    WRONG !! many articles on High Sierra beachball on the web
     
  18. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #18
    As mentioned, there is two things problematic in your setup.

    1. Your RAM is insufficient.
    2. Your SSD space is insufficient.

    You can try to clean up the SSD and delete some stuff off of it (after making MULTIPLE backups, not just one Time Machine backup), but that doesn't solve your RAM issue.

    It's time to start thinking about getting a new machine, which is too bad, because I'm guessing your CPU is fine for what you do. For a new machine, a 256 GB SSD plus 8 GB RAM might be enough, but if you plan on keeping the machine a while, you might want to consider a 512 GB SSD +/- 16 GB RAM, depending on what you actually do or plan on doing with your machine.
     
  19. heycal, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    That's a grim prognosis....

    I just followed your suggestion to clean out some stuff, and have gone from 15GB out of 121 GB available
    to 37GB available. Still acting sluggish though, with a beachball apppearance, even posting this.

    So the consensus seem to be that I need a new computer? I really like the Mac Air and would like to stick with one.

    Regarding the remark about itunes above, I really don't use it much, so could offload I guess if that's easy to do, and would actually help things, but it's not just a band aid maybe not worth it...
     
  20. bbnck, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    bbnck macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    The only other suggestion I have that might help you is to close all apps and run EtreCheck. Run the utility and it will produce a log detailing the apps and processes using the most resources. Post the results here (make sure you remove any personal information from the log that you don't want us to see, such as your name or the devices connected to your Mac). Going through the log, we might be able to identify something specific that's causing the performance issues you are experiencing, but it might well come down to the simple fact that you need a new Mac.
     
  21. treekram macrumors 68000

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    Honolulu HI
    #21
    If you haven't noticed that much of a difference in going from 15GB to 37GB free, disk space is not likely to be a big contributing factor in the beachballs. So you should probably hold off moving the iTunes library.

    Regarding Time Machine, the reason why I asked earlier is that a couple of things can slow down the backup although I don't know how much impact it has on user response. One is if your backup disk is getting full (yours obviously is not). Time Machine will delete the oldest backups at that point but that process takes time. The other is just automatic backups in general. There's good reason for that but it may impact performance.

    There's been a lot of ideas presented here. You need to think about whether you want to spend the time and effort to work through them with no guarantee of resolution of your problems or getting new hardware, which has a pretty good but by no means certain chance of getting the response you want from your computer.
     
  22. heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Thanks, folks. I'll try the suggestions mentioned here and report back. If I do ending up needing a new computer, the current Mac Air's have 8GB RAM, and that should last me for a few years? Though there's a chance a newer model that will last me longer may come out shortly, and try and wait for that if possible? I'm I understanding all that correctly?
     
  23. bbnck, Mar 25, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018

    bbnck macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Yes, that's the working assumption. You will notice a good improvement if you bought a MacBook Air today but there is a possibility Apple are updating the MacBook Air range this month or in June, so it is up to you whether you want to wait until then. It's likely they will still come with just 8 GB RAM, which is actually sufficient for most people.

    According to synthetic benchmarks, here is the performance difference between the 1.3 GHz MacBook Air (which you have) and a 1.8 GHz MacBook Air available today (ignore the second line of each window in the screenshots below):

    Single Core Performance (39% faster):

    Singlecore-Score.png

    Multi Core Performance (33% faster):

    Multicore-Score.png

    Just bear in mind these are synthetic benchmarks and are not usually representative of real world use, but can provide a baseline of what to expect.
     
  24. Asliceofpie macrumors newbie

    Asliceofpie

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    Mar 20, 2017
    #24
    Not necessarily, what it means is you have open more applications than your ram can hold at one time and you are not shutting down your system to allow operating files to clear out of Ram. Shutting down completely regularly is something that seems to of gone by the way side as people keep their machines running 24/7. Unless you have a huge amount of ram compared to what you run or need, then you can expect slowing issues.
     
  25. heycal thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 25, 2013
    #25
    I do use press the "shut down" button almost every night when I go to bed, so maybe it's not that in my case.

    Another weird thing, to me anyway: when, following some of the troubleshooting steps posted by a poster above and attempting to clear cookies, it didn't seem to really work. Many of them appear to be be stubborn to take the hint to get lost. For example, I've tried "remove all" and removing individually, a number of times, and there's still some that refuse to leave the party. Accuweather, for one, keeps hanging around, along with 115 or so others. After shutting down and starting up again a few minutes later, if I press the 'accuweather' bar in my favorites, it gives me the weather for my location. I would think a successful removal would clear out my hometown info like that, no?

    I've removed cookies in the past successfully I believe, so this is puzzling to me.
     

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