Unbelievably slow Mac mini

network23

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 18, 2002
278
4
Illinois
I'm needing some help troubleshooting my Mac mini.

Symptoms:
  • It takes at least 3 minutes to get past the white Apple logo screen when booting up. Once the white screen disappears, it's another 4 minutes before I reach the desktop.
  • I tried backing up my iPhoto library (27GB) to an external FW drive. It started fast, but then quickly slowed down to ~0.1 MB/sec and then stopped after 250-270 MB transferred with an error (-50 I think)
  • I then connected my Mac mini to my MacBook Pro in Target Disk Mode and tried again. Speed of the transfer of my iPhoto library was highly variable. Sometimes, it was transferring at ~0.1 MB/sec. My 27 GB library took 1.5 hours to transfer.
  • Transfer speeds to my network drive were also highly variable, transferring from around 1 MB a second to maybe 20 seconds per MB.
  • Safari can take 30 seconds or more to boot up.
  • Sometimes it can take over 15 seconds to view the contents of a subdirectory with only 5 items in it.
  • Copying a 117 MB file to the same directory on the Mac min takes over a minute!
  • Downloading files off the internet is as fast as I expect it to be.

System Specs
  • Mac mini "Core 2 Duo" 2.0 (Early 2009)
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 48 GB free disk space

Any ideas where to start troubleshooting?

FYI, I may not be able to do any diagnostics from the install DVD, as the Superdrive hasn't been accepting discs for a while.

I repaired permissions while writing this post. Around 160 Disk Utility screens of repairs completed.

Thanks!
 

stridemat

Moderator
Staff member
Apr 2, 2008
11,180
595
UK
Before we start do you have a back up of your data? It sounds like it could be a failing HDD.

Can you temporality create a new User Account to see if the problems persist in the new account and post back.
 

cMacSW

macrumors regular
Mar 20, 2006
180
0
Here's what I'd suggest, use disk utils to check the disk, look at the login items for the account, see if there is something there you don't expect or want. Then look at the activity monitor. Like the previous poster said sounds like a disk problem.
 

network23

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 18, 2002
278
4
Illinois
Before we start do you have a back up of your data? It sounds like it could be a failing HDD.

Can you temporality create a new User Account to see if the problems persist in the new account and post back.
Yes, I do have all the important data backed up.

I created a new account and am now trying to copy a large file down from my network drive...been "preparing" for a couple minutes now.

Took a folder of 8600 items totaling 6.5GB of space and copied it to the new account. It took about 7.5 minutes to transfer over gigabit ethernet. Not horrible.
 
Last edited:

network23

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 18, 2002
278
4
Illinois
Startup time is still astonishingly slow. I still want to test it with a larger file over Firewire and see how long that takes.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,427
762
Startup time is still astonishingly slow. I still want to test it with a larger file over Firewire and see how long that takes.
What do you have showing for the first 3 items on the Performance Tips list I posted?
 

CausticPuppy

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2012
1,483
18
Transferring iPhoto or Aperture libraries is a bad way to test drive throughput-- remember that they are essentially folders that contain many many small files. I remember it took a long time (30 minutes or so) to copy my iPhoto library to my NAS over gigabit ethernet. It was so slow I thought my NAS was having problems. Try copying a large movie file or something instead.

However, your boot time and Safari load times indicate a problem; try doing some of the common performance tips that others have posted.
 

network23

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 18, 2002
278
4
Illinois
What do you have showing for the first 3 items on the Performance Tips list I posted?
Login Items are 2 partitions from the network drive, iTunes and Plex Media Server.

LaunchAgents are Logitech Control Center for the wireless mouse, LogMeIn and a PlexApp helper.

StartupItems are Candelair and EyeConnect.

----------

Can you run Apple Hardware Test and see if it finds anything? I recommend checking the "Perform extended testing" box for the test. (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1509?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US)
I tried running the hardware test. Starting the mini with "D" held down did nothing. It booted as normal (still slowly). And the SuperDrive is not reading my install DVD.
 

network23

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 18, 2002
278
4
Illinois
Update: I just tried again, copying 10 video files from my external FW drive. Over 8.5 GB took 6.5 minutes. Not sure if that okay or slow for a FW800 connection.
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,960
120
Quick math time....

8.5GB * 1024 (GB to MB conversion) * 8 (bytes to bits) / 360 (seconds) = 193.4 mbps. Not terrible. Top speed for firewire 800 is 800 mpbs but that's only theoretical and depends greatly on the hard drives involved and the size of files.
 

network23

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 18, 2002
278
4
Illinois
Okay. Took the mini in to the Apple Store. They ran a diagnostic and found the hard drive is indeed going bad. :(

Bad news is, I can't afford to replace it right now -- and since it's an Early 2009 model, I really don't want to spend the money on a replacement hard drive when that money can go towards a newer mini.

So, I had an external FW800 drive which now has OS X and I'm running that from the mini and the slow problems are solved.

And here's my next question...

Even though I have set the external drive to be the Startup Disk in System Preferences, if I reboot, the mini finds the valid System on the mini HD and boots (tries) from that.

Is there an easy way to set/tell the mini that the OS X on the internal drive is not one it should ever try to boot from?


Thanks!
 

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