Feb 2014 Update: this issue has been resolved. The problem in my case was a failing hard drive. See my signature for hardware. Using Mac 10.8. I have 4 GB RAM. I have 4 external hard drives hooked to this mac and active processes in the background illustrated below (Activity Monitor). When I took this shot it only appeared like I had about 40% system usage. I have a Snyc program, an Avast Anti-virus. The problem, I seem to be getting lots of spinning beach balls. What else should I check? Thanks!