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Thread: Running Slow

  1. #1


    Member Since
    Apr 09, 2008
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    1
    Running Slow
    Hi-
    I am running a Mac Pro with a 3GHz Dual- Core Intel Xeon processor with 4 GB of RAM running Leopard. I have 3 internal 500 GB hard drives that all have about 200 GB free, and two external 500 GB drives connected by firewire that have about 400 GB free each. I run programs such as Final Cut Studio and Adobe CS 3 normally on this computer and I havent had problems until recently. Now the computer is running much slower and it constantly makes a sound like it is accessing a hard drive trying to find something. I believe this started happening after i did the most recent firmware update. I have tried all the normal troubleshooting techniques(rebooting, deleting cache, repair permissions, etc) and nothing will fix it. I have checked system processes and the amount of RAM used seems to be normal (never exceeds 2 GB of RAM in use). And the CPU usage does not go any higher than about 13% when launching programs and when idle is at about 6%. My next step is to reinstall OSX, but before I did that I wanted to see if I was missing something else that i can do...thank you.

  2. #2

    mac57's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 29, 2006
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    Specs:
    iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, 256 GB SSD, 2 TB HDD, 8 GB RAM
    Well, here is my standard set of steps to "tune up" a poorly performing Mac. You might wish to run this list through before re installing:

    First, check that your processor is running full speed. In Tiger at least, go to Preferences, Energy Saver, Options and look at the drop box down near the bottom called Processor Performance. If it is not set to "Highest", set it to that right away. This maximizes performance, but for notebooks, it may run down the battery faster. Note that not all Macs have this setting - my certainly my PowerMac G5 tower does, but not all Macs do. For Leopard, the preference panel is a bit different in this regard, but poke around and make sure that you are set up for optimum performance, not optimum battery life.

    Next, for Intel Macs, fire up Activity Monitor and check for any processes running that are PPC not Intel (this is shown in one of the rightmost columns of the Processes display). If you are routinely running a background process of perhaps even a widget that is PPC, that process is running under Rosetta and that is consuming more CPU. You might wish to upgrade it to a Universal Binary, or replace it with something else.

    Next, download OnyX and run the complete set of clean up and maintenance scripts and then evaluate again. Get OnyX at:

    http://www.titanium.free.fr/pgs/english.html

    Next, you may wish to check that you have enough free space on your hard drive. Highlight the Macintosh HD icon on your desktop, CTL-click it and select Get Info from the resulting menu. Make sure you have a reasonable amount of space left. If not, a little spring cleaning may be in order.

    There are two excellent apps for showing where all of your hard disk space has gone, Disk Inventory X and WhatSize. Get them at:

    Disk Inventory X: http://www.derlien.com

    WhatSize: http://www.id-design.com/software/whatsize

    Both do a great job at letting you zero in on your largest disk space consumers, so that you can hunt down any rogue files (and both are freeware, which is good).

    Finally, it is possible you may have some processes running that are consuming a lot of idle CPU, thus slowing down your machine overall. I had a bad widget that did this once. Open Activity Monitor and look at your "resting" CPU occupancy when you are not doing anything in particular with the machine. It should be pretty much zero (maybe 1% to 2% at most). If it not, identify the process or processes that are taking the time. What are they? Do you recognize them? Are they needed?

    If you find one that is not needed, kill it and see how your machine starts to behave. If this is the cure, you will need to identify the startup item that launches it and delete it.

    So, in summary then, take the following steps in order:
    1/ Start with ensuring that your processor speed setting is full (applies to many Macs but not all)
    2/ For Intel Macs, check for PPC processes and potentially prune them out
    3/ Do Onyx based full maintenance
    4/ Check that you have sufficient available disk space
    5/ Search for processes that are consuming an unexpected amount of CPU

    A final thought. If you routinely leave your web browser running when you are not using it, and have it open at a "busy" page like Mac-Forums, you will find that the Flash-based animated ads on the page consume a ridiculous amount of CPU time. If you want to leave your web browser loaded and running all the time, try pointing it a peaceful page like Google's basic search page - no ads, no unusual CPU consumption. This may help as well.
    My Macs: iMac 27" 3.4 GHz, Mac Pro 3.2 GHz, PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 GHz, G4 Cube with 1.2 GHz Upgrade
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    My OS': Mac OS X Lion, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Mac OS X Tiger, Mac OS 9.2.2, openSUSE 10.3
    I was on the Mac-Forums honor roll for September 2007

  3. #3

    bryphotoguy's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 02, 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
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    3,978
    Specs:
    Quad 2.8GHz Mac Pro, Edge iPhone
    Quote Originally Posted by mac57 View Post
    First, check that your processor is running full speed. In Tiger at least, go to Preferences, Energy Saver, Options and look at the drop box down near the bottom called Processor Performance. If it is not set to "Highest", set it to that right away. This maximizes performance, but for notebooks, it may run down the battery faster. Note that not all Macs have this setting - my certainly my PowerMac G5 tower does, but not all Macs do. For Leopard, the preference panel is a bit different in this regard, but poke around and make sure that you are set up for optimum performance, not optimum battery life.
    I've never seen such a thing on Intel desktops. I just checked and there is no processor setting in preferences.

    If you are running 3- 500GB HD's and have a total of 200GB free, that's not a lot of free space. I think the HD's experience slow down when they're 60% full. But you made it sound like they were that full before the firmware update.

    I didn't notice a thing after I updated last week. It seems like you did all of what I would have tried. Mac57 is quite the expert on keeping Macs running efficient. Hope his advice helps.

    January 2008 Member of the Month

  4. #4
    I experience the same problem here with my Mac Pro. I followed all the tipps from mac57 but it is still slow.
    It is the same "searching sound" of the hdd. I guess on the weekend I will disable two of the three hdds to see which one makes the sound.

  5. #5


    Member Since
    May 18, 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    34
    Specs:
    MacPro quad-core 2.66gHz, Leopard, 9gb RAM, one 250gb, two 500gb and three 1tb internal SATA drives
    Reinstall OS X
    We took our MacPro the Genius Bar at the Apple store recently for performance problems and other issues and they advised us to reset the OS by re-running the Leopard install DVD but warned not to erase files. Afterwards, we re-installed the latest OS X upgrade to bring it back to where it was. We didn't notice improvements but it might work better for you.

    We primarily run CS3 and, per instructions from Photoshop people, we set the Photoshop Preferences/Performance to use 79% of the 9gb of RAM. Because of this, we try not to run too many other applications that are restricted to run in the remaining 21% of RAM. Also, we have a large area of internal disk space set aside exclusively for Photoshop scratch files.

    We shut off background applications that we don't need such as Widgets.

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