2009 MBP stalling/running slowly

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hey guys, was wondering if someone could help me with a problem i've been having for the past 1.5 - 2 weeks, i'll try to specify problems as much as i can but its probably going to sound like some vague hardware issue:

i used to be able to run 7-10 applications without any delay, but now if i run multiple programs [ie - skype, safari, word, itunes] i will get the rainbow spinwheel, sometimes this resolves after i leave it for a min or 2, sometimes it doenst, and i have to restart my laptop (by holding down the power key). sometimes even if i am surfing the web, while a site is loading the spinwheel appears. other times my laptop will just freeze w/o warning [however i can move the mouse, but hovering it over the dock produces no results like the magnification or clicking on them cannot open any). even while typing this i get the spinwheel. yesterday when using itunes to play music the music randomly started skipping for no apparent reason, adn then when i restarted it was stuck on the screen w/ apple logo for quite some time ( i had to turn it off again by holding the power button)

my mbp info: purchased in aug 2009 with 2.26 GhZ and 4 gigs or RAM, running 10.5.8 OSX (Leopard). I have deleted a bunch of movie files to free up space, but only have about 30 gigs free now.

right now activity monitor says: 730 MB free, 570 MB wired, 1.6 GB Wired, 820 MB inactive, ~3 GB Used.
---not sure why 3 gb are being used bc right now i only have safari, and activity monitor open

when the problem first arose and i searched google/this forum i realized my laptop was Indexing which was slowing everything down immensely through processes such as 'mds' and 'mdworker'

i now try to keep my open apps to a minimum but still run into the problem if my laptop is on too long (meaning more than 6 hrs, even tho i used to be able to keep it running for days at a time w/o issues)...and keep my downloading of music/movies low as well. i was planning on upgrading my ram to 8 gigs soon, but am now wondering if i should backup my harddrive and reformat my osx. this problem is strange bc sometimes my mbp runs smoothly but then all of a sudden runs very erratically and stalls (even something as small as right-clicking causes delay/spinwheel)
hope someone can help, i'll try to answer any questions or list any more details that come up. thanks a ton.
 

chscag

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Your Mac's Specs
2017 27" iMac, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 8, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Mini, Numerous iPods, Monterey
Boot your machine with your Leopard DVD (why haven't you upgraded to at least Snow Leopard?) and run a verify and repair on your hard drive. It sounds like your hard drive may be failing so make sure you use Time Machine to do backups. You might also run the Apple Hardware Test.
 

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