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  #1  
Old 10-30-2013, 01:56 PM
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Default Apple computer speed questions

H'okay, so, I have a Mac Mini that is a few years old. I love it, but over the last few months it has been getting very slow to process anything. I typically use iTunes, Aperture, iPhoto, and Safari... that's about it. All programs have been updated, and it has the most recent operating system. I'm using the same software that I've been using for years, and am nowhere near the storage limit on the hard drive.

So... how do I speed this thing up? This is my first Mac, and I know with all the old Windows computers I had I would need to clean them out, clear cache, delete temporary internet files, etc. on a regular basis with an occasional spam/virus scan, too. I sort of doubt it's a hardware issue, but adding RAM would be simple enough if that's what needs to happen. Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 10-30-2013, 02:50 PM
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How much RAM do you have now? That could help, but I know some of the mac minis were not the most user friendly for upgrades. So it will depend what version you have.

As far as doing yearly wipes and installs that windows are known for, I don't think that is so much of an issue with macs. If you have a SSD in it, you could possibly need to check TRIM settings to see if that is all working ok, but since it is a couple years old, it is probably not likely.

If you are looking to upgrade, the new haswell chips that intel came out with are supposed to be really nice. I know mac mini isn't the most supported apple product out there, but you might want to look into other small pc form factors. Or you could always go the other way and go balls deep and get a mac pro power tube.
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  #3  
Old 10-30-2013, 03:44 PM
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Mine is the model where they added the door to the bottom of the Mini so that you can quickly access the memory. I'm tempted to do that, even if the computer eventually gets relegated to the entertainment center.
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Old 10-30-2013, 04:16 PM
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Run Activity Monitor (Applications ==> Utilities ==> Activity Monitor.app) to see what is running that is using CPU or disk and bogging down the system. You might have loaded some things on your system that are running in the background.

More memory may or may not help. It depends on how much memory your apps actually use. Activity Monitor will show you. Memory is very cheap and it wouldn't hurt to add more.

If you are still using a standard hard drive, you'll get a big performance boost by upgrading to an SSD. Prices are now very good for 256 GB.
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Old 10-30-2013, 04:46 PM
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Thanks for the advice, guys! I found 8gb worth of memory for it on Amazon for $79 with free shipping, so I've got some on the way. I didn't realize I was running 2gb now until I looked it up. I'll check the activity monitor on it, add the ram, and hopefully that'll resolve any issues.
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  #6  
Old 10-31-2013, 02:38 AM
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I haven't been a Mac guy in a while but I know there are a couple of things you can do to help it. Repair Permissions is one, and I'm pretty sure there are other maintenance things as well. See if you can find a tutorial or something.
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:02 PM
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RAM will make a big improvement (go for 16G if you can). How much disk space is free on the machine?

Repairing permissions can make a big improvement.

And, a little love with maintenance via Onyx can help too: http://www.titanium.free.fr/

You can reset caches, indexes, etc. with that tool - very handy. Be sure to RTFM before using though to understand what the software can do before clicking okay. The basic gist of it is there are automated maintenance routines in OSX (or just about any flavor of *nix) that do not always get to execute when the machine is off, so having a tool like Onyx do that (and with a GUI around it) is not a bad thing. Wouldn't run it all the time, maybe quarterly or so...
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Old 11-04-2013, 01:21 AM
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Hey, not sure how I missed this until now. Good catch on the 2GB up to 8 or 16. 2GB is the "minimum" requirement, but any version of OS X above Snow Leopard (10.6) really needs at lest 4GB to run decently. 8GB gives you some time, but 16 will future proof you even longer.

As far as other issues - are you experiencing pinwheeling? The second really common issue that could cause this is a drive going bad. Hopefully you have a backup. If the pinwheeling still continues after you upgrade the RAM I would highly recommend getting the drive tested using a block-level scan. I use Tech Tool Pro for the company's use as a first line of defense. Every computer we work on gets TTP-ed first before we do any work on it.

Otherwise, I'm sorry to say, but anything permissions-related doesn't do jack for a computer's speed. You only mess with permissions if there is actually a problem with something the computer is doing, and is NOT something an end-user should concern themselves with.

If you upgrade the RAM, and the drive passes the tests, but is still slow, I would recommend taking it somewhere, or you can mail it in to us. I highly doubt you will need to get to any of the steps past the RAM, however. Note: what system are you running? I know you mentioned it's running the "most recent" but Mavericks came out about 2 weeks ago or so, are you on that? (Mavericks is 10.9)

As far as your RAM - make 100% sure it's compatible with your system, If it's not, it either won't fit, or won't boot. You can't cause any problems by installing the wrong RAM - it just won't boot until you get the right RAM back in there. Good luck, and keep us posted!
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2013, 01:30 PM
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I got the RAM in (2x4gb) and immediately noticed a difference. It still seemed just a little slower than I want it to be, so I'll try the link Drew posted and see how that helps. I'm only using about 40% of the available hard drive space, and also have an external hard drive. I noticed that I had to quit the process for the external drive because adding it on top of the other processes was slowing things a lot.

I'll post back up once I've tried the link, and if I still need some extra help. The RAM got me much closer to the speed I want to have out of it. If I can speed it up just a little more I'll be happy, and maybe in the next year or so I can look into saving for a replacement when this is 4-5 years old.

Edit: It's not on Mavericks, but the prior update (Snow Leopard?).
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  #10  
Old 11-04-2013, 01:43 PM
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That program "running" the external drive is unnecessary most of the time unless its the WD utility that unlocks your drive if it's encrypted. Drives don't really need any software to make them run. Since you quit the process, just keep in mind it will start itself up every time the computer starts. To make it go away for good, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items. Remove the stuff you don't want there. Most of the stuff can be removed, unless it's like Dropbox, or some app you know you want to start up when the computer starts. If it's iTunes helper, I always remove that, or any HP printer stuff. Edit: if you do go with what Drew said (onyx) make SURE you do the second thing he said, to RTFM. Again, most end users shouldn't be using this, as it could really screw some stuff up but doing it safely could help. The biggest thing you could do to help clear crap out is do a reinstall of your OS, even over the current one, and even if you just reinstall the same system. It's safe if your drive is still good, and you have a backup. It's not safe if you might have a bad drive. Good luck!

As far as your speed issues: If you go with a solid state drive, you'll see SHIT TONS of faster speeds. Apple puts 5400RPM drives in all of their computers (not sure why, when the faster 7200 ones are just as reliable). But an SSD is leaps and bounds faster. This requires knowledge of getting the drive into the computer though, and getting your stuff back from the HDD to the new SSD. I'm telling you, it's like going from a Cooper to a GP Cooper S with a jesus head.

And your OS. Just click the Apple button in the upper left, and About this Mac. This is what it would be:

OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
OS X 10.7 (Lion)
OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
OS X 10.9 (Mavericks)

It shouldn't be anything before 10.5 based on what the age of the computer is.

Anyway, if you've found any of this helpful, please support my company. This is the kind of stuff I do, and need help opening a store. Chase is giving away a $250,000 grant and I've been told my company a shoe-in to win if we get the necessary amount of votes. Voting takes about 8-12 seconds of your time. We need 250 votes by Nov 14 and we're at a little over 70 as of this posting: https://www.missionmainstreetgrants....s/detail/64926
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  #11  
Old 11-04-2013, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Konstantinos View Post
As far as your speed issues: If you go with a solid state drive, you'll see SHIT TONS of faster speeds.
Absolutely. An SSD will speed up your system so much that you'll stop thinking about upgrading the computer. A 256 GB SSD is less than $200 and will make it feel like a new machine.
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  #12  
Old 11-09-2013, 07:25 PM
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SSD drives are the cat's meow.

You can even stack a small one in your Mini (via a kit at OWC) and use as a swap drive. That is more budget friendly and abates space issues by using a larger traditional drive for the normal storage. I've run Windows & Mac systems with this setup to find a remarkable bump in speed for those moments when RAM starts swapping out to a drive.

I have used quite a few of Seagate's Momentus XT hybrid drives too (they have 8GB of Flash on board to cache in addition to the usual 64MB cache). Their performance is roughly 85% of a SSD with less cost and, arguably, less longevity problems (not a big believer in that anyway). If you grab one of these (be sure to grab a 7200 rpm variant - the 5400 rpm units are obviously not as fast), you won't regret it. The 750GB model runs about $100 at NewEgg or Amazon. Fantastic performance for the cost.

I'd argue the speed and permissions issues, only because I've watched *nix systems struggle to work when the permissions are out of whack. Definitely worth doing...

As far as moving drives around, that's a snap. Just grab a copy of SuperDuper (available in free and paid versions) and cloning drives on a Mac is point, click, done...
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