Author Topic: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook  (Read 9757 times)

BrooklineBiker

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Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« on: September 13, 2014, 09:19:20 AM »
Hi everyone,
I own a 2009 MacBook running OS X 10.9.4 that has over the past 2 months become increasingly sluggish in its performance. Here are its basic specs: 2 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM, 1 year old Crucial
256GB Solid State Internal Drive with 125 GB available. I empty the trash regularly and clean out downloads from memory where obviously unnecesary. Mail and opening windows on the web are notable areas of difficulty. Does anyone have ideas on how to restore the machine's speed? Thanks!

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2014, 10:39:43 AM »
Not sure about OS X, but Windows benefits a ton from doing a fresh install every couple years.

Your big limitation is RAM, especially on the newer OS X iterations. IF you can, upgrade the ram to 4GB, but it may not be able to take more.

Otherwise, since you already have an SSD and a decent one st that, I don't think there's anything else you can do.

Ethernet

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2014, 11:18:23 AM »
My dad really benefitted from upgrading the 2GB of ram to 8GB of ram. It's expensive as hell, but we also run programs like photoshop all the time and we really noticed a difference in the peppiness of the system.

When's the last time you factory reset your system to just the base OS?

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2014, 11:41:18 AM »
Not sure about OS X, but Windows benefits a ton from doing a fresh install every couple years.

Your big limitation is RAM, especially on the newer OS X iterations. IF you can, upgrade the ram to 4GB, but it may not be able to take more.

Otherwise, since you already have an SSD and a decent one st that, I don't think there's anything else you can do.
Thanks Goblinchief. How can I check the maximum RAM capacity on the machine?

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2014, 11:42:55 AM »
My dad really benefitted from upgrading the 2GB of ram to 8GB of ram. It's expensive as hell, but we also run programs like photoshop all the time and we really noticed a difference in the peppiness of the system.

When's the last time you factory reset your system to just the base OS?
Thanks Ethernet. How do I factory reset to base OS?

burly

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2014, 11:46:19 AM »
I use the app - CleanMyMac - http://macpaw.com/cleanmymac

I have a 2011 Macbook Air and it keeps it pretty quick... It's worth the buy -you'll be surprised how much it cleans.

bacchi

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2014, 12:17:15 PM »
I was going to suggest more RAM too but you have an SSD. Any swap is already wicked fast. However, every time you upgrade the OS, it'll need more RAM and you don't want your OS swapping.

Google for the maximum. For 2x2GB, it'll be pretty inexpensive. A quick search found that 2x4GB will work on all (?) 2009 models, even though Apple claims it can only take 6GB maximum. However,

http://silverpanther.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/macbook-2009-8gb/

(Fyi, my Macbook exceeds the Apple maximum and it works fine. I have 16GB and the max is 8GB.)

$200k

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2014, 01:45:48 PM »
You could go back to using 10.6.

swiper

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2014, 03:44:16 PM »
Not sure about OS X, but Windows benefits a ton from doing a fresh install every couple years.

Your big limitation is RAM, especially on the newer OS X iterations. IF you can, upgrade the ram to 4GB, but it may not be able to take more.

Otherwise, since you already have an SSD and a decent one st that, I don't think there's anything else you can do.
Thanks Goblinchief. How can I check the maximum RAM capacity on the machine?

No worries, you can pick the size you want here (free :) http://www.downloadmoreram.com/index.html

senecando

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2014, 03:59:51 PM »
Do you mind posting a screen shot of the activity monitor sorted by Memory or CPU or both? I've had problems with indexing taking forever, or weird things like that.

Also, if you are tech savvy and this isn't a work-critical machine, you can think about trying the beta of 10.10. I've found it pretty stable and in my experience it's been a bit faster. No guarantees from me or Apple or really anyone ever.

BarkingSquirrel

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2014, 08:03:28 PM »

Quote
No worries, you can pick the size you want here (free :) http://www.downloadmoreram.com/index.html

Riiiight . . . .

I put 8GB RAM (from OWC) into a 2009 Macbook, and it worked well.  I vaguely remember you had to verify that you had one of the intel processors to be able to do it.  I just followed along with a youtube how-to video. 

GizmoTX

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2014, 08:09:32 PM »
I agree with increasing the RAM in your MacBook. Watch the OWC video; it's easy to do & I've upgraded several MBs & MBPs.

Guizmo

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2014, 08:20:02 PM »
Go back to OSX 10.6. Your macbook will work awesome after that. If you need the new features of 10.9 you might have to buy a new computer.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2014, 08:52:55 PM »
I was going to suggest more RAM too but you have an SSD. Any swap is already wicked fast. However, every time you upgrade the OS, it'll need more RAM and you don't want your OS swapping.

Google for the maximum. For 2x2GB, it'll be pretty inexpensive. A quick search found that 2x4GB will work on all (?) 2009 models, even though Apple claims it can only take 6GB maximum. However,

http://silverpanther.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/macbook-2009-8gb/

(Fyi, my Macbook exceeds the Apple maximum and it works fine. I have 16GB and the max is 8GB.)
Thanks Bacchi. Is OWC the best source for (relatively) affordable extra RAM?

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2014, 08:55:22 PM »
You could go back to using 10.6.
Hi 200K
If revert to an earlier OS, will I run into Mac Mail or Safari compatibility or security problems?

alsoknownasDean

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Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2014, 09:01:06 PM »
Depends. Macs will run standard RAM, which of course is cheap enough, especially to score from others upgrading. The limitation is your needing DDR2. They don't make as much of it anymore, so prices are higher.

I've got a late 2008 MBP with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, and its performance is still fine on 10.9. The RAM and SSD were purchased from normal PC shops.

If you'd posted this a week ago I could have harvested some DDR2 RAM from a spare laptop, but it was donated the other day. :)

iFixit has plenty of guides as well for replacing parts on Macs.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2014, 09:03:12 PM by alsoknownasDean »

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2014, 09:01:59 PM »
Do you mind posting a screen shot of the activity monitor sorted by Memory or CPU or both? I've had problems with indexing taking forever, or weird things like that.

Also, if you are tech savvy and this isn't a work-critical machine, you can think about trying the beta of 10.10. I've found it pretty stable and in my experience it's been a bit faster. No guarantees from me or Apple or really anyone ever.
Hi Senecando,
Thanks for responding. There seem to be a lot of functions under Activity Monitor. Which would be most helpful?

Daley

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2014, 09:14:17 PM »
Brookline, given what I know about the specific history of your Macbook, I'm going to make some very deliberate recommendations.

1) Back up your data and do a clean reinstall of OSX 10.9. Your past power issues most likely contributed to accelerating some general bitrot in the OS proper.

2) OSX 10.9 is a terrible memory hog. Listen to the others and spend the money on a RAM upgrade... the current builds of OSX seems to get cranky at 4GB or less.

For general Apple hardware spec lookup, I know a few folks have recommended a variety of sources, but this is the best I've personally found:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/index-apple-specs-applespec.html

DarinC

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2014, 11:15:46 PM »
When you put your hand near the air exhaust outlet, does it feel fairly warm, or just tepid? If it's warm, you may have some lint/hair/fuzz blocking the outlet.

bacchi

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2014, 11:35:27 PM »
There seem to be a lot of functions under Activity Monitor. Which would be most helpful?

System Memory->

Free
Page outs
Swap Used


BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2014, 04:45:40 AM »
Brookline, given what I know about the specific history of your Macbook, I'm going to make some very deliberate recommendations.

1) Back up your data and do a clean reinstall of OSX 10.9. Your past power issues most likely contributed to accelerating some general bitrot in the OS proper.

2) OSX 10.9 is a terrible memory hog. Listen to the others and spend the money on a RAM upgrade... the current builds of OSX seems to get cranky at 4GB or less.

For general Apple hardware spec lookup, I know a few folks have recommended a variety of sources, but this is the best I've personally found:

http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/index-apple-specs-applespec.html
Hi IP,
Wow, thank you very much for the recommendations. This is great. Also, thank you for tracking my machine's specific issues.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2014, 05:50:42 PM »
When you put your hand near the air exhaust outlet, does it feel fairly warm, or just tepid? If it's warm, you may have some lint/hair/fuzz blocking the outlet.
Hi Darin,
The vent feels hot most of the time, thanks.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2014, 05:52:46 PM »
I use the app - CleanMyMac - http://macpaw.com/cleanmymac

I have a 2011 Macbook Air and it keeps it pretty quick... It's worth the buy -you'll be surprised how much it cleans.
Hi burly,
If I reload the operating system, would that accomplish the same function as using the cleanup program? Thanks!

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2014, 05:56:55 PM »
Hi all,
A few respondents have recommended reloading the operating system. I am tech novice. Can I do this on my own? Or is this a process prone to glitches where tech support would be needed?

Daley

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2014, 06:15:51 PM »
A few respondents have recommended reloading the operating system. I am tech novice. Can I do this on my own? Or is this a process prone to glitches where tech support would be needed?

Yes, you should be able to do this on your own, including restoring your backed-up apps and files (if you use Time Machine). Doing an OSX install is more of a time sink than a technical skill, especially now that Apple has abandoned physical media. This should be a good starting point for you on the recovery system:

https://www.apple.com/osx/recovery/

I use the app - CleanMyMac - http://macpaw.com/cleanmymac

I have a 2011 Macbook Air and it keeps it pretty quick... It's worth the buy -you'll be surprised how much it cleans.
Hi burly,
If I reload the operating system, would that accomplish the same function as using the cleanup program? Thanks!

Yes it would-ish (restoring a user profile via Time Machine would add back in a lot of the stuff that cleans out). Also, it appears you can download it for free, but it looks like Burly is saying you gotta spend $40 on the thing to make it work. You don't need to spend $40 for an application that just cleans user and application caches for the most part, and it's mostly a disk space recovery tool from the looks of things. CCleaner for OSX can do that for free last I checked for personal, non-business use - same deal as their pricing on the Windows side.

http://www.piriform.com/mac/ccleaner

Daley

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2014, 06:20:57 PM »
Hi IP,
Wow, thank you very much for the recommendations. This is great. Also, thank you for tracking my machine's specific issues.

Also, no worries... plus the power brick issue was only a couple weeks back. It's not like I was recalling a service request you made a year ago. ;)

DarinC

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2014, 06:38:08 PM »
When you put your hand near the air exhaust outlet, does it feel fairly warm, or just tepid? If it's warm, you may have some lint/hair/fuzz blocking the outlet.
Hi Darin,
The vent feels hot most of the time, thanks.
With the laptop off, you can try to fish around in there with something thin (maybe a thin needle with the tip bent like a hook) that could pull some fuzz present out. If you can't get everything, your problem is elsewhere.

If on the other hand, you're able to pull some fuzz out, keep fishing around and try to get as much as you can out of there. If you have a shop vac, use that, or even a can of compressed air to try to get anything that's remaining.

Greg

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #27 on: September 15, 2014, 09:19:10 AM »
When you put your hand near the air exhaust outlet, does it feel fairly warm, or just tepid? If it's warm, you may have some lint/hair/fuzz blocking the outlet.
Hi Darin,
The vent feels hot most of the time, thanks.
With the laptop off, you can try to fish around in there with something thin (maybe a thin needle with the tip bent like a hook) that could pull some fuzz present out. If you can't get everything, your problem is elsewhere.

If on the other hand, you're able to pull some fuzz out, keep fishing around and try to get as much as you can out of there. If you have a shop vac, use that, or even a can of compressed air to try to get anything that's remaining.

Having been inside my similar vintage MBP, I'd advise against sticking anything in the vents to remove lint.  There are wafer thin cables, radiator fins and magnesium fans in there that can easily be damaged.  Compressed air (available in spray cans if you don't know someone with a compressor) is the way to go.  You'll be surprised at the amount of dust that comes out.  Use short bursts to avoid spooling up the fans.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #28 on: September 15, 2014, 09:14:17 PM »
When you put your hand near the air exhaust outlet, does it feel fairly warm, or just tepid? If it's warm, you may have some lint/hair/fuzz blocking the outlet.
Hi Darin,
The vent feels hot most of the time, thanks.
With the laptop off, you can try to fish around in there with something thin (maybe a thin needle with the tip bent like a hook) that could pull some fuzz present out. If you can't get everything, your problem is elsewhere.

If on the other hand, you're able to pull some fuzz out, keep fishing around and try to get as much as you can out of there. If you have a shop vac, use that, or even a can of compressed air to try to get anything that's remaining.

Having been inside my similar vintage MBP, I'd advise against sticking anything in the vents to remove lint.  There are wafer thin cables, radiator fins and magnesium fans in there that can easily be damaged.  Compressed air (available in spray cans if you don't know someone with a compressor) is the way to go.  You'll be surprised at the amount of dust that comes out.  Use short bursts to avoid spooling up the fans.
Hi Darin and Greg,
Thank you both for the recommendations. Spraying a can of compressed air into the vent is well within my budget and current level of technical skills (LOL).

Zombie Burger

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #29 on: September 16, 2014, 07:09:12 AM »
Be careful with the compressed air; you can damage the fan if it's spun too fast. I'd look into the memory upgrade route first, but a clean OS install is pretty much going to restore to a like-new condition, barring any hardware issues. Doing that can be a pain if you have a lot of stuff to shuffle around. Time Machine can simplify the process, if you use that.

I have a 2008 MacBook Pro with 4GB of memory that still runs perfectly. I've never reinstalled to help with performance, but I put in a SSD a while ago which essentially accomplished that.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #30 on: September 17, 2014, 03:23:56 PM »
Hi everybody,
The majority of respondents recommend reinstalling my OS. How hard is this to do? Any tips on making the process smooth? Thanks yet again!

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #31 on: September 17, 2014, 03:50:48 PM »
this has been a very helpful thread! I too have a 2009 MBP and I REALLY regretted installing Mavericks. I think I need to suck it up and take the time to reinstall an older OS.

Daley

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2014, 03:56:19 PM »
this has been a very helpful thread! I too have a 2009 MBP and I REALLY regretted installing Mavericks. I think I need to suck it up and take the time to reinstall an older OS.

I'd actually recommend against this from a security standpoint. The problem is, Apple has stopped pushing security patches for every build of OSX other than 10.9 currently, and that will apparently lose security support after 10.10 is released as well. Apple has effectively gone to a mandatory rolling update method and no longer provides extended support for previous releases as they had in the past. Unfortunately, there are unpatched vulnerabilities in OSX 10.8 and older that will never see security updates because of this.

This is the price of vendor lock-in and the Apple culture. The good news is, most Macbooks can run Ubuntu Linux reasonably well.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #33 on: September 18, 2014, 03:11:40 PM »
Hi everyone,
Any tips on how to smoothly reinstall the Mac OS? Thanks!

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Speeding Up a Sluggish MacBook
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2014, 07:13:38 AM »
this has been a very helpful thread! I too have a 2009 MBP and I REALLY regretted installing Mavericks. I think I need to suck it up and take the time to reinstall an older OS.

I'd actually recommend against this from a security standpoint. The problem is, Apple has stopped pushing security patches for every build of OSX other than 10.9 currently, and that will apparently lose security support after 10.10 is released as well. Apple has effectively gone to a mandatory rolling update method and no longer provides extended support for previous releases as they had in the past. Unfortunately, there are unpatched vulnerabilities in OSX 10.8 and older that will never see security updates because of this.

This is the price of vendor lock-in and the Apple culture. The good news is, most Macbooks can run Ubuntu Linux reasonably well.

oh darn! :( yeah that's something I don't like about Apple. I don't think I have the tech savvy or motivation to go Linux, LOL.