Originally Posted by syrinx32123
And while I am at it, I might as well ask you this too. I only have 10 GB of open space on my macbook pro left. Everything seems to be running slower lately. I have lots of music and big files. How can I restore my computer to the speed it was at when I bought it? Do I get a new harddrive installed or upgrade RAM? I got this macbook in 2007, should I get a new wireless card?
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
To get technical, hard drives have platters with a tiny arm that runs across the platters reading and writing data in areas called sectors.
With blank or new hard drive, data is first written on the edges, where the sectors are larger and the arm has to move little. As more data is written on sectors going inwards towards the center spindle, the sectors get smaller and the arm has to move more often to read data. This causes delay, which slows your computers performance.
Also there is this thing called fragmentation, even though OS X automatically tries to write files to a whole blank space on the drive, it's not always able to do so. So it has to break up the file and the more the file is broken up, the longer it takes to read and write it, so this also slows your performance. Again the free space on a drive tends to be closer to the center of the platters, so if a file out grows it's original space, it gets written to the slower sectors, leaving a gap in the faster sectors.
When a drive running OS X gets more than 50% filled, drive performance starts to drop and worsens the closer it gets to 100% filled. (it's worse on Windows as it doesn't auto defrag on the fly, it's a manual hours long process you have to do once in a while to increase performance). OS X warns you when your getting too close to 100% filled, to remove some files or the computer will fail to function. To check your capacity, use Activity Monitor>Disk Capacity.
Computers need free space on the drive in order to store things temporarily, especially if you don't have enough of the faster Random Access Memory (RAM) to do the things your doing with your computer. Storing data on a hard drive is slower than RAM, thus it's not good for temporary data keeping. Again the closer the temporary data is to the center of the hard drive platters, the slower this will make your computer as well. Installing the proper amount of RAM for your needs will help here, but isn't the whole solution as some programs need to use temporary space on the drive regardless. To check your memory usage, use Activity Monitor>System Memory. This will give you a idea how many and of what programs you can have open at once with the RAM you have.
Even though you may all the RAM your computer can hold and your hard drive is the latest and fastest with under 50% filled. Your computer may still run slow because the operating system you have upgraded too or the program your running has outgrown the performance capacity of the processor (the brains) and the video card installed. Usually the cause of this is what I call feature bloat, like CoverFlow for instance, which tied to a 'must upgrade or you can't buy or rent' type of program like iTunes can be a performance issue. Processors and video cards are much harder or impossible to replace and usually requires buying a whole new computer as other hard ware things get upgraded as well. BUS, memory controllers etc.
Usually the less expensive Mac's like MacBooks and Mini's have less performance and will require upgrading the hardware more often if you upgrade the OS and software. The "Pro" type machines usually last longer, with the Mac Pro usually lasting the longest as it's the most user upgradable and a desktop machine, not thin, portable and vulnerable like laptops are.
Pay careful consideration to your initial purchase; what your going to be using a computer for, what programs performance and RAM requirements are and for how long your going to be owning the computer and it's upgrade ability to lengthen it's use.
To increase the performance of your current machine do the following:1: Increase the RAM:
New Mac's are notoriously short of RAM, get more installed when purchasing if possible or do it yourself. I check out Crucial.com for their simple machine evaluation to get the exact type of RAM. Follow anti-static guidelines and don't touch any metal contacts on the RAM chips. Make sure it's in the correct position, turned the right way and in the correct slot. Some RAM needs to be installed in matching pairs, in certain slots. Check Activity Monitor for results. Consult OtherWorld Computing or other sites for proper do it yourself installation of RAM for your machine, some are dead easy and others are a chore. If you don't know, use a professional. (Note: I get no compensation for product or site mention)2: Reduce the files on your drive
so your capacity is between 50-75% max and ideally below 50%. Backup your files to DVD's and/or external hard drives. If you routinely need large capaicty on your boot drive (a laptop for instance) consider having a larger drive installed. 5,000 RPM drives are slower and use less battery life. A 7,200 RPM drive is faster, giving you better performance, but will reduce your laptops battery life. There are sites that check out the read and write speeds of various drives, also the quality of various drives. There are 10,000 and even 15,000 RPM drives, but they can be impractical in anything other than a Mac Pro, expensive or vulnerable to vibration. Also a drive has to match the primary interface the computer uses. If you don't know, use a professional.3: Clone your boot drive and reverse.
Get a blank external hard drive either matching or slightly exceeding the capacity of your current boot drive and CLONE (Carbon Copy Cloner) your whole boot drive to the external. Use the fastest and easiest interface of your computer and the external as possible, usually Firewire 800, then 400 and finally USB 2. Hold option and boot from the clone drive, repair permissions on both drives in Disk Utility. Check out the clone completely, that everything runs perfectly like the original boot drive. Then use Disk Utility to erase (with Zero option) the original boot drive (WARNING: This will delete everything on that drive beyond recovery!). After you have done this, clone the clone back onto the original boot drive and repair permissions in Disk Utility on both and reboot normally, removing the clone drive.
What you'll have is a optimized boot drive, all the files will be defragmented and any free space will be near the center of the drive where performance is slowest. Also you'll have a bootable backup if your primary boot drive fails or OS X gets corrupted and won't boot. You should clone every few weeks or before a update or install and have at least one more clone a month back in time as a extra backup.