Mac Mini running sluggish?

in Genius Bar edited January 2014
I have a late 2009 Mac MIni 2.53GHz 4GB that I use to to run Adobe Lightroom 3. I have 3 external hard drives connected to it. At times, it runs perfectly fine and is really fast. At other times it will be extremely slow. For example, it will sit on the spinning pinwheel for over a minute when using the spot removal tool. When it is working correctly, it is instantaneous and is essentially a live view as I move the sample area to clone. When it is running slow, everything gets slow; web browsing, switching applications, etc.

Additional info:

All the photos are on the external hard drives. I have two drives connected through firewire 400, the other is USB 2.0. I have noticed issues with the firewire drives going to sleep and not wanting to start again without me turning them off and then back on. It doesn't matter what drive the photos are on as far as this happening. Could it be related to the drives, firewire hub, hardware?

Please offer any suggestions of things to try. Thanks
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