MacBook Pro getting so slow....


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Laptop getting painfully slow and rainbow wheel appearing frequently.
I know this problem has been around but sorry, I don't recall what to do about it.
MacBook Pro: late 2011, running El Capitan 10.11.6.
Can't upgrade to newer Op system because I have older Adobe products on it that will not transfer.
Help please.
 
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Laptop getting painfully slow

I'm having similar trouble with my mid-2014 Macbook Pro, I think mainly since installing the Big Sur OS. Not just things like slow processing of big Photoshop files (not too surprising, since the files have gotten bigger with a new camera!), but hesitating before even responding to mouse clicks. I installed Big Sur as a clean install to try to clear out as much dead wood as possible, with trying to avoid this problem in mind. Is this just an inevitable consequence of a new OS on an older machine?
 
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I'm having similar trouble with my mid-2014 Macbook Pro, I think mainly since installing the Big Sur OS. Not just things like slow processing of big Photoshop files (not too surprising, since the files have gotten bigger with a new camera!), but hesitating before even responding to mouse clicks. I installed Big Sur as a clean install to try to clear out as much dead wood as possible, with trying to avoid this problem in mind. Is this just an inevitable consequence of a new OS on an older machine?
Surprised that no one has answered this. Starting with Catalina, Apple went to a new file system called APFS which is optimized for SSDs. APFS does not perform as well on spinning hard disks, so if your system does not have an SSD, hard disk performance will be slower. I ran into this with my mid 2014 Mac Mini when I upgraded from El Capitan to Catalina. The internal HD spun at 5400rpm and had a small cache. I resolved the problem by going to a fast external disk (GTech: 7200rpm with a large cache) attached via a USB3 cable. So, because of APFS, your existing HD may account for your performance issues, especially since you say your Photoshop files have gotten bigger.

Also, how much memory does your machine have? If you have less than 8GB, that may contribute to performance issues depending on application load (i.e., how many apps you have open simultaneously). When your apps need more memory than is physically available, the OS will write out inactive app memory to the HD (i.e., to a "swap" file) to make space available for the active app(s). Since these swap outs involve disk activity, that will impact performance as well.

Based on my own experience, I do not recommend upgrading to Catalina or anything newer if your computer uses spinning hard disks. One option I considered was to take my machine to an Apple authorized service center and have the spinning hard disk replaced with an 500GB SSD for around $350. But, I went with the external GTech drive because it was cheaper and provided me with 4TB of storage as opposed to 500GB. I don't know whether this is an option for MacBook users, though. Corey can provide some insight on this.
 
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Surprised that no one has answered this. Starting with Catalina, Apple went to a new file system called APFS which is optimized for SSDs. APFS does not perform as well on spinning hard disks, so if your system does not have an SSD, hard disk performance will be slower. I ran into this with my mid 2014 Mac Mini when I upgraded from El Capitan to Catalina. The internal HD spun at 5400rpm and had a small cache. I resolved the problem by going to a fast external disk (GTech: 7200rpm with a large cache) attached via a USB3 cable. So, because of APFS, your existing HD may account for your performance issues, especially since you say your Photoshop files have gotten bigger.

Also, how much memory does your machine have? If you have less than 8GB, that may contribute to performance issues depending on application load (i.e., how many apps you have open simultaneously). When your apps need more memory than is physically available, the OS will write out inactive app memory to the HD (i.e., to a "swap" file) to make space available for the active app(s). Since these swap outs involve disk activity, that will impact performance as well.

Based on my own experience, I do not recommend upgrading to Catalina or anything newer if your computer uses spinning hard disks. One option I considered was to take my machine to an Apple authorized service center and have the spinning hard disk replaced with an 500GB SSD for around $350. But, I went with the external GTech drive because it was cheaper and provided me with 4TB of storage as opposed to 500GB. I don't know whether this is an option for MacBook users, though. Corey can provide some insight on this.
Thank you. I was about to post a similar question but I think you have answered it for me. But, I think I have a memory issue as well.

I found a an old Macbook Pro (mid 2012) for a really cheap price so I decided to buy it for my little girl. When I bought it, it had no OS system on it. So, I went the recovery route and it wanted to install Yosemite on it (which I assume is what it had new.) I upgraded to the maximum (Catalina). The boot time is painfully slow, about 2 1/2 minutes from power on the login. However, once logged in, it runs fine but the temps do get high when using any kind of media (YouTube, etc.). Often, the screen just goes blank requiring a hard reboot. In my experience, while not conclusive, it is a good indicator of a memory mismatch. I looked up the original specs, and this Macbook was listed has allowing a maximum of 8GB RAM. This one has 16GB (upgraded by the previous owner.) I'm guessing this could be the root of the blackout problem, but most of the time it does run fine and is quite snappy and smooth. But, I believe the boot time might be cured with an SSD, which is easy enough to install.

I am a Linux user for many years and know little of Mac, though they are similar in many respects, both having Unix as their grandfather.
Do you agree with my assessment of these issues? She is only 9 years old and not ready for a new laptop, but if I can solve these issues I think she can get another 3 or years out of this one.

Many thanks for your replies.

Bob
 
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Frankly, unless you have a compelling reason to need Catalina, I'd regress back to Yosemite or Mojave, which should resolve the performance issues. I'd be on El Capitan still, but I wanted to learn how to do development with Xcode and Swift, and I needed a relatively current environment to do that.

I can't comment on the 16GB vs 8GB issue w.r.t. screen blackouts, only because I can't see why the one would have anything to do with the other, unless the added memory chips operate with different speeds. Whenever I add memory, it's always within the published specifications and always the same IDENTICAL chipsets. So, if the specs say max is 8GB, I won't try to add more.

When I first upgraded to Catalina, not knowing at the time about APFS, the system took ages to boot, and then ages more to open any apps. Mail was essentially unusable, and it wasn't until I went to the external drive route that I saw performance close to what I had seen on El Capitan.

Corey pointed out, in the thread I had going with him about my upgrade issues, that macOS does a huge number of tasks when booting up a new system; file indexing plays a role. Do a search on "Catalina Performance Issues" to read the full details of that experience (and to admire Corey's patience). But, IMHO, the whole idea for upgrading is to take advantage of new features that enhance your computing experience, not to sit around wondering when the computer will allow me to use it.

I have a Ubuntu Linux system running on an old Dell Optiplex 790, I think it is at 20.04 LTS. The last Linux I played with (at work) was 12.04 LTS. I was surprised, and a little disappointed, to see how little improvement there has been between the two releases. And although Linux folks make a big deal about asking the online community for help, in my experience, no one seems to have the same problems I do. I've played with SuSE and Red Hat, and I kinda favor SuSE, but it's been decades since I played with the lizard ...
 
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Frankly, unless you have a compelling reason to need Catalina, I'd regress back to Yosemite or Mojave, which should resolve the performance issues. I'd be on El Capitan still, but I wanted to learn how to do development with Xcode and Swift, and I needed a relatively current environment to do that.

I can't comment on the 16GB vs 8GB issue w.r.t. screen blackouts, only because I can't see why the one would have anything to do with the other, unless the added memory chips operate with different speeds. Whenever I add memory, it's always within the published specifications and always the same IDENTICAL chipsets. So, if the specs say max is 8GB, I won't try to add more.

When I first upgraded to Catalina, not knowing at the time about APFS, the system took ages to boot, and then ages more to open any apps. Mail was essentially unusable, and it wasn't until I went to the external drive route that I saw performance close to what I had seen on El Capitan.

Corey pointed out, in the thread I had going with him about my upgrade issues, that macOS does a huge number of tasks when booting up a new system; file indexing plays a role. Do a search on "Catalina Performance Issues" to read the full details of that experience (and to admire Corey's patience). But, IMHO, the whole idea for upgrading is to take advantage of new features that enhance your computing experience, not to sit around wondering when the computer will allow me to use it.

I have a Ubuntu Linux system running on an old Dell Optiplex 790, I think it is at 20.04 LTS. The last Linux I played with (at work) was 12.04 LTS. I was surprised, and a little disappointed, to see how little improvement there has been between the two releases. And although Linux folks make a big deal about asking the online community for help, in my experience, no one seems to have the same problems I do. I've played with SuSE and Red Hat, and I kinda favor SuSE, but it's been decades since I played with the lizard ...
Thank you for your help and comments. As I mentioned, the old Mac operates fine once its booted completely, and I'm something of a stickler for wanting the newest software I can run, I'll just endure the long boot times. Could be worse.

In the past if I had a memory mismatch (wrong speed, wrong capacities, etc.) it may run, but would be unstable and crash a lot. But, I'm probably wrong because for the most past it runs fine and only seems to crash (black screen) if the machine is running something in a media file (mainly YouTube), but it did do it once on one of her school Zoom meetings requiring a reboot and reconnect. I've installed a temperature monitor because it does does run quite hot when doing zoom or videos. The automatic processor heat protection may also be the culprit. I'll take the back off, thoroughly clean it with air and see if that helps.

Thank you again for your help

Bob
 
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