Re-install or Clean install OS to fix Slow Mac

Discussion in 'Mac Notebooks' started by Elspeth, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Elspeth

    Elspeth New Member

    Dec 2, 2017
    Likes Received:
    MacBook Pro late 2011 now running High Sierra. When first purchased could run two or three applications and work from them at the same time without any speed issues, but the problem began before Sierra with earlier upgrades. I have upgraded when prompted to do so and now the mac is far too slow, taking over a minute to open a single browser. I have used the macs Manage storage to remove many large files and folders and have plenty of free space.

    1. From reading various answers to others with similar problems, it would seem that my practice of simply installing upgrades to OS over the previous system is not good - but I do not know what is meant by this or by "clean install". If I tried it would it help, or is it better to try to recover and re-install an earlier Mac OS? [need the idiot's guide to which, then how!]

    2. My system is backed up by time machine on an external hard drive (from 2015 - present, a previous external drive crashed and was not recoverable) I do not know what OS I can recover nor how to find out which are available to me. A different idiot's guide?

    What are my best options to fix the slow speed of this macbook?

    I found something called EtreCheck and sorry for the length of it, but this is their report if the detail helps anyone to answer
    EtreCheck version: 3.4.6 (460)
    Report generated 2017-12-06 08:22:57
    Download EtreCheck from
    Runtime: 9:48
    Performance: Below Average

    Click the [Lookup] links for more information from Apple Support Communities.
    Click the [Details] links for more information about that line.

    Problem: Computer is too slow
    When first purchased, this machine was able to run two or three applications at the same time without any noticeable difference in speed of access to the different windows open. Now it is painfully slow, even taking over a minute to open up a single browser.
    I have cleaned as many unwanted files and folders as I can, using the mac’s manage storage to identify large files.
    What else can be the problem?

    Hardware Information: ⓘ
    MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2011)
    [Technical Specifications] - [User Guide] - [Warranty & Service]
    MacBook Pro - model: MacBookPro8,1
    1 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 (i5-2435M) CPU: 2-core
    4 GB RAM Upgradeable - [Instructions]
    BANK 0/DIMM0
    2 GB DDR3 1333 MHz ok
    BANK 1/DIMM0
    2 GB DDR3 1333 MHz ok
    Handoff/Airdrop2: not supported
    Wireless: en1: 802.11 a/b/g/n
    Battery: Health = Normal - Cycle count = 319

    Video Information: ⓘ
    Intel HD Graphics 3000 - VRAM: 384 MB
    Color LCD 1280 x 800

    Disk Information: ⓘ
    ST9500325ASG disk0: (500.11 GB) (Rotational)
    [Show SMART report]
    EFI (disk0s1 - MS-DOS FAT32) <not mounted> [EFI]: 210 MB
    (disk0s2) <not mounted> [CoreStorage Container]: 499.25 GB
    Recovery HD (disk0s3 - Journaled HFS+) <not mounted> [Recovery]: 650 MB


    USB Information: ⓘ
    Apple Inc. FaceTime HD Camera (Built-in)
    Apple Inc. Apple Internal Keyboard / Trackpad
    Apple Inc. BRCM2070 Hub
    Apple Inc. Bluetooth USB Host Controller
    Apple Computer, Inc. IR Receiver

    Thunderbolt Information: ⓘ
    Apple Inc. thunderbolt_bus

    Virtual disks: ⓘ
    Macintosh HD (disk1 - Journaled HFS+) / [Startup]: 498.88 GB (178.27 GB free)
    Physical disk: disk0s2 499.25 GB Online

    System Software: ⓘ
    macOS High Sierra 10.13.1 (17B1003) - Time since boot: about 15 hours

    Gatekeeper: ⓘ
    Mac App Store and identified developers

    Kernel Extensions: ⓘ
    [loaded] com.Perfect.Driver.SystemAudioRecorder (1.1.0 - SDK 10.9) [Lookup]
    [not loaded] expressvpn.tap (20150118) [Lookup]
    [not loaded] expressvpn.tun (20150118) [Lookup]

    System Launch Agents: ⓘ
    [not loaded] 10 Apple tasks
    [loaded] 172 Apple tasks
    [running] 106 Apple tasks

    System Launch Daemons: ⓘ
    [not loaded] 31 Apple tasks
    [loaded] 183 Apple tasks
    [running] 117 Apple tasks

    Launch Agents: ⓘ
    [failed] com.adobe.ARMDCHelper.cc24aef4a1b90ed56a725c38014c95072f92651fb65e1bf9c8e43c37a23d420d.plist (Adobe Systems, Inc. - installed 2017-11-05) [Lookup]
    [running] (Shell Script d18c2039 - installed 2016-09-27) [Lookup]
    [loaded] (? 11d191c4 a5335bcc - installed 2012-06-17) [Lookup]
    [loaded] (? 8b03e6eb 72ac4dde - installed 2017-08-22) [Lookup]

    Launch Daemons: ⓘ
    [loaded] com.adobe.ARMDC.Communicator.plist (Adobe Systems, Inc. - installed 2017-11-05) [Lookup]
    [loaded] com.adobe.ARMDC.SMJobBlessHelper.plist (Adobe Systems, Inc. - installed 2017-11-05) [Lookup]
    [loaded] com.adobe.fpsaud.plist (? 2afb3af7 defea098 - installed 2017-10-25) [Lookup]
    [loaded] com.macpaw.CleanMyMac3.Agent.plist (MacPaw Inc. - installed 2017-10-30) [Lookup]
    [loaded] (? 689758eb 56e8a673 - installed 2015-07-01) [Lookup]
    [loaded] (Shell Script e3fefdd2 - installed 2017-07-22) [Lookup]
    [loaded] (Canon Inc. - installed 2014-02-22) [Lookup]

    User Launch Agents: ⓘ
    [loaded] (Google, Inc. - installed 2017-09-27) [Lookup]
    [running] com.hp.devicemonitor.plist (HP Inc. - installed 2017-12-05) [Lookup]
    [loaded] com.macpaw.CleanMyMac3.Scheduler.plist (MacPaw Inc. - installed 2017-10-16) [Lookup]
    [loaded] (Skype Communications S.a.r.l - installed 2017-10-29) [Lookup]

    User Login Items: ⓘ
    CleanMyMac 3 Menu Application (? 0 - installed 2017-11-28)
    (/Applications/CleanMyMac 3
    HP Device Monitor SMLoginItem - Hidden (HP Inc. - installed 2017-10-30)
    (/Library/Printers/hp/Frameworks/HPDeviceMonitoring.framework/Versions/1.0/Helpers/HP Device Monitor Device

    Internet Plug-ins: ⓘ
    FlashPlayer-10.6: (installed 2017-11-28) [Lookup]
    QuickTime Plugin: 7.7.3 (installed 2017-10-03)
    AdobePDFViewerNPAPI: 17.012.20098 (installed 2017-11-30) [Lookup]
    AdobePDFViewer: 18.009.20050 (installed 2017-11-30) [Lookup]
    Flash Player: (installed 2017-11-28) [Lookup]
    EPPEX Plugin: 10.0 (installed 2013-04-15) [Lookup]
    OfficeLiveBrowserPlugin: 12.3.6 (installed 2013-03-19) [Lookup]
    JavaAppletPlugin: Java 8 Update 144 build 01 (installed 2017-08-22) Check version

    User internet Plug-ins: ⓘ
    WebEx64: 1.0 (installed 2014-07-15) [Lookup]
    Google Earth Web Plug-in: 7.1 (installed 2017-06-16) [Lookup]

    Safari Extensions: ⓘ
    [not loaded] jbsearch - jbsearch - (installed 2015-04-05)

    3rd Party Preference Panes: ⓘ
    Flash Player (installed 2017-10-25) [Lookup]
    Java (installed 2017-08-22) [Lookup]

    Time Machine: ⓘ
    Skip System Files: NO
    Auto backup: NO - Auto backup turned off
    Volumes being backed up:
    Macintosh HD: Disk size: 498.88 GB Disk used: 320.61 GB
    My Passport for Mac [Local]
    Total size: 999.83 GB
    Total number of backups: 9
    Oldest backup: 08/12/2014, 6:20 pm
    Last backup: 30/11/2017, 3:27 pm
    Size of backup disk: Adequate
    Backup size 999.83 GB > (Disk used 320.61 GB X 3)

    Top Processes by CPU: ⓘ
    7% mdworker
    7% mdworker
    6% WindowServer
    3% kernel_task
    3% firefox

    Top Processes by Memory: ⓘ
    475 MB kernel_task
    381 MB firefox
    315 MB plugin-container
    162 MB Mail
    68 MB mds_stores

    Top Processes by Network Use: ⓘ
    Input Output Process name
    1 MB 800 KB mDNSResponder
    606 KB 118 KB Mail
    32 KB 22 KB netbiosd
    11 KB 10 KB firefox
    6 KB 8 KB apsd

    Top Processes by Energy Use: ⓘ
    7.76 WindowServer
    2.98 mds
    2.14 HP Device Monitor
    1.30 natpmpd

    Virtual Memory Information: ⓘ
    939 MB Available RAM
    15 MB Free RAM
    3.08 GB Used RAM
    925 MB Cached files
    18 MB Swap Used

    Software installs (last 30 days): ⓘ
    Adobe Flash Player: (installed 2017-11-14)
    Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (18.009.20044): (installed 2017-11-15)
    OneDrive: 17.3.7078 (installed 2017-11-16)
    Send to Kindle for Mac: (installed 2017-11-28)
    Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (18.009.20050): (installed 2017-11-30)

    Install information may not be complete.

    Diagnostics Events (last 3 days for minor events): ⓘ
    2017-12-05 17:07:22 CalendarAgent Crash [Open]
    2017-12-04 21:18:16 Hang [Open]
    2017-12-04 19:11:17 iMovie High CPU use [Open] [Details]
    Elspeth, Dec 6, 2017
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  2. Elspeth

    donna13 New Member

    Nov 19, 2006
    Likes Received:
    I have the same issue so eager to see any reply help.
    donna13, Dec 6, 2017
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  3. Elspeth

    honestone New Member

    Sep 17, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Kent, WA (just south of Seattle, WA)
    While EtreCheck is a good product, it's not going to reveal all the reasons why a machine is running slow. But a couple of things do "stick out", so to speak:

    1. Your internal drive spins at only 5400 rpm. While that rotational speed might have been OK a few years ago, it can be a bottleneck with newer and newer versions of both the Mac OS and applications.

    2. Why did you "upgrade" to High Sierra? Besides all the issues folks on these forums seem to be having with it (along with a couple I have seen on another site), the only advantage I have seen with High Sierra is that Office 2016 (and its applications) run faster. The recent root user security flaw is not good either. Thus, there is really no compelling reason at this time for me to upgrade.

    3. Before you upgraded, did you insure that all the third party applications you use are compatible with High Sierra? This link can help you with that:

    4. There have been "reports" of CleanMyMac being not such a good product, and can cause issues. An excellent, free, well reviewed, and solid product is Onyx, available from here:

    (Note that you would need to get the correct version depending on what Mac OS you are using).

    5. If you are going to run multiple applications at the same time, and with the more recent versions of the Mac OS consuming more memory, 4 gig of Ram is another possible bottleneck.

    6. You really no longer need Flash Player.

    There are a number of things you can try to see if things improve:

    1. Download the following free applications:

    AppCleaner (available from here:
    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (available from here:
    ClamXav (available from here:; note that is a High Sierra version only)
    GrandPerspective (available from here:

    2. It would be best if you obtained a robust disk cleanup/maintenance/repair program like Tech Tool Pro, Disk Warrior, or Drive Genius. Unfortunately, the developers at the companies that make such products are still doing more testing with High Sierra, and thus there is no High Sierra version available for any of those products yet. (I use, and depend upon, Tech Tool Pro, and thus that is the primary reason why I have not yet "upgraded" to High Sierra).

    3. Along with #2, you really need to defragment/optimize your internal drive (such a task is no longer applicable for SSDs). Tech Tool Pro includes that as one of their tasks, and when I used to have Hard Disk Drives, I would perform disk defragmentation/optimization, and it definitely helped. Supposedly, more recent versions of the Mac OS perform such tasks (same with Repairing Disk Permissions, which I'll mention below), but I don't believe it.

    Here are some steps you can take, preferably in the order indicated:

    1. Do as much disk cleanup as you can by yourself. Look in your downloads folder for a start. Also, look for duplicates of files. Maybe you downloaded an update for an app, but did not remove the prior version of of the file for the app. If you install GrandPerspective, it can also help here, showing which files are using a lot of space.

    Another source of this is the process of deleting EMails. A deleted EMail does not get permanently removed without further steps. I use Outlook 2016 as my EMail client, and there is an easy way to do that (I use it just about every time I check my EMail). Unfortunately, I do not know how to do it with other EMail software).

    2. Install AppCleaner, and use it to remove CleanMyMac, Flash Player, and anything else you do not need.

    3. Install Malwarebyes and run it. It will help in finding malware that is on your machine.

    4. Install ClamXav. You can use it in "demo" mode" for 30 days. Make sure you first have it download the latest virus definitions. You should run it at "all levels", ie; desktop, Applications, etc. The "higher up" you go on the list of "areas" it checks, the longer it will take.

    5. Install Onyx, and run the following tasks:

    Maintenance - Permissions (you'll need to run that multiple times), Scripts, Rebuilding

    Cleaning - Everything except Erasing

    6. Finally, boot your Mac to the (hidden) Recovery HD partition. This link explains how to do that:

    Once you get the menu, select Disk Utility, and use it to Verify/Repair your internal drive.

    After doing all that, see if things improve.

    It would have been better if you had done a clean, fresh, "virgin" installation of High Sierra (OS 10.13.1, along with the recent Security Update to fix the "root user" security flaw). Unfortunately, doing that with a Time Machine backup would have bene an arduous, time consuming task, with you having virtually no control over that process (along with doing it over the internet). There are more efficient methods of doing such an upgrade, and they 1) do not depend upon the internet, and 2) give you much more control. But let's first see how your machine responds after doing the steps above.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    honestone, Dec 6, 2017
  4. Elspeth

    ROBERT H. BAUCOM New Member

    Nov 8, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Weatherford, Texas
    ROBERT H. BAUCOM, Dec 6, 2017
  5. Elspeth

    bunnydeath New Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I understand your question, but I think your solution is hardware based.

    The best thing you can do for your 2011 MacBookPro is to add more RAM to the maximum and replace your hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD). You’re computer will be super-duper happy and springy again. I promise, you won’t believe the difference. And you'll extend the usable life of your computer by many years before needing a new one.

    I’m a designer and require a LOT from my computers. My newest computer is a 2011 iMac, but I also have a 2008 and 2010 MacBook Pro laptops and a 2010 MacMini. All of which are monsters when it comes to professionally editing video and graphic design. Well, I use the Mini only for email, file serving, and chatting. My secret to their longevity is to max out the RAM and install Solid State Drives on all of them.

    There are a few "howevers" though = (

    However 1: Hardware upgrades are not free. I looked up your computer and to max out your RAM is about $150. Then, depending on how big your hard drive is, replacing it is probably another $150 to $200. It's real money, but a lot cheaper than a new computer.

    However 2: If you replace your hard drive with an SSD, it's much easier to install a fresh new OS. It's a pain, but you'll essentially have a brand new computer when you're done. You already maintain TimeMachine backups, so that makes it much easier to get all your files back where they belong. I would also recommend maintaining an iCloud backup too.

    Installing a SSD also gives you an opportunity to downgrade your OS back to Sierra or El Capitan. Your computer will run faster, but your TimeMachine won't work to restore your files. So you'd need to figure out another way to back everything up and restore. Once an older OS is installed, you can use TimeMachine as before. TimeMachine isn't backwards compatible.

    I buy my hardware upgrades from Also know as OtherWorldComputing and OWC, they provide clear video instructions to install these yourself. You certainly find these from other sources and then use OWCs instructional videos, which are always available.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
    bunnydeath, Dec 6, 2017
  6. Elspeth

    honestone New Member

    Sep 17, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Kent, WA (just south of Seattle, WA)
    A RAM upgrade and an SSD would certainly be the way to go, but one still needs to perform disk cleanup/maintenance/repairs. The tools I mentioned above are good for that.

    Regarding a Ram upgrade, I just upgraded the Ram on my late 2012 Mac Min i from 4 gig to 8 gig. I got the 2 4 gig "sticks" from OWC, and it only costs $58. My machine seems somewhat "snappier" (it has a Samsung 840 Pro 256 gig SSD inside of it). However, I rarely run more than one application at a time. So maybe you need to upgrade to 12 gig (one 8 gig stick and 1 4 gig stick), or 16 gig of Ram (two 8 gig sticks). Here is the latest pricing from OWC for your Mac:

    For an SSD, this shows you how to install one from Crucial:

    The instructions would be the same for any similar 7 mm SSD. Note that "Some drive bays have a height of 7 mm, while others have a height of 9.5 mm. Depending on the size of your drive bay, you may need to use a spacer to make your SSD fit properly.". That's obviously important!

    As for going back to a prior OS, Sierra is not available from the App Store, unless (possibly) you are upgrading from an earlier one. You would need to look under your "Purchases" tab to see if you have any prior Mac OS you can download. Myself, I can download Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, or El Capitan, even though I am using Sierra. However, I made a copy of the latest Sierra one (OS 10.12.6) in a few locations on both of my Macs.

    As for "getting stuff" from a backup, the best way to proceed would be to download and install the latest version of SuperDuper!, V3.0.1. You can get it form here, and use it in demo mode:

    After downloading that, download whatever Mac OS Installation file you can from the App store. Then immediately make a copy of it.

    Next, install SuperDuper!. Then, on your external drive partition it so that one of the partitions (a new, empty one initially) will be for the SuperDuper! backup. The size needs to be a little larger than the amount of space you are using on your internal drive.

    Run the SuperDuper! backup. Note that it will be a "High Sierra" backup. Once that's complete, shut down your Mac, and install the new SSD. Reconnect your external drive to your Mac, and start up your Mac holding down the Option key. You should see the external SuperDuper! backup as a choice. Select it, and your Mac will boot up from that backup. Use Disk Utility there to Erase and Format the SSD. Be careful with the High Sierra of Disk Utility, as you want to format the new SSD with the "older" Apple File System (GUID) instead of the new one (APFS).

    Next, locate that "Install macOS whatever" file you downloaded (and made a copy of) above. Launch it, and proceed with a clean, fresh, "virgin" installation of that Mac OS. Finally, you'll be offered the opportunity to migrate needed "stuff" from the SuperDuper! backup. That could be somewhat of a challenge, as you don't want any High Sierra "stuff" copied. Maybe someone can "chime in" here and explain how that can be done.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
    honestone, Dec 7, 2017
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