Disconnect all wired peripherals except keyboard, mouse, and monitor, if applicable. Launch the usual set of applications you use when you notice the slowdown.
Launch the Activity Monitor application in any of the following ways:
☞ Enter the first few letters of its name into a Spotlight search. Select it in the results (it should be at the top.)
☞ In the Finder, press the key combination shift-command-U. The application is in the folder that opens.
☞ If you’re running Mac OS X 10.7 or later, open LaunchPad. Click Utilities, then Activity Monitor in the page that opens.
Select the CPU tab. Select All Processes from the popup menu in the toolbar, if not already selected. Click the heading of the % CPU column in the process table to sort the entries by CPU usage. You may have to click it twice to get the highest value at the top. What is it, and what is the process? Also post the values for % User, % System, and % Idle at the bottom of the window.
Now select the System Memory tab. What values are shown in the bottom part of the window for Page outs and Swap used?
Launch the Console application in the same way as above, and select “kernel.log” from the file list. Post the dozen or so most recent messages in the log – the text, please, not a screenshot. If there are repeats, please post only one example of each repeated message.
Sorry it's taken so long to reply.
The overheating problem seems to be associated with Firefox & Firefox Plugin Process (Shockwave Flash) when a video clip is open (running or not). In this case the typical values you asked for are: -
% CPU column
Firefox Plugin Process (Shockwave Flash) 37.6
% User 31.84
% System 23.75
% Idle 39.8
Page Outs 2.31 GB
Swap Used 1.10 GB
If no video is open, but Firefox is running, the typical values are: -
% CPU column
Firefox Plugin Process (Shockwave Flash) 12.8
% User 9.48
% System 13.22
% Idle 78.7
Page Outs 930.5 MB
Swap Used 1.22 GB
Even without a video clip open or running I feel that my MBP is slower than it should be, but I don't know how to measure that. The MS Office for Mac 2008 applications are particularly prone to no response then spinning parasol.
I will have to upgrade to Lion soon, as I'm a Mobile Me user, but I had a lot of problems when I first tried it. I've had it running on an external drive and it seems OK when installed on a formatted drive. I'll also upgrade to MS Office for Mac 2011.
Thanks for your response and I'd be grateful for any comments or observations from you.
Thanks a apologies for the slow reply - life!
I can't get Hardware Test to run at all. This may be because I upgraded to Lion some time ago but had to go back to Snow Leopard, which I did on a 'clean' HDD.
I've tried re-installing the Applications DVD but still no success.
Is Hardware Test available as a download?
Your system is slow because of excessive swapping of data between physical memory and virtual memory.
That can happen for two reasons: (1) You have a long-running process with a memory leak (i.e., a bug), or (2) you don't have enough memory installed for your usage pattern.
Tracking down a memory leak can be difficult, and it may come down to a process of elimination. In Activity Monitor, click the heading of the Real Mem column in the process table once or twice to sort the table with the highest value at the top. Repeat with the Virtual Mem column. If one process (not including "kernel_task") is using much more memory than all the others, that could be an indication of a leak. A better indication would be a process that continually grabs more and more memory over time without ever releasing it.
In this case, it seems clear that Firefox or one of its plugins is at fault.
You've been given a suggestion to install a commercial diagnostic product. Before you spend money on that product, you should be aware of the following facts:
1. It's a GUI wrapper for the open-source command-line program "smartmontools," which is free.
2. There's no empirical evidence that monitoring the SMART data of a hard drive more closely than you can with Disk Utility helps to predict failure.
3. There's also no reason to think that your problem is caused by a drive malfunction.
Thanks again for the advice and apologies for the slow response.
I have looked at what is happening with Real and Virtual Memory (RM, VM): -
prl_vm_app (Parallels) 588 MB RM, 170 MB VM
Firefox 302 MB RM, 214 MB VM
mds (Spotlight?) 94 MB RM, 190 MB VM
At the moment I have no peripherals connected and only Firefox and Activity Monitor running and I'm surprised to see the following in System Memory: -
Free: 867 MB
Wired: 702 MB
Active: 879 MB
Inactive: 1.61 GB
Used: 3.15 GB
Does this mean that I am using 3.15 GB of my 4 GB memory with only two applications running (apart from those in the background)?
No, you're quite right, Firefox is definitely the problem. I'm a bit embarrassed that I didn't work that out for myself.
I'm using Safari right now and my system is running at what I would call 'normal' speed. I didn't notice that Firefox caused a problem when I first installed it, so it must be a subsequent update or plugin. I'll remove it now.
I obviously don't understand systems well enough but I'm confused that the numbers in System Memory haven't changed significantly even though the system is much faster.
Thanks for your help.