Previous 1 2 3 Next 30 Replies Latest reply: Aug 27, 2012 5:32 PM by Dottyc
Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

Frustrating frequently I get the color wheel when opening simple email, also when scrolling web pages on Firefox. 2008 Computer has 500GB of memory with 150GB available; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM. I try to run with very few programs open, but still quite slow. I've run Repair Disk Permissions successfully to no avail. I've been told that the hard drive might be dying, which I hope is not the case, but I don't know how to confirm one way or the other. Any help would be appreciated.

Reply by rack0 tack0 on Aug 22, 2012 9:43 AM Helpful

If you are near an Apple store you could always take it to the Genius bar and let them look at the problem.


If not hear are some thoughts.


You have determined that there are lots of page outs which tends to suggest you have not enough memory for the tasks that are running on the system.


So perhaps:-

1. You have a rogue application that is using too much memory, or the data it uses has been corrupted and is causing the application to use more memory than it should normally do.


2. You have a rogue application running on there that as been installed without you knowing, unlikely though.


3. You just don't have enough memory to run the system the way you are doing.


4. You have a very fragmented disk, this would slow the system but perhaps not load up memory, again with the file system used by Apple this is unlikely.


There will be others but thats all for now.


Due to you being unable to determine the exact cause of the problem these are some suggestion.


Before you contemplate performing any of the following suggestions be sure to have verified backups in place.


a. 'Archive and Install' the system, be sure to have all the installation media for iLife and any other Apple and Third party applications available to replace those also.


Instruction at


b. Run an Anti Virus program, a few free ones about, Sophos  and iAntivirus are two.


c. Run a clean install were you wipe the disk and start a fresh install of everything, move user data back across from your backups. This would defragment the disk as well as replace all the software.


This is one way, there will be instructions on the Apple web site, just could not find a link.


d. Buy extra memory as seventy one suggests, see my previous post with a link to Crucial, they can scan the machine and give you recommend upgrades. 4GB total would be good, not sure how much Ram your machine will take. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to fit in most iMacs from 2007/2008, again not sure about other iMacs.

Be sure to check the OCW website also. Usually the more Ram the better.


I would go for more Ram memory as a start, a lot easier than rebuilding the software.


On a last point you mentioned in your first post that you were told that the disk could be going faulty, although you have tested that with the SMART data and Disk Utility it is still a possibility. I have seen disks drives have bad sectors but the error correction in the drive was so good that the drive  corrected the errors. Correcting the errors takes time and slows the system down. Unlikely with the tests you have run but not to be ruled out completely.

All replies

  • rack0 tack0 Level 4 Level 4

    Run Activity Monitor and determine if any application or applications are using high percentages of CPU. You can also us AM to view memory use.

    As to your disk drive, there are applications that can run a surface test to check for bad sectors, I have no experience with them so cannot recommend any.

    You don't say which version of OS X you use, I found Lion quite slow at times with 2GB ram and upgraded to 4GB.


  • rack0 tack0 Level 4 Level 4

    Sorry your OS X version was in the title, I found 10.5 OK with 2GB.

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10

    Hello, see how many of these you can answer...


    See if the Disk is issuing any S.M.A.R.T errors in Disk Utility...




    Open Activity Monitor in Applications>Utilities, select All Processes & sort on CPU%, any indications there?


    How much RAM & free space do you have also, click on the Memory & Disk Usage Tabs.


    Open Console in Utilities & see if there are any clues or repeating messages when this happens.


    In the Memory tab, are there a lot of Pageouts?

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    The Activity Monitor shows Firefox to be jumping from around 11% to a spike of 34%; Mail is showing around 0.1. Doesn't seem to be out of line to me, but I didn't even know about AM before today. I must admit I have a lot of emails stored on Mail and I usually keep several windows open on Firefox, but this slowness has really increased tremendously in the last few days with nothing new happening that I'm aware of.

  • rack0 tack0 Level 4 Level 4

    The items suggested by BDAqua need to be checked, just one point about AM, did you select 'all processes' as in BDAqua screen shot?

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    Disk Utility says S.M.A.R.T. Status: Verified, if that's what you mean.


    On System Memory in Activity Monitor, Pageouts is 1.82 GB. On the CPU tab it doesn't look unusual, but I don'w know what it is supposed to look like.


    On Disk Usage, it shows Space utilized: 316.24GB and Space free: 149.20, so a fair percentage is free.


    Opened Console and am waiting for that blasted wheel to stop! Twice. I'm keeping it open for a while just in case it responds.

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    Yes, I put it on All Processes. Still waiting for Console Messages to come through.

  • rack0 tack0 Level 4 Level 4

    This may explain the Page Outs that BDAqua suggested you look for, and perhaps a reason for slow running.



    Is it OK after  a reboot and then slows down with use, just wondering about a memory leak in one of you applications?

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    Thanks. That website helps me understand. My Page outs is pretty high and the Free is low: 7-10 MB.


    It's not much better after a reboot. Perhaps a little, but not like it should be.


    Update on Console Messages: The wheel is still turning but there seem to be quite a few lines being addes, starting with September of '09. I can't move the window to see how far it's going, but I'm guessing hundreds of lines.

  • rack0 tack0 Level 4 Level 4

    In the memory fields of AM is there any application that is using lots of RAM?, The more tabs in Firefox or Safari you have open will increase its memory footprint.


    Any applications you have updated or installed recently?


    The slowness does seem to be retlated to full RAM.

  • RRFS Level 5 Level 5

    You wrote that you have Repaired Disk Permissions, have you tried to do a Disk Repair? Do you have any "Virus Protection" running? You really don't need that stuff for OSX. That being said Snow Leopard is probably safer than Leopard.

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    Right now the main thing that is using memory is the Console Messages @ around 20-35% CPU. Firefox updated recently to 14.0.1, but I think I was having problems before that. In any case it wasn't as bad as it is now.


    Regarding keeping open windows in Firefox, does it make any difference if I have, say 6 separate windows open, or if there are 2 windows open with 3 "+" windows used in each?

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    I have not done Disk Repair at this point. Also, I was reluctant to upgrade to Snow Leopard while still having a problem and not knowing the cause.

  • Dottyc Level 1 Level 1

    Oh, sorry I missed the question, I don't have any virus protection running.

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