11 Replies Latest reply: Aug 25, 2014 11:37 PM by Richs111
jman79 Level 1 (0 points)

Hi folks,

 

My MacBook Air has gotten painfully slow over time but I can't afford to buy a new one right now. It freezes for a few seconds at a time, all the time, especially when I am using Chrome.* Any ideas for how to speed it up? 

 

Specs are:

 

Model: 13-inch, Late 2010

Processor: 1.86 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

Memory: 2 GB 1067 MHz DDR3

Software: Mac OS X Lion 10.7.5 (11G63b)

Graphics: Graphics  NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256 MB

Storage: The Mac partition is 75 GB, of which 44 GB are free (there is also a 45GB Bootcamp partition).

 

I was running out of disk space, which I thought was causing the problem by cramping the space available for the swapfiles, which in turn was requiring extra disk activity (you can see that discussion here). There is a clear correlation b/w disk activity and CPU Usage (the two screenshots were taken back to back last night; the dock icon for Activity Monitor is showing CPU history):

 

Disk Activity - Data - 2013-02-15 2.00.29 AM.pngDisk Activity - IO - 2013-02-15 2.00.32 AM.png

 

However repartitioning to add another 35GB of free space to the Mac partition didn't do anything. In fact, the swapfile sizes are exactly the same as they were two weeks ago when I posted the other question (this is from just now):

 

Swapfile sizes 2013-02-15 5.44.07 PM.png

 

I was thinking about buying an aftermarket SSD to increase the storage size, but if increasing the partition size didn't help it doesn't seem that will either.

 

Thanks much!

 

--

* The big memory and CPU hog is Chrome, and in particular gmail, but my workflow is pretty dependent on working in the cloud. I use Firefox and Safari from time to time, but my experience with those is that they run all tabs in a signel process, so to free up memory you have to close the entire browser, and if one tab crashes the whole browser does, whereas with chrome you can kill individual tabs if they freeze and/or to free up their memory.


MacBook Air (13-inch Late 2010), Mac OS X (10.7.5), 2GB RAM, 1.86 Intel GHz Core 2 Duo
  • Kappy Level 10 (265,951 points)

    You need more RAM if that's possible in your model. I think you can go up to 4 GBs. You will use more swap space as memory availability declines.

     

    About OS X Memory Management and Usage

     

    Using Activity Monitor to read System Memory & determine how much RAM is used

    Memory Management in Mac OS X

    Performance Guidelines- Memory Management in Mac OS X

    A detailed look at memory usage in OS X

    Memory Usage Performance Guidelines- About the Virtual Memory System

     

     

    Understanding top output in the Terminal

     

    The amount of available RAM for applications is the sum of Free RAM and Inactive RAM. This will change as applications are opened and closed or change from active to inactive status. The Swap figure represents an estimate of the total amount of swap space required for VM if used, but does not necessarily indicate the actual size of the existing swap file. If you are really in need of more RAM that would be indicated by how frequently the system uses VM. If you open the Terminal and run the top command at the prompt you will find information reported on Pageins () and Pageouts (). Pageouts () is the important figure. If the value in the parentheses is 0 (zero) then OS X is not making instantaneous use of VM which means you have adequate physical RAM for the system with the applications you have loaded. If the figure in parentheses is running positive and your hard drive is constantly being used (thrashing) then you need more physical RAM.

     

    Adding RAM only makes it possible to run more programs concurrently.  It doesn't speed up the computer nor make games run faster.  What it can do is prevent the system from having to use disk-based VM when it runs out of RAM because you are trying to run too many applications concurrently or using applications that are extremely RAM dependent.  It will improve the performance of applications that run mostly in RAM or when loading programs.

     

    Kappy's Personal Suggestions About OS X Maintenance

     

    For disk repairs use Disk Utility.  For situations DU cannot handle the best third-party utility is: Disk Warrior;  DW only fixes problems with the disk directory, but most disk problems are caused by directory corruption. Drive Genius provides additional tools not found in Disk Warrior for defragmentation of older drives, disk repair, disk scans, formatting, partitioning, disk copy, and benchmarking. 

     

    Four outstanding sources of information on Mac maintenance are:

     

    1. OS X Maintenance - MacAttorney.

    2. Mac maintenance Quick Assist

    3. Maintaining Mac OS X

    4. Mac Maintenance Guide

     

    Periodic Maintenance

     

    OS X performs certain maintenance functions that are scheduled to occur on a daily, weekly, or monthly period. The maintenance scripts run in the early AM only if the computer is turned on 24/7 (no sleep.) See Mac OS X- About background maintenance tasks. If you are running Leopard or later these tasks are run automatically, so there is no need to use any third-party software to force running these tasks.

     

    If you are using a pre-Leopard version of OS X, then an excellent solution is to download and install a shareware utility such as Macaroni, JAW PseudoAnacron, or Anacron that will automate the maintenance activity regardless of whether the computer is turned off or asleep.  Dependence upon third-party utilities to run the periodic maintenance scripts was significantly reduced after Tiger.  (These utilities have limited or no functionality with Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion and should not be installed.)

     

    Defragmentation

     

    OS X automatically defragments files less than 20 MBs in size, so unless you have a disk full of very large files there's little need for defragmenting the hard drive except when trying to install Boot Camp on a fragmented drive. But you don't need to buy third-party software. All you need is a spare external hard drive and Carbon Copy Cloner.

     

    Cheap and Easy Defragmentation

     

    You will have to backup your OS X partition to an external drive, boot from the external drive, use Disk Utility to repartition and reformat your hard drive back to a single volume, then restore your backup to the internal hard drive. You will use Carbon Copy Cloner to create the backup and to restore it.

     

      1. Get an empty external hard drive and clone your internal drive to the

           external one.

      2. Boot from the external hard drive.

      3. Erase the internal hard drive.

      4. Restore the external clone to the internal hard drive.

     

    Clone the internal drive to the external drive

     

      1. Open Carbon Copy Cloner.

      2. Select the Source volume from the left side dropdown menu.

      3. Select the Destination volume from the left side dropdown menu.

      4. Be sure the Block Copy button is not depressed or is ghosted.

      5. Click on the Clone button.

     

    Destination means the external backup drive. Source means the internal startup drive.

     

    Restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the OPTION key until the boot manager appears.  Select the icon for the external drive and click on the upward pointing arrow button.

     

    After startup do the following:

     

    Erase internal hard drive

     

      1. Open Disk Utility in your Utilities folder.

      2. After DU loads select your internal hard drive (this is the entry with the

           mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Note the SMART status of the

           drive in DU's status area.  If it does not say "Verified" then the drive is

           failing or has failed and will need replacing.  SMART info will not be

           reported  on external drives. Otherwise, click on the Partition tab in the

           DU main window.

      3. Under the Volume Scheme heading set the number of partitions from the

           drop down menu to one. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended

           (Journaled.) Click on the Options button, set the partition scheme to

           GUID then click on the OK button. Click on the Partition button and wait

           until the process has completed.

     

    Restore the clone to the internal hard drive

     

      1. Open Carbon Copy Cloner.

      2. Select the Source volume from the left side dropdown menu.

      3. Select the Destination volume from the left side dropdown menu.

      4. Be sure the Block Copy button is not selected or is ghosted.

      5. Click on the Clone button.

     

    Destination means the internal hard drive. Source means the external startup drive.

     

    Note that the Source and Destination drives are swapped for this last procedure.

     

    Malware Protection

     

    As for malware protection there are few if any such animals affecting OS X. Starting with Lion Apple has included built-in malware protection that is automatically updated as necessary.

     

    Helpful Links Regarding Malware Protection:

     

    1. Mac Malware Guide.

    2. Detecting and avoiding malware and spyware

    3. Macintosh Virus Guide

     

    For general anti-virus protection I recommend only using ClamXav, but it is not necessary if you are keeping your computer's operating system software up to date. You should avoid any other third-party software advertised as providing anti-malware/virus protection. They are not required and could cause the performance of your computer to drop.

     

    Cache Clearing

     

    I recommend downloading a utility such as TinkerTool System, OnyX 2.4.3, or Cocktail 5.1.1 that you can use for periodic maintenance such as removing old log files and archives, clearing caches, etc. Corrupted cache files can cause slowness, kernel panics, and other issues. Although this is not a frequent nor a recurring problem, when it does happen there are tools such as those above to fix the problem.

     

    For emergency cleaning install the freeware utility Applejack.  If you cannot start up in OS X, you may be able to start in single-user mode from which you can run Applejack to do a whole set of repair and maintenance routines from the command line.  Note that AppleJack 1.5 is required for Leopard. AppleJack 1.6 is compatible with Snow Leopard. (AppleJack works with Snow Leopard or earlier.)

     

    Installing System Updates or Upgrades

     

    When you install any new system software or updates be sure to repair the hard drive and permissions beforehand. I also recommend booting into safe mode before doing system software updates.

     

    Backup and Restore

     

    Having a backup and restore strategy is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your computer. Get an external Firewire drive at least equal in size to the internal hard drive and make (and maintain) a bootable clone/backup. You can make a bootable clone using the Restore option of Disk Utility. You can also make and maintain clones with good backup software. My personal recommendations are (order is not significant):

     

      1. Carbon Copy Cloner.

      2. Deja Vu

      3. SuperDuper!

      4. Synk Pro

      5. Tri-Backup

     

    Visit The XLab FAQs and read the FAQs on maintenance and backup and restore.

     

    Always have a current backup before performing any system updates or upgrades.

     

    Be sure you have an adequate amount of RAM installed for the number of applications you run concurrently. Be sure you leave a minimum of 10% of the hard drive's capacity or 20 GBs, whichever is greater, as free space. Avoid installing utilities that rely on Haxies, SIMBL, or that alter the OS appearance, add features you will rarely if ever need, etc. The more extras you install the greater the probability of having problems. If you install software be sure you know how to uninstall it. Avoid installing multiple new software at the same time. Install one at a time and use it for a while to be sure it's compatible.

     

    Additional suggestions will be found in:    

     

    1. Mac OS X speed FAQ

    2. Speeding up Macs

    3. Macintosh OS X Routine Maintenance

    4. Essential Mac Maintenance: Get set up

    5. Essential Mac Maintenance: Rev up your routines

    6. Five Mac maintenance myths

    7. How to Speed up Macs

    8. Myths of required versus not required maintenance for Mac OS X

     

    Referenced software can be found at CNet Downloads or MacUpdate.


  • jman79 Level 1 (0 points)

    Kappy - there's a lot of good stuff here and it will take me some time to digest it. Unfortunately I have a MacBook Air and I'm not aware of a way to upgrade memory on it.

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,951 points)

    Yes, you are correct. I misstated. They come in 2 or 4 GB configurations, but are not expandable.

  • jman79 Level 1 (0 points)

    So, that being the case, any suggestions for where to start? Not to sound ungrateful, but that's a lot of information you dumped up there!

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,951 points)

    You have a small SSD with a large junk allocated to a Boot Camp partition. If it isn't necessary to run Windows I would remove the partition so you have more space on the HD. Or if you have more space allocated to it than you need you could shrink the Windows partition using Paragon Camptune X 10.

     

    What I would suggest is:

     

    Repair the Hard Drive and Permissions - Lion/Mountain Lion

     

    Boot to the Recovery HD:

     

    Restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND and R keys until the menu screen appears. Alternatively, restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the OPTION key until the boot manager screen appears. Select the Recovery HD and click on the downward pointing arrow button.

     

    Repair

     

    When the recovery menu appears select Disk Utility. After DU loads select your hard drive entry (mfgr.'s ID and drive size) from the the left side list.  In the DU status area you will see an entry for the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard drive.  If it does not say "Verified" then the hard drive is failing or failed. (SMART status is not reported on external Firewire or USB drives.) If the drive is "Verified" then select your OS X volume from the list on the left (sub-entry below the drive entry,) click on the First Aid tab, then click on the Repair Disk button. If DU reports any errors that have been fixed, then re-run Repair Disk until no errors are reported. If no errors are reported then click on the Repair Permissions button. When the process is completed, then quit DU and return to the main menu. Select Restart from the Apple menu.

     

    Boot into Safe Mode then restart normally.

     

    If these don't help then do the following:

     

    Reinstalling Lion/Mountain Lion Without Erasing the Drive

     

    Boot to the Recovery HD: Restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND and R keys until the menu screen appears. Alternatively, restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the OPTION key until the boot manager screen appears. Select the Recovery HD and click on the downward pointing arrow button.

     

    Repair the Hard Drive and Permissions: Upon startup select Disk Utility from the main menu. Repair the Hard Drive and Permissions as follows.

     

    When the recovery menu appears select Disk Utility. After DU loads select your hard drive entry (mfgr.'s ID and drive size) from the the left side list.  In the DU status area you will see an entry for the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard drive.  If it does not say "Verified" then the hard drive is failing or failed. (SMART status is not reported on external Firewire or USB drives.) If the drive is "Verified" then select your OS X volume from the list on the left (sub-entry below the drive entry,) click on the First Aid tab, then click on the Repair Disk button. If DU reports any errors that have been fixed, then re-run Repair Disk until no errors are reported. If no errors are reported click on the Repair Permissions button. Wait until the operation completes, then quit DU and return to the main menu.

     

    Reinstall Lion/Mountain Lion: Select Reinstall Lion/Mountain Lion and click on the Continue button.

     

    Note: You will need an active Internet connection. I suggest using Ethernet if possible because it is three times faster than wireless.


  • jman79 Level 1 (0 points)

    I've already resized my Boot Camp partition to roughly the minimum possible, and checked for errors on my hard drive. There are none.

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,951 points)

    Did you do the other two things I suggested?

  • Lanny Level 5 (6,944 points)
  • jman79 Level 1 (0 points)

    How do I get/create a recovery HD?

  • Kappy Level 10 (265,951 points)

    It's part of the Lion/Mountain Lion installation. It's an invisible partition on your hard drive.

  • Richs111 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi Everyone

     

    I solved my macbook air speed issue. It was after trying all the tips on the net which didn't work

     

    It is so simple. I added a  verbatim USB mouse model 49014 by accident and my computer is going as fast as ever.

     

    I don't know if the mouse model number has anything to do with it but i put it there just in case. It is a USB mouse and not a wifi mouse, because I have the apple Magic mouse and its slow with that