April 07, 2005

Curious George: Mac Help My Mac at work is running slow. If it were a PC, I'd defrag it. What maintainence (sp?) should I perform to keep my Dual 1 GHz PowerPC G4 running smoothly?
  • I´d check if anything has been installed lately; that has been the main problem with machines at work, someone "just checking their mail" and infecting the machine with trojans, pr0n dialers, screensavers and such. This has happened mostly on Windows boxes, but on Mac, it´s usually some warez they attempted to install. But first: what OSX version you´re running? How much RAM?
  • Norton Disc Doctor is what I use.
  • For freeware, there's nothing to defrag, really. You can empty caches and reset permissions, however. This is a good freeware one for that: http://personalpages.tds.net/~brian_hill/macjanitor.html
  • If you're on OS 9, then rebuild your desktop (hold down command and option when the finder is loading). Is it generally slow, or slow when doing particular tasks? If OS X: When was the last time you logged out? Are you using multiple user switching? Are you doing anything excessive, like loading a lot of different tabs or images in a web browser? Incidentally, HFS+, OS X's file system, defrags itself as necessary.
  • I am running OSX 10.2.8, with 512 RAM (i'm pretty sure)
  • I´d recommend you to pester management as to upgrade to 10.3 asap. It´s quite a leap on performance, and you have an adequate amount of ram. What kind of apps you´re using?
  • I agree with download MacJanitor (try versiontracker.com to find it) If your mac is shut down, or asleep every night, it's not running the usual maintainance scripts. macjanitor will run them for you..very important... I'm assuming you've already tried just rebooting..
  • The computer does indeed often get shut down at night. It is mostly used to process audio files (CD->AIFF->RM->the server), and some video stuff. Thanks guys!
  • Onyx or Cocktail will run those scripts, and perform other maintenance as well.
  • there are those who say osx shouldn't be defragged, as the os moves things to places it deems logical. (the outer part of the HD platters is faster than the inner part) that said, how would you describe the slowness? it is pausing alot? that might only be solved by more ram. 512 is really not that much these days.
  • I doubt it's fragmentation, although it could be if the drive is almost full. More likely you may have some background process running, likely a virus scanner, that's slowing things down. Try typing top -u in a terminal or use the Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder) and see if there's anything unusual taking CPU cycles.
  • As JoeChip mentioned, Onyx is pretty handy. You could also try creating a new user (thereby starting with clean preferences, .plists, and sans login items) and observing whether the slowdown is still present when logged into the new user account. MenuMeters is handy to keep tabs on how much disk and RAM is currently being used or free. Running slow is also a symptom of excessive swap file usage (low free RAM), and/or a low free disk space condition. In my experience, Mac OS X likes at least a couple Gigs of free disk space in order to run snappily. That is, in addition to having adequate RAM installed. (the 512 MB sounds good.) Mac OS X 10.3.x (and soon, 10.4) is a recommended and worthwhile upgrade. - Jeff (Apple Certified Tech, when I'm not hanging around these parts) :)

  • Thanks, aeonite, for MacJanitor. Looks like I need it.
  • I'll second that repairing permissions is also key to good functionality, and ideally you should do it after installing anything.