My Mac is slow! What could be wrong?

Is your Mac slow? There are a lot of different things that can slow down a Mac. My 15 years of working with Mac computers, have taught me a few tricks to improve the performance of older Macs.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to sort out why your Mac is slowing down. Some of these you can fix on your own. But others will require some help from a qualified Mac technician.

Is my Hard Drive dying?

It is a possibility. We all slow down with age. Even hard drives. Eventually, your hard drive will retire permanently. There are specific symptoms to a terminal hard drive you need to look out for.

First, you will notice that it will take forever for the computer to start up or launch applications but after it gets going, it will work fine. But then, when you have to save or open a new file, it goes back to a snail’s pace. This happens because your hard drive motor is starting to give up. It is kind of like heart failure. The motor can’t handle the stress and it takes longer to load the data into your RAM.

If this starts to happen you need to back up all your data right away and keep backing it up every time you finish working and shut down your computer. You can’t know how long it will be before the Hard Drive gives out entirely. You will need to get hold of a Mac technician. ASAP.

Is it time to get an SSD?

Probably. SSD = Solid State Drive. One of the cheapest ways to add some zip to your Mac is to upgrade your old hard drive to a solid-state drive. Older style hard drives are really the great-grandchild of the record player. I’m not kidding. A physical hard drive is really a needle and a spinning disk but instead of music, it is a series of ones and zeros. The problem is there is a limit to the speed that which information can be accessed.

But SSD technology is closer to a USB stick. The information travels much faster and is more resistant to drops and bumps. Upgrading your Mac to an SSD will require a technician as you need to make sure all the data transfers to the new drive safely. We are happy to order and install an SSD for you, or you buy your own SSD Drive at Lithgow Tech Services (Tell them Kevin sent you) and schedule us to install it at a convenient time.

Should I upgrade my RAM?

Maybe. The next best thing to installing an SSD is upgrading the RAM. Increasing Random Access Memory is like widening a two-lane highway to a five-lane expressway. The more RAM the larger the programs that the computer can handle without slowing down. So yes LOTS of RAM is important.

Whether or not you can do this will depend on your exact model. Be sure you know exactly what you need before purchasing your RAM or give us a call and let us walk you through what you need. I have a 2011 MacBook Pro that was upgraded with an SSD and 12 gigs of RAM and it purrs like a muscle car. (I do want to upgrade but then again … I ALWAYS want to upgrade)

Mac is slow? Consider upgrading your RAM
Your Mac is slow .. try upgrading your RAM

Do I have Malware?

Yes, it is possible. Macs can get Malware. Malware is good at being sneaky but not very good and keeping your system running fast. Many forms of malware have been designed around a task (spying on you, taking your credit card numbers, etc) and doing that task takes up RAM. It is like a dump truck has crashed across 3 lanes of your expressway. So yes, Malware can slow down your MacBook, but it can also do far worse. It needs to be located and removed right away.

Do I have a Virus?

Probably not. Apple system viruses are still very rare – but they are not impossible. You can get Anti-Virus software to detect and protect your Mac from viruses and malware, but in my experience, this cure is often as bad as the disease. (In some cases it makes your Mac slower than the malware it was programmed to remove)

Just like real viruses, your best protection is prevention. You need to learn how to practice good hygiene with your Mac, be very careful about what you load onto your system and who else uses your Mac. If you want to take a few Though I do healthy computer courses, we are happy to walk you through a basic Mac Health course.

If you are not in a position to have total control over what gets loaded onto your Mac, you can ask us about whether or not our Magg-Pi WiFi security system would be right for you.

Alternatively, while we do not recommend Anti-Virus on a Mac computer, it is a better alternative than having malware. We can point you in the direction of some information to help you decide which application to get.

Is my disk getting full?

Macs need about 20% of their hard drive free at all times. This is like using a workbench in the shed but having your entire bench covered in tools. It makes it harder to get things done if you are always having to shift the tools around to start work on any projects. There are many ways to free up disk space but that will be a later post.

The first step if your Mac is slow and your disk is getting full, is to take out the trash. If you are still having problems contact us.

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