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Macbook very slow after harddrive upgrade

About a month ago I upgraded my one year old macbook (unibody) with a new Western Digital 640GB harddrive. For some reason my mac seems a lot slower since then. I'm not 100% sure this is related though.

Here are some average startup times:

1) Startup to Apple logo: 45 secs
2) Startup to login screen: 110 secs
3) Login to empty desktop: 20 secs
4) Login complete: 65 secs
5) Start mail: 25 secs
6) Start Firefox: 3.5 minutes (varies a lot)
7) Safari: 20 secs
8) Adium: 30 secs

*3: empty desktop means that no files are shown on the desktop, no icons in the upper right menu bar like time, spotlight, wireless etc
*5-8: these times are the time it takes before the app reponds to opening webpages etc.

Firefox is a complete disaster. But I remember Mail and Safari opening in about a second a while ago.

My old drive: Fujitsu MHZ2320BH

320GB, 5400RPM, 8MB cache, SATA 3Gbps, latency 5.5ms, read 12ms, write 14ms

This drive was not the original factory drive. I replaced the original Fujitsu 160GB drive the day I bought my macbook because that was cheaper than upgrading. These drives have exactly the same specs, except for capacity of course.

Both drives can be found on this page:

My new drive: Western Digital WD6400BPVT
640GB, 8MB cache, SATA 3Gbps, latency 5.5ms, read 12ms, write not specified

Below is a list of all processes I'm running after startup, among which MozyHome, Growl, Dropbox, Screenshade, SmcFancontrol, postgresql, sizzlingkeys4itunes, Sony Reader Library Launcher.

Can you give me suggestions on what I can do to find the cause of the problem?
Active Memory: 581,4 MB
Free Memory: 624,5 MB
Wired Memory: 429,1 MB
Used Memory: 1,39 GB
Inactive Memory: 411,7 MB
Total VM: 143,67 GB
Number of processes: 66

PID    Process Name              User       CPU      Real Mem        Virtual Mem    
0      kernel_task               root       3,6      85,6 MB         1,09 GB          
1      launchd                   root       0,0      1,1 MB          2,34 GB          
15     kextd                     root       0,0      2,6 MB          2,33 GB          
16     notifyd                   root       0,0      584 KB          2,33 GB          
17     diskarbitrationd          root       0,0      1,4 MB          2,33 GB          
18     configd                   root       0,0      3,0 MB          2,36 GB          
19     syslogd                   root       0,0      752 KB          2,34 GB          
20     DirectoryService          root       0,0      6,6 MB          2,34 GB          
21     distnoted                 daemon     0,0      1,3 MB          2,33 GB          
23     ntpd                      root       0,0      1,1 MB          2,32 GB          
24     cron                      root       0,0      880 KB          2,32 GB          
26     usbmuxd                   _usbmuxd   0,0      1,1 MB          599,1 MB         
27     SystemStarter             root       0,0      1.008 KB        2,33 GB          
30     securityd                 root       0,0      2,8 MB          2,35 GB          
33     mds                       root       0,0      28,4 MB         2,62 GB          
34     mDNSResponder             _mdnsrespo 0,0      1,8 MB          2,35 GB          
35     loginwindow               r7af      0,0      8,5 MB          2,61 GB          
36     KernelEventAgent          root       0,0      988 KB          2,33 GB          
38     hidd                      root       1,5      1,5 MB          2,33 GB          
39     fseventsd                 root       0,0      1,8 MB          2,34 GB          
41     dynamic_pager             root       0,0      788 KB          2,32 GB          
47     blued                     root       0,0      4,2 MB          2,35 GB          
48     autofsd                   root       0,0      976 KB          2,33 GB          
51     uc                        root       0,0      7,3 MB          2,35 GB          
52     MozyHomeBackup            root       2,2      44,1 MB         2,38 GB          
53     postgres                  postgres   0,0      3,4 MB          625,7 MB         
61     socketfilterfw            root       0,0      3,0 MB          2,35 GB          
67     postgres                  postgres   0,0      332 KB          594,6 MB         
69     postgres                  postgres   0,0      728 KB          625,7 MB         
70     postgres                  postgres   0,0      500 KB          625,7 MB         
71     postgres                  postgres   0,0      612 KB          625,7 MB         
72     postgres                  postgres   0,0      352 KB          594,6 MB         
73     coreservicesd             root       0,6      21,0 MB         2,36 GB          
80     WindowServer              _windowser 5,1      37,5 MB         2,67 GB          
90     HWNetCfg                  root       0,0      1,0 MB          596,4 MB         
92     HWPortCfg                 root       0,0      1,0 MB          596,4 MB         
169    cvmsServ                  root       0,0      812 KB          2,33 GB          
180    coreaudiod                _coreaudio 0,0      1,5 MB          2,33 GB          
188    launchd                   r7af      0,0      976 KB          2,34 GB          
192    Dock                      r7af      0,1      14,5 MB         2,66 GB          
193    SystemUIServer            r7af      0,0      17,8 MB         2,64 GB          
194    Finder                    r7af      0,4      14,1 MB         2,64 GB          
198    fontd                     r7af      0,0      4,4 MB          2,38 GB          
199    pboard                    r7af      0,0      836 KB          2,32 GB          
205    UserEventAgent            r7af      0,0      5,6 MB          2,35 GB          
211    AirPort Base Station Agen r7af      0,0      5,6 MB          2,62 GB          
212    SIMBL Agent               r7af      0,0      8,4 MB          10,64 GB         
220    smcFanControl             r7af      0,7      7,6 MB          899,2 MB         
221    SizzlingKeys4iTunes       r7af      0,0      5,4 MB          907,6 MB         
222    Reader Library Launcher   r7af      0,0      31,3 MB         922,1 MB         
223    MozyHome Status           r7af      2,3      13,5 MB         2,64 GB          
224    ScreenShade               r7af      0,0      9,3 MB          897,1 MB         
225    Dropbox                   r7af      0,1      59,5 MB         992,9 MB         
241    Mail                      r7af      0,0      43,1 MB         4,72 GB          
249    mdworker                  postgres   0,0      5,7 MB          2,35 GB          
264    GrowlHelperApp            r7af      0,0      13,0 MB         2,63 GB          
275    AppleSpell.service        r7af      0,0      1,8 MB          2,35 GB          
276    Firefox                   r7af      0,7      71,7 MB         1.007,4 MB       
285    mdworker                  r7af      0,0      17,3 MB         2,36 GB          
289    Safari                    r7af      0,0      54,8 MB         4,72 GB          
298    Adium                     r7af      0,0      16,4 MB         936,7 MB         
308    mdworker                  pluto      0,0      6,9 MB          2,35 GB          
313    mdworker                  _spotlight 0,0      3,3 MB          2,35 GB          
320    Activity Monitor          r7af      10,3     20,5 MB         2,69 GB          
322    cvmsComp_x86_64           r7af      0,0      6,0 MB          2,34 GB          
323    activitymonitord          root       2,4      1,2 MB          2,33 GB

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Watch Question

nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.

6s0gb @5400rpm? I would have done a 500gb drive @7200rpm. Not mention only 8mb cache? There are drives out there with 16mb cache.

I think it's just a big drive that spins slow. :(
nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.

60gb @5400rpm? I would have done a 500gb drive @7200rpm. Not mention only 8mb cache? There are drives out there with 16mb cache.

I think it's just a big drive that spins slow. :(
try resetting PRAM and try booting into Safe Mode
Top Expert 2010

7200 vs 5400 RPMs do not account for the performance hit.
I would run a full diagnostic suite, starting with a media verify to see if you didn't get a lemon with a lot of bad blocks.
Top Expert 2007


You misread. It's a 640GB drive. Going from 320 to 60? That's not even possible these days. The first drive had 8mb cache as well, so that shouldn't be the problem. A 7200 rpm drive would indeed be faster, but the old and new both have 5400 rpm so I don't understand your comment on this. They should run equally fast with similar specs.

At first I thought I heard the 90s ringing. I didn't know PRAM and safe mode existed for OSX. Thanks for the tip.

I don't have any data loss. I'll try this as well. Can I use the standard disk utility or do you recommend some other tool?
Open Disk Utility and run Verify Disk. While you have Disk Utility open, check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your drive and run Repair Permissions.

If Verify Disk identifies problems, do a safe boot which will automatically attempt a disk directory repair. After you have booted, run Verify Disk again to see if it was successful.

Also, download the freeware ONYX  http://www.titanium.free.fr/pgs/english/apps.html and use it to clear your caches and run the maintanence scripts.

I would also download and install the freeware SMARTReporter:  http://www.corecode.at/smartreporter/

Check your console logs for bootup errors.
You could also try turning off Spotlight. Constant attempts at re-index resulting from a corrupted spotlight index can slow things to a crawl.

Blame it on Rotational Inertia.

a 5400RPM 320 gig drive probably has 2  160G platters

a 5400RPM 640 gig drive is likeley to have 2 320G platters (thicker)

it will take longer to spin up to speed than its thinner younger brother.

You have to find a drive that strikes the balance between speed, capacity and price that works for you.

Top Expert 2010

This has nothing to do with data loss.  Here is a layman's summary of what is potentially going on...

You have recoverable and unrecoverable errors.  What happens is when the disk does a read and has a checksum error (actually it is an ECC error), or doesn't return the "GOOD" status, then the disk retries by reading, moving the heads over a smidgeon, making tiny adjustments, and so on.  This can go on for over 30 seconds.  So if it takes a few seconds to recover, then you don't have data loss, but you do have a 3 second delay.  

Here is a freebie from wd, but you have to run on a windows pc, so that means taking the disk out.  Your basic S.M.A.R.T. packages don't do a DVT.
Top Expert 2010

Neither one of the packages mentioned by strung invoke the media verify command.  This is actually a low-level ATA/SATA command that is embedded into the firmware of the HDD.  A S.M.A.R.T. utility is not going to find any problems, unless the disk itself is in a degraded/degrading condition.  Recoverable and unrecoverable errors will not trigger a S.M.A.R.T. alert.

Just do the wd utility on a windows PC.  Make sure you hook the disk up to the SATA controller, not a USB in external enclosure. The USB bridge chip won't let the media verify command get through to the drive, due to the necessary protocol conversion from ATA to SCSI command-set.

Alternately, you can spend $100 or so and get some decent software.
Top Expert 2010

Or, if you have a time machine full backup, and are comfortable with blowing the entire HDD away, you can run the disk utility and zero out the HDD, then restore.   This will not tell you if you had a lot of recoverable bad blocks, it will get rid of them by writing zeros everywhere.   So you learn nothing going down this path, but you can be assured that there won't be any bad blocks after the disk is zeroed and the O/S restored.

nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.

Yes 60GB was a typo. BAM-IT is pretty much saying the same thing I am regarding the actual speed of the drive.
Top Expert 2007


I resetted PRAM, ran Onyx and Smartreporter, no changes I believe.

Then I restarted in Safe Mode, and suddenly everything was a lot quicker. Restarting in normal mode, and everything was slow again.
Top Expert 2010

Well, then it is not a hardware problem.  You probably are starved for RAM.  Try killing all those processes you automatically start up when you log on.  There are also a bunch of freebie widget tools to look at CPU & memory utilization

If you notice its faster in SAFE mode... throw my other theory out the window...  but try this..

Create a NEW account (generic) and see if the slowness follows it..   if it does, you have some cleaning to do in the OS.   If it DOESNT, you have some cleaning to do on the account.  (usually old preference files and startup items)

Top Expert 2007


A new test account works a lot faster. Does this mean I have to recreate my account?

You should if you can... and import only the important things from the old one...  make sure to back up first...
Top Expert 2007


From 10.1 till now I've reinstalled my account only one time. I suppose this is probably the best option for now. All those settings - that will take a lot of time to get the account configured like I want it. But the cleanup won't hurt.

I have to do the same thing... same account since 10.1, 3 machine upgrades and several HDD upgrades..

The cleanup is well worth it..  and a Fresh install is obviously the best option.. (thats what I'm doing now)
Top Expert 2010

I've been a UNIX kernel hacker since back in the early 80's, (Linux, Unix, solaris, ...)  and it is a huge pain to get everything, and still ended up with what I know is highly likely to be garbage on  one of my machines that I upgraded, but still never could figure out for sure, and Apple was no help.  You can also end up with invalid soft links, and junk from numerous configuration files for obsolete packages.

Moving forward, friendly advice to all, get yourself an empty external enclosure next time you want to upgrade, or at least after you go through several upgrades.  Buy a replacement HDD, and install it as the new drive.  zero init the disk to clean up everything, then perform a fresh install.   Move the old HDD into the empty enclosure, and mount it.  Then you can drag over many of the old apps, and important things like mail can be re-configured.

Let time machine use the old enclosure for backup.   This cleans up a lot of headaches, and you get a backup, and don't risk screwing things up if the upgrade fails.  
Top Expert 2010

Off subject, but has anybody had good experience with online backup for OS X?  Lots of things to choose from, but life is too short to test.  I know they will all back up, but I would like thoughts on whether or not anybody has actually used them to perform a bare metal disaster recovery?   If nobody knows, I will post it for points , just curious.
Top Expert 2007


I use MozyHome for $4.95 a month. I've had problems with it several months ago, because of a bug with spotlight. It pretended to have backed up everything, which was impossible in the short time span it had (like backing up 100GB in one night). I'm testing it now, as it seems to work.

This problem with the harddrive here has caused it to fail again, probably because I disabled spotlight and erased all spotlight indexes. So now I have to reindex everything, then see if it works, but I expect it to work properly now.

The only problem I see is that it's so easy to erase a complete online backup. So I see this only as a second backup, next to two external drives backed up by Deja Vu, one of them physically offsite.
Promote your TEST account to admin,    do a full time machine backup to an external.  re install and import the old user but only the data you need..   it might carry over some junk anyways.. but not nearly all the junk leftover from sever OS upgrades.    I use Deja VU and Chronosync to keep my Music Libraries and ancillary files current.  (Mobile DJ) I've only used E-VAULT online backup (at a company) but I think they have personal backup too...never used it tho
Before you do anything drastic, open the Accounts system preferences pane, click on your user account in the left hand pane and on Log In Items in the right. Delete any log in items you don't absolutely need. (Unchecking the boxes still allows the items to load, but does so in the background, so simply unchecking them won't solve the problem - you have to delete the items using the minus sign at the bottom left). If that solve the speed problem, then you know the problem was one of your log in items.
Top Expert 2007


Today I updated to Firefox 3.6.4, which corrupted my profile somehow. The result was that FF didn't start anymore. I installed the old version, but that didn't work either. Then I removed the profile, and firefox was lightning fast.

I had a backup of my profile, so I restored that, and then cleaned it up. It had about 80MB of data in it. I removed all extension data, and everything that seemed useless. I have my bookmarks, and most of the settings I want. The rest can be restored over time.