Mac mini (late 2014, 8GB RAM) very slow boot and will not run Apple apps.

Mac mini (late 2014, 8GB RAM) has become agonizingly slow to boot up - 16 minutes returned by macOS 10.13.3. Applications (e.g.Pages, Safari) will not start - system returns 'Application Unresponsive'.

I have at least three backups of full system or needed data (Acronis True Image, Time Machine, iCloud)

How do I determine where problem is - Mac mini HD and what to do next - reformat HD (how?) , reinstall macOS (how?) - or...?
MARSPATHRetired EE/Computers/ITAsked:
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Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
in windows i use a software (HD Tune Pro) to check there is errors with the hard drive or bad sectors)
here is it's alternatives to mac

a user in this links mentions PRAM to be the issue
Here is how to do it:

  • Shutdown your Mac
  • Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Option, Command (⌘), P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
  • Turn on your Mac.
  • Immediately press and hold the Option-Command-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.
  • Continue holding the keys down until your Mac restarts, and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
  • Release the keys.
Reset SMC.
  Unplug the Power
  Press and hold the Power button for more than 5 seconds.

Rest the PRAM
  as previously stated.

You can run the built-in hardware Diagnostics to see if something is failing.
Boot the Mac Mini
Press and hold the d key during boot.

Reinstall OS X - You can do this without erasing your user data or Applications.
Start the Mac Mini
Press and hold command r
After booting up.  Select English.
Choose Reinstall OS X.
Let it reinstall the OS System files to fix any corrupt OS files.

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Qian BaoDigital Media Specialist and Web DesignerCommented:
It seems to me that you are running a mechanical hard drive. That might also be a cause of performance reduction.
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One more thing.  Run Disk Utility and run First AID before you reinstall the OS.  It's quicker.
David AndersTechnician Commented:
MARSPATHRetired EE/Computers/ITAuthor Commented:
Using the suggestions submitted, I was able to access the MacMini HD applications - most interestingly, the OS seems to be 'self-healing'. That is, App access times are getting faster and more responsive.
Which suggestions have you done so far?
MARSPATHRetired EE/Computers/ITAuthor Commented:
Reset PRAM
Reinstall OS (High Sierra)

Well, seems all is *not* well, unresponsive Mac has returned. Spend much of my time watching the spinning the tri-color beachball.

Fortunately I have another Mac mini which shares many of same files - so work can proceed.

Perhaps a replacement Mac mini (late 2014 - same as current failing model seems to be latest) is best route.
David AndersTechnician Commented:
Model Specs
You did not provide exact model info.

A Thunderbolt cable will enable booting from other mini hard drive in target mode

DriveDX will view S.M.A.R.T. status on the internal drive
Do the Apple Hardware Diag:
Press and hold the d key during boot.
MARSPATHRetired EE/Computers/ITAuthor Commented:
Did Apple Hardware Diag 2X - No Issues
Then run the DriveDX that @David Anders posted.  You may need a new disk.  Reinstalling probably put the files on "newer" undamaged sectors and let it work better for a bit, but they failure may be catching up.
MARSPATHRetired EE/Computers/ITAuthor Commented:
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