Slow computer question

“My computer is running slow. Can you help me?”

I seem to get this question a lot and I’m never sure how I should proceed. Obviously, it’s not my computer so I have no idea what slow means. I have no point of reference.

The first thing I suggest is simply turning it off and then back on. I have them check the percentage of hard drive space they are using. Then I have them install and run Malwarebytes. After that, I could have them look at the Activity Monitor but I’m not completely sure what to be on the lookout for.

Any suggestions or maybe even an evergreen MPU episode that I can listen to?

Today’s question is about a fairly new iMac running High Sierra. I will know later but I think it has a Fusion drive in it.



There are a variety of problems that could cause “slow” I would recommend that you check the startup items as well as the physical specs of the machine.

If the RAM is a small amount you might be paging memory which is slow, and yes a fusion drive is noticeably slower then an SSD.

It’s also worth checking the availability of space on the drive, full drives are slower then empty ones generally.

Lastly do a network speed test, the computer might be fine, but they are getting throttled and so it feels slow, might be worth clearing some catches, though that has the potential for the opposite effect.

Lastly check what other computers they have recently been using, most of the time “slow” does not just happen, but the perception of what is “slow” changes, a fast new machine at work or an iPad can change the speed perception of a mac

Could be any number of things, from low RAM/storage to software updates running in the background (eg Dropbox) to slowdowns from a ton of files on the Desktop (OS X renders a preview of the icons and their contents, each of which takes up resources to redraw).

Here’s a good overview from Trend Micro, posted at the beginning of the year:

Thanks. I’m pretty certain it’s not RAM since I believe we got a lot of RAM when it was purchased. I’ll check the other things.

I know he puts a lot of files in folders on the desktop.

I’ll look at that article as well.

Take Control Books has a good one by Joe Kissell called “Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac.” This might be the right time for you to buy this reasonably priced book.

The first substantive chapter goes over all the things that people usually do that usually don’t affect speed at all – creating more disk space, clearing caches, defragmenting, repairing permissions, and so on. Sure, I always do those things, too, if I perceive that my Mac is bogging down. But they rarely make any difference. (and Macs haven’t needed permissions repairs since El Capitan.

The rest of the book goes into things that are more likely to make a difference, such as some that have already been suggested here. Reboot, boot into Safe mode, quit inactive apps, upgrading RAM, etc. etc.

These problems can be frustrating – good luck!

Honestly, I should buy this book for myself since I always get these types of questions. For $15, I can look like a master!

So one of the things my friend does is put almost all his working files on the desktop in folders.

Would this scenario change anything or have little or no effect:

Create folders in the Documents folder with all the files in there. Then, create aliases to those folders and put those aliases on the desktop.

  1. Onyx alway’s helps.
  2. Empty the desktop folder
  3. Limit applications launching at startup to the absolute minimum

Hard drives become slow over time replace before failure:

  • Laptop drives (2.5") 3-5 years
  • Desktop (3.5") 5 - 7 years

Replace with SSD if budget allows.