Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
rmsmits

Defrag to stop beach balls?

14 posts in this topic

Recently my G4 mini/1 GB ram with tiger (previously rather snappy) has been giving me beach balls all the time – opening folders, switching between apps, etc. The 80 GB drive has 34GB available now that I moved all my music to another drive. I've cleaned out all my caches, repaired permissions and restarted to no avail. I don't have a lot of fonts loaded either.

 

Now I'm thinking that perhaps I need to defrag the drive, but I hear conflicting reports as to whether or not this is necessary or even beneficial. To top it off, if I would defrag, I'd be using Norton from Classic. I'm hesitant to do this and am looking for thoughts. Thanks.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you taken a look at CPU usage, Memory usage, and Disk usage in the Activity Monitor ? Maybe some App's hogging a lot of RAM on you, and forcing a lot of swapping. If Activity Monitor shows a lot of CPU usage during these beachballs, then you can identify the process. If it shows a lot of Disk usage, it's probably swapping and you should look for memory hogs.

 

Also, check /var/log/system.log (with Terminal or the Console utility) to see if anything is going nuts. (Example, I noticed in system.log last month that my Wacom tablet driver was constantly aborting and being restarted by Launch Services. I re-installed the software to clear that up. No idea what provoked it, maybe an OS update busted something.)

 

Also, if you've set your hard drive (internal or external) to spin down to save energy, you'll get a lot of beachballs when waiting for it to spin up again. Check the "Energy Saver" System Preference pane. That would only happen after some inactivity, though, not all the time.

 

I'm not a believer in defragging. OS X is supposed to do some background defragging on its own. I'm sure it has advocates, I'm just not one of them.

 

And to the "cluttered Desktop" question from the other thread... when I put 10,000 files on my desktop, my Leopard-running iMac noticably bogs down. I think Finder is trying to re-render all the icons everytime I move anything on the screen. But for any reasonable number of files on the desktop (<100), I can't imagine it causing a noticable performance hit. But, it shouldn't be hard to clean it off and check for sure.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I checked the system log, but felt like I was looking under the hood of my car – not really knowing what does what. Activity monitor is showing a lot of virtual memory usage and I'm not sure why the dock needs 153MB of VM; a widget (that's not even running) is using 160MB and Firefox is using 300MB. I thought VM was only used when the RAM ran out and activity monitor shows 531MB as inactive. Is there a way to adjust this or clear it out?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ignore the VM. It's irrelivant in this situation. It's your swap file size that you want to keep as low as possible.

 

On the subject of defragging using an OS 9 app (and on defragging in general) - NOOOOO!!!!!

 

Seriously, don't do it. Especially with a classic app. The best way to achieve the same effect is to make a clone using superduper or carbon copy cloner to another drive, wipe your other one and clone it back.

 

Or even better, make a full backup, then do a clean installation. Re-install all your apps from scratch, and then migration assistant your user over from the backup.

 

I do the above once every six months to keep my main work mac speedy.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.

I'll try the cloning option.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, affter my cloning woes (see other post) http://forum.maccast.com/index.php?showtopic=16340 I still get beach balls ALL the time. It doesn't matter what I'm doing – clicking on the dock; switching apps; opening a folder; clicking between emails; typing; etc. I constantly get like a 5 second lag which is really hacking me off.mad.gif My computer never did this before and nothing has changed over the past week or so. I checked the console and saw the following error, but I have no idea what it means or how to fix it:

Oct 7 22:28:59 name-mac-mini diskarbitrationd[75]: SystemUIServer [279]:17987 not responding.

2008-10-07 23:03:11.729 System Preferences[341] Failed to register NSConnection

 

Should I be concerned with this?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you get beachballs when you booted from the clone on the external drive ?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The external drive didn't seem to be quite as fast as the internal one (when it ran properly), but I attribute that to the fact that it's external and it would spin down. So, to answer your question, no. At least not as noticeable as the internal drive which lags just typing or right clicking on something to get a contextual menu.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to the message you found in the log file... "diskarbitrationd" is the disk arbitration daemon, which is supposed to let all the other apps know whenever a new disk comes online (inserted CDs/DVDs or external HDs.) The SystemUIServer is the thing that handles extra menus displays (such as spotlight, clock,...); the fact that it didn't respond is worrisome if it happens often. Are there many similar messages in the log? (SystemUIServer could have crashed, or it could be busy responding to something else - something generating an awful lot of events.)

 

Were you getting the beachball right after the clean install, or did it come back after you'd re-loaded your software?

 

If you've gone back and re-installed a lot of your extra software (non-Apple mouse drivers, tablet drivers, well, just about anything with a drive, or any menu hacks or PrefPanes), you might try a clean boot (hold shift key down.) That will skip loading any non-Apple extras. You might also try removing any menubar hacks (MenuMeters or the like.)

 

You might also try creating a second user account and use it, to see if the problem is specific to something you've done to your user account.

 

Anything collecting crash logs in /Library/Logs/CrashReporter ?

 

As a side story: a few weeks ago, most of the apps on my iMac hung with a beachball... after a reboot, it happened again,... and again,... I finally isolated it to the internal HD, which is intermittently falling out; which is why I'm booted off an external FW800 CCC clone right now. After a recent reboot, the iMac noticed the internal HD and mounted it (as a non-boot drive.) I didn't notice until the system once again hung waiting for it (during a Save As... operation. At least when it's not the system drive, that eventually timesout and recovers.) I mention this just to suggest that it's not impossible that it's a hardware problem. If it's a hardware issue, I'd expect the clean install to have the same beachballing.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got the beachballs right after the re-install, however it technically wasn't a clean install. Yes, I had just zeroed out the drive, but I had cloned my external drive back which was giving me the log in problems. I did an archive and re-install so all my apps were already in place, but I can only think of 2 non-apple drivers or menu items I have running. One is for my Epson printer (which I completely reinstalled) and the other is for Mozy. No APEs, so I doubt that these could be causing the problems.

 

I ran techtool pro last night and it found a few things, but I haven't had a chance to try it for myself to see if anything improved. However, I just spoke to my wife and said she's still seeing beachballs – just not quite as bad. I'm going out of town for a few days so I really won't be able to play around with this again until Sunday. If problems persist, I'll make a new user account and try to safe boot, but I think I may be looking at a failing drive. Doh!

Edited by rmsmits
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The BBOD is still plaguing me. It's not as bad, but still highly annoying. I made a new user account and had the same results. After reading around a bit I believe the archive and install essentially IS a clean install even though the drive wasn't wiped just prior (erase and install).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, an archive and install definitely isn't the same. It's basically the same as a clean install and then a migration assistant over. It's worth a go, but not what I do. I do a clean install, then re-create all the user accounts. I then copy over the entire contents of the home folder for each user, just leaving the Library folder out. I then install all the apps from scratch.

 

This give you a clean operating system and cleans out all the library files. I did this over the weekend and regained nearly 20Gb from a 2 year old installation (admittedly I install and uninstall a lot more software than most people due to my job).

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi rmsmits,

 

A Mac consultant/friend whom I know here in Portland gave me this advice when I was having the same symptoms a few months ago: He had me run Onyx and clean EVERYTHING. Reboot a couple of times and maybe run your web browser or email client so that you have reconstituted some of the major system and some user caches. If this does not return your system to nearly its prior speed, then suspect your hard drive. Make sure you have a current backup and that it's okay be restoring some or all items and consider replacing it. I ended up replacing the internal drive and the problems went away. I used the old hard drive in an external enclosure for a couple of weeks and then heard the dreaded clicking sound at which point I took it out of service. Your answer about the external drive sort of makes me think your internal hard drive may have seen better days as mine had.

 

Gary

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This smells like a HD issue to me also. Sure you seem to have plenty of "free space" on the HD, but how much of that is bad sectors? It might be you only have 5 or 6 GB of actually usable free space left and the HD is working like crazy trying to find those good sectors on each write.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0