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For awhile now, my MB has been slowing down at times and I've been trying to diagnose the problem. Here were my hunches:

  • old age?(only 2 yrs old)
  • needs more RAM(at 2GB - this is the late 2009 MB btw, the last one before the unibody)
  • fan problems
  • filevault?

The immediate thing I could do was to check the fans. So, I installed smcFanControl at first but then nothing was happening. I created a "High RPM" setting and even if I set it to that, fan stays at 2000rpm. When I open a flash app(say an fb game or even Steam) it lurches to 6krpm(not surprising i guess?)

Anyway, I tried another fan control(Fan Control) for Mac and now I got this:

enter image description here

the right fan is at -1! Is this the reason? I am guessing it is somehow broken and that the left fan was compensating for the longest time, which may or may not have been the culprit to the slow down. Is it? Stupid question, but should a hot MB slow down in the first place?

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I had fan problems too on my macbook (Black 2006) and in fact I installed Fan Control too. I thought I would never have to see that app again! haha.

Ok. First things first. It is pretty normal that Flash makes your fan spin like crazy. It happens on my machine too, since it is really processor intensive.

Secondly, as far as I know Macbooks have just 1 fan, unlike iMacs for example, so if thats the case of your machine (which most likeley is, but jsut to make sure research) than you must not worry for the -1.

And finally: nope. Fan speeds should not affect the performance of your machine. I know because when I had problems with mine my macbook would just overheat/make noise but work as usual. The fan even died, and my macbook kept running (though it's dangerous to run a computer without a fan). I didn't notice this happened and it finally overheated to about 90-100 degrees Celsius which caused it to shutdown automatically for safety. My point? I didn't even notice, because my mac never slowed down.

So I'm guessing your issues are due to something else.

Firevalut could be a reason, and a pretty big one if your disk is very cluttered. Even with Firevalut off, disk clutter can slow down your computer if its excessive, specially on startup.

RAM could be, specially if your running memory intensive apps. Your macbook should be able to get an upgrade. Your manual should have some more info on that, like up to what you can expand it (perhaps 4 or 8 GB).

What OS do you have? If your'e still running leopard I recomend Snow Leopard: it frees up Disk Space and has some other optimizations.

And last, your apps. Check if any apps are eating your CPU in the background using Activity Monitor (Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor). Also, check on System Preferences for any apps loading when you loggin (Accounts > Login Items tab). Try to get rid of some background apps you might not need.

Hope it helps! Anything else you need just tell me.

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wow that was a very helpful answer. I didn't know it only had one fan, i was assuming it had 2. how do i know if my disk is cluttered?(i was about to ask about disk defragmenter but thats windows stuff lol) anyway, im already using leopard(was about to switch to lion but apparently sims 3 is broken there). –  corroded Aug 28 '11 at 4:08
    
I'd define disk clutter as having more than 80-90% of your disk used, which can slow down your computer a bit. Indeed, Apple doesen't recomend you defragment your computer, since Mac OS X is optimized to avoid this. (support.apple.com/kb/HT1375?viewlocale=en_US) Try cleaning up files and apps you don't use any more, check for apps in the background and if your computer still runs slow then perhaps a RAM upgrade could do. –  kevin9794 Aug 29 '11 at 0:01
    
About Sims 3... I happen to have it on my newly-upgraded-to-Lion iMac, and it seems to run fine... Perhaps the version you have or any expansions you installed are the ones that break? I'd suggest you research a bit more on that. It was the frist game I played after I installed Lion :) –  kevin9794 Aug 29 '11 at 0:03
    
wow a fellow sims3 fan. i had a look at the sims3 forums and it seems MB or MBPs have that problem? in any case, i still have like 10GB (so i guess that might be 80% filled up already) left in my hd and i have checked for apps in the background(only msql and postgres..which i turn off) –  corroded Aug 31 '11 at 4:38
    
I'm guessing then its a problem with the video card in laptops. Hope it gets fixed soon. Is the performance of your computer any better? –  kevin9794 Aug 31 '11 at 23:45

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