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My MacBook Pro (mid-2012, 16GB, i7 2.3) has started to misbehave:

  • very slow to start up and shut down
  • application launches are slow
  • system becomes nearly unusable when "free" memory approaches zero.

Disk Utility is showing SMART status of the drive as "verified". However, Blackmagic Disk Speed Test is showing a read speed of 27 MB/s and a write speed of 25.7 MB/s. This seems slow to me, though I'm have trouble finding any benchmark values to compare against.

I've run "verify disk" in the Disk Utility app twice. The first time it completed with no errors. The second time the computer froze before the procedure finished.

Here is the system profiler information for the drive.

Capacity:   500.11 GB (500,107,862,016 bytes)
  Model:    APPLE HDD HTS547550A9E384               
  Revision: JE3AD70F
  Serial Number:          J226008BJ65LKC
  Native Command Queuing:   Yes
  Queue Depth:  32
  Removable Media:  No
  Detachable Drive: No
  BSD Name: disk0
  Rotational Rate:  5400
  Medium Type:  Rotational
  Partition Map Type:   GPT (GUID Partition Table)
  S.M.A.R.T. status:    Verified
  Volumes:
disk0s1:
  Capacity: 209.7 MB (209,715,200 bytes)
  BSD Name: disk0s1
  Content:  EFI
Macintosh HD:
  Capacity: 499.25 GB (499,248,103,424 bytes)
  Available:    101.87 GB (101,868,064,768 bytes)
  Writable: Yes
  File System:  Journaled HFS+
  BSD Name: disk0s2
  Mount Point:  /
  Content:  Apple_HFS
  Volume UUID:  BBF6F6B8-26B8-39B4-A206-81471EA7F2B2
Recovery HD:
  Capacity: 650 MB (650,002,432 bytes)
  BSD Name: disk0s3
  Content:  Apple_Boot
  Volume UUID:  DB9ED89F-80DF-3A80-BCC4-58DF1F234256

Does any of this indicate an imminent drive failure? The AppleCare plan for this computer expires in 6 days.

  • My understanding would be the one hear hardware warranty would be due to expire in Mid 2013 for a Mid 2012 model if you are in the USA or other countries where hardware warranties are typically for 12 months. Unless you have a mixup of terms, I'd contact Apple to see if this is eligible for extended coverage and/or if your region has longer than 12 months so you can decide what to do. If not, would you clarify how AppleCare relates to your question? – bmike Sep 11 '13 at 12:12
  • I bought the computer refurbished. – FishesCycle Sep 11 '13 at 13:59
  • Apple refurbished product is sold same as new in terms of warranty and AppleCare eligibility - sounds like you are set then with or without that detail. – bmike Sep 11 '13 at 14:21
  • Disk Utility looks for anomalies in the file system, not for irregularities in the actual hard drive. There is some correlation between the two but not always. Therefore I wouldn't recommend relying on DU or SMART analysis to diagnose your problem. If you suspect a hardware fault, grab something that will test the sectors of the drive. – user10355 Sep 13 '13 at 22:45
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There is no harm in getting a call logged before your apple care expires, although from your description nothing you say would suggest to me that the hard drive is at fault. It sounds more like the slow build up of unwanted startup items, and inevitable disk fragmentation is just slowing things down, or you could plain be out of memory more often than before. If you have a secure backup, I might consider a couple of things to test:

1) Create a new user, and see if it is as slow as your usual user account 2) From a complete backup, format your drive and restore to defrag the drive, and again see if the same happens.

HD problems would usually manifest themselves in unusual noises, clicks and whirs, repeated attempts to load a file, genuine errors in log files where you could use the Console app to search for things like "disk0s" "error" and "I/O error" - especially if they correlate in time to the slowness or freezing you are seeing.

  • I think I'm falling afoul of three things: 1) a fairly slow 2.5" 5400 rpm drive makes page in/outs slow, and 3) VMWare Fusion hanging onto RAM after a VM has been suspended, and 3) OS X's aggressive memory caching. – FishesCycle Sep 14 '13 at 16:06
  • Throw an SSD in that bad boy :) – stuffe Sep 14 '13 at 18:14
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From the information provided it does not look like hard drive problem.

To verify what is going on use the:

Activity monitor to see who is hugging the CPU

and use the Console to see who is doing what

those 2 will tell you more about why is your computer slow.

Meanwhile since you running out of warranty time, call the support anyway.

  • I agree with the suggestion to give Apple support a chance to diagnose this before the end of the warranty window. Even if the cause of the slowness isn't clear-cut or due to hardware, you won't know what they find until Apple has a look. – bmike Sep 11 '13 at 12:07
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You say:

system becomes nearly unusable when "free" memory approaches zero.

That is absolutely normal. Without memory nothing moves. The problem is why you get short of memory? Look inside the Preferences>>user>>login elements and get rid of all background program you do not need. Makes sure you never run too low on memory closing apps that you do not use and check if this makes your mac happy again.

  • Do you know about virtual memory? When physical RAM starts filling up, pages of RAM are written to disk. When those pages are referenced by a process, the memory is read back in. – FishesCycle Sep 14 '13 at 10:14
  • @TobiasPatton, yes. This is why the machine became very slow. – FeliceM Sep 14 '13 at 10:32

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