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I have a 2010 Macbook pro that is running very slowly (Clicking something takes around 4-5 seconds to react even though no graphical lag is observable) on Mac OS X Mavericks but running really fast and sweet on Fedora 20 and Ubuntu Saucy (Both running from a usb stick).

I decided to try to reinstall the OS using the included recovery partition, which is also painfully slow (10+ hours installation slow). I decided to test for hard disk issues but SMART tests show reasonable values:

SMART Tests, part 1 SMART Tests, part 2

And there is also this:

Disk speed tests

Which troubles me as the speed seems to be progressively slowing down. Is Mavericks related or is the disk in need of a replacement?

  • Does anything look out of the ordinary in Activity Monitor while you are in OS X? – Bert Feb 16 '14 at 2:05
  • It is currently impossible to boot to OSX, as i wiped the OSX partition clean in order to discard the installer also being slow out of some filesystem error – Machinarius Feb 16 '14 at 3:14
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    What is the benchmark you added at the end with "there is also this"? When trunking Ubuntu, you have eliminated mavericks from the performance so it's either Ubuntu slowing down or just how the hardware is operating. Perhaps that is the expected results and can be discarded, but without knowing what is graphed - hard to say.... – bmike Feb 16 '14 at 14:03
  • @bmike See my answer for details – Machinarius Feb 16 '14 at 23:09
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Did you try Diskwarrior to repair the disk directory? It turned out to be a life saver many times for me.

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I agree with @bmike. You really need to run these tests under OS X. however, on the surface it looks like hardware, and i can recommend, based on my own experience with a 2010 MBP with a Core 2 Duo that replacing the stock Hard Drive (which is a paltry 5400 RPM Dog) with a VERY cost effective Seagate Momentus Hybrid Drive will breathe new life into your Mac. It makes an incredible difference.

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For those who still have this problem, this is the solution:

1 - Start the mac holding 'option';

2 - Choose the recovery boot disc;

3 - Select Disc Utility option;

4 - Select the disc where os x is installed;

5 - Click 'Fix disc permissions' button;

6 - Wait till it's done;

7 - Restart you mac in normal mode;

8 - Problem solved (At least for me and the guy that told me to do this).

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On why the graph data is meaningful

The graph is measuring the time it takes the MBP's drive to read (blue) and write (red) 100MB chunks 100 times. I am not really sure how to understand the green dots though.

What this means is that the drive is bursting out the initial write and read speeds, then progressively decaying (Most likely a cache problem, but i'm not so versed on those matters) towards a crawl. This fact correlates with my setup experience from a Mavericks install usb drive: The installation went off smoothly at first but the speed decayed to a crawl on the last stages, almost to a full stop.

I will have this MBP's drive replaced and report back on my findings.


Aftermath

The new disc somewhat helped for a couple hours but the problem came back. The guys at the mac center support said they replaced the data bus, now the MBP works wonders

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Just to give a correct interpretation of the SMART Data and the benchmark and clear up the misunderstandings revealed in some answers, comments and the question:

The SMART Data shows a normal degradation of an approx. three years old hard disk.

The benchmark shows the normal behavior of a spinning hard drive.

Usually the linear density of magnetic areas holding a bit is almost constant on the whole platter. Therefore the outermost track contains more bits than the innermost track. With one rotation of the platter the read/write head can read/write more bits on the outermost track than the innermost track in the same time.

Example:
Rotations: 1/second
Bit-density: 100 Bits/inch

Radius of the outermost track: 2 inches -> track length: 12,6 inches
Radius of the innermost track: 1 inch -> track length: 6,3 inches

Bits on the outermost track: 1260 B
Bits on the innermost track: 630 B

Read/write rate outermost track: 1260 B/s
Read/write rate innermost track: 630 B/s

As a result the read rate (blue) and the write rate (pink) slightly decreases from the outermost tracks on the left (≈ 84 MB/s) to the innermost tracks on the right (≈ 45 MB/s).

The average access time (the time it takes before the drive can actually transfer data from a random track.) is also normal (≈ 17 ms). We see only 4 outliers (marked with red circles) in 1000 samples. One sample has an access time of 105 ms and 3 samples of ≈ 90 ms. All other samples show an access time between 7 ms and 30 ms.

The thin grey lines between the small green dots (every dot is one of the 1000 samples) should show the chronological succession of the access time benchmarking test. I emphasized 6 consecutive accesses with a thick green line.

benchmark

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You could do a PRAM (http://support.apple.com/kb/PH18936?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US) reset on your mac:
1) turn your mac off
2) turn it on while pressing ALT - CMD - P - R
3) Your mac should automatically restart

I use this technique at my work when a client's mac is slow. Sometimes it helps.

As previously mentioned, fixing disk permissions is also a good option.

At least, what you also could do is open your macbook and make sure there isn't any dust at the fans. Sounds maybe strange but this sometime also is the reason why a macbook is slow.

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