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My dev workstation (MBP 2012, 2.5Ghz i5, 16Gb, 500Gb HDD) is incredibly slow booting up to the point I'm terrified of rebooting it. Every now and again it crashes or refuses to wake (maybe once every 2-3 weeks), and the reboot is required. When OS or other app store updates are involved reboots are also necessary then as well.

Roughly the boot up time comprises of 3 visible phases:

  1. 10-15 minutes after the initial turn-on/login on, on the grey background with spinner/throbber
  2. 1-2 minutes for the desktop background to appear and icons, app windows to appear. The windows are generally blank and not usable, although I can drag them around.
  3. 10 minutes for apps to actually become responsive and for the OS to be usable.

I had the problem on the old install of 10.6, and I have it now on 10.9 which I've been running for probably a year or so.

Once the system has booted, it is generally quite usable, although I do get slow downs if I run too many VMs and apps at the same time, but this isn't anything I wouldn't expect given the lack of solid state.

While I fully expect to upgrade to an SSD any day now, I'd love to be able to diagnose this issue and understand what's going on. The fact that it affects multiple stages of the boot process tells me it's probably not just one specific item, and really feels like a massive fragmentation issue. As I understand it though, OSX should not be susceptible to fragmentation? Alternatively I suppose it could be a massive page file? Given I'm running 16Gb though, I'd like to think I'm not thrashing very much.

UPDATE:

Thanks to @CML's comment about Disk integrity, I ran a Verify Disk, and got the following:

Checking extended attributes file.
Volume bitmap needs minor repair for orphaned blocks
Checking volume information.
Invalid volume free block count
(It should be 12269746 instead of 11497979)
(It should be 12269746 instead of 11497979)
(It should be 12269746 instead of 11497979)
The volume Macintosh HD was found corrupt and needs to be repaired.
Error: This disk needs to be repaired using the Recovery HD. Restart your computer, holding down the Command key and the R key until you see the Apple logo. When the OS X Utilities window appears, choose Disk Utility.

UPDATE 2:

Ran Repair Disk, this alters the boot up phase times to:

  1. 2-3 minutes (down from 10-15 minutes)
  2. 1-2 minutes (no change)
  3. 10 minutes (no change)

So a marked improvement, but it still seems as though something is pretty messy somewhere.

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  • how many StartUpItems do you have? maybe something wrong with the harddisk? did you run disk utility's repair disk?
    – CML
    Aug 4, 2015 at 12:47
  • Thanks for prompting me to verify the disk, issues found, OP updated. My startup items are pretty minimal: Growl, Skype, Divvy, Chrome.
    – DanH
    Aug 4, 2015 at 13:19
  • I'd 'give it a whirl' now - while you still can. All the time you leave it running, it could be busy writing more & more cross-referenced files to an already damaged drive.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 4, 2015 at 14:40
  • Run Disk Utility's Repair Disk while you still can. Aug 4, 2015 at 16:01
  • I needed to reboot to Recovery mode to do it, which I did. It made a large impact to the first phase of the boot up, down from 10-15 minutes to 2-3 minutes. However phase 2-3 seems unaffected.
    – DanH
    Aug 5, 2015 at 6:23

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