Since a day, my Macbook Pro has (quite suddenly) become very slow. Of course, this is just a couple days before a major deadline :-). Any help would be appreciated! If there any questions I can answer, ask away.

  • It beachballs all the time. This happens in whichever app I’m running at the time, and independently of how many apps are open and which apps are currently open.
  • It seems to be especially slow when actions that require drawing things are taken. I.e. showing the dock, typing text, pasting text, opening a right-click menu or a new window. For example, I tried to right click to open a menu just now and it beach balled. I am not entirely sure if this has anything to do with OSX actually having to draw things, or if it’s just that it’s slow because it needs to do something slightly more complex, but I think it has something to do with graphics.
  • Sometimes, when a certain app starts to beachball, I can switch to another app and I can use that one fine. Switching back to the beachballing app becomes impossible. Sometimes, even switching to other apps or using expose stops working.
  • Sometimes the dock (set on autohide) seems to not want to show, or when I click an app on it, nothing seems to happen. It’s as if it doesn’t register my click. Same goes with launchpad or for example Firefox's back/forward buttons.

I can’t really think of any direct cause. I was using it fine yesterday, and since yesterday night it is suddenly b0rked. Two-three days ago, I installed two apps: Boom (including its helper application, BoomDevice) and Aperture (because meh@Apple Photos). I’ve since uninstalled both using CleanMyMac3, and ran a script to remove the helper application. No improvements though (I did restart).

I’ve had the feeling on previous Mac OS X installs I have that my Mac becomes slow after installing Aperture, even when it’s not running, but it’s never become this slow.

What I’ve already done/checked

  • Checked system monitor to see if there are any processes hoarding memory or CPU. There don’t seem to be any processes with any CPU footprint > 10%. Except for Windowserver, which seems to take between 3% and 15% of CPU, which seems high to me.
  • Used bitdefender to run critical and deep system virus scans - no results.
  • Removed all Today widgets in the notifications menu
  • Tested if it seems tied to running a particular app such as Firefox or Calibre.
  • Reset my Firefox profile
  • Ran CleanMyMac 3 maintenance scripts
  • Uninstalled Aperture, Spotify and Boom using CleanMyMac3’s uninstaller
  • Uninstalled the BoomDevice helper application using the Apple Script provided by the developers
  • Ran the Disk Utility’s first aid tool on the Macintosh HD partition and the HD (?) itself. Didn't find anything on the Mac HD partition, but on the HD itself (the numbers/serial code thingie?) it found some minor partition issue it fixed (to no avail)
  • Disabled all sources in Spotlight settings

Past issues that might be relevant

  • One problem from the past worth mentioning is that I’ve returned this Macbook for repairs twice, under garanty, because its logic board was fried (the wellknown graphics problem with the late 2011 macbook model where its graphics card would die and the screen would go berserk. The weird problem is that this happened even after having it repaired within the special Apple program). I'm kinda afraid my current problems might be a precursor to having this happen again.
  • I've returned this Macbook twice to reinstall Mac OS X since somehow the Mac OS X installer (in the recovery mode) fails to recognize this computer’s serial number. This is also the reason I’ve not just reinstalled El Capitan right now (or upgraded to the new version), because I’m afraid it’ll turn my Macbook into a brick again…

Information about the computer

  • Model: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011)
  • OS Version: El Capitan (10.11.6)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000 384 MB
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Most used apps: Firefox, Sublime Text, Alternote, iBooks
  • Run etrecheck and post w sysdiagnose output file. Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 14:48
  • Thanks @JohnKeates, I posted the Etrecheck output file at pastebin.com/g1eThHYi. Due to Apple's warnings about private info in sysdiagnose output and its large size, I haven't posted it anywhere (I assume Etrecheck is ok), but I'm okay with sharing a link to it privately if that helps. I must also note that looking at error msgs in the Console app also shows a lot of I/O errors and systemstatsd crashes around times that the computer hangs. Not sure which causes it if any.
    – FQuist
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 0:21

1 Answer 1


According to the EtreCheck post, your harddrive is about to die. Do the following a.s.a.p.:

  • Backup all the data you don't want to lose on a different storage medium

  • Create a Recovery USB drive using https://support.apple.com/kb/dl1433?locale=en_US

  • Replace the harddisk

  • Either reinstall using that USB drive you made, or use internet recovery if supported

There is a slight chance that it's not the harddisk, but possibly the SATA cable between the harddisk and the mainboard. This cable is cheap and I would recommend to replace it while you're at it.

For harddisk replacement, I would recommend a SSD instead of a traditional harddisk, it will make your Mac feel like new. While you're at it, upgrading the RAM to 8GB or 16GB will definitely help a lot performance-wise and make your Mac last a few more years.

  • Thank you very much! I will follow the instructions and am backing up my Mac. One more question: because of the constant freezing I've had to hard reset my Macbook multiple times. Could it be possible that this corrupted the HD, or is it probably genuinely physically damaged?
    – FQuist
    Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 12:07
  • It's genuinely damaged, and/or the cable is. The SMART data suggests DMA problems which is an electronics issue, could be anywhere between the head amp all the way to the SATA cable. In my experience, it's the HDD most of the times and sometimes the cable as well. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 16:04

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