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I have a 2012 Mac Mini (running OS/X 10.11.6) with an Apple-provided internal 1TB fusion drive that appears to be suffering from some kind of performance problem -- it seems to be getting slower and slower over time, to the point where it can be quite painful to use.

For example, applications can take 10-20 seconds to open, and Mac Mail in particular can take several minutes to bring up an email or bring up the file requester to add an attachment.

Is there any procedure recommended to bring the Mac Mini back up to its original speed? I suppose if all else fails I could always do a low-level format of the Fusion Drive and then re-install everything from a Time Machine backup, but I'm not certain that that would solve the performance problem, or that the Fusion Drive logic would be set up correctly after that. Is there anything less drastic that might be effective?

Spec summary:

  • Late-2012 Mac Mini
  • 1TB Fusion Drive (less than 75% full)
  • 8GB RAM
  • Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.6
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  • How much free space do you have? Also, how much RAM do you have? Finally, what have you already tried to resolve the issue?
    – Monomeeth
    Mar 7 '17 at 3:24
  • Plenty of free space (I forget exactly how much but I believe the drive is less than 75% full -- of course that figure is for the combined drive, I suspect the SSD part of the fusion system is near-full but I'm not sure how to check that). 8GB RAM on this machine. I haven't tried anything to fix it yet, except rebuild Mac Mail's database index, which didn't help. Mar 7 '17 at 3:38
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As you probably know, troubleshooting is a process of elimination and can require quite a bit of patience.

The first things I'd do in your situation are to try booting in Safe Mode and, if no joy afterwards, reset both your NVRAM and SMC.

Boot into Safe Mode

Follow these steps to boot your Mac Mini into Safe Mode:

  1. Fully shut down your Mac Mini
  2. Restart your Mac Mini
  3. Immediately press the Shift key and keep it down
  4. Let go of the Shift key when you see the login window (NOTE: If you have FileVault enabled you may need to log in twice. Also, it will take longer than usual to boot.)
  5. Use your computer for a while and take a note of what happens (i.e. Are you still experiencing the same issues, etc)
  6. Once you've used your Mac long enough to know if it's working any better, exit Safe Mode by restarting your Mac Mini
  7. After booting up normally, take a note again of what happens (i.e. Are you still experiencing the same issues, etc)

If you're still experiencing problems, reset the NVRAM and then SMC.

Reset NVRAM

Older Macs had what's called Parameter RAM (PRAM), newer Macs use Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM). It may be worth you also resetting this. Here’s how to:

  1. Shut down your machine. Yes, a full shut down, not just logging out.
  2. Press the power button and then press the commandoptionpr keys. You have to make sure you press these keys before the gray screen appears or it won’t work.
  3. Hold those keys down until your Mac reboots again and you here the startup chime.
  4. Let go of the keys and let your Mac reboot normally.

Note: When you log back in you may need to readjust some of your system preferences (e.g. speaker volume, screen resolution, startup disk selection, time zone information, etc).

Once you've reset your NVRAM, proceed to reset your SMC as well.

Reset SMC

  1. Shut down your computer
  2. Unplug it from power
  3. Wait 15 seconds
  4. Plug the power cord back in
  5. Wait for an additional 5 seconds
  6. Press the power button to turn it back on

Once you're booted back in, take a note of how your Mac Mini is running and we'll go from there.

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