Is there's way to live disc of mac on an usb or to partially reset an mac to default drivers or perform the equivalent of doing a system refresh without reinstalling an mac?

To give some context, my wife owns an older MacBook Pro (2014), and recently it has started acting out. We can summarize the acting out as: everything feels sluggish, opening and closing applications comes to a crawl, and that installing updates don't work at seemingly undefined times. Sometimes when it comes out of standby allegedly it's fast again. The most recent discovery my wife made is that it strongly seems to be affected by Wi-FI (for example switching to mobile hotspot).

Because of the nature of the symptoms at first I thought could be an hardware related failure. So first thing I checked out the memory and ssd. However running memtest, and checking the S.M.A.R.T. status reported no issues. Following that we attempted apple diagnostics, which also reported no failures.

So at this point I'm quite puzzled what else I can investigate and I'm wondering what the best bets are. In particular. I'm wondering if there's way to refresh drivers or go to fresher install to rule out any software related issues.

If anybody has some pointers or tips I would greatly appreciate that.

  • Which version of macOS Mojave? Is the latest with all security updates? – lhf Dec 11 '20 at 10:10
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    Does the problem happen in a freshly created user account? – lhf Dec 11 '20 at 10:11
  • Not really super helpful, but I too had found Mojave lately to be a bit sluggish on my MacBook Pro (late-2013) 15", but after updating to Big Sur, it's felt much much snappier and smoother. I was quite hesitant to update to Big Sur as I thought Mojave was quite a stable version of macOS (unlike Catalina), but since updating I haven't regretted it. As to what could cause it to become sluggish, I don't know but perhaps apps/internet would be more optimised for the current macOS version over older versions (even if they still support older versions?). – AVelj Dec 11 '20 at 11:02
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    What's wrong with reinstalling Mojave? AFAIK it's non-destructive, though you should still back up, of course. – Richard Brockbank Dec 11 '20 at 11:38
  • The problem with reinstalling is that my spouse accumulated quite a bit of software and documents over the year for her work, and it's just a situation we prefer to avoid. Keeping in mind that we'd basically are just trying our luck because the behavior is still left unexplained at large. If we know the operating system is half-broken, there's no problem doing that, of course. – Lawrence Kok Dec 13 '20 at 5:26

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