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My old 2016 MacBook Pro is extremely slow all of the sudden, starting a program like finder can take several minutes, every click on a button will have the UI freeze for a few seconds, installing a new fresh macOS version took over 20 hours - it is basically unusable.

What I tried so far:

  • Completely erased the SSD, partitions, encryption everything
  • Re-installed the newest Monterey version from a bootable usb drive (the installation from the recovery partition failed)
  • Resetting PRAM and NVRAM
  • Reset the SMC
  • Run the system diagnostics on boot up (no problems found)
  • Checked the CPU DIE temperature, it is at 40°C and the fans are running

Is there anything else I could try, short of bringing the MacBook to the shop?

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    Your storage might have died. Try running Apple Diagnostics by holding D while booting. Just FYI, PRAM went out with the dinosaurs and the PowerPC CPU. NVRAM has nothing to do with performance and SMC is related to power, not speed. A reinstall is rarely necessary - a file system cannot impact how a fast CPU performs..
    – Allan
    Apr 12, 2023 at 18:43
  • Another idea is that if you have Mac Homebrew installed (brew.sh) you could 'brew install smartmontools' and use the command smartctl -a disk0 to (hopefully) get a bunch of information dumped about your boot SSD drive. One thing I'd look for is the "Percentage Used" and "Available Spare" values ("used" should be well less than 100% and "spare" should be well greater than 0%).
    – bjb
    Apr 12, 2023 at 19:27

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For any problem of this sort, the first thing I would suggest is to look at Activity Monitor, to see if some process is running wild on the CPU.

If not, then that would point towards a hardware issue.

I'd agree with Allan's comments that an erase and reinstall of the OS and disk format is rarely necessary for any problem: just wiping the Data volume should be sufficient. (If it is an SSD problem, then taxing it with wholesale erasing and re-writing may not help.)

You could also try booting to a external disk with a new install on it.

A clean Data volume with a new user account that still has the problem is likely to be the hardware, and that's the point when I'd take it to the shop.

If the problem doesn't appear on a clean volume, then it's likely to be caused by something you've installed: migrate your data back to the disk, and then start installing stuff gradually, making sure it's both up-to-date and necessary.

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