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Harddisk performance issues on Snow Leopard

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 by Servage

I’ve previously fought the degradation of system performance on my Mac computers, specifically due to slower hard drive performance. Earlier I attempted resolving this by approaching the problem from a fragmentation perspective. Testing different tools on my machine, I learned that my system was quite fragmented, even though Apple always says that their OS defragments the system continuously, making specific defragmentation unnecessary. Back then I ended up with a Time Machine restore, which worked out surprisingly fast – despite others who have reported very time consuming Time Machine restore processes (on a sidenote, I have experienced such a slow restore on another machine in the meantime. I believe the restore complexity is related to the age of the backup. The longer the period time machine has been used, and the more data is changed, the longer the restore takes). My conclusion back then was a significantly faster system after the restore. Initially I was quite satisfied, but only a few weeks later the system started to act out again. The most common, and most annoying problem, are seemingly random rainbows due to I/O load, which I cannot identify the source of. Really annoying. It just got worse, and some two months are the Time Machine restore I was (subjectively measured) back where I was before the restore. Being very annoyed now, I decided to attempt a complete reinstall of the system, to determine if the hardware (i.e. the hard drive) actually has a problem, or this issues simply occurs naturally on any given system after a while.

So far I have been on the reinstalled system for a week with no issues. However, the speed of the system, again specifically the I/O performance, seems poorer than on a brand new machine. While I am not yet experiencing any random rainbows, I do expect it to appear again sooner than later. If so, I will pursue a theory of degraded hardware, and see what I can do. Maybe switch to a new HDD, maybe even a solid state model.

I’ll be back!

Harddisk performance issues on Snow Leopard, 3.8 out of 5 based on 4 ratings
Categories: Tips & Tricks


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6 comments (leave a comment)

Can’t this be a lack of RAM, where the I/O rainbow you see is the machine vigorously using the swap partition of the HDD? You could try to find the resource heavy program and see what you can do there, or add more RAM and/or a faster HDD.

The system has 4 GB Ram, and almost all the time there is 1 GB or more free.

Hi Jakob

Have you thought about checking the system.log. (ofcourse you have)
It might be that a process is acting up, respawning every 10 seconds.
Just a thought …

Yes, I was unable to find something specific.

Windows System Restore can only restore Windows System Files and Some Program files. Rollbacks PC Time Machine client is a robust Windows Time Machine and system restore utility that enables home users and IT professionals to easily restore a PC to a time before certain events occurred. The blue screen of death BSoD is the screen displayed by Microsofts Windows operating system when it cannot or is in danger of being unable to recover from a system error.

A recent article at Macfixit might be helpful:

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