Boost your Mac’s performance

“Remember the first time you started up your Mac? Hearing that lovely tone you thought would never get annoying and seeing the beautifully designed Apple-centric Boot Image,” Ian Spence reports for Mactuts+.

“It sure was a special moment. But now the love you once felt is gone, and you spend a little too much time staring at the boot image rather than actually using your computer,” Spence reports. “It’s true, over time your computer will slow down and stop working the way it once did.”

Spence reports, “Much like an automobile, your computer needs regular maintenance to keep it running at its peak-performance. The more you drive your car, the more “gunk” will build up in your engine. Over time, this “gunk” can impede the performance of the engine. The same applies for computers. To keep things running smoothly, your computer is constantly caching files. If this cache is never cleaned, over time it can become quite large, and eventually slow down your computer.”

Much more in the full article here.

24 Comments

  1. From article
    “Your Internet service providee will provide you with DNS servers, and OS X will use them by default. However, these servers can be slow and sometimes not safe. Thankfully, Google provides DNS servers free of charge and are really easy to set up.”

    And besides that it will allow google to track your every move on the web. How great is that?

    Most all of what he says is self evident, “more RAM is better” and “a full hard disk will slow your machine”
    Ineffective “cache cleaning” OS X run 3 sets of cache cleaning & maintenance scripts; one ever day another weekly and the third monthly.
    And/or possibly causing unintended problems (like deleting background items from /Library/StartupItems/)

    Be very cautious, mostly filler, except the change DNS to “please google track my every move” which, given what we know about google’s respect for privacy, is just stupid.

  2. “It’s true, over time your computer will slow down and stop working the way it once did.”

    This hasn’t been my experience with any but the earliest versions OS X. Do people really still have these problems?

    1. No, that what I said (though not clearly) in my reply. OS X has 3 housekeeping cron scripts 1 light cleanup executed every day, one for weekly cleanup and one that is executed only monthly.
      The mac does NOT normally require manual cache cleaning nor does the disk normally require defragging.
      (de-fragmenting is a standard NTFS cleanup task that must be done periodically)

      Again everything in that article was either self evident, ineffective, not necessary or not recommended.

    2. The only slowdowns I ever get are temporary and are caused by:

      1) RAM being filled to the brim, causing a spillover to virtual memory, IOW disk thrashing. As I power user running RAM hog Safari all day long, I run into this A LOT.

      2) The boot hard drive fills to the point of only having 1 GB of space yet. OS X will put a warning box on the screen when this happens. Empty junk off your boot drive! Then you’re fine again.

      OS X does its own file defragmentation on the fly. But it is possible to add some minor speedup by defragmenting your entire boot drive with a disk utility. There are several that do a good job. (BTW: One of them is NOT MacKeeper, which is crapware IMHO and has been reported to actually damage hard drives).

  3. This is crap. More overhand from the PC experience where computers get bogged down with bloatware. There is a lot of money to be made in selling cleaning software that people running Macs do not need.

    I replaced a hard drive with a flash memory hard drive and run as miuch ram as I can load into my MacBook Pro and it runs fine thank you.

    Don’t waste your money. The same is true of Virus protection software. Use the most current version of the OS, don’t download anything you are not sure about and you are most likely going to be fine.

  4. This article is just plain wrong – if it had been written about Windows then it would have been correct but I just don’t recognise the Mac he is talking about here!

    I turn up at the office, click the mouse, the Mac wakes from sleep in about 3 seconds and I am up and running.

    We’ve been using Macs at work for around 18 years and have freed ourselves long ago from the everyday Windows drudgery of slow and slower still, rebooting, reloading, updating, memory additions, patching, registry untangling, driver updating, and on and on none of which actually enabled us to do any work.

    I wonder just how much money reliance on Windows & Microsoft has actually cost companies over the years with all this stuff? What’s an IT department cost these days? How much time and money has been lost due to “the server being down”?

    When Apple comes to dominate the planet I guess all the IT guys will have to start looking for something else to do…

    1. When Apple comes to dominate the planet I guess all the IT guys will have to start looking for something else to do…

      BWAHAHA! Exactly.

      The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of Windows continues to be awful compared to OS X on Mac. This continues to be the #1 reason why Macs have ALWAYS been less expensive than comparable PCs when people bother to look at more than merely a computer’s shelf price.

    1. Obviously not for adults? Why would I want to get addicted to Porn?

      I use opendns family shield at work as a piece to our network security puzzle. It speeds DNS resolution and filters by default adult sites and malware. Use it with dd-wrt firmware and you can avoid users using a different DNS. the ip addresses are 208.67.222.123 and 208.67.220.123.

  5. I rebooted a 10.6.8 server the other day because a WordPress backup was growing beyond all reason and disk space was rapidly approaching zero.

    Other than that, I can’t remember rebooting a Mac for performance reasons. I check `uptime` on the machines I manage pretty regularly. Aside from power outages and software updates, rebooting is a thing of the past. I think my Power Mac G4 Cube held the record at 422 days of uptime.

    1. The RAM can be upgraded on the “latest” 2012 21.5″ iMac. It’s just the screen removal and installation that is an issue for the average end user. Any Apple Authorized service center can do it for you.

  6. I would simply avoid this article altogether. There’s far more wrong with it than right; especially with the idea that Macs slow down over time as being part of expected normal behavior.

    Others have pointed out some of the errors, here are some more:

    Freeing RAM:
    Don’t do this. You’ll note that the only way you can do this is through the terminal or apps that provide a GUI interface to terminal commands. RAM can be Free, Active, or Inactive. Free RAM = wasted RAM. It’s not doing anything. Active RAM is being used by apps, and Inactive RAM is memory that was used by apps and is now sitting there waiting to see if it can be used again. If needed, Inactive RAM is freed up. Otherwise it just sits as cache. The only real reason why you’d want to free Inactive RAM is if you want to force an application to start over from scratch. Developers need to do this for testing purposes.

    The author comments a little on this, but his description is wrong, and more importantly, you’re not going to speed anything up by “Freeing RAM”.

    iLife:
    “You can remove these files to gain back a lot of space, but still be able to use these programs.”

    That makes it sound like as if there’s no reason to keep those files. For many people, they might as well delete GarageBand if they’re going to delete the loops for it.

    Game Center:
    “a lot on unnecessary crap on your system that over time slows it down. A perfect example? Game Center. If you don’t use your Mac for gaming, why do you need it? Unfortunately, OS X does not let you uninstall these applications, but you can disable them.”

    Game Center consumes no RAM or processor resources whatsoever unless you’re actually using it. It consumes a whopping 5MB of drive space, and can be deleted if that really matters to you (use the Terminal).

    Free Disk Space:
    Here the author confuses Virtual Memory with Scratch Disks. All apps are a perfect example of Virtual Memory. Photoshop is *an* example of Scratch Disks, but not really the best. Also the author fails to mention how much drive space you should reserve. Estimates vary on this, but my personal recommendation is that you never go below the amount of RAM you have. If you have 8GB of RAM, always keep at least 8GB of storage free. That’s as an absolute minimum. You see estimates from others in terms of leaving percentages of you hard drives free.

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