My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Joanna
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My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » June 20th, 2013, 8:50 am

Hello,
I have relatively new iMac with fast processor and all (only few months), I don't use/instal many applications but sometimes it is very slow or completely unresponsive. I have read about software like MacKeeper or Clean My Mac 2 but they are expensive and I don't understand how they work precisely. I have a good working antivirus (Norton Internet Security for Mac) so it is not a virus. I deleted Windows partition via Boot Camp assistant, tried to see if I can clean any libraries but there seems not to be many files or everything I see is important, no junk. Maybe I don't see where the junk is?
Anyway I have no idea how to keep good maintenance in technical terms so that my iMac works fast again and doesn't hang.
Can anyone please explain how it works, where temp files or log files are stored? Are they hidden? (maybe that's why I don't see much under my user) Which files/folders are important to clean up to speed up the computer?
I prefer not to use applications, because they are costly and I don't trust them what they are exactly doing. Is there a way to do it manually, step by step?

Thanks for any help.

Regards,
Joanna
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Turboladdade
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Turboladdade » June 20th, 2013, 6:35 pm

Hello and welcome to Info-Mac!

Firstly, do not under any circumstances install MacKeeper. Many Mac users including myself consider it a form of malware.

Secondly, your copy of Norton Internet Security for Mac is itself probably contributing a lot to sluggish performance. It's pretty much useless and I'd recommend uninstalling it.

Thirdly, the cause of "slowness" isn't going to be log files and cache files, but probably extra processes or applications running that are eating CPU cycles and occupying memory. So my third recommendation is to just forget the whole concept of "cleaning up files" - get it out of your brain (unless you're using nearly all of your hard drive, in that case yes its a problem but more to do with your own large personal files).

If you open up Activity Monitor, you'll be able to see how your processor, memory and storage device(s) are all being utilized in real-time. Activity Monitor is located in Applications / Utilities folder. One thing you might try is going to the CPU and the System Memory tabs and noting what they say there. Share that information with us (take screenshots!) and we can try to help you out further.

EDIT: Also, tell us some of the specs of your iMac. You can find those in Apple Menu -> About this Mac. Processor speed and type, and amount of RAM are important. Also find out how much of your hard drive is being used in Activity Monitor mentioned above.
I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do.
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 5th, 2013, 2:43 pm

Thank you for your tips. Sorry it took me so long to get back, I was abroad.
I did check with the Activity Monitor and it looks like the problem lies in the memory. I was doing multiple tasks like everyone these days (emailing, social media, listening to the music online, saving pictures from the Internet, working with Word document) so with multiple windows open, and the mac froze. I had to shut it down manually as the software was non responsive.
Then I took the screen shots from the Activity Monitor as well as the specification of my iMac.
On one of them you will see that out of my 4GB memory 3.98 is used.
The disc space is looking good, I don't think that is the problem. But from a Mac which is one years old (was about 7 months old when problems started) I expected much better performance. It is supposed to deal with sophisticated graphic design programs like Photoshop or 3ds max so I was expecting that it should be strong and for many years. Now I worry that's not going to be the case.

I am sending the screen shots.

P.S. I didn't take the extended warranty & support from Apple because it is very pricy for me.
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 5th, 2013, 2:49 pm

Here are the screen shots taken from Activity Monitor and the Mac specification
1) Mac specification
2) CPU
3) System Memory
4) Disk Activity
5) Disk Usage
6) Network
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Turboladdade
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Turboladdade » October 7th, 2013, 4:44 pm

In the screenshot above, the problem is most definitely your RAM usage. You see where it says only 8.1 MB free - that's crazy low. It is possible that you simply have too many programs running at once. If you look along your dock, any icon that has a whiteish blue dot under it means it is running. Make sure you don't simply close windows and instead quit programs properly. Also, you may have some program that is using too much memory on its own, possibly one you don't even know is running. In that same area where you took the "System Memory" screenshot you should be able to see a list of all processes that are running. You can sort them by memory being used. Try to see what's eating up the most.
I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do.
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 13th, 2013, 8:47 pm

1) Seems that even to open the current page 2,09 GB is already used (over the half of the available memory).
2) Then I noticed that even when I don't have that many programs open the mac is non responsive (on one of the print screens you see only finder and safari are active, only one web page in safari).
3) I realized that there are many small programs (30, maybe 35?) which are not open but each and every one of them takes few MB which eats up my available memory. This is something more complicated, I don't know how Mac OS works and why are those programs using memory? And it is mostly not antivirus (there was no difference performance after installing antivirus there was no slow down so this is not causing the problem but all those 35 small programs do. I really don't know whether there is any solution to this. Of course I can't add memory to my iMac. I really don't understand why so powerful computer (last year's standards) freezes when I try to open just any web page in Safari...
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safari non responsive.png
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 13th, 2013, 8:48 pm

it's more than 40 programs and still counting...
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 13th, 2013, 8:57 pm

About the Norton Antivirus: the only thing eating the memory is protection plugin for Safari (32 MB).
Norton has this really good feature that it does all the security scans and updates when the computer is in idle state (on but no activity, when I live it on which happens very often). That's why it does not eat up the memory substantially when I am working on it (the only exception is scan of any files being downloaded from the Internet but it's very fast about 2 seconds).
So I am not convinced that this antivirus program causes the problem (s I said, after installing it no slowing down).
In the past I used free antivirus software which was disturbing my work and slowed down the computer (Windows laptop) significantly. Norton does not do that although many people still think it does (it DID in 1998 but since then they improved a lot).
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Turboladdade » October 14th, 2013, 2:00 pm

Yeah I have no idea why Safari would be using that much memory - perhaps plugins or extensions you've installed? The iMac I'm typing this message on has 32GB of memory and my Safari doesn't even use nearly the same amount as yours. It's not a matter of your computer not being powerful enough. It most definitely is a software issue of some kind - something you've installed or some application going nuts. I really have no idea where to begin on this one though.

It is normal to have dozens of small processes running. Don't worry about those.
Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 1.57.47 PM.png
I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do.
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 17th, 2013, 4:59 pm

Seems that it's Safari web content which is using GB of memory. Browser itself uses only MB. I think I didn't know when I bought this computer that memory will be an issue. I should have done more research on that. Now I'm stuck with this, so it seems.
Worry about starting with programs for interior design, how much memory that would use...
Pity than I can't just add some memory to it...
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Turboladdade » October 18th, 2013, 7:10 am

It's probably just some Flash-heavy website gobbling up memory or something. Have you tried just quitting Safari and relaunching it? You seem fixated on the computer hardware itself when I'm trying to tell you its a software issue. 4 GB is a fine amount of memory.
I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do.
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 18th, 2013, 2:04 pm

Ok yes, I realize now I am indeed focused on the hardware. It is because I have no idea if 4GB of memory is enough, or I just bought the wrong model, that kind of dilemma.

If you say I need to focus on the software, then I try to do that.
Yes, I restart Safari as well as the whole iMac when issues occur. What I notice is that after that it takes unusually long time for the computer to start up again (which is logical i guess).

The websites are mostly interior design & architecture, also music & video streaming like You Tube, SoundCloud etc. Social media like Facebook from which I tend to open a link to another website, sometimes it's a video.
I am also writing a blog so I work with photographs usually very large format for the best quality (it's about interior design). Then I also took part in a photographic contest, lots of HD photos.
But is it something unusual that other Mac users don't do?
I will try to have only a minimum of programs/websites open at a time.
An idea: In Safari I noticed that even when I close a tab and open another tab, when I want to come back to the first website it comes back as it was, logged in and all...What IF even though the website(tab) is closed, it is still using the memory in Safari web content? Does it mean that I have to quit Safari after each browsing session, even if I will need to reopen the websites again?
It would take enormous amount of time to do the tasks this way.
Also when working on MS Word & Excel, iPhoto constantly, if I have to close each time I think that would make the task 3 times longer if not even more...sometimes I work on hundreds of pictures, I create Word & Excel files at the same time, download/upload them to the Internet.
Working on interior design sometimes I have to have multiple tabs open in the browser because I constantly use them.
I guess I am frustrated because I put a lot of money and it doesn't work as I would wish...
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Turboladdade » October 18th, 2013, 2:37 pm

Joanna wrote:I have no idea if 4GB of memory is enough
It is enough. Safari shouldn't be using that much memory, period. Even if you had 32 GB of memory as I do, Safari should not be using that much memory. Something might be wrong with Safari, perhaps it got corrupted somehow, or something is interfering with or hijacking Safari (could it possibly be your AntiVirus software mentioned earlier?)

I would try one of three things. First, try Repairing Permissions. This is a standard Mac troubleshooting step that often quickly squashes common problems with software. You can read more about that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repair_permissions

Second, make absolutely sure you don't have any extensions or plugins that could be themselves gobbling up memory. I found this with some quick googling that sounds similar to your problem:
In my Macbook Pro 4GB RAM recently note memory leak when I opened Safari even with 1 or two windows open without refresh the web content.

In Activity monitor could see consume Web Content the Safari Spend more the 2 GB RAM (Memory Inactive)

Solution: Disable All Extensions and probe one to one. Finding that Fastesttube Extension was responsible.
Perhaps Norton Internet Security installed an extension into Safari that's running wild? Maybe you have some other extension installed?

If that doesn't help anything, then try using a different browser like Google Chrome for awhile, and see if it doesn't also start gobbling up tons of memory. You can get that here: http://www.google.com/mac/
I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do.
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 26th, 2013, 1:21 am

Thank you for your tips.
I don't know how to find which extensions Safari is using.
Actually I tried using other browsers before and conclusion is that Safari is the fastest still (so I came back to Safari).

Other thing - I would like to upgrade to OS X Mavericks (first dong latest updates, backup). Is it a good decision?
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 26th, 2013, 1:45 am

Ok found " Safari extensions", sorry for a silly question
Didn't spend lot of time on the computers at all, now on top of this one I have also Windows 8.1 update and I don't know much about any of those systems yet. Busy with sth else ;-)
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 26th, 2013, 1:49 am

Ok, so I have only one extension which is my anivirus software
Will see if it helps
Anyway I am not feeling safe online without antivirus software so I hope that it doesn't cause the problem.
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 26th, 2013, 2:34 am

I am doing test right now and I switched Norton antiwirus back, the difference in sfarai Webcontent is 200 MB more WITH antivirus extension.
Actually I have 11 tabs open, on one watching video, on another one listening to the music, and a few "heavy websites" open with lot of "moving content" like the weather radar.
And there is only 660 MB at most used. So I don't understand why sometimes it works great, and sometimes there is like 2 GB?

This quote from someone else's problem on laptop sounds very familiar indeed.

Would be easier if the computer behaves constantly the same each time then it's easier to troubleshoot.
I will continue looking at this problem, I need to get to the bottom of this.

Thank you for your help so far.
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Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » October 26th, 2013, 2:38 am

Now that I look at the list I notice 2 strange things:
1)Safari Web content is listed twice (the other time is not using much memory)
2)The list is much shorter (previously I couldn't make a screen shot on 21.5 inch screen, the list was so very long

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT SUDDENLY IT REPAIRED ITSELF?
There is one small suspicion I have about one software which I need to check out.

YEP, indeed my haunch was right - the Norton Antivirus subscription has expired so that's maybe why there is an improvement. I am not sure though.
It happened in the past that for a few days it worked ok then suddenly it was crashing.

How safe is it to run a Mac without any antivirus software? (maybe it is for another topic)
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Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 9.37.53 AM.png
Joanna
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Joanna » December 16th, 2013, 10:37 am

@Turboladdade:
Hi, when you said you have 32GB of memory, I checked options for upgrading the 4GB on my iMac. My model is possible to open without assistance from Apple support (which would cost lot of money in this country), so I found instruction from Apple support precisely hot to add memory - it's pretty simple, even for me.
There are 4 slots. 2 are taken currently by 2GB each. In order to reach 32 GB my understanding is that I need 4 times 8GB of memory?
Could you please advise me what type of memory and how they are sold (for example can you buy 14GB of memory or is it always have to be like: 2;4;8;16;32 etc).
I have no understanding of hardware and technical subjects at all…
In Apple store they have no memory for that model. But, should I go to Apple store and buy there or can I go to any computer related supermarket and buy any brand?
Thank you for your help in advance.
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Re: My iMac works slow - how to clean up?

Post by Turboladdade » December 16th, 2013, 10:54 am

I'm not sure what the best retailer would be for your location but if you go to http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/apple/memory/ they have a pretty convenient web page that will tell you exactly what kind of memory to buy.
I am now telling the computer exactly what it can do.
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