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Tonestar1's picture
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Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

My mid 2009 13 Inch macbook pro had started to show it's age. Rather than spend approximately 1k on a new laptop I spent a few hours over the holidays doing some maintenance work, it’s now running faster than the day I bought it.  

Over the years I have carried out no maintenance whatsoever, I’m a bit of a lazy sod, so it's no real surprise it was running like a pig. I thought I'd share my experiences in case there are any other forum users who may benefit. I would also be interested in any other tips other forum users may have for keeping the macbook in optimum condition.  I’m going right to the basics so this is understandable for anyone who isn’t that tech savvy.

Firstly, the laptop itself:

13 inch Mid 2009 macbook pro

2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

2 GB RAM

 

If you are unsure of what hardware your mac has click the apple icon and go to about this mac. That will tell you the processor speed and memory. If you then click more info and copy the serial number into the link below it will tell you what model the macbook is, mid 2009 in my case.

 

http://support.apple.com/specs/

 

Main Uses

Internet browsing

Streaming media

ITunes

Spotify

Lovefilm instant

Photo storage and basic editing

 

As you can see I don’t use my mac in anger very much but I had noticed several annoying issues.

Boot up time went from around 40 seconds from “bong” to home screen when new to well over a minute.

Website loading and page refreshes were often resulting in the spinning beachball of death.

When opening iTunes the thumbnail album art was taking an age to load and when scrolling it was very jittery. Around 700 albums.

Same as above for iPhoto, but even slower. Approximately 2500 photos or around 7Gig. Mixture of  iPhone and proper camera snaps.

When watching BBC iplayer  it was stopping to buffer quite a lot, ditto for Lovefilm instant.

I admit all of these are pretty much first word problems but I found them irritating nonetheless.

Steps I carried out to solve these problems.

First and foremost I decided to upgrade the memory from 2Gb to 8GB. This cost less than £30 and was very easy to do. If you go to the crucial memory website it can scan your machine and provide the upgrade options.  This has made a world of difference to iTunes and iPhoto. The programs now open instantly and all of the art and pictures are available straight away.

Boot up time was back to 42 seconds, roughly around the same as when I bought it back in 2009.

Webpage load times and page refresh times are now back to near instant.

Next, after a bit of googling I decided to repair the disk permissions

Finder – Applications – Utilities – Disk Utility

First click verify permissions then click repair permissions

This took approximately 15 mins to verify then around the same to repair.

Now it was time to Verify the disk itself. Unfortunately this picked up a disk volume error so was unable to complete the operation.  The OS cannot repair a disk error if the OS itself is running on the same disk.

To resolve this fault I had to insert the OS install disk I got with the macbook and reboot. As the machine loads you need to hold down the “c” key to boot from the DVD drive as opposed to the hard drive.

When the home page opens do NOT follow the on screen prompts to install the OS . Click on the disk utility menu option on the top bar then repeat the verify disk and repair disk procedures detailed above. Once this has been completed remove the disk and reboot the machine as normal.

Another tip is too remove any unnecessary login items (These are programs that start automatically when the machine boots up). I found I was starting an old HP printer application even though I no longer use the printer.

System preferences, accounts, “relevant account” login items.

After completing the above steps my bootup time is now down to 31 seconds  and all applications are fast and smooth.  For £30 and a few hours work my laptop feels like a brand new machine.. My next upgrade will be to SSD which will hopefully make everything run even more smoothly.

I would be interested in any tips other forum users have to keep the mac in tiptop shape or any experiences of upgrading to SSD.  I’m also pondering whether to upgrade to Mountain Lion. At the moment I run Snow Leopard and have heard a lot of bad stories about Mountain Lion. The general consensus seems to be tick with Snow Leopard as it’s the last half decent OS Apple have released. I would be interested in any opinions to the contrary.

Cheers

Tony

p.s Hopefulyl the formatting on this is ok, I typed up on word first.

 

 

bigboss's picture
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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

:cheers:

Mountain Lion isn't bad. It's got some useful features borrowed from iOS.

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

What a really useful post which must've taken you ages to aggregate and write. Thank you.

As for Mountain Lion...I use it here on three Macs: a 2010 Mac Mini same processor as yours which came with Snow Leopard, a 2011 Mac Mini i5 and a 2011 iMac i7, which both came with Lion. It's least successful on the 2010 Mini which appears to run slower than it did with Snow Leopard, but on the two more recent machines I have no real issues at all.  There are a couple of minor bugs they've still not fixed, but that's about it.

I wonder how the disk repair would work on more recent OS's: there aren't any discs to boot from, and on the more recent machines, no drives either!

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

MajorFubar wrote:

I wonder how the disk repair would work on more recent OS's: there aren't any discs to boot from, and on the more recent machines, no drives either!

On the more recent Macs you can boot to the recovery partition and get to the disk utilities there.

 

The owls are not what they seem...

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Being unable to edit and amend typos without either losing all the text or getting a double post  is becoming a bit tedious guys !!

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

MajorFubar wrote:

What a really useful post which must've taken you ages to aggregate and write. Thank you.

As for Mountain Lion...I use it here on three Macs: a 2010 Mac Mini same processor as yours which came with Snow Leopard, a 2011 Mac Mini i5 and a 2011 iMac i7, which both came with Lion. It's least successful on the 2010 Mini which appears to run slower than it did with Snow Leopard, but on the two more recent machines I have no real issues at all.  There are a couple of minor bugs they've still not fixed, but that's about it.

I wonder how the disk repair would work on more recent OS's: there aren't any discs to boot from, and on the more recent machines, no drives either!

Agree with the good Major, Mountain Lion works fine on three of our macs. 

If you need to reinstall or repair disc on either Lion or Mountain Lion (neither of which came on optical media), they both have an inbuilt recovery system.

Restart and hold down the command and R keys until the apple logo appears. you should then see a screen with a menu bar and an OSX applications window. 

This is a useful guide from apple's support pages

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4718

Hopefully you'll never need to use it !!

 

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Cheers folks. I just thought I should share as the gains I obtained from little effort as it might save someone splashing out on a new laptop when there really is no need.

I think I may hold off on Mountain Lion  as I really don't want to risk my machine slowing down, as per MajorF's mac mini of the same era. Tbh I probably wouldn't  use 98% of the new features anyway.

If your mac doesn't have a disk drive I think you can hold down "cmd" on boot up and it will let you enter a "safe mode" of sorts that will allow you to carry out disk repair. If that doesn't work there seems to be a few options to boot from usb but apparently you need to copy the OS boot files before you actally install it as it they delete after the initial install. Otherwise it's time machine which I think is rather rubbish. Most people don't tend to use disk utility on a regular basis so would have no way of determining when the last error free backup was taken.

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

All good advice.   Not to tell anyone how to suck eggs, but it is amazing how many people miss these basics:

1)  Don't have hundreds of apps in your Dock

2)  Don't use your desktop as a dumping ground for shit.  Use the desktop for current work by all means, but aim to keep it to one column of icons at most.  Yes that single folder of several gigs of music should not be on your desktop!  A messy desktop can severely slow down your machine.  This is a Mac only foible that does not affect windows machine.

2)  Keep at least 10% of HD space free, aim for 20%.  OS X needs some room for caching etc.

 

I bought Mountain Lion for one reason only, Airplay desktop mirroring to an Apple TV.  Love it!

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Ah yes...totally forgot about the boot partition!

Never needed it yet...touch wood.

Anonymous
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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Hi, I have upgraded my late 2009 imac from snow lepard to snow lion and all I can say is that I am totally pleased with it, it did slow the computer down a bit partly to do with the size of the program. I upgraded to 12gig of memory and it done wonders, I am thinking of replacing hard drive with ssd but I  am a bit worried about taking my computer half apart, a few more videos to watch on you tube before my confidence builds a bit. :help: :help: :help:

Anonymous
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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Hi, I have upgraded my late 2009 imac from snow lepard to snow lion and all I can say is that I am totally pleased with it, it did slow the computer down a bit partly to do with the size of the program. I upgraded to 12gig of memory and it done wonders, I am thinking of replacing hard drive with ssd but I  am a bit worried about taking my computer half apart, a few more videos to watch on you tube before my confidence builds a bit. :help: :help: :help:

Tonestar1's picture
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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

simoncar wrote:

Hi, I have upgraded my late 2009 imac from snow lepard to snow lion and all I can say is that I am totally pleased with it, it did slow the computer down a bit partly to do with the size of the program. I upgraded to 12gig of memory and it done wonders, I am thinking of replacing hard drive with ssd but I  am a bit worried about taking my computer half apart, a few more videos to watch on you tube before my confidence builds a bit. :help: :help: :help:

Hi Simon,

Unfortunately 8Gig is maximum addressable memory on my pro. If I can work out how to back up this OS I may give it a go and reinstall Snow Leopard if it slows down too much. Do you, or anyone else for that matter, know if thats possible via Time Machine? I'm lucky enough to have never needed to use it.

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Use SuperDuper - it's a much better backup program for an entire system recovery. Combined with Time Machine, you'll have a complete backup solution.

 

The owls are not what they seem...

Tonestar1's picture
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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

professorhat wrote:

Use SuperDuper - it's a much better backup program for an entire system recovery. Combined with Time Machine, you'll have a complete backup solution.

 

Cheers Prof, that looks ideal.

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

Tonestar1 wrote:

professorhat wrote:

Use SuperDuper - it's a much better backup program for an entire system recovery. Combined with Time Machine, you'll have a complete backup solution.

 

Cheers Prof, that looks ideal.

Carbon Copy Cloner is also good for making a system back up.

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RE: Macbook Pro, upgrades and general housekeeping

I keep my Mac desktop fastidiously tidy, as I did with my Windows PC, but why do experts say storing files on a Mac desktop slows it down? Why does that happen?

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