Windows or Mac OS X: your system WILL slowdown over time

While listening to my normal hodge podge of podcasts,  I heard  on one of the Mac podcasts-which shall remain nameless-one of the pundits postulate that one of the great things about their favorite computer was the fact that it ‘never slowed down, like those others do.’  Oh really now…hmm…well, actually…they do.

How to fix some common Mac OS X slow downs

Corrupt Preference Files

Apparently, just as with Windows, Mac OS relies on a program settings store.  With Windows, this is the registry.  With Mac OS X, it is a bunch of files called preference files.  If your computer slows down while running certain programs, it is possible that the preference file for the application is corrupt.  You can try deleting the file (back it up first, just in case) and then restart the application. These files will get recreated on the next run of the application after the preference file is first deleted.

Widget Overload

We all love gadgets, be it Windows, Mac or Linux.  Sometimes, we may get a bit carried away.  Since each widget takes up memory and cpu cycles, running many of them can really impact your computers performance.  Use the Activity Monitor to check how much memory these things are using and then remove those that you are not using or the memory hungry ones using the Dashboard control panel.

Insufficient Memory

One other thing I keep hearing on those podcasts is just how much better OS X is at managing memory.  It very well may be better than Windows, I don’t know either way.  What I do know is that more memory is always better, no matter what your operating system happens to be.  You can determine whether or not you keep running low of memory by using the Activity Monitor.  Click the System Memory tab and look at the chart on the bottom.  If it is mostly red or orange, you are running out of memory and should probably add more.

Keep Your System Software Updated

Finally, keep your system updated.  Like Windows, there is a built in software update mechanism in OS X.  Click on Software Update in the Apple menu.  You can schedule the updates to run automatically.  Go to the System Preferences and Software Update.  Click the ‘Check for updates’ and that’s it.

There are quite a few more tweaks and things you can do to speed up Mac OS X. I found a bunch of them on line.  The Apple Forums are a good place to start.  I did searches for “slow”, “slowdowns”, “system slowdown” and “system”.  Each search return pages of hits.  Like any good community, there are lots of good answers and some that are not so good.  I would have included links, but I have no desire to read an Apple cease and desist letter personally.

I cannot take credit for the four tips above.  I got them from various sites.   And, like Windows, I also found that disk defragmenting also seems to be a recurring theme even though I hear that that is not an issue. 

The point of this post is not to point out flaws or knock the O/S.  No, it was simply to show how similar issues affect all operating system and not one particular one.  The four issues I mention apply to Windows as well.  The terminology may be different, but the end result is the same.  And, no matter what you use, it is also good practice to review your system and perform some preventative maintenance.

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