No. of Recommendations: 4
From the sound of things, my first guess is that you've got bad blocks on your ~6 year old hard drive, that they're spreading, and that your operating system is constantly trying to write to blocks, failing, and trying again. You could look in your system logs (/var/log/syslog, or the Console application) for clues, but unless you're familiar with the messages, you might find it cryptic.

BTW, are you sure it's a hard drive? In 2012, the MBP came with a HD in the non-Retina model and a SSD in the Retina model.

Another option to verify whether you have bad blocks is to do a surface scan using a utility like Micromat's Techtool Pro (https://www.micromat.com/products/techtool-pro). I don't know if they have a free demo, but I find the utility is well worth the cost if you have lots of data.

Techtool Pro will also run diagnostics on other parts of the hardware, e.g. the graphics card, RAM, etc., so if it's not a hard drive problem, maybe Techtool Pro will tell you. Alternatively, you can run Apple Hardware Test on your MBP -- see https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257. If something is found, you'll get an error code(If your MBP were 2013 or later, you'd run Apple Diagnostics instead -- see https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202731.)

If you verify that it's a hard drive issue, wecoguy made the good recommendation to upgrade to an SSD. OWC has good offerings, but I really like the Samsung EVO SSDs that get really good customer reviews on Amazon (e.g. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078DPCY3T). If you want to install it yourself, I also like the step-by-step upgrade/repair guides at www.ifixit.com. (Note that there are two sets of instructions for the 2012 MBP, depending on whether you have the Retina with SSD or the non-Retina with HD.)

Good luck.

-awlabrador
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