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I have a mid 2012 MBP that has been great for a long time. I had continued to update it and was running the most recent Mojave on it. It wasn't a speed demon opening Open Office but did fine on the internet and other casual things I used it for.

In the past month or so it started slowing down, then all but ground to a halt. I have also used Windows for a very long time and thought maybe a reinstallation of the OS would clean things up like it does with Windows. I went into disk utility and told it to download and reinstall Mojave. It would download it but the installation always ground to a halt, waiting as long as 30 hours produced nothing. I tried this 5 times, over wifi, over ethernet, erasing the disk beforehand, deleting the boot camp partition, I ran out of different things to try.

I had an old timecapsule backup that I tried to restore it with. It was several years old, OSX 9.2 or something like that. Anyway it loaded and would run, but still so slowly that it was not usable.

Obviously I have a problem but I don't know what it is. I assume it is hardware related, perhaps a HD? Or can there be a processor or other hardware failure that might be behind this?

The laptop worked well enough that I would be willing to put in another hd if I thought it might help. But at this point that seems like it would just be a shot in the dark and I'd rather not spend several hundred dollars replacing parts at random.

Any suggestions?

thanks,
wolferd
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As long as the other hardware is solid, I'd be looking at an SSD upgrade... Go as big as you need, they also have a video on what and how to do it. Take notes, pics as you open it up to help put it back together. When I did MacBooks, I took a cardboard lid, made sketches of screw locations at each step, poked a pinhole and pushed each screw into the cardboard. Worked great, helped a lot. If you don't have the tools, they sell them also.

https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ssd/owc/macbook-pro/2012?gcl...

A nice adventure!
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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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My MacBook Pro mid 2014 (with SSD) started slowing down with an update from Apple, I don't remember which one.

Denny Schlesinger
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I agree, SSD updates are nice and can speed up a computer.

But in this case, the problem is still undiagnosed. We don't know if the hard drive is the problem or not. Replacing the drive is just throwing parts at the problem and hoping the part works.

I'd be more inclined to get to a repair shop and see if they can determine the problem. It's possible that the problem is all software related. Not any one thing specifically, but simply a general increase in software demands on hardware over the last 6 or 7 years since the machine was first built.

In the Windows world, the saying was "Intel giveth, and Microsoft taketh away." I'm pretty sure you can substitute Apple for Microsoft and still have a cliche with some truthiness to it.

--Peter
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It's possible that the problem is all software related.

The OP tried doing a clean install on the drive ("erasing the disk beforehand"), and it was still slow. Also, I've installed Mojave on a 2012 15" MBP Retina (the one I brought in for repairs in another thread), and it wasn't that slow (though it was a BTO Core i7).

So, my conclusion is it's less likely a software problem and more likely a hard drive problem. Other possibilities include other hardware, e.g. RAM, firmware, etc. The Apple Hardware Test or Micromat's Techtool Pro will be able to help.

-awlabrador
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The OP tried doing a clean install on the drive ("erasing the disk beforehand"), and it was still slow.

I guess I wasn't clear. I'm not talking about malware or corruption. I'm talking about the OS and/or applications demanding more and more every year from the hardware - usually because every year the current hardware becomes faster or more capable. After 6 or 7 years of this incremental creep in the software, old hardware runs noticeably slow.

--Peter
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I guess I wasn't clear.

Okay, even so, the OP couldn't get the installer to finish the clean installation. Although a mid-2012 MBP is high at the bottom end of Mojave compatibility, that doesn't explain the impossibility of the installation. Plus, he used Time Machine and restored OS X 10.9.2 (Mavericks, assuming it's what he meant by "OSX 9.2")), which is far older and well within the capabilities of the machine, and it was still slow, so Mojave and software creep are not the problem.

It's possible I'm misreading his post, and maybe we mean different things, between us, for "slow" and "waiting as long as 30 hours [producing] nothing". Whatever the actual problem is, though, I assume the OP will have run appropriate diagnostics by the end of the day and will be able to narrow down the possibilities.

-awlabrador
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I wrote Although a mid-2012 MBP is high at the bottom end of Mojave compatibility...

Should read "Although a mid-2012 MBP is at the bottom end of Mojave compatibility..."

-awlabrador
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This is a classic symptom of a HD failure. Genius bar should be able to confirm it.
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Thanks for the help.

As for software demands making it slow, the timecapsule backup that I used was over 3 years old, long before I had any problems. Even with that older version OS and older software the machine was so slow that it wasn't usable. That is what led me to suspect a hardware issue of some kind.

To be honest, it had gotten just a bit slower with the OS upgrades over the years but still worked well even with Mojave.

I was able to boot to the Apple Hardware Test and ran the extended test. It could not identify any hardware issues. Does it check the HD? I ask because I didn't see the HD even mentioned in the AHT console.

Is there a way to check the hard drive - and it has a hd, it did not come with a ssd.

The nearest Genius bar is 70 miles from here and I've never even been there, never had any reason to. Would they charge for a diagnostic visit on a laptop this old? If it is a hd I would probably want to replace it with a ssd, but I think I would prefer to do it myself. I don't want to drop $300 on a laptop that is 6 years old.

johngalt said my symptoms are consistent with a hd problem. If a diagnosis confirms that and I were to replace the HD and not copy anything over, would I still be able to boot into the repair console and download the Mojave OS that I was using when things went south or is the ability to boot into the repair console contained on the hd that is in the computer?

Thanks for all the insight.
wolferd
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Another oddity is that I was able to use timecapsule to restore a backup I had made several years ago. It took a while, but it loaded and the computer worked, albeit very slowly.

But I can not use disk utility to download and install Mojave to the computer. The download seems to be ok, but the installation always fails towards the end of the installation.

Would a hd problem allow for the failure of the Mojave installation but let the 3 year old backup be written to it?
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Replacing the drive is just throwing parts at the problem and hoping the part works.

Not trying to beat this question to death, just trying to learn what I can from the machine and solicit insight from folks how know more than I do to help me decide what is the most reasonable thing to do. But I agree with Peter's statement above.

fwiw, in DiskUtility I ran FirstAid on the disk and it didn't return any errors. I don't know what first aid checks for for, I just know that it didn't find anything. There was not a functioning OS on the disk when I ran it.

I am currently reinstalling the timecapsule backup from 4 years ago so it will at least have a functioning os on it if I decide there is nothing else for me to do but take it to the genius bar.

Thanks again
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fwiw, in DiskUtility I ran FirstAid on the disk and it didn't return any errors. I don't know what first aid checks for for, I just know that it didn't find anything. There was not a functioning OS on the disk when I ran it.

Disk Utility does filesystem scans, but it doesn't do bad block (surface) scans. For that, you need an application that does surface scans, like Techtool Pro. I think Diskwarrior used to do such scans, but I don't think it does so any more. I'm pretty sure Apple Hardware Test doesn't do a surface scan, either, but I think you probably verified that the other hardware is okay by running it.

BTW, depending on how large your drive is, it can take a day or more to do a surface scan. OTOH, if there are lots of bad blocks, it may catch a few almost immediately and allow you to stop the test.

I'm a little confused that you mentioned downloading Mojave via Disk Utility. Do you mean you tried downloading it by booting into the Recovery Partition?

In any case, based on what you've written, I think we can safely state the following:

-- Apple Hardware Test shows no errors, so it's not hardware like RAM, ports, etc. AHT tests the hard drive, but only the sensor and fan (see https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4897338), so you need Disk Utility or some other disk diagnostic to test the drive integrity.
-- Disk Utility tests the drive as okay, so it's not an error at the filesystem level. However, Disk Utility does not do a surface scan (i.e. check for bad blocks).
-- An attempt at a clean install (onto the erased disk) fails, so it's not an installed-software problem, e.g. Microsoft Office isn't your problem.
-- Recovering a very old Time Capsule backup apparently succeeds, but it's still slow. Since the backup contained years-old software and OS, your problem is unlikely to be software creep.

The only diagnostic that remains that I can think of is a surface scan (or bad block scan). If you don't want to try out Techtool Pro or some other application that does such scans, you can try installing the command line utility called badblocks using MacPorts, if you have that installed. I've used it on Ubuntu to do surface scans.

If someone else can think of a hardware issue that AHT doesn't cover, I'm open to suggestions, but as someone else confirmed in another message, the problem you describe has all the characteristics of a hard drive failure. IMO, the most likely HD failure in your case is bad blocks or bad sectors. (I suppose corrupted HD firmware could do it and not be detectable, too.)

-awlabrador
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By the way, I can't believe I've forgotten to mention this, as I've been working on the problem off an don for the past week or two:

I have an external USB drive attached to my MBP for Time Machine backups at the office. Recently, my MBP slowed essentially to a crawl or even stopped responding every once in a while, and I discovered it happened when the Time Machine backup started each hour. When I unplugged the drive (not even unmounting it), the MBP started responding again. I couldn't do any kind of Mac-based surface scan at the office (my Techtool Protogo flash drive is at home), so I mounted the drive to my Ubuntu machine and did a badblocks scan instead.

And yes, it found lots of bad blocks.

I've been trying to map out the bad blocks for a few days to see if I can make the drive usable, but at this point, I'm getting ready to give up on it and discard it.

-awlabrador
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I once had an intractable problem with a Mac. Apple changed the motherboard for me twice at no charge and the problem would not go away, the Mac would die at odd times. Then one day an error message came up saying there was a problem with the memory stick I had added. I replaced it (again at no cost) and the problem was solved.

What was interesting is that Apple's sophisticated testing equipment did not detect the problem, not in a shop in Caracas nor in a shop in NYC.

At another time I had a problem with BBEdit that because very sluggish. I discovered that a folder containing BBEdit files lived in a section of damaged memory. I moved the folder elsewhere, problem solved.

Have you tested the memory? Sometimes the test software does not pick it up, or so it seems.

Maybe these memories of old help.

Denny Schlesinger
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I just realized that my first example was a memory problem and the second a disk problem. It seems my memory is also failing! LOL

Denny Schlesinger
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Wrong SODIMM?

;-)

-awlabrador
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Have you tested the memory? Sometimes the test software does not pick it up, or so it seems.

TechTool Pro will test RAM, but I don’t know if it’s more or less thorough and/or sophisticated than Apple Hardware Test. Typically such tests write 1’s, 0’s, and patterns to RAM and then reads them back.

-awlabrador
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Wrong SODIMM?

Damaged memory chips.

Denny Schlesinger
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The nearest Genius bar is 70 miles from here and I've never even been there, never had any reason to. Would they charge for a diagnostic visit on a laptop this old? If it is a hd I would probably want to replace it with a ssd, but I think I would prefer to do it myself. I don't want to drop $300 on a laptop that is 6 years old.



Truthfully, it's cheaper to just buy a HDD and install it yourself and hope for the best. I would not put a SSD in a 6+yo machine at this point, it's a waste. If you want directions, these guys are great:

https://www.ifixit.com

And here is the guide specific to your system:
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Unibody+Mid...

HTH,
Kathleen
also working on a 2012 MBP for a friend, but I know this one has a logic board issue, they are not quite so cheap :(
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Wrong SODIMM?

Damaged memory chips.

Denny Schlesinger



I was wondering about that because usually when the wrong memory is installed into a Mac, the Mac stops working. Period. No slowdown, it just stops. Actually, I'm kinda surprised that the bad memory did not do the same. Maybe it was just starting to go and had not fully freaked the Mac ut yet.

Kathleen
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I was wondering about that because usually when the wrong memory is installed into a Mac, the Mac stops working. Period. No slowdown, it just stops. Actually, I'm kinda surprised that the bad memory did not do the same. Maybe it was just starting to go and had not fully freaked the Mac ut yet.

The memory worked fine for a time. Then it started to not to slow but to kill the Mac. The seller replaced it with an identical part that never gave a problem. My deduction, right part, bad chips.

What I found extraordinary is that Apple did not detect the problem. Could it be that they don't test the add-ons? The Mac itself eventually reported the problem. Not that it matters but way back in prehistory (1982) I was a certified Apple II and Apple III technician. Back then we did a lot of testing and parts swapping because parts were much less reliable and had a short mean-time between failures. When Venezuela devalued the currency in 1984 the Apple distributor stopped importing and I started to refurbish and sell used Apple IIs.

Denny Schlesinger
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I have a Late 2011 MacBook Pro. Last year I replaced the HDD with a SSD. It made a huge difference in the performance. Feels like a whole new laptop.
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What I found extraordinary is that Apple did not detect the problem. Could it be that they don't test the add-ons? The Mac itself eventually reported the problem. Not that it matters but way back in prehistory (1982) I was a certified Apple II and Apple III technician. Back then we did a lot of testing and parts swapping because parts were much less reliable and had a short mean-time between failures. When Venezuela devalued the currency in 1984 the Apple distributor stopped importing and I started to refurbish and sell used Apple IIs.


I was doing tech support on Apple at that time too. A while back, a customer called me and this was our conversation:
Me: Thank you for calling
Customer: You aren't going to know what I'm talking about.
Me: Well, I've been playing with these things for a while. Why don't you give me a shot?
Customer: I have an Apple LaserWriter.
Me: Not only do I know what you are talking about, I was certified to fix them!
(To those that do not know, Apple stopped manufacturing the LaserWriter in 1988)

Kathleen
Definitely showing my age in this post
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I have a Late 2011 MacBook Pro. Last year I replaced the HDD with a SSD. It made a huge difference in the performance. Feels like a whole new laptop.


So you put a $150 drive into a $150 laptop?

Kathleen
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The alternative is to put a $0 drive into a $1500 laptop. Out of pocket an extra $1350.

If the $1500 laptop is good for 10 years the upgraded laptop only needs to be good for one year to pay for itself. ;)

Denny Schlesinger
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I put an SSD into a 2012 MBP, and I use it as my travel computer for conferences abroad and such. It's a good-enough solution for when I don't want to risk loss, damage, or theft of my work MBP and its data on a trip. The SSD made the computer practical and even somewhat better than merely bearable.

The main problem is now the battery. Apple no longer makes them, and while there are 3rd party batteries, none of reputable companies I'm familiar with (e.g. Anker) make them. I once got a 3rd party battery from a fly-by-night Chinese seller that could barely last an hour. Now I'm lucky if I can make it through half a plane flight. (Not that I have enough legroom in Economy to use it, but I'd like the option.)

-awlabrador
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I have a Late 2011 MacBook Pro. Last year I replaced the HDD with a SSD. It made a huge difference in the performance. Feels like a whole new laptop.


So you put a $150 drive into a $150 laptop?

Kathleen
---------------

:))

Sure and it's giving me great usage for another 2 years - 3 years. Better that than paying $2000 for a new MacBook Pro
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try OWC.

Their batteries aren't as good as Apple's but they work well enough. Also once in a while calibrate the battery by charging to full, then using it until it dies.

Then charging without using until the light goes green on the charger.

Makes a huge difference as the computer now knows better your battery life.
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I have a Late 2011 MacBook Pro. Last year I replaced the HDD with a SSD. It made a huge difference in the performance. Feels like a whole new laptop.


So you put a $150 drive into a $150 laptop?


But the $150 SSD can be pulled out of that laptop and put into another machine, or into an external-drive case.

(The HDD that was in my old laptop is now in an external-drive case. The SSD that I replaced it with got moved into my new laptop, alongside the smaller - in both capacity and physical dimensions - SSD that was preinstalled. Oh, also the RAM from my old laptop got moved, so my new one has 12G RAM. Swap file? What for?)
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The alternative is to put a $0 drive into a $1500 laptop. Out of pocket an extra $1350.


My alternative thought was a $25 HDD instead of SSD.

Kathleen
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My alternative thought was a $25 HDD instead of SSD.

That's what you were "thinking" but the way you phrased it it sounded like buying a new laptop. ;)

Once I decided to buy an older desktop Mac that was not going to be my primary but a backup. It ended up costing almost the same as an up-to-date one (horrible shipping costs) and was a lot older and slower, a really bad idea. But adding an SSD to an old one and then recycling the SSD as an external drive later (as someone else suggested) sounds like a winning idea if you are willing to put up with the older machine for a while. I like to keep my Macs as long as possible.

Denny Schlesinger
 

PS: a $2,400 Mac used for ten years is $20 a month. When I started at the IBM Service Bureau in 1960 we charged $120 an hour for the IBM 650 "mainframe." What else has gotten so cheap?
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Re my mid 2012 MacBookPro that I was having problems with.

Thanks for everyone's ideas and input.
I let an Apple Genius look at it and it turned out to be the hd cable, the hd is fine.

This was the first time I had been to the Apple Store, which is 60 miles from here, or the Genius Bar.
I was surprised that when I called the store my call was not answered at the store but by Apple. I talked with a tech several states away who tried to help me resolve the problem at home rather than take it in. We talked 4 times, she called me 3 times to follow up. I was rather impressed.

At the Apple Store they were all about business and took care of the problem. If it had been the hd I was going to bring it back home and put a ssd in it myself. Since they had it open to see if it was the cable I went ahead and let them replace it and I am now good to go.

I am inclined to think that this has been going on for quite a while. The computer is now updated and it is much faster than I can remember it being.

Again, thanks to all.
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All's well that ends well!

--Willy Shakes
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