How to speed up a PowerMac G4, or is this as fast as it gets?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X System & Mac Software' started by LABachlr, Jul 10, 2004.

  1. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    I used to work on Macs a while ago, but I went to PC because of a larger client base. However, I would like to get back into Mac's as well.

    In any case, I have a potential client who has the following system:

    PowerMac 4,5 v. 2.1
    800MHz
    100Mhz bus
    768MB

    He is running Jaguar and claims that his system is running slow. He says that it has been running slow ever since he got it. He is comparing it to PC's of today. He has the MS Office suite installed, and was told by various sources that the programs in that suite run slow. Is this true?

    He has pleny of RAM, as you guys can see, and he has about 55GB left on his HD, so there is no lack of space that would cause the system to slow down.

    He was also told that he should run a disk optimization program on his system.

    The thing is, as I got talking to him, he mentioned that he usually has the following programs open at all times:

    Entourage
    Contacts Manager
    Safari
    MS Word
    MS Excell
    MS Powerpoint

    I know that on a PC with the above specs (even with the cpu a little faster to match the speed of a mac 800MHz cpu), having all of those programs open at once would definitely slow it down. I told him this, but he still feels that his system could be faster.

    The way he tested the speed of his system over the phone with me was by hitting Option + P for the printing dialogue window to come up. He counted, and said that it took a full 2.5 seconds for it to come up. Is this normal? He only had Text Editor, Contacts Manager, and Safari open at the time.

    Is this a case of the user expecting too much from the computer, or is his system slow. I'm sure you guys might need more info, but this is all from just talking to him on the phone, and I have no more info right now.

    Is there a benchmark program that I can have him run to see if his system is up-to-par with regards to speed? If so, could you guys post the link, and the minimum benchmark results that this system should get?

    Just to give you some info, this system is on a network in a building, and the network is absolutely infested with spyware, viruses, and trojans. I just cleaned up two other systems in the building that were completely taken over by pop-ups and trojan horses. One system could not be saved and had to be reformatted.

    Are there any viruses for Mac, or at least for Jaguar? I know that there are very few viruses for Mac's, which is pretty cool, but is it still possible? He has had the system for two years, and has Norton AV on his sytem, but I'm sure the virus definition subscription has run out. Also, he stopped using Norton anyway because it was slowing down his system. Speed is really important to him.

    In any case, if you guys could just give me some pointers on how to troubleshoot the speed of this guy's system, I'd appreciate it. And free tools to do this that I could download would also be a great help.

    Thanks.
     
  2. chevy

    chevy Maverlous Da Vinci Staff Member Mod

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    1) 10.3 is faster than 10.2
    2) is there anything open in the background ? Look in the Activity Monitor, even tasks that have a low CPU (sometimes less than 5%) can degrade reaction time. Sometimes background applications can cause problems, like Konfabulator.
    3) correct the permissions (disk utility), as bad permissions can cause instabilities.
    4) it may be usefull to make a clean install ??

    I am writing this email on an old 400 MHg G3 runing 10.3.4, and I don't feel it's slow as long as I don't ask for some CPU demanding task.
     
  3. powermac

    powermac iMac Dual 2.0 17'

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    If he has never maintained the system, it may be slow with a lot of apps taking the cpu over. Chevy has a good point, a clean install is a pain in the a$$, but it also solves a lot of problems. In this case, it is probably recommended.
     
  4. perfessor101

    perfessor101 Registered

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    Taking the questions in order:
    1. Microsoft applications on the Macintosh tend to be memory hogs and are suspected of having memory leaks, so with all those apps open, even with 768 MB of RAM, there may be paging to the swapfiles going on. In the Finder Go menu select go to folder and enter "/private/var/vm/" and see if there are any swapfiles. This will tell you if any significant paging is taking place. In addition, assuming he is using Office v.X there have been five patches released by Microsoft. Some of them are related to security issues but some also deal with performance issues. The patches are available here.
    2. File and disk defragmentation are not a bad idea at all on his machine. In Panther (OS X 10.3) there is some limited drive optimization but even there, occasionally running a full blown defragmenting utility such as Drive 10 1.1.5 or TechTool Pro 4.0.2 can be helpful.
    3. I just tried the Command+P on my G4/1.25 with 1.5 GB RAM running Safari and it took less than a second to come up. On a G3/600 iBook with 640 MB of RAM running MS Word v.X took 7.79 seconds. Given these were single trials I would not place too much weight on either number as being representative of anything.
    4. There is an excellent benchmark utility that will test not only his system but allow comparison with other similarly configured Macs called XBench
    5. At the present time there are no known viruses, trojans, or spyware capable of infecting OS X. That is subject to change at any time. However it is possible for a Mac to forward an infected file to other computers. There are three anti-virus utilities for OS X, Norton Anti-virus, Intego Virus Barrier, and Virex 7.2 or 7.5 beta. NAV has been implicated in reduced system performance and Virex for OS X is only available as a perquisite for subscribing to .Mac.
    There are some basic steps you can take for improving system performance. These include
    • Upgrading to OS X 10.3 (Panther). OS X is still a relatively young and immature OS so each release has brought improved performance over its predecessors.
    • Obtain either Cocktail or Onyx and run them regularly to flush all the log files, clean out the caches, etc.
    • Institute a regular maintenance schedule featuring TechTool Pro 4 or DiskWarrior to keep the file system healthy. I prefer TechTool Pro because I can set it and forget it until a problem is detected.
    • Defragment the hard drive
    • If there are any third party utilities, haxies, etc running in the background, disable or remove them from the system.
     
  5. Perseus

    Perseus Registered

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    Ive always wondered if the bus speed has anything to do with overall performance...cause I know for a fact the new machines have a lot more. I am not sure I am only making a small guess.
     
  6. perfessor101

    perfessor101 Registered

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    Bus speed is a definite contributor to overall system performance, although what the exact level of contribution is would be hard to say. But all else being equal the machine with the faster bus speed will be the fastest.

    When most people talk about bus speed they are thinking of the system bus but don't forget there is more than one bus in every computer. There is the system bus, the memory bus, the IDE/ATA bus, the firewire bus, the USB bus, PCI bus, etc and each of these makes its contribution to overall system performance. That's one reason why putting a faster CPU in an older machine seldom, if ever, yields performance equal to a newer machine running the same CPU at the same clock rate.
     
  7. mi5moav

    mi5moav Registered

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    well with your friends rational I have an 800mhz imac and it takes 4 seconds to open print dialog so damn he has one fast mac for a 3+ year old machine with only a 100mhz frontside bus opening all those apps on.

    Compared to my HP running at 2800 on AMDS scale it takes me 4 minutes to cance a print document of 300 pages where it takes 18 seconds on the mac. Everything is relative. If I had a bat in my hands and was stuck in dark alley with gates and ballmer I would probably want barry bonds arms, if I were trying to get away from 1000 rabid pit bulls on my bike I would probably wish for lance armstrongs legs.
     
  8. Natobasso

    Natobasso Tech-Bot 5000

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    You know, if he's opening the print dialogue box and it's slow, it may not even be his computer necessarily but his print connection. Is he connected to a print server or is it a straight computer to printer connection? Some printers that are queried by a mac are faster than others. For example, my canon 950i at home reacts a bit faster than the canon fiery at work (even though the work computer travels at light speed compared to my home printer) but that's simply because my home printer is not served among a company full of people.

    Are there other peripherals connected to your client's computer? Any other USB or Firewire devices connected? Let us know some more particulars. :)
    This is definitely an interesting question.
     
  9. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    Thanks for your very informative posts. I think the first thing that was causing his slow down in performance is his thinking that he could have 6 apps, of which 3 are known to be resource hogs on Macs, and not have any decrease in performance.

    Another thing is that he most likely has not maintained his PC (defragging, re-setting permissions, etc.). However, a re-install is a bit out of the question, as he has no backup of Office X. He uses those programs daily, as most of his business associates are on a PC platform, and they are constantly sharing files.

    Do any of the apps that come with Jaguar have the ability to read Office documents? If so, do they stay in the exact same format, or does the file loose a little of its formatting, as is the case in most situations when you open up a file that was made with another app, even though the app you are using is supposed to have the ability to read the other app's files without any problems?

    With regards to the printer, I am not sure if the printer he is using is directly hooked up to his computer, or if it is hooked up to his secretary's computer with which his computer is networked. I'm going to assume that he has his own printer. But, you're right, it could also be one printer on a printer server.

    I think step one would be to use XBench and see how the computer fairs. Of course, no apps will be running while this app is run.

    Btw, I know this may sound pretty novice-like to you guys, but it has been a while since I have worked on Macs. To install XBench, do I just double-click on the file that I download from the site and go thru a wizard like on PC's, or is there something else to do. I remember reading quickly how to install another Mac app, and it mentioned physically moving the program to the Apps folder. However, that is the case for PC's at times as well.

    Not sure if I will do the test, or if he will. If I do the test, and take this project on, I will post the results as I get them.

    Thanks again.
     
  10. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    Will an upgrade to Panther help out a lot, or will only a clean install of Panther give noticeable results?

    Also, what about updating the software via Mac's Update Software like PC's have Windows Update? Would that help?

    And what is the speed of the hard drive for this system? I assume that it is at least 5400RPM, right? Is it a 7200RPM drive? I highly doubt Mac put a 4200RPM drive in a G4.
     
  11. Zammy-Sam

    Zammy-Sam Desertchild

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    go for a clean install of panther. I admit I didn't read the whole thread, so I don't know what it's actually about. However, I highly dissuade from updating operating systems (not talking about small updates such as 10.3.x)
     
  12. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    I wish I could, but he does not have the install disks for Office X, which he needs to run his business.
     
  13. perfessor101

    perfessor101 Registered

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    1. That sounds suspiciously like he is running a pirated copy of Office v.X. Unfortunately the quickest repair for Office v.X is often to delete Office using the Remove Office utility on the install CD and then reinstall the app from scratch. His not having the original install CD is not a good thing.
    2. Not even Office v.X for the Mac is 100% compatible with Office for Windows. There are several apps that will open and read Office files but none of them will yield 100% translation particularly if high level features have been used. AppleWorks which is bundled with the consumer level Macs will open and save in Word format, but it is probably the weakest of the bunch.
    3. Network printers are going to take a lot longer to open than local printers will. I previously gave some numbers for opening printers and the 7+ second opening was a shared printer on another computer.
    4. XBench does not tell you about application performance, but it does give an indication of the system hardware performance relative to other Macs.
    5. XBench is downloaded as a device image file (.dmg). You double click to open the device image which then mounts on the desktop just like another drive. Drag the XBench executable from there to the /Applications folder at the root of the hard drive. Restart the computer and then double click on the XBench icon in the /Applications folder to run the test.
     
  14. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    Thanks, perfessor. Your posts are always well organized and informative.

    1. If he were to get Panther, would an "archive and install" allow him to keep his Office X apps?

    2. Would he also have all of his old email in the "archive and install" method? If not, how does one back up the email archive file? Where is it located for Entourage? He uses Entourage for his email.

    3. Is there any way to do an upgrade to Panther besides doing a "clean install" (he would lose Office X in a clean install) that will not have the issues that one has when "upgrading" vs. doing a "clean install?"
     
  15. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    If I were to do an Archive and Preserve when installing Panther (if he opts to upgrade to Panther), would it be like a fresh install, and also preserve Office X?

    Does Office X install files into the system or system library folders, which would dictate that it be re-installed.

    I think he may have lost the Office X disks, but I'm not sure. He didn't say.
     
  16. fryke

    fryke Moderator Staff Member Mod

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    Office is very easy to keep. Just backup the Office folder in /Applications and put it back where it belongs after reinstalling. I suggest making a good backup first. You'll find instructions about backing up and reinstalling here - http://macintosh.fryke.com/cgi-bin/macnews.cgi/2004/03/01#20040301_backup - at macnews.net.tc.

    I'd suggest a _really_ clean install, too! I.e.: Reformat that harddrive before installing Jaguar/Panther.

    Archive/Reinstall does save a copy of everything needed while installing a clean system. I.e. you'd have to refit the stuff by hand (just like with a backup), finding old Mails and Mail's settings in ~/Library/Mail - for example.
     
  17. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    Great. Thanks.

    A few questions...

    1. So, all I have to backup are these four folders?

    A. /Users/yourshortusername
    B. /System/Library/Application Support
    C. /Library/Application Support
    D. /Applications/Office X (or whatever Mac names that folder)

    2. Can I back them up on CD by simply burning them to a CD?

    3. Why do you use Terminal? Is that necessary? Couldn't he just drag and drop those folders on the external drive?

    4. Is it because these folders can not be viewed because they are system folders? If so, isn't there a way, like in Windows, where you can set it to "show system files/folders"?

    5. If I do need to use Terminal, will I still be able to burn these folders onto a CD? How do I access Terminal? Does it come with Jaguar or is it a third party software? If 3rd party, where can I get it?

    6. I assume that I just drag and drop the contents of these system folders into the new system folders? And the new ones will have the same exact path?

    7. Won't moving these system files to the new system potentially bring the problems that the old system was having with it? Won't these sytem files be for Jaguar and not for Panther?

    8. Again, where would the data files for Entourage (where all of his old email is) and Contacts Manager be? Will they all be in the Home/User folder? Or are they in their respective app's folder?


    Sorry for all of the questions, but I used to work on Macs, and am trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
     
  18. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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  19. perfessor101

    perfessor101 Registered

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    1. The archive and install is essentially a clean install of the OS but, if you tell it to, it leaves all of the user files, applications, settings, etc. untouched. You just wind up with a new OS.
    2. Archive and install preserves all of his personal files including Mail. It just replaces the OS executables and some of the Apple application files.
    3. Be sure and run Disk Utility > Disk Repair from the install CD before the installation to be sure his file system is healthy and then run Disk Utility > Permission repair from the hard drive after the upgrade and updates.
    4. After installing Panther, be sure and run the Software Update to get your client up to OS X 10.3.4. There are several security patches and performance enhancements over the basic 10.3.
    5. 10.3 will be faster than 10.2, but don't expect it to blow your client's socks off. Most of the speed improvements are in improved memory management and there is some automatic optimization that will also take place after several hours of operation that will also provide some marginal improvements.
     
  20. LABachlr

    LABachlr Registered

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    OK. Great. Thanks, perfessor.
     

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