Sudden Major Slowdown (Dreaded Beach Ball)


Any help much appreciated. I’m maybe slightly a notch above a novice, as I’ve had my Powerbook for a year and never had any major problems till now.

First off, I have a Powerbook G4, 1.5 GHz, 512 RAM, 80 GB with 60 GB left on the hard drive, running Panther 10.3.9 or whatever the latest version was that I downloaded a couple of months ago.

This is insanely frustrating. I just arrived at my destination after a short road trip, unpacked and turned on my Powerbook and immediately noticed that it took longer to turn on than usual. Normally, it takes about 30 seconds or so. Now, it’s taking several minutes, even after re-booting. Now, when I try to open the hard drive or a document or even anything from the pulldown menu, it freezes up and gives me the swirling beach ball for at least a minute or so. I also noticed a couple of things on the toolbar -- it no longer gives the phone icon for internet connect and it no longer tells the percentage of battery power left.

I should also mention that I first started experiencing slight but not paralyzing slowdowns about three or four weeks ago. I first noticed something strange when I tried to connect to the internet. My Yahoo homepage started loading, then froze up, and suddenly a gray screen rolled up over it and announced that I needed to restart my computer again. I experienced this maybe two or three more times, and a simple reboot was all that was needed to fix this, so I guess I'm guilty of ignoring an incipient problem and hoping for the best.

But now, what's been happening tonight is totally different. I’ve read some of the earlier postings on slowdowns where people have recommended to empty the Safari cache, which I’ve done. I don’t know what defrag means but have read enough posts to know I’m scared of it. I’ve also read where people say that there are no viruses for OS X. Could it be a spyware thing? I’m right now trying to open the pulldown menu in the Finder option, but the beach ball has been swirling for ten minutes at a time, even after three re-boots. Please stop me form hurling my poor Powerbook against a wall and offer some suggestions. Thanks.


Staff member
If you create a second (clean, empty) user and let the PB boot into that directly, does that give a significant change in speed?


Oh, and fryke, thanks for the reply, I'm not sure what it means to create a second, clean empty user, but I'll look into it. I guess it has to do with my login id?


system preferences and then accounts. make a new user.
have you checket System Monitor (in applications / utilities)? it is an application where you, among onther things) can see what proccesses take up proccessing power. if you dont currently use any application it should pulsate between zero and about 10/15% depending on your set-up.
i have had problems with computers where finder all the sudden uses 90 percent of the processor, cuz it didnt like the amount of large files (movies etc) i had on my desktop.

good luck


hey decado,
thanks for the added blurb mentioning that finder doesn't like too many large files. i spent days trying to figure out why i had my proccesor running at mach 99.9 i can now delete the 5,000 samples i took trying to figure why. i went through logs and logs... the only cool things to show for it is that trying to find out what was up, i sifted thru all the back roads of my pbg4, and i do feel a little closer to it, (kinda got to, after the intense bonding we did the last few days), and i found this site, which could have saved me days if not weeks of my life when i first started out in to the wonderful world of mac!

yes i suppose i'm venting, no less to a stranger of sorts, but the relief is so nice i had to thank the one who posted the info i found my answer in, so thanks!

(my solution for this was to make a "desktop overflow" folder, and put a link in the side bar, simple, but keeps the files right ready.)

this is the first posting for me, hopefully i can offer help next time.