Readers of this blog know that I’ve had something of a struggle with my last two computers — a Powerbook and a MacBook Pro. I’ve found them far more prone to crashes, slowdowns, and erratic behavior than I expected from Apple machines. Several visits to the Apple Store were totally unhelpful — they either ran the standard diagnostics (which I’d already tried), or gave me advice like not to load new applications.
With a little help (thanks, Liz!) and some trial-and-error, I think I’ve discovered and resolved the two biggest problems. The first was causing my Internet connection through my cable modem to run with glacial slowness. It turned out to be the Mac client for Mozy, an online backup service that was too slow to be usable in any event. Uninstalling that (which took some doing) returned the network connection to normal speed.
The bigger culprit which was Spotlight, the indexing and search technology built into OSX 10.4. I move my computer every couple days between home office and work office locations. I have external hard drives at both offices, which I use for backup. Whenever I connected my machine, Spotlight was trying to re-index the external hard drives. The fact that they are mirrors of my laptop hard drive probably exacerbated the problem, since Spotlight saw lots of duplicate files. A simple preference change in Spotlight to stop indexing these drives made my machine’s performance improve dramatically.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed that things continue to work well. It would be nice to have a laptop that I don’t have to restart constantly, and curse at frequently. That was, after all, one reason I switched back to the Mac two years ago.