Mr. Mac's Virtual Existence02.a:face Swap Hand In

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item.172731

Bill Schwartz

I've also had horrible Safari slowdowns. But here it seems to be high processor use (process=Safari Web Content).

Haven't been able to identify yet which particular tabs or content are responsible. Quitting and restarting helps for a while, but it recurs.

Plenty of free memory, so it's not that. Something is just burning up the processors. And it's a 12-core Mac Pro!

item.172734

Chuck Cribbs

Well, we have 70+ Macs here at our agency, and I can tell you we also suffered, and are suffering, from the spinning beach ball of death. We thought more memory would resolve the issues (iMacs have 16 GBs of RAM, MBPs have 8-16 GBs) and it seems to help initially, but over time we get right back to the SBBD. I am very disappointed in Apple as of recent. Macs seem to be slow at everything. I have tried more RAM, ran Disk Repair, rebooted, shut down apps. And it seems the latest versions of Mac OS X are the worst. Outlook is also the worst app out there for us.

The only thing that seems to generally fix the SBBD is an SSD drive, period. I have installed them for three different users and the SBBD goes away. Maybe I should be blaming the hard drive manufacturers, or Apple is buying junk drives.

Long story short, IMHO, RAM does not help over the long haul. Get a costly SSD drive if your time is worth the money.

[If the SSD is the solution, then it seems like the hard drives are the bottleneck. This would most likely occur because OS X is starving for memory (or using it badly) and substituting the relatively slow disk in its stead (i.e. paging out virtual memory). A previous discussiion - Help Please: Performance - looked at similar issues, including hard drive problems, and a Mountain Lion discussion also talks about paging. -Ric Ford]

item.172747

Martin Joseph

This sounds like a network issue to me.

I am assuming all of the machines are on the same network?

Perhaps it's a DNS issue or a router problem. Try hooking one of the machines up through a different network path and verify it's just as slow..

Also, I have repaired one machine that had this same type of complaint by updating it to Mountain Lion.

Strange but true.

Memory is nice, but it doesn't sound like the problem in your case, unless all of the machines are running some kind of specialized program that is hogging ram.

You cam use top at the command like to check on this, or if you prefer the GUI, In the utilities folder there is always the Activity Monitor.

HTH

item.172763

Lee Clawson

Re. Shaun James troubleshooting Samuel Herschbein's client's problems..
From one reader who enjoyed following where you went with this, thanks.

item.172754

Samuel Herschbein

Thanks to everyone who replied. I'll address all the questions in one post. After I add one tidbit I left out:

Over one summer vacation, I updated all the iMacs and shut all of them and the server down to save energy cooling them. The first day back wasn't a full day, the people there said everything was working much better. As soon as more people came back and all the iMacs were on, the SPODs returned. This is another major indication that it's a network issue, but what?

The bandwidth is adequate, the wiring good, there's a new VPN router and switch, yet the problems continue.

I think there's a process that's accessing the network constantly and hanging the UI when it has issues. If so: what is it and why is it having issues on these Macs at this location?

Re: Charles Lindauer, Michael Fussell, and Shaun James: Memory

I've used MenuMeters on a few of the Macs to verify that they are not running out of memory. Most have 4GB and rarely use more than 2GB. One with 8GB for VMware has the same issues before VMware is launched. I've also tried disabling paging on a couple of iMacs, that didn't help.

Re: H Clark & DNS

I did mention DNS, Google's DNS servers are the default now (via DHCP on the router). I did try OpenDNS's servers.

Re: Stuart MacNee (AKA StuMac)

The hard drives are OK; besides Disk Utility I've used SMART Utility and Disk Warrior to check them. The clone image was only used on a single Mac; the others are running either their original or a clean install from DVD.

I created the clone remotely on my MacBook Pro 17' Early 2011, tested it by cloning the clone to a MacBook Pro 17' Late 2008, and after creating a .dmg of the original clone I copied the .dmg overnight to the client. I also setup a portable FireWire drive for them and shipped it; it has a spare partition to clone a drive to for later migration. It boots up and allows me the same username/password ARD access as the originals. So the only remote user interaction I need help with is after the initial boot until they migrate.

There are no shared files; the OS X Server isn't being used by anyone but me for file sharing.

Re: Shaun James

When I'm at the client with my laptop, I do not experience the SPODS as often as they do. On my last visit I was also running Snow Leopard. I do notice the network slowness; it varies by the time of day, not the # of people working, so I figure Time-Warner's local subnet is getting flattened.

The network was recently rewired; all the Macs were shut down and brought back up. The rewire didn't change everyone's situation. People who shared a port on the old switch noticed an improvement when they got their own port on the new switch.

The setup is Time-Warner's cable modem connected to a Cisco/Linksys RV082 (latest generation). The RV-082 assigns Static Addresses via DHCP; every device on the LAN uses DHCP. The RV-082 has the latest firmware. I set up each of my client's subnets on a different 10.x.x.x subnet, so I can VPN into any/all at once.

Shaun asked:

'Is their router configured properly for the kind of internet IP they have?'

I'm not positive I know what detail you're asking for. The RV-082 gets its IP via DHCP, the Time-Warner cable modem does not have a static IP on the Internet.

I've never connected one of the iMacs to the cable modem; it would be difficult given the modem's location and the size of an iMac. My laptops have been connected directly to the modem for testing, and everything worked fine. Other clients use the same RV-082; none have the global slowness issues, including one that has some really questionable wiring.

The server only does DNS for the 5 iMacs which have users hosted on the server. There is no appreciable difference between those Macs and the others when it comes to the SPOD issues, and no difference I know of between people who have local accounts on the iMac vs the server accounts.

I have not personally inspected the wiring, but the installer does good work (he sent me pictures of very tidy & well labelled panels). I know he did some testing, but not with a top-of-the-line tester. The cable is Cat5E. The new switch is 1000, I didn't check all the Macs, but the server has its own port and is connected at 1000 full-duplex.

WiFi has been removed from the Network preference pane on all Macs (except a couple of laptops). There is an AirPort Extreme for these laptops; it is set to bridge mode (and has access control).

The hard drives have way more than 50% free; the users mainly store Word & Excel documents.

I use Onyx to clear caches; it sometimes helps for a while, but the issues always return. After I do updates I run Disk Utility and verify the boot drive, repair permissions, run Onyx to clear caches, and restart.

item.172823

V Cayenne

In response to the observation:

'I did have a bad flash upgrade that did this to my machine. Activity Monitor would never call out Flash as the culprit, just the app that launched it. I finally figured it out after Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera all would SPOD.'

I believe that Chrome does not use the common Flash Player installed but uses an internal instance

item.172821

Stephen Hart

Chuck Cribbs wrote:

'I am very disappointed in Apple as of recent. Macs seem to be slow at everything.'

Your Macs may be slow at everything. Mine is very snappy. I do have 16 GB RAM and 600 GB free on my stock 1 TB internal drive.

The only times I see a slowdown are for identifiable reasons, and then only for a few seconds. One obvious one is when my external Time Machine drive spins up at an app's request. Another is any text entry or selection in Dreamweaver, a known bug.

If this is happening enough to cause work to slow down, I'd look at hardware issues, or at specific software.

item.172776

Stuart MacNee

Samuel Herschbein said:

'I think there's a process that's accessing the network constantly and hanging the UI when it has issues. If so: what is it and why is it having issues on these Macs at this location?'

I believe you may be correct. AFAIK, Macs do not do SPOD for external problems. No matter how bad the network, it will not SPOD. They usually only SPOD when an application is hanging/crashing and that usually happens when the process is accessing/misaccessing a file.
From your reporting, I am now guessing that those machines are either cacheing, or attempting to retrieve a bad file from the ISP.
In Firefox, you can set the cache to zero. See what happens.
Also run Activity Monitor and see if you can catch the stalled process. I did have a bad flash upgrade that did this to my machine. Activity Monitor would never call out Flash as the culprit, just the app that launched it. I finally figured it out after Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera all would SPOD. (I'm a lil sloooow sometimes.)

'The hard drives are OK; besides Disk Utility I've used SMART Utility and Disk Warrior to check them. '

As I said, I have rarely seen any disk utility pre-emptively spot a failing drive.

I love twisted problems like this.

Let us all know what the answer(s) is/are.

StuMac

Apr. 15, 2013

item.172779

Alan Sopczak

I was having similar problems and they were driving me crazy. New OS and fine for a while then back to beachballing.

Nothing worked until I checked to see what my Mac was doing. It was trying to connect to a previous network range. I changed my DHCP from 192 to 172. It was looking for the 192 range and a server which was on that range. Then I found the edu.mit.Kerberos file was being accessed and looked at and it had the ranges contained within.

I removed the file from Library/Preferences (it is self recreating if needed) and rebooted. My Mac(s) were responsive again. Not to say this is your issue, but it was worse when I upgraded to 10.7.x and caused me to find the issue.

item.172780

Bo Clawson

When you have hangs, be sure to open Console and review the error messages.

Sometimes is it obvious which application is whacking the system.

item.172809

Mike Kraemer

This will sound crazy but I am wondering if you were to monitor the bandwidth on your network, would you find that someone is downloading a huge file or sharing a huge file to the internet? This situation sounds like what happens with multiple roommates on a single connection are downloading/uploading and exceeding the available upload bandwidth. You get the SPOD when ever your browser tries to upload a page refresh or a new page. Your clients aren't getting the SPOD when they are opening local documents, right?

item.172784

Colleen Thompson

Stuart MacNee also commented

As I said, I have rarely seen any disk utility pre-emptively spot a failing drive.

From your previous remarks about SPODs, it sounds like you're talking about a bad block failure, whose primary symptom is random SPODs. Disk Utility and others that use the standard SMART algorithm will not give early warning about a bad block failure, as they ignore anything under hundreds or thousands of bad blocks. SMART Utility, on the other hand, will warn you when even one block is bad.

item.172798

John Lehet

Regarding the SPOD in Safari, it's funny to open this page on MacInTouch right after troubleshooting this on my wife's machine (yesterday). It's been an ongoing intermittent problem for her for some months now. I never have this as a problem. I do have an SSD, and she doesn't. I was in fact motivated to get the SSD after I switched to Mountain Lion, and I found I just couldn't throw enough RAM at it to prevent things from turning to glue. The SSD did help.

I just got her a hybrid Seagate 750 GB SSD/HD drive, to see if that would help. So far, after a few days, it hasn't.

My system is stressed much much more vigorously than hers, and mine doesn't have any trouble like that at all.

Another problem she has that may or may not be related, and which I do not have, is that her 1password extension frequently fails to work. Reinstalling it has not helped. A bit of correspondence with the developer hasn't helped, but I can push that harder.

Yesterday I noted the time and looked in her console right after Safari froze. I found this from right at that time:

4/13/13 7:11:50.995 AM Safari[5917]: CFPropertyListCreateFromXMLData(): Old-style plist parser: missing semicolon in dictionary on line 3. Parsing will be abandoned. Break on _CFPropertyListMissingSemicolon to debug.

I don't know if this is signficant or if others with the SPOD might have this log entry. I trashed her safari .plist and regenerated a new one. So far so good, but it happens once every few days on average.

item.172815

Samuel Herschbein

Ric Ford said:

If the SSD is the solution, then it seems like the hard drives are the bottleneck. This would most likely occur because OS X is starving for memory (or using it badly) and substituting the relatively slow disk in its stead (i.e. paging out virtual memory).

I also thought it could be excessive/unnecessary paging, which has been reported here on MacInTouch and on Apple's Discussions.

After installing MenuMeters and training the user to watch the memory usage, I disabled paging on an iMac: it didn't cure the SPOD.

Mr. Mac's Virtual Existence02.a:face Swap Hand Indicator

item.172816

Samuel Herschbein

Reply:

Stuart MacNee said:

As I said, I have rarely seen any disk utility pre-emptively spot a failing drive.

In this case, the iMacs have had the SPOD issues since shortly after they were new, All 12 iMac can't have disks that have been failing for almost two years yet still function without any other problems except the SPODs.

In my experience, most drives that have partially failed will show some SMART errors in Smart Utility. IMHO Disk Utility's single line 'Verified' is useless.

Stuart MacNee said:

I love twisted problems like this.

To quote Danny Glover from the Lethal Weapon series: 'I'm getting too old for this s*%$#.'

item.172824

Wire

Re. Martin Joseph's note:

This sounds like a network issue to me.

Yes, or more generally, the beach ball seems to indicate any situation where the Finder is waiting for I/O to complete, be it drive (including virtual memory) or network.

Back in the day, the most common reason for the Beach Ball was a slow / failing hard drive.

Re. RAM, SSD and performance: since 10.7, it appears that the system is biased to cache using as much RAM as it can. Similar to Superfetch service in Windows Vista and beyond, which is always trying to look ahead at disk I/O and have it buffered in RAM, the Mac OS system exploits RAM for caching at various system levels in new and more complex ways. Basically, RAM is fully exploited by the OS, and RAM utilization stats such as provided by Activity Monitor are not generally helpful in understanding system memory bottlenecks.

I like Martin Jeoseph's comment about networking, as the sharing service in OS X is rich and constantly at work on the network, where LAN conflicts or bottlenecks can stall the system. Because, as common storage services / APIs which depend on sharing or drives get stalled, so too do applications and application extensions which draw upon these services.

Generally, it's now very hard to predict the source and effects of bottlenecks without really understanding the dependencies underneath the covers, except to say that the underlying system is now vast and complex with rich asynchronous subsystem communications making possible all the little state changes you see in the GUI, such as lists of files and folders updating continuously in Finder views and anywhere else you see folders expressed in the GUI.

And 3rd-party add-ons can magnify bottlenecks in unexpected ways. For example, using the 3rd-party add-on Default Folder creates new performance dependencies across storage as it works to keep your favorite locations and corresponding meta-data about those locations handy in Open/Save dialogs.

When you install Google Drive or Dropbox, which make a network resource look like another local storage device to Finder and Applications, what might be the performance effects? When might this become pathological?

More so with background processing of I/O in many applications (email databases / network mail transfer operations, application autosaves, file revisions / Time Machine, and rich storage all under a common GUI, etc.), you can begin to suspect why the Beach Ball of Death even exists: something at a high-level is waiting for an essential I/O, and the designers / developers cannot reasonably know how long it might take, so just spin the cursor and pray under the assumption that the workload matches the underlying reason assumptions.

Now that I've blathered all this, I admit it's not very helpful, but my point is that it's obvious that Apple has internally changed some key assumptions about I/O beginning with 10.7.

And we can surmise that Apple developers have had access to the new performance of SSDs well before the mass market, as their designs were some of the first to offer the option. So advanced technological creep within the development operations may appear to us with slightly older tech as suboptimal system performance, which Apple expects us to tolerate only because existing customers' installations look like a regression to them - they who always have access to better tech.

Here is a place where Microsoft maybe has had to be more careful, and I add my opinion that I find Windows 8 offers a very good performance experience, partly because they can never completely assume the tech-level of their customers. They have to stay more aware of their existing customers' hardware, while Apple has much more control over hardware requirements, which partly means Apple has more freedom to just discard older tech, as they have done numerous times in their history and are still doing today.

Anyway, backing up, it's wise to look across all the different aspects of the environment, including the LAN, to gain insight into location of the bottleneck.

item.172781

Bradley Dichter

Are the iMacs set for network (server based) home folders? That would cause a serious slow down unless the server has SSDs. Make sure your Adobe Flash is up to date and ask your users to restart their browsers more often.

item.172783

Colleen Thompson

Stuart MacNee said, in part,

AFAIK, Macs do not do SPOD for external problems. No matter how bad the network, it will not SPOD. They usually only SPOD when an application is hanging/crashing and that usually happens when the process is accessing/misaccessing a file.

I think they can. I've been wrestling with a problem at one of my clients where the Finder will SPOD in Open and Save dialogs, and we've narrowed it down to something on the LAN, probably a problem with an Xserve. Moving the affected users to their own server has more or less solved the problem. Now they only get SPODs when accessing that Xserve.

item.172814

Robert Sanderson

This is offered to Samuel Herschbein in 'try anything' mode:

There may be an IP address conflict among your clients' Macs. Therefore, try assigning fixed IP addresses. Also, you might find it useful to purchase the $30 utility IP Scanner.

item.172789

David Rubright

I, too, have the Spinning Wheel. It happens after startup. It is worse when I try to access the Applications folder. One solution is to login to another user on the same machine and then back in with the problem user. It fixes the problem for a short while. It is like the OSX 10.6.8 is trying to determine the file size of the applications in the Applications folder. I think I read someone found iStat menus was the problem. Why would the problem go away for a short amount of time after logging out?

Apr. 16, 2013

item.172869

Mike Rose

I have also noted the delays and short freezes. Whenever I look at the Activity Monitor, little is happening in terms of major over-usage. This implies that the CPU is probably not involved. I have noticed differences in Apple's use of permissions in the last two releases; my Utilities folder was denying permission to make changes. Also some interesting issues with Keychain access, mostly related to duplicate entries.
This leads me to believe that the issue is one of denial of access. Security software and Lil Snitch could also be a potential denial of access bottleneck that would not show up on CPU usage.
I have not been able to see this in any console log, at least any that I can truly understand.

item.172833

Bruce Giles

Colleen Thompson wrote:

'I've been wrestling with a problem at one of my clients where the Finder will SPOD in Open and Save dialogs, and we've narrowed it down to something on the LAN, probably a problem with an Xserve.'

You may very well be right about that, but another cause of SPODs in Open and Save dialogs is spun-down disks. In some cases, it's obvious because you can hear the disks spinning up, or you may be able to see a pulsing light on external drives. For very quiet disks, however, there's often no external clue that they're spinning up. Note also that I'm not just talking about hard drives. CDs/DVDs that need to spin up will also cause SPODs in open/save dialogs. Once the disks all come up to speed, then the SPOD goes away and everything works as expected. As you noted, networked drives could cause a similar problem if they're slow to respond.

item.172834

Chucky

Samuel Herschbein writes:

I do notice the network slowness; it varies by the time of day, not the # of people working, so I figure Time-Warner's local subnet is getting flattened.

Assuming you can't solve the underlying networking issue, and assuming the problems are most troublesome in Safari, here's one other suggestion:

Downgrade the clients there to the initial 10.6.8 release, without the supplementary 10.6.8 updates. That way, they'll be running Safari 5.0.5, which doesn't have the wonkiness of WebKit2 in Safari 5.1+. WebKit2 does a lot of weird running around to keep all open tabs current, and that can cause some problems even with smooth networks connections, but seems to cause the most problems if you combine it with wonky network access.

My guess is that will radically ameliorate the users' experience, despite the underlying network issue.

item.172846

Tom Van Vleck

I rarely see SPODs on my MacBook Pro, which I use a lot, and it seems to me that Mountain Lion is a little snappier. So there must be something different between my setup and that of those who are having trouble.

Here are some things to try:
- disconnect from the Internet and see what happens.
- if the network is implicated, install Little Snitch and see what's going on when it freezes.
- max out memory on your machine.
- if the SPOD is assoicated with the Finder, do you have any very large directories, or a lot of files on your desktop?
- uninstall non-Apple software. I avoid add-ons that alter OS keystroke and menu processing.
- check your installed software for leftover obsolete programs.

item.172862

Samuel Herschbein

David Rubright said:

I, too, have the Spinning Wheel. It happens after startup. It is worse when I try to access the Applications folder. One solution is to login to another user on the same machine and then back in with the problem user. It fixes the problem for a short while. It is like the OSX 10.6.8 is trying to determine the file size of the applications in the Applications folder. I think I read someone found iStat menus was the problem. Why would the problem go away for a short amount of time after logging out?

Check the View Options for the Applications folder, make sure 'Show icon preview' is unchecked. I uncheck that for the defaults and all folders; it is a resource hog. The Finder caches the icon previews - the same cache also hold custom icons - this cache gets corrupted far too often. It's so bad that I wrote a Platypus app to delete that cache. This issue has plagued me in Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion.

If the Applications folder is in List view, make sure 'Calculate all sizes' is unchecked.

item.172863

Samuel Herschbein

Independent of this wonderful discussion, I found a solution that has cured three iMacs (only three people have repsonded so far)! I'll post it separately, since it has nothing to do with the techniques discussed here, and it will probably generate its own discussion.

Thanks again to all who replied. Once again I'll respond in one post.

Alan Sopczak commented on Kerberos misbehaving when the DHCP range was changed:

The DHCP range has been constant since long before the iMacs replaced Dell PCs. On several iMacs I trashed every System and every user Preference and reconfigured them from scratch. No change.

Bradley Dichter asked:

Are the iMacs set for network (server based) home folders?

The heaviest users 'own' their iMacs; only 5 are set up to allow network users. The networked users aren't very active. Plus, the problems began long before I implemented networked users and didn't get worse after the implementation.

Mike Kraemer asked:

This will sound crazy but I am wondering if you were to monitor the bandwidth on your network, would you find that someone is downloading a huge file or sharing a huge file to the internet?

It doesn't sound crazy, but I do.. ;)
It's not the bandwidth. I can be logged into a machine remotely using Apple Remote Desktop, and my graphics will update in real-time while the user's Mac has the SPOD.

Interesting tidbit: ARD does not show the SPOD on the remote computer, so I have to have the users tell me when there's a SPOD (versus interface hangs with no SPOD).

Robert Sanderson said:

There may be an IP address conflict among your clients' Macs. Therefore, try assigning fixed IP addresses. Also, you might find it useful to purchase the $30 utility IP Scanner.

All devices on the network get static addresses via DHCP. There are no devices that have manual static addresses.

Re: Wire's post.

I've looked at every aspect I can think of, scoured the Internet, Apple Discussions, et al. This is the toughest and longest-unsolved IT problem I've had in 33 years.

Diagnosing remotely and not having my laptop affected when I'm at the client makes it more difficult to solve than usual. If I don't solve it remotely, on my next trip I'll take over one of the iMacs myself for a few days.

item.172864

Samuel Herschbein

I 99% sure I've found a solution to the Snow Leopard SPOD issue! :)
The SPODs/freezes/hangs only occur when more than one user is logged in at a time. The only known solution is to never have more than one user logged in at a time.

Clearly, there's an OS X bug that manifests itself only when multiple users are logged in. From my MacInTouch post and subsequent replies, it's obvious that a wide gamut of suspects has been looked at and eliminated. In other discussions I've read, including the one with the solution, others never found the culprit.

My guess as to why this has never received attention from the Mac media or Apple: percentage-wise very few Macs have multiple accounts; few of those use Fast User Switching, and even fewer of those have multiple accounts logged in at once.

To be clear: the issue does not occur just because multiple accounts exist; two or more of the accounts need to be logged in at the same time. In case you've never done this: enable 'fast user switching' in the Login Options of the Accounts Preference Pane, then you can return to the Login Window without logging off by dragging the fast user switching menu down to Login Window.. A check will appear next to your name in the login window to show that you're already logged in.

At my client's, my admin account stays logged in 24/7, because Retrospect's remote backup only works if someone is logged into the Mac (the user does not have to have control of the GUI). I log into my admin account, which has no Login Items, and immediately return to the Login Window. I'd prefer to have my admin account logged into the background, rather than relying on users to close all their docs, quit all apps, and then go to the login window. Plus, given the issues OS X has with cache corruption, I'd prefer my users to log off every day.

To test this cure, I've logged myself off all the client's iMacs and instructed the users how to stay logged in, so Retrospect backup works. It's only been one day, and only a few Macs have been used, but three people said their SPODS were gone! And one of those people was affected the most!

[If you're logged in remotely, could this be simply a network performance problem with your remote connection, rather than a bug per se? In other words, would SPODs happen if you were logged in locally on the LAN? -Ric Ford]

item.172878

Samuel Herschbein

Ric Ford asked:

Mr Mac's Virtual Existence 02.a:face Swap Hand In The World

If you're logged in remotely, could this be simply a network performance problem with your remote connection, rather than a bug per se?

No. I log into the Macs remotely using Apple Remote Desktop, but then go to the Login Window. I don't maintain any network connection like ssh to the remote Macs after that.

They're on a VPN, so I usually connect and disconnect as needed.

Also: when I'm using ARD to monitor a user, the screen usually updates in real time, indicating that their network is not flattened.

item.172879

Stephen Hart

Bruce Giles wrote:

'.. another cause of SPODs in Open and Save dialogs is spun-down disks. In some cases, it's obvious because you can hear the disks spinning up, or you may be able to see a pulsing light on external drives.'

I would just add that it's not always obvious why the drive is spinning up. For example, Photoshop often spins up my Time Machine drive without any Open or Save dialog open even though Photoshop's set to use the main drive only. A few other apps do the same.

Apr. 17, 2013

item.172911

Chucky

I'm glad Samuel Herschbein was able to solve his problem, but I've got a couple of Snowy Macs that always have multiple logged-in accounts, and I've never experienced the symptoms he sees on those rigs.

So, while I certainly don't dispute that he was able to solve his problem by restricting the Macs to a single logged-in account, the issue is a bit more mysterious and complicated than just a universal 'multiple logged-in accounts in Snowy lead to SPOD issues.'

item.172910

William Richards

I purchased an iMac 27' 3.2-Ghz Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM, with a Fusion Drive, in late January. At first, it seemed slower in some ways than my previous iMac 24'. Beachballs occurred regularly; Safari 6.0.3 quit regularly; etc. All very annoying.

Not having anywhere near the understanding of the OS that many commenters do, I looked feebly around the Apple world for answers, but found none. I had already done some of the tips given here, such as turning off 'calculate all sizes' in list view. Most of the network stuff was way beyond me.

Over the last month, these problems have almost entirely disappeared. My hypothesis, which will likely be forever unproven (at least by me), is that the Fusion software was learning which files, etc., to place on the SSD and moving things around accordingly. Now that Mr. Mac has gotten to know me, problems rarely occur.

In that regard, is there any way within the OS or an outside utility to be able to see which files are on the SSD and which on the hard drive?

item.172886

Mr. mac

David Barnett

I am on 10.8.3 and sometimes get a 'faux' SPOD in a print dialogue - especially from Safari and if I am accessing the PDF drop-down menu. I say 'faux' because the mouse pointer becomes a SPOD, yet there is no actual hang - all buttons work etc. Further, changing the window focus clears the SPOD.

Has anyone else seen this?

item.172892

Jim Oase

My MacBook Pro has been experiencing delays in videos and typing to screen when using Mail, TextEdit, Safari, Pages since upgrading to 10.8. These delays are often associated with the spinning beach ball like just happened.

I have added max memory, cleared every cache, reload the OS from combo, turned on and off virtual memory swapping.. any thing someone suggests. The problem seems random although synchronized when it happens. Everything stops at once.

I have turn network communitication on and off.

The problem seems like OSX gets lost.

Apr. 18, 2013

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Samuel Herschbein

Chucky said:

.. the issue is a bit more mysterious and complicated than just a universal 'multiple logged-in accounts in Snowy lead to SPOD issues.'

I didn't mean to imply that all multiple logged-in account situations would be affected. In the threads I discovered this fix on, having only one user logged in fixed the SPODs for several users, but didn't work for one.

The threads didn't discuss any configuration details, so no evidence to draw any conclusions. It is indeed mysterious and complicated!

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Colleen Thompson

For Jim Oase who said

My MacBook Pro has been experiencing delays in videos and typing to screen when using Mail, TextEdit, Safari, Pages since upgrading to 10.8. These delays are often associated with the spinning beach ball like just happened.

..Everything stops at once.

I have turn network communitication on and off.

Yes, when your computer is SPODDing, it tends to bring everything to a halt, with rare exceptions (such as the newly-christened Faux SPOD).

Assuming your hard drive is okay and wasn't pushed over the edge into failure by your operating system update (check it with SMART Utility), there may well be some left over cruft from a previous system that is interfering.

Check the system log right after one of these happens, and see if there are any clues. Check your login items in Users&Groups in System Preferences for outdated files. I also like to check the root level Library for old stuff in Launch Agents, LaunchDaemons, StartupItems,and Internet Plug-ins.

You might also use something like Onyx to clear your caches.

What do you mean by turning off network communication? If it truly is network-related, then you might try clearing out some networking preferences in Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration (be forewarned you will have to re-set up those preferences.)

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Samuel Herschbein

Re: Jim Oase & William Richards and SPODs:

OS X Lion had major memory management issues with swapping (dynamic paging), I've had them in Mountain Lion. Here's one article about it in Lion and a followup for Mountain Lion:

I disabled the dynamic pager, which fixed most of my SPOD issues. Disabling the dynamic pager is not for the faint-of-heart. If OS X runs out of memory there's a very good chance it will kernel panic. I use MenuMeters to watch my memory usage to make sure there's always some free.

Also: if you disable the dynamic pager, you should also disable hibernation mode. People have had issues with hibernation on and dynamic paging off. The risk is if you let your laptop battery run down you'll lose your work if the battery loses all power.

To deactivate the dynamic pager, enter this command in Terminal followed by a reboot:

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist

You can turn the dynamic pager back on again with this command:

sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist

To disabled hibernation, enter this command in the Terminal:

sudo pmset hibernatemode 0

If you're short on disk space, after rebooting you can then delete the files in /var/vm. Before Trashing them, make sure their time and date of modification is before the current boot time; if the files are newer than the current boot time the above commands didn't execute properly.

Mr Mac's Virtual Existence 02.a:face Swap Hand In The Car

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Victor Staggs

Hand

William Richards wants to know how to tell which hard drive each application is on. One way to do this is to go to Apple Menu > About This Mac > System Report > Software > Applications and click on the application names one at a time. The bottom of the window will tell you the location of each application. Too bad this does not appear in the list view.

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Don Andrachuk

David Barnett asked if anyone else has seen what he termed 'a 'faux' SPOD' in a print dialogue, notably in Safari while accessing the PDF drop-down menu.

I have, but it only occurs -- with perfect repeatability -- after converting a page using Readability. As David noted, it is indeed a false busy indicator. There is no system or application wait status occurring.

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Harold Zeh

In regard to David Barnett's faux SPODs when accessing the PDF drop menu in the Safari print dialog box, yes, I also have this condition.

I have seen it prior to the latest OS update. Cannot remember when it really started, but it was sometime within the Mountain Lion epoch. Additionally, it seems to happen only from some web sites, mostly credit card bank sites when I print the payment confirmation page to PDF.

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MacInTouch Reader

I have had the same problem over the past several months. I was going to bring my computer in to be tested, but I will now wait to see if someone has come up with a fix for this annoying problem.

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Scott Boone

On David Barnett's 'faux' SPOD problem, yes, I've seen the same issue with the Print dialog box. It happens on 10.7 for me, and I think goes back at least as far as 10.6. And as Mr. Barnett states, the SPOD indeed seems to be 'faux', as if you simply pretend it isn't happening, you can still click and use the dialog box controls.

Unfortunately, users have been 'trained' to wait for the SPOD; my own dad once printed out and scanned back in a tax form because he couldn't get the SPOD to go away when he tried to Save As a PDF in the Print dialog. After many attempts, including multiple rebooting, he did the only thing he could think of. When I walked him through his workflow remotely, we were both surprised when we discovered all he needed to do was simply ignore the SPOD and just click the Save As PDF menu item. Sigh, Apple QA.

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Stephen Hart

David Barnett wrote:

I am on 10.8.3 and sometimes get a 'faux' SPOD in a print dialogue..
Has anyone else seen this?

Yes, I think I have, but rarely enough that I didn't bother trying to figure it out.

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Jason Barker

David Barnett asked:

'I am on 10.8.3 and sometimes get a 'faux' SPOD in a print dialogue - especially from Safari and if I am accessing the PDF drop-down menu. I say 'faux' because the mouse pointer becomes a SPOD, yet there is no actual hang - all buttons work etc. Further, changing the window focus clears the SPOD.
Has anyone else seen this?'

I have also seen this. The SPOD appears but is able to click OK or Cancel in the dialog. I have noticed that other Safari windows (e.g. one in which I am watching Netflix) do not update, so something seems hung up, even if that dialog works.

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Colleen Thompson

David Barnett reports

I am on 10.8.3 and sometimes get a 'faux' SPOD in a print dialogue - especially from Safari and if I am accessing the PDF drop-down menu. I say 'faux' because the mouse pointer becomes a SPOD, yet there is no actual hang - all buttons work etc. Further, changing the window focus clears the SPOD.Has anyone else seen this?

Yes I do, too, on 10.8.2. I think you're right that it tends to happen in Safari Print dialogs. When it does happen, the upper left bit of the SPOD functions as the pointer arrow. I've been assuming it's a programming oversight.

'Faux SPOD' is a great coinage.

Apr. 19, 2013

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Steve Birchall

I too have seen the Faux SPOD and have discovered that I can just go about my business. However, I am seeing a number of new hangs and delays since updating yesterday. Slow typing is especially annoying.

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Wil Nelson

I use a 17' MacBookPro with a 256 Gig OWC SSD. I used to have SPOD's but no longer and have not paid much attention to the issue. I have hibernation turned off via Smart Sleep and do recall that I removed all web browsers because of some performance problem. I did retain Safari, FireFox and OmniWeb. Non-Apple software consists of First Class, MS Office 2011 (SPOD's were gone long before I installed this program), WineSkin, Parallels 8 and Toast. I do have QuickTime Broadcaster installed, but it is a Apple product. I also have a 2006 iMac running Lion and a Hacintosh with 10.8.3 with similar setups and fewer non-Apple programs and have no SPOD's.

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Wire

Re. steps like disabling the pager in OS X:
You really don't want to do that. It's not a solution to any problem that most people have.

As I mentioned before, the SPOD indicates that I/O is not getting done. Well why not? There are a zillion reasons, made trickier because at the level of that I/O, the proper course of action is to wait. What does it mean when you expect something to get done and it doesn't?

The concern about OS X memory management is not wrong, but it's kind of red herring. There well could be a pathological boundary condition (bug) in the core system, such as a race condition or deadlock. The messaging going on is hugely complex. But for us, at our almost celestial level of interaction with the system, it pays to look elsewhere: unreliable hardware, especially disks, network shared storage, esp. over WiFi, 3rd-party system drivers and extensions, memory hog applications (read: modern web browser with 150 open tabs, or running complex scripts, which is pretty much all web services now).

And when you have tinkerers in the environment, crazy things they've tried and forgotten about, like turning off the pager :)

I laugh here because Windows culture is far ahead of Mac in this area: a la rules of thumb like Nuke & Pave, and Microsoft's vast network of telemetry and patches and lore dealing with pathological system conditions.

I will say it again, the Mac is every bit as cryptic, error prone, confusing and unreliable as Windows. Even as it does so with somewhat more panache.

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Jeff Jay

Special thanks to Colleen Thompson for her tips on cleaning out old Launch Agents, LaunchDaemons, StartupItems, Internet Plug-ins and then cleaning caches with OnyX. I've done a lot of cache cleaning, etc., but the combination of all these items made a world of difference on my Macs.

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Jim Oase

Morning

Thanks for the information..

I am trying out the deactivate dynamic pager suggestion.

My first reaction is my machine just received a wakeup call. Much quicker changing pages, loading apps.

Have not enough time to throughly check for stalling. More testing tonight.

Thanks

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Jim Oase

After a day of informal testing:

My system with the dynamic pager deactivated is much quicker, yet has stalled a couple of times: type-to-display delays and video stalls.

Apr. 20, 2013

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Stephen Hart

Steve Birchall wrote:

'I, too, have seen the Faux SPOD and have discovered that I can just go about my business. However, I am seeing a number of new hangs and delays since updating yesterday. Slow typing is especially annoying.'

If you just updated to 10.8.3, Spotlight might be working away at indexing. And Time Machine may have a lot to back up.

If you're seeing slow typing in just one app, check its CPU usage in Activity monitor. Dreamweaver *always* does this, spiking to 90% CPU usage.

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Wil Nelson

Should have mentioned that on a random basis, perhaps every few months, I use OnyX to clean all caches. Perhaps this is part of the reason I no longer have SPOD's. I started doing this about 18 months ago when my MacBook starting to experience slowness during startup.

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Stuart MacNee

Samuel Herschbein wrote:

I'm 99% sure I've found a solution to the Snow Leopard SPOD issue! :)
At my client's, my admin account stays logged in 24/7, because Retrospect's remote backup only works if someone is logged into the Mac (the user does not have to have control of the GUI). I log into my admin account, which has no Login Items, and immediately return to the Login Window. I'd prefer to have my admin account logged into the background, rather than relying on users to close all their docs, quit all apps, and then go to the login window.

I am wondering if the SPOD's are because of the admin account or if any account will trigger it. Perhaps you could create a nonadmin account just for Retrospect to run and report what happens.

Wire wrote:

Yes, or more generally, the beach ball seems to indicate any situation where the Finder is waiting for I/O to complete, be it drive (including virtual memory) or network.

Especially if it is a networked file store. My (over)simplified (and wrong) description (just to illustrate the concept) is that a networked file store is presented as another local drive. So if your file resides on a networked machine where the drive has spun down, or is busy, then the result is SPOD on your machine.

So yes, 12 failing hard drives at the same time is improbable, but one failing drive holding a common networked file could cause the problem. Just marginally more probable than the 12 failing drives.. :)

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Bo Clawson

Weird things can have lots of causes, but we sometimes miss simple items which can cause an issue after we think we 'deleted that problem.'

Putting the MacBook Pro to sleep and removing the power cord resulted in the battery dropping from 100% to the low 80% level in just 7 hours overnight.

Went back to work and after viewing videos, uninstalled Flash (again). Continued work and the temps started to rise to the 138F level w/ nothing but typing going on.

Restarted (after the Flash uninstall) and temps went down.

It seems some Flash process stays running until a restart and I have missed this until now.

Apr. 22, 2013

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Kevin Ohlson

I keep Activity Monitor running all the time to help me diagnose slow-downs. I've found that Outlook 2011 snags 100% of a core when it indexes (usually once a day) usually kicking up the fan. Spotlight seems to be very well-behaved. But at least for me, the most problematic apps are browsers -- specifically when they have a tab with video on the page. In both Firefox and Chrome, some sort of video background (Pepperflash and Shockwave) task can go from 50% to 150% and more, whether a video is running or not. (Exception: YouTube.) Even after you leave the page, CPU cycles and memory still seem to be allocated to these processes. Sometimes quitting helps.

Apr. 23, 2013

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Craig Collins

Hand

My experience with extreme processor load that typically brings Safari to its knees (and I keep Menu Meters running all the time for monitoring of processor usage and network performance.. highly recommended!) has to do with sites that will start consuming all the processor.

These include New York Times, Huffington Post, and a few others including some blogging sites like Tumblr. I close windows until the culprit is found, as noted by a dramatic change in processor load. Sometimes the runaway behavior begins well after viewing a page that's not even in current use.

The puzzling one is the Flash player in Safari. After viewing any Flash-based video content (embedded, YouTube, whatever), sometimes the Flash player will run >100% processor load, even when the originating window is closed! Only force-quitting the Flash Player within Activity Monitor will stop the behavior (yes I keep that running too!).

Then there's Safari Web Content, which will spike usage for no apparent reason. And Safari continues to grab memory, which doesn't get released back to other processes (10.8.3 here, 8 GB on a 4-core MacBook Pro i7).

So three utilities/plugins to keep it all sane: Menu Meters, Activity Monitor, and Click to Plugin to control Flash loading.

All of this makes me think that the ever more complex running scripts in web pages get into loops that can only be force-quit. The user must become ever more vigilant about monitoring usage to catch early signs of a developing processor issue. When running on battery, this becomes a critical need.

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Don Andrachuk

Kevin Ohlson noted that

'Outlook 2011 snags 100% of a core when it indexes' and that browsers are 'problematic..when they have a tab with video on the page.'

I've seen that with Flash video too. My solution was simple: Uninstall Flash. It's rarely needed anymore for video. If a site balks, use Safari's Develop menu to have it masquerade as Safari for iPad. You'll almost always get access to the video then.

As for Outlook, well, I think the solution is apparent but perhaps not easy for you..

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Joe Toth

Craig Collins wrote:

'My experience with extreme processor load that typically brings Safari to its knees..'

It is unlikely that your numerous problems are caused by bad web site code, Flash problems, or Outlook problems. You're having problems that no one else is encountering. I suspect the cause is one or more corrupt files in your System folder. Reinstallation of the OS and Safari is likely to fix them.

Apr. 24, 2013

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Stephen Hart

Craig Collins wrote:

'My experience with extreme processor load that typically brings Safari to its knees (and I keep Menu Meters running all the time for monitoring of processor usage and network performance.. highly recommended!) has to do with sites that will start consuming all the processor.
These include New York Times..'

Checking on my iMac, I can't see Safari (or web content) get above 5% of CPU when the New York Times is open (as well as 6 tabs of MacInTouch). Playing the embedded Flash movie causes Flash Player plugin to use up to 35% of CPU, but only while playing.

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MacInTouch Reader

I'm a big fan of Click2Plugin, which blocks most active web plugins (such as Flash) which really cuts down on bandwidth usage, CPU usage, and just generally makes the web a much more pleasant experience:

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Jim Oase

Existence02.a:face

In the past, when typing and the system stalls, I have taken additional action within a short period of time. Hit another key or clicked.

Today the frequency of the missing typed characters is increasing, so instead of taking action I have just waited to see what will happen. Most times the beach ball cometh and then the missing characters. However, on occasion nothing happens. No beach ball, no delayed displayed characters. It's as if not keystrokes were made.. doubt creeps in because of doing so much by habit. However since the problem is increasing today I have learned to watch longer with confidence.. sometimes nothing happens, no beach ball, no delayed display of characters.. The world ate my keystrokes and spit them into a black hole.

Apr. 25, 2013

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MacInTouch Reader

Joe Toth responded:

Craig Collins wrote:

'My experience with extreme processor load that typically brings Safari to its knees..'

It is unlikely that your numerous problems are caused by bad web site code, Flash problems, or Outlook problems. You're having problems that no one else is encountering.

I disagree. I've seen several cases where Safari CPU consumption has skyrocketed when displaying pages with presumably badly-written Flash content. In my experience, the problem is almost always with ads rather than 'real' content.

As others have suggested, Click2Flash or similar makes browsing much less frustrating.

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Joe Toth

A MacInTouch Reader responded to my comment that Craig Collins many CPU overload problems were due to a corrupt OS X file:

'I disagree. I've seen several cases where Safari CPU consumption has skyrocketed..'

It's impossible for web site ads to cause problems with Outlook. Also, many Safari users go to the same web sites as Craig Collins without problems. When two unrelated applications have similar problems, a bad system file is likely.

Jul. 6, 2013

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MacInTouch Reader

I'm not kidding.

I noticed that my old Epson Stylus printer had some blocked openings in the print head because text had a thin strip of no ink through certain lines of text.

I did what I always do, which is to go to the application folder, open 'Epson Printer Utility' and run a cleaning routine.

However when I found the expected icon in my folder and clicked on it, what popped up was an image titled 'CUBA.png,' which is a grayscale image of a map of Cuba, marking the capital Havana, and so forth, which I have never seen before.

Back in the application folder view, there is still the icon picture of a printer, and the file is labeled 'Epson Printer Utility,' and is listed as an 'alias.'

Whenever I click on it, the map of Cuba appears, and title bar shows 'CUBA.png.

Does anyone have an idea what is going on?

Jul. 12, 2013

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Mr. Mac's Virtual Existence02.a:face Swap Hand Inventory

Matt Neuburg

Re:

I did what I always do, which is to go to the application folder, open 'Epson Printer Utility' and run a cleaning routine. However when I found the expected icon in my folder and clicked on it, what popped up was an image titled 'CUBA.png'

The Epson Printer Utility at the top level of Applications is an alias. It was always an alias, so nothing that serious has happened here. It's just that now it's pointing at the wrong file. You can confirm this with Get Info; it will show you the that the Kind is Alias and it will tell you where the Original is.

To fix this, just repoint the alias at the correct original, which should be somewhere in /Library/Printers/EPSON/ (but quite deep down: it may take a lot of searching to find it).

It's possible that the alias got messed up because the original is now missing, due to some system upgrade or similar. Or maybe there's some directory corruption; it might be a good idea to run DiskWarrior just in case.

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Joe Toth

Harold Merklinger wrote:

'I'm just curious as whether there's any simple rational explanation for these phenomena.'

The simple, irrational explanation is Gremlins.

A possible explanation of mostly spam e-mails showing up on transfer is junk mail being dumped into the main mail account or loss of filtering, so that the main mail account gets the previously filtered spam. A solution to this is completely deleting confirmed spam. If that's too worrisome, export them (including headers) as text files.

Mr Mac's Virtual Existence 02.a:face Swap Hand In The Middle

With luck, other readers can explain other problems.