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I am running a Mac OS X Snow Leopard

And as of late it has started to load and run slower and slower and slower. Which is getting increasingly annoying.

So I am thinking about the solution of a total formate, just reinstalling mac. So if I backup my current mac via time machine, and import a time machine backup onto a newly installed mac osx, will that just transfer the problems making it slow onto the newly installed mac?

Also, If i just want to do it where, I drag all my documents and applications etc from time machine back up to the newly installed mac, will that be ok, or do i need to include any other folders where applications have stored vital stuff etc.

Or shall I just drag my documents folder and then reinstall all the vital apps.

Or maybe you have a better idea.

Update - I have worked out what I want speeded up. Its the amount of time it takes from start up to actually being fully loaded. so its starting to take longer and longer to go from me pressing the power button to fully loaded. any ideas?

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Since you have absolutely no idea what's causing the problem, you (and everybody else) cannot know whether doing this will help. If you restore the whole system to the same hardware, it'll most likely not help -- only if the issue is in those files that aren't backed up. – Daniel Beck Mar 5 '11 at 7:00
up vote 2 down vote accepted

My current home directory has survived moves from 3 different machines over the years. After OS X installs it will give you the option to recover from a time machine backup, I would use that.

Before you go to all the trouble, are you sure the problem is in software? Are you quitting un-needed apps, or just closing them? How much RAM do you have? What model/generation of a Mac are we talking? If you're on a Macbook or Macbook Pro you might see a performance jump (but a small battery life hit) upgrading to a 7200RPM hard drive.

If you're running < 4GB of RAM, you're going to be much happier with yourself if you boosted that RAM now, rather than go through the hassle of reformatting only to end up in this situation again in a few months. If you're running at least 4GB of RAM you should be looking into WHY the machine is running slow. I recommend iStatMenus and watching your CPU and Memory usage via their menu bar graphs as your day goes on, they'll also show you the most offensive apps in each category (biggest RAM hogs, CPU guzzlers).

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Mac OS X Version 10.6.6 – RSM Mar 4 '11 at 14:27
Macbook bought late 2009, 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 Ram – RSM Mar 4 '11 at 14:28
I would definitely be investigating the "why" here, otherwise you're likely to end up back at the same result. – peelman Mar 4 '11 at 14:31

Restoring from a Time Machine backup is likely to restore whatever's causing the problem, so I'd investigate before reformatting. There are some fairly easy steps to start tracking the source(es) of the slowdown:

  1. First, is the computer always slow, or does it slow down at some times but not others? Look for a pattern that may isolate what's causing the slowdown.

  2. Create a new user account (in System Preferences -> Accounts), log into that account, and see if it's as slow as your regular account. If things run faster in the new account, you know there's something in the settings for your regular account that's causing a slowdown. When you're done testing, you can just delete the new account.

  3. Run Activity Monitor (in /Applications/Utilities), and check the System Memory tab at the bottom -- are you running out of free memory? Also, switch the pop-up in the toolbar to "All Processes"; you can sort by %CPU to see if anything is hogging the CPU, or by Real Mem to see what's taking so much RAM.

  4. Reboot the computer with the shift key down to invoke safe boot mode. This turns off many kinds of system-level addons that may be slowing the system down (although it may also turn off some supposedly non-critical features you depend on, like wireless networking). It'll also make the boot process itself slower (it does some additional work and bypasses the boot caches), but if it makes operations after that faster, you know you have some sort of addon software that's dragging the computer down. Use the list of disabled items in this Apple KB article as a list of suspects...

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From the OS X install disc, you will have the ability to restore from Time Machine by following these steps. If you don't want to do it that way, you can do a fresh install normally and then use Migration Assistant Migration Assistant
in /Applications/Utilities to restore more selectively. If you are concerned that by transferring all of your data back will impact system performance, try to start fresh. Only copy what is absolutely necessary and reinstall only the software that you use all the time. This will eliminate old junk files, get rid of helper apps, get rid of leftover daemons, etc.

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