What to do if your MacBook Air slows down?

Does your MacBook Air lose performance even in the most straightforward programs?

Are the deadlines burning? Can’t finish because your MacBook Air is running slowly? 

Having analyzed the most common causes of a malfunction, we have identified several possible reasons and methods of solving them.

How fast a MacBook Air should be and how “brakes” affect its performance?

As practice shows, the “brakes” of the system manifest themselves in different ways – sometimes the computer “freezes,” thinking for a long time when switching programs and desktops. In another case, the system begins to lose performance only when starting resource-intensive, not intended this hardware of programs. However, the complaint is always the same: the convenience of working with a computer is replaced by discomfort, sometimes so serious that it becomes impossible to work with the MacBook Air.

macbook air slows down
Spotlight indexing significantly slows down the system.

Fortunately, the problem isn’t always hardware. As old as your MacBook is, it is too early to write it off: as long as the computer can handle essential multimedia functions, it can be considered a useful tool.

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Please note that the primary benchmark for any classic ultrabook is video viewing – modern MacBook Air based on Core i5 can easily play Full HD video, but owners of early models (in particular, 2008-2010) will have to limit themselves to SD quality. There is a hardware problem if your computer stutters while watching (via YouTube or built-in storage). But we should consider the possible causes in order.

Overheating as the leading cause of the problem

The MacBook Air itself has a balanced and efficient cooling system. Still, after a few months of active use, the radiator grill will inevitably clog with dust, as a result of which the cooling system overheats, and the MacBook Air slows down. What to do in this situation is an ambiguous question since not every user can perform independent preventive maintenance of the cooling system – this requires experience and special tools and consumables.

macbook air slows down
Cooler blades are difficult to clean from dust by yourself.

Diagnosing overheating is simple: you don’t even need to be guided by subjective tactile sensations from heated aluminum. All you need is to monitor the computer’s behavior under load: if overheating does occur, the computer will lose performance at regular intervals (for example, for 1-2 minutes every 5-10 minutes). This is because the system occupies the processor with an “empty” task, which helps cool the chip.

Also, you can use programs such as iStat Menus or Speccy for more accurate system monitoring. The chip temperature should not exceed 40-50 degrees in normal mode and 60-70 degrees under load.

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What can I do?

As a computer user, you can blow the cooling system through the vents. This will not completely solve the problem, but it will buy some time for more severe measures. If you have a special screwdriver, you can remove the cover and clean the cooler blades, which turns out to be, albeit not one hundred percent, but a much more useful measure.

How will the service center specialists help?

When contacting a responsible service center, you can count on a complete prevention of the cooling system, which, in addition to cleaning the computer from dust, includes lubricating the fans and replacing the thermal paste. In most cases, this is quite enough to get rid of the “brakes” for a long time.

If the hardware of the computer does not cope with the tasks

Early models of the MacBook Air were already equipped with a full-fledged but relatively weak “hardware” at the time of launch, serving the market as a compromise Proof-of-Concept of a new class of ultrabooks. This does not mean at all that the computer was a “calculator in a stylish case,” but the dampness of this device, coupled with not the most energy-efficient processor, somewhat limited its scope.

Thus, if your early MacBook (for example, the MacBook Air 1.1) slows down during operation, the problem may also be overheating. Still, this time the situation cannot be corrected by ordinary cleaning of the cooling system.

The fact is that even with regular computer use (YouTube, Flash, FaceTime calls), the processor tends to become very hot, as a result of which the system forcibly turns off one of the two cores.

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macbook air slows down
Flash Player is an old and ineffective technology that even modern machines can’t always handle.

What can I do?

First of all, you should roll back the operating system to its “native” build because with each new release, macOS acquires additional, often “heavy” functionality, which to one degree or another slows down the system on old machines. This step makes the device less “thoughtful”: programs will open faster, and the system itself will be more economical in handling RAM. It would help if you also stopped using resource-intensive programs that can run in the background (System Monitor will help you identify the most “gluttonous” applications).

How will the service center specialists help?

Optimization of OS + prevention of the cooling system, which will smooth out the effects of overheating.

Other possible problems

If Wi-Fi slows down on your MacBook Air, the problem may also affect the overall speed of web / iTunes: the video may “stutter” during playback, and the site will take much longer to load. If you are using a third-party router (not Apple’s AirPort), you should update the device’s firmware as most consumer routers will malfunction after a few years.

Also, playback and download speeds may be affected by the health of the hard drive. Since the classic hard drive was mainly equipped with the early models of MacBook Air, most of these devices’ drives are very worn out, which reduces the speed of working with data and often provokes the operating system to freeze.

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