The most frequent problem I encounter with users is the spinning the wheel. Believe it or not, this is one of the easiest issues to diagnose and handle.
If you’re experiencing long delays in opening up applications (most commonly iTunes), the first thing you should check is how much space is free on your hard drive. To do this, open up Finder and under Devices, select your hard drive. Right click and select “Get Info”. This will pull up a window which shows you the total capacity of your hard drive, and the remaining amount available. If this amount is less than 20GBs, that’s your problem.
The latest Macs come with a minimum of 500GB hard drives. Macs five years ago came with 80GB hard drives; 80GBs is hardly enough to store any decent amount of photos and music on – let alone run the applications that most Macs use these days.
To free up some space on your hard drive, go through your folders and delete unnecessary videos, photos and applications that are taking up space. Make sure you empty out your trash after this. If you have an external drive, transfer files over to this rather than storing them on your computer.
If you can’t find a way to free up more space on your hard drive, your only solution is to buy a bigger internal hard drive. 500GB drives are around $80 dollars. Please, please, please have a technician install this and transfer your data over for you rather than doing this yourself – I’ve seen too many friends lose all of their data thinking they could do it themselves, and it’s devastating.
Once you have at least 20GBs available on your hard drive (or if you already had at least 20GBs available to begin with), download the free application “Cocktail” here: http://maintain.se/cocktail
Cocktail is a very useful application used by technicians to repair problems on the hard drive which may be causing spinning wheels and crashes. It’s a very simple program and can be used by anyone. Download and open up the application, select “Pilot” and under Tasks hit Run. This will run for about a half an hour and should make a significant improvement on your computer’s performance.
If this didn’t help or if you’re on a Mac which is over 5 years old, there are a number of other steps a certified technician can take to help diagnose and troubleshoot the problem. A spinning wheel is not a good indicator though, and if you don’t have the time or money to get your computer repaired, I highly recommend backing up all your important information in case a hard drive failure occurs.
As a note, these tips are for users who get the spinning wheel while running basic applications. A spinning wheel on After Effects or Ableton or any other high performance application would most likely be a RAM issue, plug-in conflict, or a software update conflict.
Good luck and good bye spinning wheel!