Freezing my Mac?

I think DevonThink is causing my Mac to crash. Here’s my setup:

MacBook Core Duo 2.0Ghz, 2Ghz RAM, OS X 10.4.8
DevonThink Pro Office (latest version)
3 DT databases, one set as default (none are shared on a network)

My MacBook runs great most of the time, but lately when I’ve run DT then it bogs down to an unusable speed (sometimes to the point of forcing a hard restart of the Mac). This usually happens after DT has been running for a while-- particularly if the Mac has entered a sleep-cycle with DT running.

I’ve had occasional problems in the past with DT not responding after running for a long time (as in all day or multiple days), but nothing like this. It almost makes me a little afraid to open the database.

By the way, I recently repaired and optimized all three databases to try to solve this problem.

Any thoughts?

Hi, Ed. You didn’t say how large your databases are. My main database runs around 25 million words at the moment, and the database file size in the Finder is currently 4.13 GB.

The artificial intelligence features are very memory-intensive. Think of all the operations that are set up to handle the See Also and Classify routines, for example.

I’ve got a MacBook Pro with 2 GB RAM and when I’ve been making the database do a lot of heavy lifting, the result is that I start getting low on physical RAM; there’s little free memory left, as can be confirmed by opening Activity Monitor. When that happens, Virtual Memory takes over to supplement physical RAM. But Virtual Memory is disk-based, and so is much slower than RAM for moving data around in memory.

By contrast, my Power Mac G5 dual core has 5 GB RAM, and I don’t see slowdowns on it.

When things slow down, quitting and relaunching DT Pro speeds everything up again. Restarting will clean up the VM swap files, and recommend a restart every few days to clear any cobwebs that may have crept into memory. (Most Macs don’t have error-correcting RAM, so it’s not a good idea to try to set records for the longest runtime between restarts.)

Still another factor can slow down a computer: insufficient free disk space on the hard drive. Apple engineers recommend at least 15% of the disk space should be left free for swap and temporary files used by the operating system and applications.

My databases are: 2.7GB, 1.03GB, and 399.5MB. I have about 15GB of free space on my hard drive. And this slowdown persists even after I quit (or force-quit) DevonThink.

Those databases should run quickly on your computer.

Do you have a lot of widgets activated? I’ve seen a collection of widgets slow down fast computers to a snail’s pace.

While operations are slow, launch Activity Monitor and check out CPU activity. A stuck process can hog all the CPU resources and slow things down.

Have you installed any haxies or other apps that change the OS?

Do you run routine maintenance on your OS and disk directory? In addition to Disk Utility, there are some free maintenance utilities such as AppleJack and OnyX that can help keep your computer healthy. All sorts of things can go wrong, such as a corrupt cache file, and cleaning out caches and doing other housecleaning routines can sometimes work miracles.

Do you use scheduled backups (see preferences)? Backing up such large databases might need some time and unfortunately intense disk IO slows down Mac OS X heavily. But the speed should be as usual afterwards.