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So many red herrings, so little time. -- sluggish 2014 mini  

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Greetings and happy new year to ye fellow MGGers.  I hope you'll humor me by listening to me think out loud:

Been battling a sluggish 2014 mini 2.8 GHz i5 16GB Ram running High Sierra on a 2TB internal SSD on the SATA bus.

After chasing some red herrings in the console, (diskarbitrationd anyone?) and realizing I can't speak nor read spindump, I'm considering a nuke and pave.  Seems like a disk access issue/bus clog of some sort.  Acts like it's the internal SSD (or something on it.). CPU doesn't really get pegged according to iStat Menus, but sometimes iStat Menus hangs when things get sluggish, which is most the time.  

Nuke and pave not a huge deal.  I have multiple backups and most of my stuff is on Dropbox or Synology Drive. (Both possible hogs of storage and CPU bandwidth.)

My questions are regarding my nuke and pave approach.

This mini originally had a fusion drive...so there is this unused 161GB SSD on the PCI bus that was separated from the original fusion drive.  This drive (I think) is going to be faster than the 2TB SSD I have on the SATA bus that I currently use as the main drive.  In theory, I could install a new OS on that old fusion SSD and just leave the old stuff intact, which might be interesting as an experiment.  (This would just be a pave without a nuke.  Actually, there would be neither nuking or paving.  Let's not get technical on that.  Oh wait... this is MGG... we're supposed to get technical! haha!  ahem...)

Another interesting concept would to be to put Catalina (which I've not tried yet) on that 161GB drive... then I'd (in theory) could either boot to Catalina or High Sierra.

A) Has anyone tried this approach or have thoughts regarding it?

B) Is this 2014 just too old to keep up with large Dropbox (300GB) and Synology Drive (100GB) constantly doing their thing?  

C) Catalina... on the 2014?  

Thanks for any thoughts you may have.  I know I can (and probably will) test the above theories, but if there are any gems of knowledge I should know, it would be much appreciated.

actually Mojave, not High Sierra...

4 Answers
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Try booting into Safe mode.  Does this improve things?
This will not load any 3rd party additions, it will load some more conservative Apple drivers (may cause screen flicker), and it will clear some kernel caches (a cache is saved data in a form that can speed up a program, but is totally redundant to the original source, and thus can be safely cleared).  Booting into Safe mode is just an experiment, but can frequently eliminate any 3rd party interference, or a cached item out-of-sync with the world.  (Verify Safe mode via Applications -> Utilities -> System Information -> Software -> Boot Mode -> Safe vs Normal)
 
If Safe mode improves things, then seriously look at all the 3rd party background stuff you have installed.  Anti-virus, Mac cleaners, etc... running and consuming resources in the background.
 
If Safe mode does not affect anything, then I would seriously wonder if you have a bad SATA cable.  It is EXTREMELY common for an SSD replacement to damage the SATA cable and have performance become total crap.
 
Another trick you could try.  Remove the SSD from inside, put it in a USB3 enclosure and see if booting from the externally mounted SSD is better.  This could also indicate a bad internal SATA cable or something related to the SATA connection internally.
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Before you nuke and pave. Sorry I didn't read every reply.

1) Create a new user account and verify whether it is still sluggish.

Why?

Mac OS since its inception has been about two main divisions, the OS and the User account. One will affect the other. Creating a new user account will help verify if the issue is reproducible. If not then something in your user account is at play.

That being said, if you 'nuke and pave' I suspect you will return a backup of your user account and that may return the issue causing some disappointment. 

Report back.

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Thanks DFNABFF!

of course! Ill try that first. 
also considered creating a test account )should have already done that) to see if there were issues there too...  

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Thanks Alex.  Sorry I fell off the planet on this one (need to update my notification settings.) I had already created a test account and found similar behavior. I think the 2014 Mini just doesn't particularly play nice with Mojave or newer. (I remember a real drag in performance starting about then.). After further reading on the subject, I have since decided to start over with this box... I'm going to put High Sierra on the old Fusion side of things and just start over.  It's not one of my main machines anymore and not doing anything critical, so it should be fine. 🙂

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