From today’s mail bag
My Mac acted very slowly for a week or so. Is it possible that it could have been hacked? The thing that concerns me is that it was slow for certain times, but then reverted to being okay.
A slow computer can appear in several forms. It could involve programs that take a long time to open. If that’s the case, then your troubleshooting focus should be on the contents of your hard drive. Does the problem only affect one program or all applications? Is it document-specific? That is, does the slowdown or glitch just affect a specific file and other documents open normally?
Do you constantly see a spinning beach ball cursor whenever you try to do anything on your Mac? If so, a spinning beach ball does not necessarily mean you were hacked from the outside. It can occur for a variety of reasons, such as a low amount of available system memory when you try to perform a computer task or open a file.
Delays can result if your main hard drive is nearly full. My rule of thumb is to maintain at least 10% of the total hard drive capacity as free space. For instance, if you have a 250 gigabyte drive, make sure you have at least 25 gigabytes free.
On the other hand, is the slowness problem isolated to Internet functions like email or surfing the web? If that’s the case, then I advise you to contact your Internet Service Provider to determine whether their service is being impacted by system maintenance work or a connectivity issue.
While Mac OS X computers are not impervious to hacking, the likelihood is less than Windows PCs. Moreover, your router should be automatically configured to protect your Mac with its built-in firewall. If you’re still concerned about hacking, you can make sure to turn off File Sharing in the Sharing pane in System Preferences. Below is a link to an article that describes the procedure:
Disable Mac OS X (10.5 and 10.6) File Sharing
University of Delaware
A common technique to fix a spinning beach ball cursor is to restart your Mac. This clears up the memory buffers so that you can start computing with a clean slate.
Macs automatically perform daily, weekly, and monthly system maintenance tasks in the background. It’s possible that over time, that is what fixed the problem.