Computer advice


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28 October 2006
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I am pretty computer-dumb and I ask if anyone might please advise me.

I have an Apple iMac OSX and its getting old. Slowing down etc.
I am due to replace it soon. But there a couple of ways I'm thinking of:

First way would be to buy a direct replacement.

But I've been thinking...
An alternative might be to buy a laptop (keep the wife happy), probably a Mac.
I was thinking to keep my existing Mac but strip any unnecessary applications leaving only those to enable it for graphics/illustration purposes
only plus internet connection, security programmes and Acrobat. I might need to keep word too.
Basically keep everything I need to leave it operable and hopefully back to its original speed.
I wonder if there any indigenous essential software/applications I must keep?

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Many thanks
In my opinion, the slowing down you experience with your iMac is not necessarily (and not uniquely) due to software bloat.

First (very important) thing with old iMacs: check your hard drive health. Thank to Apple cynically setting the fan speeds very low for obscure reasons, and due to the location of the hard drive inside the chassis, it tends to run quite hot (>60°C) and suffer premature ageing (bad sectors / retries). This is a very well known problem with 2007-2010 iMacs at least. At early stages, such ageing may very well appear like benign slowness, but it is actually very dangerous for data safety, at least when the drive runs out of spare sectors to relocate the bad ones.

Hard disk health can be checked with so-called S.M.A.R.T. tools such as "gsmartcontrol", which however requires some knowledge of the command-line installer "macports". Maybe there are other such tools that are easier to install... If the tool confirms that the drive is in bad or deteriorating shape, a full back-up of your important data is mandatory and a replacement is highly advised. In all cases, you should install some temperature monitoring tool (I personally found a cool dashboard widget called "istat nano") and a fan boosting utility (SMC fan control) which will help running your iMac cooler (but also a little louder) for its remaining lifespan (aim at lowering the hard drive temperature around 40°C).

At least on some iMac models, replacing the hard drive is manageable (you can do it yourself with a couple of suction cups to remove the glass plate and some special screwdriver). If you do so, you could replace it with a faster drive (but beware of fast-spinning or perf-boosted drives which tend to run hot and require a well-ventilated chassis that the iMac cannot provide), or possibly hybrid (SSHD) or fully solid state (SSD). "Cloning" the contents of the old hard drive typically requires an external USB/FireWire/SATA enclosure (which is a handy device to have at hand those days) and a specialized cloning utility (such as "Carbon Copy Cloner"). In case you're afraid of doing the replacement and cloning yourself, you can probably have a professional service shop do it for you for little money.

Another classical thing to optimize performance of older machines is to upgrade their RAM to maximum capacity. Check out what's the maximum amount or RAM you can fit in your iMac model, invest in some good quality RAM modules (hint: Crucial) and top it up.
my 2011 Imac (27-inch I5 ) had HD a S.M.A.R.T. lost, the technician needed 14 days to replace the Drive :mad:
i run my Imac with 20 GB ram and operating system OX 10.10.5 is very happy and fast with it
despite it's 4 years old.

but there some thing to respect, like clean up
activate the application Disk Utility, select hard drive Macintosh HD and go to "verify the permissions"
if you get long list of defaults goes to "Repair the the permissions" Disk Utility will do it job.
also clean up regular the trashcan and Desktop, if not it could slow down the System.

Flitzer, you have what for mac with what OX and how much Ram in it ?
Don't ditch your present iMac. Instead, purchase an external disk and copy all your data off and then reformat the disk and reinstall OS X. Reinstall your applications. What is more than likely happening is that your disk has become heavily fragmented and this slows it down, which makes the computer slower. Refreshing your computer every few years stops that.
I use a Macbook Pro 13 as my only computer and its pretty good. I did much of the graphics and layout for my book on it. The 15 inch version is quite a bit more powerful but I love the portability of the 13.
What to do depends on the age and specs of the old machine.

- can you still run the current version of OSX on it? If yes: upgrading is a viable option. If no: think about replacing it.

- the more RAM you have, the better. At 4 GB, my old machine (Macbook from 2008) constantly needed to swap out the contents of the RAM because my applications needed more memory (particularly Firefox, which is using 3 GB at the moment). Upgrading that machine to 8 GB made a big difference. You can use Activity Monitor to see if your RAM is filling up.

- a faster disk is also worthwhile. Don't bother with a hybrid, just go with an SSD. Replacing your disk has another advantage: the older a disk gets, the more likely it becomes the disk will fail. Having been bittne by that a few times, I now preventatively replace harddisks after 3 years.

- Removing applications does not make a difference. Unlike Windows, a Mac does not slow down if you have more applications installed.

- fragmentation only becomes an issue on OSX if your disk is nearly full (less than 10% capacity left free) and/or you do a lot of work on files larger than 20 MB. See
Also, make sure that all the hardware drivers are up to date. You might be surprised at the trouble even a seemingly unimportant driver can cause if not up to date or even corrupted.

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