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by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:06 am
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Hello,
I have a "Mid 2011" 21.5" iMac that is configured as follows...

2.8 GHz Intel Core i7
8 GB DDR3 Memory
AMD Radeon HD 512 MB Graphics
2 TB Hard Disk

Startup of this machine has become very slow and general processing seems slow as well.  So I am considering either buying a new iMac or upgrading my current machine.  The thing that makes me question whether that maybe a new machine is not the answer is that it doesn't look like the processors are much faster in the new machines at my price point.  So I am thinking that if maybe I can switch my current machine to an SSD drive and maybe double my memory, that might be a good solution.  (Obviously I could buy a new machine with an SSD but if the impact of simply changing out the HD on my current drive is the same, then that would be more cost effective.)

So, my specific questions are...

1. Can you comment on the above and provide guidance?

2. And then, if I were to drop my 2 TB drive in favor of let's say a 500 GB SSD drive, I assume I would need to move a good portion of my images to an external HD and then will that defeat the purpose of the SSD drive?  Currently I have about 650 GB of photos and videos.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Pat
 

by E.J. Peiker on Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:19 am
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If it's gotten slow but used to be fast there are probably a few things going on.

The first thing I would do is repair disk permissions.

In general, to keep Macs running optimally I recommend running Onyx (freeware) every couple of months to keep everything healthy.

Additionally, you have probably installed a bunch of software over time that loads at start-up that doesn't need to so check to see what is loading and turn off stuff that doesn't need to load.  Finally, if you have Photoshop, the default is for Bridge to install so that it is running in the background all the time.  This will exact a huge penalty on the performance of the system and is a complete waste.  There is no reason for doing that unless you run a machine that is dedicated to Photoshop production work and nothing else.  Go into Bridge Preferences and make sure that you do not have the option to start bridge at boot-up checked.

Your system is well specced, maybe a bit more memory would help and an SSD would help but none of that explains why it has gotten slower over time.  I would address that rather than throwing a new machine at the problem.  Likely you would just replicate all of the things that are slowing your current system on the new system right from the initial set-up since Macs simply copy over everything from the previous machine when you set-up a new one unless you expressly tell it to not do that.  yes it would be faster due to the faster hardware but over time, as you add more stuff, the same problem would start to occur.

So again:
Get rid of stuff from the start-up  http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/how_remove_startup_items_os_x
Download Onyx http://www.titanium.free.fr/ and run the Automation button (that will also repair disk permissions automatically)
Make sure that Bridge isn't running at start-up

That should bring your system back to starting the way it used to.  If after all of this, the system is still slow to get going, then you could start to consider new hardware. the thing that would add a lot of start-up performance is an SSD or hybrid drive.

I have a 2008 2.6GHz i5 iMac and it is every bit as fast as it was the day I bought it despite being a very heavily used system.  I follow the steps above.
 

by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:37 am
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Thanks EJ. Very helpful. I will give all of this a try. Thanks.
 

by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:09 pm
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EJ,
Well, I disabled any programs from loading at startup and then I ran the Onyx utility and while it feels like it is booting faster, it still feels slow to me. At least slower than I would like! Maybe I am loosing patience with age!

After making these changes, I decided to time the performance. Bootup from the screen where you can select the boot drive is about one minute, twenty seconds consistently. Then when I click on Safari to start from the Dock, the icon bounces for about 25 seconds and then it is another 25 seconds to load the program to a usable state (~50 seconds total.) So do these times seem slower than you would expect or are they typical for a conventional spinning HD?

And then if I do move to an SSD for my operating system and programs, would you recommend an external Thunderbolt SSD as a boot drive or should I have a service provider swap out my HD for a new SSD? (I would not attempt that myself.)

Thanks for your help!
 

by E.J. Peiker on Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:42 pm
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Whoa, there is something way wrong. My much older iMac loads Safari in about 3.5 seconds to a home page like Yahoo and thats with an old SATA 1TB drive, slower technology than yours and much slower processor. I think the next thing to do on your system is to reset the PRAM. Note there are many other things other than in the link below that can be solved by a PRAM reset:
http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1379

Make sure you click on resetting NVRAM/PRAM on the link above.
 

by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:08 pm
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Thanks EJ. I am going to take it into the Apple store and have them look at it. Will let you know. Thanks again.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:12 pm
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Before you do, one last thought, is the HD full? If you select the drive in the finder and then hit Cmd-i does it show more than 10% open space on the drive? If not, that can dramatically slow a computer.
 

by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 4:39 pm
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E.J. Peiker wrote:
Before you do, one last thought, is the HD full?  If you select the drive in the finder and then hit Cmd-i does it show more than 10% open space on the drive?  If not, that can dramatically slow a computer.



Thanks, no I have plenty of space on the HD.  It is a 2 TB drive with two partitions.  A 1.7 TB partition for OSX and I have 745GB available on that one and then a 300GB Bootcamp Partition that has 267 GB free.
 

by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:18 pm
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OK, well I took my iMac into the Genius Bar and they ran some tests and say my machine is working properly with no issues. What we found was that the first time I load up a program like Safari, it takes 50 or so seconds to load. But then if I quit the program and then open it again, it is much quicker. The person at the genius bar told me that quitting a program should put it in a state that is the same as if I just started up my computer, but I can't make sense of that with the behavior I am seeing. There must be some initial components that load at the beginning and just take a long time to load. At any rate, the issues I am having are due to my slow hard drive so now I need to see if I can address that by either replacing my HD with an internal SSD or the other option I am considering is loading my apps and OS on an external Thunderbolt SSD. So thanks for your help EJ.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:28 pm
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That still is not normal.  The first time you open up Safari it should take low single digit seconds to open unless it is right after boot-up of the system from a power down state.  When a Mac first boots it does a whole lot of stuff in the background and build a spotlight index and maybe you are also running a time-machine backup. But if the system has been on for a few minutes it should literally take seconds.  If you are only seeing this problem right after boot-up then you can reduce the things that Spotlight searches through by unchecking some things you don't need it to search in the System Preferences for Spotlight.  I'm going to post this comment then shut down my system and reboot t and see how fast Safari loads immediately after the machine becomes useable after boot-up and report back...

Update:  I launched Safari basically the second the system became available after a cold boot and it too 4.5 seconds from Safari mouse click to Yahoo being fully loaded.  Certainly Internet speed and having a fast service has something to do with that.  If I only count the time to when Safari is usable, it is under 3 seconds.  So your machine is most definitely not behaving normally regardless of what the Apple tech says.  Again my system does not have an SSD, it has a slower older HD and a slower, older processor.
 

by Patrick Cox on Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:45 pm
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Thanks EJ. I appreciate the effort you put in on my issue. And I agree with you that something is not right. I am going to do some more research over the weekend and maybe discuss replacing my HD with someone on Monday.

Regards,
Pat
 

by Andrew_5488 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:15 am
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First,you didn't specify what OS you're running. Your computer came with OS between 10.6.6-10.7.3,depending when you purchased it.
If you updated to OS 10.9.x my guess that's your main problem.
From my experience fixing permissions won't make your computer faster.
If you have OS 10.9 there's not much you can do. In any case,I'd create new clean user account,enable "automatic login" to that account and time it from
power on to fully visible desktop. IF there's big difference between your original account and that new one,you can clear account cache files.

IF you have more than 10-20 files on your desktop (depending if those are just text files-no difference,or movies/pictures-time penalty),your computer will be slower. If you have "show icon preview" turn on for your desktop,your computer will be slower.
So if you're one of those people who can't do without having tens of files on your desktop,create one folder on your desktop and put all that garbage into it.

Also you may have hard drive problems. SMART status in Disk Utility is NOT reliable and besides SMART is CRAP.
You could run something like TechTool Pro to scan HD but if I remember correctly it won't tell you speed of blocks (you may have weak blocks which isn't helping).

Get some small external HD and install your original OS,one which came on DVD disk. Boot your system from it and compare timing to your current OS.

All in all there're many things which can be at play but my guess is that main culprit is your OS, if you upgraded.

PS.run Disk Utility and run "repair disk" on your boot HD.This will tell you and possibly fix any problems with directory structure.
 

by Andrew_5488 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:19 am
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As far as Safari goes,you can empty cache,empty history,disable extensions you don't use,clear cookies (in Privacy tab),disable RSS feed.
 

by Patrick Cox on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:23 am
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Andrew_5488 wrote:
First,you didn't specify what OS you're running. Your computer came with OS between 10.6.6-10.7.3,depending when you purchased it.
If you updated to OS 10.9.x my guess that's your main problem.
From my experience fixing permissions won't make your computer faster.
If you have OS 10.9 there's not much you can do. In any case,I'd create new clean user account,enable "automatic login" to that account and time it from
power on to fully visible desktop. IF there's big difference between your original account and that new one,you can clear account cache files.

IF you have more than 10-20 files on your desktop (depending if those are just text files-no difference,or movies/pictures-time penalty),your computer will be slower. If you have "show icon preview" turn on for your desktop,your computer will be slower.
So if you're one of those people who can't do without having tens of files on your desktop,create one folder on your desktop and put all that garbage into it.

Also you may have hard drive problems. SMART status in Disk Utility is NOT reliable and besides SMART is CRAP.
You could run something like TechTool Pro to scan HD but if I remember correctly it won't tell you speed of blocks (you may have weak blocks which isn't helping).

Get some small external HD and install your original OS,one which came on DVD disk. Boot your system from it and compare timing to your current OS.

All in all there're many things which can be at play but my guess is that main culprit is your OS, if you upgraded.

PS.run Disk Utility and run "repair disk" on your boot HD.This will tell you and possibly fix any problems with directory structure.


Thanks for your reply. Yes, I am running the most current OS. Is that not recommended?  I will try some of your suggestions but at this point I am strongly considering a new machine with an SSD. Thx
 

by Andrew_5488 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:54 am
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Patrick Cox wrote:
Thanks for your reply. Yes, I am running the most current OS. Is that not recommended?  I will try some of your suggestions but at this point I am strongly considering a new machine with an SSD. Thx


Depends on who's talking but yes,I wouldn't recommend OS 10.9 on any computer which came in 2012 and earlier.

New computer-yes. I don't know how much difference SSD will make.
For that information I'd browse through http://macperformanceguide.com/index.html website.
 

by Steve Cirone on Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:35 pm
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One would think loading the latest OS would improve things, but on my 27 iMac it slowed it down by about 10X, rendering it useless.  After I did a number of expensive things I got it back to about 4X slower than the original.  I'll have to live with it as I can't afford a new one at this juncture.

So, bottom line is NEVER UPGRADE an OS on an iMac.  Much lamenting on the net about this mistake.  Alas, one cannot go back to a previous OS.  It looks it is Apple's way of telling you to buy a new computer by simply destroying your old one.  "The thing about Apple computers is they just work."   I wish.
 
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by EGrav on Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:55 pm
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Steve Cirone wrote:
One would think loading the latest OS would improve things, but on my 27 iMac it slowed it down by about 10X, rendering it useless.  After I did a number of expensive things I got it back to about 4X slower than the original.  I'll have to live with it as I can't afford a new one at this juncture.

So, bottom line is NEVER UPGRADE an OS on an iMac.  Much lamenting on the net about this mistake.  Alas, one cannot go back to a previous OS.  It looks it is Apple's way of telling you to buy a new computer by simply destroying your old one.  "The thing about Apple computers is they just work."   I wish.

That might be true of VERY OLD Macs, but in general, updating to new OS versions is a good thing. There must be a problem with your machine. I updated my 4 1/2 yo iMac and 15" MBP to Mountain Lion, then later to Mavericks and had no problems. There was an increase in speed and better memory management. Reading the various forums, this seems to be the usual experience of most upgraders.
To the OP, Pat, there is a lot of mis-information on the web. I hope you get your problem fixed. 




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by E.J. Peiker on Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:18 pm
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Updated a 2011 MacBook Air to Mavericks, no issue whatsoever and that's a pretty underpowered machine by today's standards. I still maintain that there is something wrong with the OPs system if it takes a half minute to load Safari on a 2011 iMac which is dramatically more powerful than the MBA I am talking about.
 

by Patrick Cox on Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:22 am
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Thanks again for all of the input and suggestions. I am likely going to buy a new iMac as I don't think there is a lot of hope to get my machine back to a level of performance I can live with. Trying to figure out now how I organize my photo and video files on two drives (SSD and HDD.)

Pat
 

by Andrew_5488 on Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:56 am
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Steve Cirone wrote:
  Alas, one cannot go back to a previous OS.
  It looks it is Apple's way of telling you to buy a new computer by simply destroying your old one.


You can but it takes a lot of time especially if you don't have backup of your data from your "before update state".

My observation is that from OS 10.6 onward this is the case with OS upgrades. If you don't have powerful system to begin with, usually
those OS upgrades will leave you with much slower system.
 

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