Slow late 2009 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by gonzali7, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2013
    We have a iMac 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (21.5-inch - DDR3) Late 2009 System with 8 GB RAM running Mountain Lion. My wife is a photographer and the primary user. She used a lot of Photoshop and Lightroom and always shoots in Raw. Her computer seems to be getting really slow. She does all her image selection in Lightroom. As she goes through her catalog of images she click to enlarge ones she likes to check for sharpness of the image. When she does this it will take her iMac 10-15 seconds to render the larger image. As you can imagine going through 300-500 images, even if you're only clicking on 100 or so of them can take a lot of time and be very frustrating if images are taking that long to load. Any thoughts on what could be causing this? She keeps most of here images on external drives. I try to keep her internal hard drive less than 75% full. She does end up with a lot of stuff (JPGs mostly) on her desktop for various reasons. Her catalog is on her hard drive. She had been working with her images on external drives. But we've been trying to speed things up by having her do her editing to images on her internal drive and then moving them to the external when she's done. But that hasn't helped much or at all. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. macrumors newbie

    Jul 6, 2013
    It might be a hard drive problem, but it probably isn't. I just had problems with my HD in my MacBook Pro and got Scannerz to find the problem. They have a freebee book about hard drive troubleshooting in the downloads section of their site that might be of interest to you. They also have a how-to section that has some information on troubleshooting performance problems with ML using activity monitor, which might be of even more use. Here's the link:

    From my own personal experience, if you haven't updated the OS to 10.8.4 do it now. I had a lot of performance problems and even crashes until I updated to 10.8.4. 10.8.4 seemed to get rid of a lot of bugs and the performance is, at least on my systems, night and day in difference.

    Another thing you can do is check your log files for some kext's or other drivers that may be problematic. I saw a bad driver for some type of RAID unit on a friends computer that really locked the system up. Unfortunately, sometimes trying to make sense of the log files isn't all that easy.
  3. Guest


    Sep 2, 2011
    Check to see if you qualified for the HDD replacement. We have one that had the same issues but after the HDD replacement and the complete install it is living on.
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2013
    Been researching this. Could spotlight indexing of external drives be causing this problem? For example, if my wife downloads 30GB or so of raw picture files to her external working drive, which is then backup up that night to another working drive, how long would all that indexing take? Further more if one of the external drives were dismounted and remounted does Spotlight begin the process all over?

    Are there any problems I might encounter with disabling spotlight for external backup/archive drives?

    Maybe I will upgrade to 10.8.4. There seems to be a lot of threads related to Spotlight having problems with 10.7.5. Actually thought I already had.

    I don't think it's my HD. Everything seems to check out there. Pretty sure I'm not eligible for replacement
  5. macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2013
    Make sure there are not many large files on the desktop as this will slow the machine down. Also, run 'disk warrior' to reorganise your hardrive and repair any corrupted files. Repair permissions also.
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2013
    Can you define for me what you mean by "large files"? Are Raw images large files? Would high resolution JPGs be large files? Is it single large files that cause problems? Or could it be a bunch of smaller files? Thanks for your help.
  7. macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2013
    If you have many files or folders that are say larger than 25mb on your desk top then you are going to slow your machine down. If you just have one or two at that size then that's fine but if they all add up to hundreds of megabytes then that's not good. Move them onto your hardrive say under the photos folder or create your own folder/s and just have an alias on your desk top or in the dock. If you are moving files around a lot as well as adding and deleting many files it is good practice to use a de-fragging software like Disk Warrior to put files and fragments of files back in the right place. Macs are better than PC's in this respect but still need tidying up once in a while to keep the system running smoother.
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2013
    Thanks for your help. My guess is that the stuff the desktop would be measured in gigabytes rather than megabytes. Between cleaning this up, upgrading to Mountain Lion, and limiting Spotlight indexing of external backup/archive drives maybe we'll make some real progress on her computer's performance.
  9. macrumors 6502

    Jan 24, 2012
    gonzali7, your hunch that Spotlight might be the problem is probably right. The site Mr-iMac links has a fair amount of detail on troubleshooting that specific problem on ML in their how-to section. They sell a product called SpotOff that lets you turn spotilight indexing on and off, which to me tells me the problem exists at least for some people.

    One of the problems I've observed with Spotlight is that it has problems indexing, or trying to index some types of image and document files. These problems often show up in the logs. When it encounters a problem it tends to cycle over it again and again until it gives up.

    ML used to be a bonafide Spotlight pig, but it seems to have gotten better with newer releases, but that doesn't mean it won't be problematic for some..

    I wouldn't bet that there's anything wrong with your hardware.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    gonzali7 - I agree with the others that keeping the desktop clean might help a little. If you have access to DiskWarrior, it can also help. You can disable spotlight on externals in the spotlight Privacy tab (click the plus icon and choose the external when it's plugged in)

    I did a lot of Lightroom/PS work on an 09 i7. Adding Ram really helped both apps. I noticed a nice jump when I upped from 8 to 16. Editing in PS from Lightroom (command/e from Develop or both apps running at the same time) was very sluggish with 8 and smoother with 16. Render was better as well.

    The DualCore model will not get dramatically faster with all these suggestions if the images are 20plus meg raw, but you can make it a little faster.
  11. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2013

    I'll have to think about the RAM. Trying not to spend to much. My wife thinks here monitor is going bad too (discolored areas along the bottom I think she said). So we might be in the market for a new machine soon. If I did buy memory for this machine (late 2009 iMac), would it work in one of the new iMacs? Sorry if that's a stupid question.
  12. macrumors regular


    Aug 1, 2011
    HD replacement program is over as far as I knew. download OnyX, run it. there are tons of hidden files that it stores up over time, that program will delete them. I'm running the same era computer (late 2009 27" iMac 2.66 quad core) but I'm still running snow leopard. it's kept mine neat and tidy for years.


    most likely no, buying ram for the 09 will not work in the newer machine. also at the moment ram is much more expensive than normal due to companies focusing on the smartphone market so computer ram inventory is scarce, so prices are WAY up.

    move the main files you have to an external, that'll help the internal drive a bit, but again, try to run onyx. and back up before doing anything major!!! don't wanna lose any information.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    If the panel is going south, it's not worth fixing unless you have access to one for very cheap. Hard to come by.

    Agree - old machine memory can be expensive IF you can't find some on auction for cheap (first place I'd look)
  14. macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2012
    You could try resetting the SMC:

    It won't cost anything, it's easy to do, and it can't hurt anything. Other than that my best guess would be spotlight indexing and the fact that ML isn't the fastest OS on the market.
  15. macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I have the same "late 2009 27" iMac"... and the memory is different than my new 2012 27" iMac.


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