2009 iMac a tad slow with Mavericks

Cubytus

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 2, 2007
1,419
14
Hi there,

I was asked why a 2009 iMac (3,06GHz C2D with 4GB RAM) would be somewhat slow with Mavericks installed on it. After a quick look at the Activity Monitor, the hard drive is far from full with about 40% free space, and RAM wasn't overloaded, nor was swap memory. From what the guy said, he upgraded it from Snow Leopard to Mavericks, and my not-so-educated guess was the Mac simply didn't like that upgrade, and the hard drive may be slowing things down.

It is used in a small, mixed-OS office, implying MS Office, Kaspersky antivirus, financial files, etc.

I am a bit at a loss trying to understand why it's sluggish. The guy wants to replace it if needed, but would like to try a clean install first. In my opinion this shouldn't be necessary.

What are your ideas about this machine?
 

OLDCODGER

macrumors 65816
Jul 27, 2011
1,037
343
Lucky Country
4 gig ram is minimal on Mavericks. However, if you have a spare external drive, you can copy int to ext, wipe int, and reinstall. That will defragment the drive, and improve speed.

Nonetheless, a new SSD would be best.
 

infantrytrophy

macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2013
230
61
I have the same iMac (late 2009, 3.06mHz C2D), but with 12 MB RAM and no antivirus. I have been running OSX Mavericks since it came out and just recently updated to 10.9.2.

The Mac is very quick, no problems at all. Even running with 6-7 Safari windows open, each with 10 or so tabs, the performance is very good.

Something other than your Mac or OSX Mavericks is causing the problem. Maybe the amount of RAM, maybe the antivirus.

Another thing to check -- do you have any external USB hard drives attached? Up until a few weeks ago I had two, an older 256 GB and a newer Western Digital 2 TB "Passport" drive. I noticed intermittent slowdowns and finally noticed that the older external drive was making noise. Sure enough, Activity Monitor told me that the older drive was constantly indexing. Must have been something wrong with the older external drive. As soon as I dismounted this drive, the problem disappeared. I should also note that the problematic drive was formatted with FAT, not the Mac OS Extended, so I don't know if there was a physical drive problem or a problem that Mavericks had with the FAT-formatted drive.

Bottom line: 2009 Mac should be OK. Get enough RAM, trouble-shoot the antivirus or other software, and check for problem external drives.
 

Cubytus

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 2, 2007
1,419
14
4 gig ram is minimal on Mavericks. However, if you have a spare external drive, you can copy int to ext, wipe int, and reinstall. That will defragment the drive, and improve speed.

Nonetheless, a new SSD would be best.
I suspected indeed the low RAM amount may be to blame, but since the Activity Monitor doesn't report any overload there, I wouldn't be so sure. There is indeed a USB Time Machine backup constantly plugged in.

Something other than your Mac or OSX Mavericks is causing the problem. Maybe the amount of RAM, maybe the antivirus.
Don't know for the antivirus. I know it's usually not necessary on Mac, but he may have installed it because of the mixed environment.

I should also note that the problematic drive was formatted with FAT, not the Mac OS Extended, so I don't know if there was a physical drive problem or a problem that Mavericks had with the FAT-formatted drive.
Since it's supposed to be a TM backup, it can't be anything else than HFS+.
Bottom line: 2009 Mac should be OK. Get enough RAM, trouble-shoot the antivirus or other software, and check for problem external drives.
How would I troubleshoot the antivirus anyway?
 

infantrytrophy

macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2013
230
61
Re: The external hard drives. I should have mentioned in my post that the Time Machine backup drive was the newer of the two, formatted with the Mac OS Extended format. This has been no problem. It was the older drive, FAT-formatted, that was the problem. It started to have an unusual noise, maybe indicating an impending failure. Activity Monitor showed that this older (non-TM) drive was constantly indexing. This was probably bogging down the whole system. My "slow Mac" problem stopped immediately the drive was dismounted and retired it to the disk drive graveyard.

Re: Troubleshooting the antivirus. I'm no expert, but I would try disabling the antivirus software to see if that made any difference in the Mac's performance.

One more thought: It might be worth a call to Apple Care. Obviously this older Mac would not be covered by an Apple Care plan, but you can get one-time advice for $19. Might be worth it - you won't find competent professional help for less than that. If you want cheaper than that, you're stuck with the likes of me. :)
 

RustyRelic

macrumors newbie
Aug 6, 2014
9
0
2009 iMac. It's time for a new hard drive and a fresh install. I would definitely get an SSD. Slow performance generally means the hard drive is failing.
I have an early 2008 iMac that takes about 15 seconds to boot up. The 4 GB of ram shouldn't be a problem with Mavericks. I can run Windows 7 in Parallels and switch desktops with the "Control" Left/Right arrow keys. No problem.
One word of caution, if the iMac in question has an ATI graphics card, use the original .kext drivers that came with the computer when it was new. AMD .kext files loaded during "Security" updates don't play well with the ATI cards.
I'm not sure if they're having the same problems with the Nnvida Geforce cards.
Trashing the antivirus would be a start, but I still think it's the hard drive.
Also there are some other better choices for Mac protection. Even free ones that work well.
Check these out: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406379,00.asp
Good luck