2009 iMac very sluggish and slow

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Dualvansmommy, Nov 4, 2016.

  1. Dualvansmommy macrumors member

    Dec 31, 2014
    so im not techny AT ALL and need your help in figuring out what to do with our current desktop. This is the version we have since late 2009.

    i've cleaned it up by deleting alot of duplicates, photos, files etc and it's still very slooooow. Especially when loading pages and i close down everything down except safari.

    it is time for a new desktop or is there anything i can do to improve the function??

    Attached Files:

  2. craig1024 macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2016
    Upgrading the ram is easy and will help with multitasking, upgrading the hard drive to a solid state drive will give you the biggest speed improvement it would be like a new computer but requires serious dissassembly and removing the screen, you should try reinstalling Mac OS first as that might help if something is corrupted, if you don't want to reinstall you should try onyx (google it) and removing login items that you don't need (it looks like you have a lot running in the menu bar) as for safari you should try another browser to rule out whether it's the computer or the software.
  3. Dualvansmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 31, 2014
    Oh that's what I forgotten to mention in my OP, I did the route of reinstalling Mac OS first and still the same. Also tried two different browsers too, still sluggish! I was hoping this iMac would last solid 10 years before signs of slowing down.
  4. rawweb, Nov 4, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016

    rawweb macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2015
    Your thread title had me confused for a minute. Kept thinking you were talking about the current (late 2015) iMac.

    It's hard to diagnose why you're suddenly thinking things seem slower. But, old spinning drives, they do tend to slow down before they walk the plank...is it making funny clicking sounds? 7 years is a good run for a hard disk drive. FYI, Apple had a replacement program a few years back for certain drives: http://www.macworld.com/article/201...nds-1tb-imac-seagate-replacement-program.html.

    I thew a SSD and maxed out the ram on my L '09 27". Runs like a champ. Gifted it to the out-laws. Haven't heard any complaints. Highly recommend upgrading to a SSD. It's pretty affordable to do these days. OWC has some pretty good how-to videos posted here for beginners/novice: https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMACHDD09/. If that's out of your scope, maybe you have a friend or family member that would be willing to do it? If not, a local repair shop?

    Also, maxing the ram is a good idea. It's pretty affordable to do.

    You can easily squeeze a few more years out of the machine for basic internet browsing and photo viewing.
  5. craig1024 macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2016
    It sounds like your hard drive is dying you should get a Samsung 850 evo ssd for it then it will be faster than the current 1.6ghz iMac with a 5400rpm hard drive
  6. maflynn, Nov 5, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2016

    maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I fixed the title to remove any confusion

    OP, as others stated, check your hard drive, it may be the cause. An SSD is a quick fix to improving performance, after that, increasing ram may help
  7. Dualvansmommy thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 31, 2014
    Ok will edit my title. Remember, not tech savvy at all. How does one do that? Check their hard drive to see it's doing what it's supposed to do? And what am I looking for exactly?
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "2009 iMac very sluggish and slow"

    THE REASON that your iMac is so slow, is because you're running a "late-model" OS on it (Sierra), but it has only a platter-based hard drive inside.

    Since the advent of Mavericks OS (then Yosemite, then El Capitan, then Sierra), the Mac OS has been designed to run best on Macs that have either an SSD or a "fusion" drive inside.

    The OS will still "run" on older Macs with HDD's, but -- from the experience of the user -- it will seem more like the OS is "walking", instead of "running".

    You also wrote:
    "it is time for a new desktop or is there anything i can do to improve the function??"

    For better function, downgrade to El Capitan (OS 10.8.5). Then it should perform more acceptably, even though it's getting "long in the tooth".

    Adding RAM probably won't help too much.
    It may help a little, but not a lot.
    It's the internal HDD that's slowing it down.

    You could install an SSD inside, but this is quite a job on an iMac to do yourself if you're not techie, and it's probably not worth it to pay to have someone else do it.
    The only other suggestion might be to buy an external USB3 SSD, and plug it in and use it as "an external booter". Easy enough to do, since you have only USB2 it will still boot a little slowly, but once up-and-running should seem "snappier".

    If you really want a Mac that runs "up to speed" with a modern OS like Sierra, well.... you'll just have to go shopping for something newer...

    My opinion only.
    Others will disagree.
    Some will disagree vehemently.
  9. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Dec 9, 2014
    We saw a decent improvement by adding another 4Gb of RAM to our early 2009. Adding memory is very easy to do (even for a non techie) and is relatively cheap, so try that first.

    The next step is probably to replace the hard drive with a solid state disk (SSD), which will make a massive improvement, but is a nontrivial operation. It's not especially hard to do, and there are various excellent guides (iFixit) with step by step instructions; but it is fiddly, and requires patience, and a careful touch if you aren't used to fooling with ribbon cable connectors and the like. If you can go slow without distractions, and can follow directions exactly, and can stop and think before acting, you won't have any problem at all. Otherwise, either pay for someone to do the installation, or take the new machine route. But definitely try adding memory first, it might make enough difference to get you by.

    As far as whether your drive is failing, I suppose you could try one of the SMART reporting utilities such as https://www.volitans-software.com/apps/smart-utility/
    (not a recommendation, I've never tried it, just one of many that popped up via google). IMHO interpreting a SMART report isn't as simple as go/nogo, unless the drive really is on its last legs, and if that's the case you'll likely find out the hard way in a few days...

    Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure you have a good backup before doing it.

    edited to add: that early 2009 iMac with 8 Gb ram and an SSD runs El Capitan very nicely. Haven't tried Sierra and we're not in a rush to do so.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 5, 2016 ---
    One other thing: shut down all applications, then run Activity Monitor (in the Applications/Utilities folder). Click the CPU tab and let it sit for a few minutes. Look at the bottom of the window where it shows System, User, Idle; System+User percents should not add up to more than 1 or 2% at most. If it's significantly more, something is running in the background eating up resources; probably an add-on or extension of some kind, but could also be malware. The process list section of Activity Monitor can help you find it.

    Activity Monitor is a very useful tool; the problem is, that it helps if you know what your activity looks like when things are running fine, so that you can tell the difference! and most people never touch it unless the machine starts running poorly.

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8 November 4, 2016