Do I need an external hard drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by foxesamu, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. foxesamu macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    #1
    I got my iMac G5 1.8 (17") back in 2005, of course right before the Intel model came out with a camera. :p These days it is running ridiculously slowly. I hadn't thought much of it but tonight when it took iPhoto five entire minutes to duplicate a (not particularly large) existing photo for editing fun, I knew I had had enough. Then it took three minutes just for iPhoto to close, which was a slap in the face.

    Do I need an external HD? Will it make a noticeable difference in performance if I get rid of the garbage on my computer and use another HD for extra storage? Or should I succumb to my desires and go for a new MacBook 2.4?

    Obviously I'm a n00b on this topic, as I am regarding computers in general, and I felt this was the best place to go. Hey there, I'm a new member! :)
     
  2. madog macrumors 65816

    madog

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Korova Milkbar
    #2
    You need an ext. hd for many reasons. For one, every hard drive will die. It's not a matter of if but a matter of when. Serious backer uppers have multiple copies on multiple drives because there's always that possibility of a backup dying at the same time your main drive does.

    For the average user one backup is generally OK.

    As for performance, if you have at least a couple gigs left on your main boot drive then you shouldn't feel any slow down from basic use. However, regardless of how much space you have left you can get some slow down from an old and abused system. Usually bad preference files or corrupted system files or just a highly fragmented hard drive from years of use can cause this, and a good old format and system reinstall is the way to go. Of course, you'd want to do a fresh install in that circumstance and having a backup of your important stuff will make it easier.

    On the other hand, your machines hard drive might in fact be dying and causing the slowdown. When that happens a drive will either completely shut down and head crash, or if you're lucky it could just have some bad sectors and slowly putter out until it dies, which will give you hopefully enough time to backup.

    In either case, it's time to seriously consider an external hard drive for all very good reasons. If you have the means, then a 500gb drive these days can be easily purchased for less than $100. If not, then it's Christmas and you should ask someone close. If you use iPhoto a lot and have pictures of family on there, then that would be a great excuse to convince someone to purchase one for ya. "You can't get those memories back!" (there's always a way, however, that would cost $1000+ to pay a place like DriveSavers to recover data from a badly broken drive).

    Here is a nerd page describing a lot about drives and a little bit about what I was talking about. Useful read. giz-explains-everything-you-need-to-know-about-hard-drives. For example, the head reader on a drive "hovers" over the platter containing the data and a dust particle or hair can cause the arm to come in contact with the drive causing a head crash.
     
  3. bki122689 macrumors 6502

    bki122689

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    #3
    yeah i agree with above post

    also when you purchase a hard drive clone your computer hard drive once in a while. you can do this by downloading super duper
     
  4. foxesamu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    #4
    Thank you very much for the info. :) I was planning on going for a 500GB sometime this month, and I think you've sealed the deal for me. I don't think it's worth getting a new computer until next year.
     
  5. bki122689 macrumors 6502

    bki122689

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2008
    #5
    yeah especially when there is gonna be updates in january
     
  6. madog macrumors 65816

    madog

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2004
    Location:
    Korova Milkbar
    #6
    Otherwise, try downloading an app like Cocktail or Onyx that will delete log files, repair permissions, and delete system/caches amongst other things. Good and simple way to freely (forgot which one is free if either, but they both let you do everything with no limitations on time/use as far as I remember).

    Another util is DiskWarrior, but that can be expensive and ultimately reformatting your drive is much cheaper and better.

    At the very least, booting from the system disk and running Disk Utility to repair permissions/disk errors is a good start. If an error shows up that can't be fixed or if the drive is listed in red text, you might have a serious problem. That again would lead to a format/reinstall or otherwise a replacement drive. If that's the case then not using your machine until you can do a proper backup would be a good idea.

    Also, if you have the iMac WITHOUT the iSight camera, it is super easy to open up (2 or 3 screws at the bottom) and if you are so inclined or not completely clumsy could have the drive replaced through a google search if it does in fact come down to that. The white iMac with the iSight has some magical tabs in the vent that must be pushed in order to pop the case and that simple fact makes it exponentially more difficult to open (also, the camera wires are attached so you can't just take off the top completely without detatching them).


    p.s. sorry if I'm scaring you. Always best to assume the worse and take the precautions necessary. After working at a Mac repair store it always bummed me out a little with all the people who came in and ended up with a dead drive and try to rationalize it with, "it's been working fine", or "it worked fine before I brought it here", or "but i had a PC/Mac/other harddrive for 10 years that never had this problem", or "I thought Macs were supposed to be better", or some other ignorant comment in which they assumed they knew the slightest thing about computers and tried to make themselves feel better after losing 10 years of family photos or a school paper because they didn't backup. Phew.

    :)
     
  7. drichards macrumors 6502a

    drichards

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #7
    External HDDs are cheap and easy, you really can't go wrong. I like my WD MyBook, it sleeps when its not in use.
     

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