Dreadfully slow 2015 iMac: Help requested

billchase2

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I own a late 2014 (fixed) Retina iMac in the following configuration: iMac 27; 3.5GHz Quad-Core i5; 5K Display; 1TB Fusion Drive; 8GB. I believe when I purchased it, I restored a backup from my previous iMac rather than starting fresh (so it's possible some previous errors transferred over). Over the years, it has gotten slower and slower. It's to the point now where I'm waiting on it (significantly) more than I'm actively using it. It's running the current Mojave release.

What really prompted me to notice this (and look for a solution) is that I recently decided to begin using Apple Photos (I'd previously been manually organizing my photos in folders since the late 1990's.) and have been importing 70,000+ photos and videos and uploading them all to iCloud. The computer has been on and working at this for months now, and I see no end in sight. It still has over 15,000 photos to upload (At least, that's what it's telling me. It's probably more.) and is averaging a few a day, literally.

While performing other tasks, it has been dreadfully slow as well. Ex: I can't use the built-in Archive Utility anymore to unzip files because I have to wait minutes for it to unzip even a 50 kb file. Most third party apps seem to run fine: it's primarily the OS and built-in apps/tools that are impossible to use.

The other day, I ran the First Aid tool within Disk Utility a few times as it was finding and correcting errors. I have not yet ran it within Safe Mode or Recovery Mode, but plan to do so tonight. The hard drive is getting rather full: roughly 50 GB free. This is partially because of the photo transfer I'm doing: it's copying each media file to the Photos Library. Once everything has transferred/uploaded (and I triple check it all), I'll archive the original photo folders on an external hard drive and delete them from the iMac.

What else can I do to try and speed up this computer? I know that I could reformat it and manually copy things back from my Time Machine backup, but I'd prefer not to do that at this time (as I may upgrade to a newer iMac the next time Apple refreshes the line and could it then instead). Are there other good scanning utilities I can use? Do you think it's primarily the low disk space? I have a MacBook Pro for work that I could potentially use to speed up the Photos uploads, if that's possible and could be part of the problem.

Any help/advice at all is appreciated! I'm about to pull all of my hair out... it's gotten so frustrating.
 
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MasConejos

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Jun 25, 2007
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You might open System Profiler, navigate to the hard drive section and check the HDD SMART status. I experienced something similar with my 2010 iMac last year and it was a failing hard drive. I replaced it with a new one (spinning, not solid state) restored from backup, and it's like a brand new mac all over again.
 

billchase2

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You might open System Profiler, navigate to the hard drive section and check the HDD SMART status. I experienced something similar with my 2010 iMac last year and it was a failing hard drive. I replaced it with a new one (spinning, not solid state) restored from backup, and it's like a brand new mac all over again.
Thanks for the tip, I'll try it tonight.

Keep the advice coming! I need as many different things to try as possible.
 

nambuccaheadsau

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Oct 19, 2007
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Sorry your error was purchasing the 1TB Fusion Drive model with a totally miserable 32GB Blade Drive. The Blade Drive is not even large enough to store the operating system and key applications on. Your easiest option maybe using an external caddy with a suitably large SSD connected via USB3 or Thunderbolt.

Your photos and videos use pretty intensive software. And 16GB would be the minimum memory. Fortunately memory is user upgradeable on 27" models.
 

billchase2

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Don’t bother with the system SMART status, it’ll only show an error when it’s well past a ridiculous failure threshold. Use SMART Utility instead: https://www.volitans-software.com/apps/smart-utility/

Can you screenshot the results of that please?
I'll run both tonight and will post my results. Thanks!
[doublepost=1551901283][/doublepost]
Sorry your error was purchasing the 1TB Fusion Drive model with a totally miserable 32GB Blade Drive. The Blade Drive is not even large enough to store the operating system and key applications on. Your easiest option maybe using an external caddy with a suitably large SSD connected via USB3 or Thunderbolt.

Your photos and videos use pretty intensive software. And 16GB would be the minimum memory. Fortunately memory is user upgradeable on 27" models.
I purchased it through the university where I work and that was the only model available at the time. I've totally learned from that experience and my next purchase will just be through the official Apple Education Store so I may customize it.

And I'd thought about adding more memory, but it seems to be a bigger problem than just that. It also doesn't seem to make much sense if I'm going to upgrade soon anyway. Next time: more RAM!
 

billchase2

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Feb 28, 2006
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You might open System Profiler, navigate to the hard drive section and check the HDD SMART status. I experienced something similar with my 2010 iMac last year and it was a failing hard drive. I replaced it with a new one (spinning, not solid state) restored from backup, and it's like a brand new mac all over again.
The SMART status says "verified."

Going to download and run SMART Utility now.
[doublepost=1551914097][/doublepost]
Don’t bother with the system SMART status, it’ll only show an error when it’s well past a ridiculous failure threshold. Use SMART Utility instead: https://www.volitans-software.com/apps/smart-utility/

Can you screenshot the results of that please?
It passed. Any other ideas?
 
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mikehalloran

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Oct 14, 2018
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...check for disk fragmentation with iDefrag, assuming you have HFS+ file system?
DO NOT EVER USE iDEFRAG ON AN SSD OR FUSION DRIVE

The good utilities will refuse to run on anything but an HDD. It's not necessary and the only thing it accomplishes is to put money in the developer's pocket. It has absolutely no other use.

Your easiest option
and least expensive is to replace the HDD part of the Fusion drive with an SSD.
https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Inch-Internal-MZ-76E1T0B-AM/dp/B078DPCY3T/ref=sr_1_1?crid=UVGNXPXU0YY1&keywords=860+evo&qid=1551935717&s=electronics&sprefix=860+evo,electronics,203&sr=1-1

plus either of these adapters
https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/ADPSAS2535B/

https://www.amazon.com/Fenlink-Inte...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=HGVRK5ZF2VH311Q38QZR

It's very easy with the right tools.
https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMACHDD12/

The best option is to install a 1T or 2T NVMe blade in place of that 32G.
This blade
https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-970-EVO-1TB-MZ-V7E1T0BW/dp/B07BN217QG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1OLL88JIN5TXR&keywords=970+evo+1tb&qid=1551935517&s=gateway&sprefix=970+evo,aps,208&sr=8-1

plus this adapter
https://www.amazon.com/Sintech-Adapter-Upgrade-2013-2015-MacBook/dp/B01CWWAENG/ref=bmx_13?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01CWWAENG&pd_rd_r=8ad53b19-4097-11e9-bae2-dd636a6268b1&pd_rd_w=jdZaO&pd_rd_wg=WUWF3&pf_rd_p=33750cd9-1585-4897-b3e3-d6ba72a2aa24&pf_rd_r=8666YXKC5R5T03231517&psc=1&refRID=8666YXKC5R5T03231517

If 1T or 2T is all you need, no point in replacing the HDD once you've removed it.

There are a number of videos that show how easy this is but I've not seen one that uses the roller tool included in the OWC kit (absolute time saver) and replaces the NVMe blade. If you watch a few, you'll see how it's done.
 
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MandiMac

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Feb 25, 2012
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A pretty dumb question: If you're checking your Activity Monitor in the Memory tab, is there any swap being used?
I had this occurence a few times on older models though - when MacOS uses your swap file, it gets next to unusable until you reboot the whole thing. Restarting takes a longer time too, because the Mac has to clear out the HDD cache of the swap file first. After the restart, everything is going fine.
 
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Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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It sounds to me like you've "filled up" the tiny SSD portion of the fusion drive.
What this means is that just about all the "drive-related" operations (reading, writing) are now "forced to" the HDD portion of the fusion drive.

Simply stated, that makes EVERYTHING "slower".

You -could- open up the iMac and replace the HDD with an SSD. But opening an iMac (for those unfamiliar or unskilled) can be a risky business, with the possibility of breaking something inside.

If you want a cheap, fast, easy and safe way to GREATLY speed things up, buy an external USB3 SSD, plug it in, and set it up to become the boot drive.
This is "child's play" -- remarkably easy to do.

Put the OS, apps, and "basic" accounts on the SSD.
Keep it "lean and clean" so it always runs at maximum speed.
Leave your "large libraries" (photos, movies, music) on the internal fusion drive.
They'll work fine that way.

Doing this will TRANSFORM the performance of the iMac.
 

billchase2

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Thanks for all of the responses! Only had a minute to read through them and check the Activity Monitor (below), but will report back on the other tips soon.
A pretty dumb question: If you're checking your Activity Monitor in the Memory tab, is there any swap being used?
I had this occurence a few times on older models though - when MacOS uses your swap file, it gets next to unusable until you reboot the whole thing. Restarting takes a longer time too, because the Mac has to clear out the HDD cache of the swap file first. After the restart, everything is going fine.
This is the "Compressed Mem" column, correct? If that's the case, yes, there's a bunch being used: Photos-412 MB, my web browser is on there a number of times, Google Backup-186 MB, Finder-85 MB, Dropbox-74 MB, and a bunch of others.
 

MandiMac

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Feb 25, 2012
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Thanks for all of the responses! Only had a minute to read through them and check the Activity Monitor (below), but will report back on the other tips soon.

This is the "Compressed Mem" column, correct? If that's the case, yes, there's a bunch being used: Photos-412 MB, my web browser is on there a number of times, Google Backup-186 MB, Finder-85 MB, Dropbox-74 MB, and a bunch of others.
Nope, not compressed, really „swap“ - I think it‘s the last entry of all?
 

JustMartin

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Feb 28, 2012
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The other thing to check when you're in Activity Monitor is CPU Load to see if there are any processes hogging the processor.
 

billchase2

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Nope, not compressed, really „swap“ - I think it‘s the last entry of all?
Ohh there it is at the bottom. It says Swap Used: 1.41 GB.

I assume adding more RAM would help with this since I only have 8 GB? Since I plan on upgrading later this year, I'd rather not put too much money into this so adding an SSD or even buying an external SSD to boot from seems a little excessive. Adding RAM though is easy and cheap, if it would help get me through these Photo uploads/processing and other performance issues until I upgrade.
 
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gcbarre

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Jan 15, 2014
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Mac Mini late 2012, i7, 16GB, 480 SDD + 1 original 1TB HD:


Since I started working with Mojave all looked fine, then I start working with Photos, with Aperture, with my DMG files and the computer becomes completely unusable slow.

I have reinstalled High Sierra in the 1 TB and everything works fine as before, I boot in High Sierra HD the most of the time.
 
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MandiMac

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Ohh there it is at the bottom. It says Swap Used: 1.41 GB.

I assume adding more RAM would help with this since I only have 8 GB? Since I plan on upgrading later this year, I'd rather not put too much money into this so adding an SSD or even buying an external SSD to boot from seems a little excessive. Adding RAM though is easy and cheap, if it would help get me through these Photo uploads/processing and other performance issues until I upgrade.
If your issues go away after a restart and come back gradually, then yes, adding RAM will help you.
If your issues are persistent even right after a restart, it won‘t be as much of a help.
 
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billchase2

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Mac Mini late 2012, i7, 16GB, 480 SDD + 1 original 1TB HD:


Since I started working with Mojave all looked fine, then I start working with Photos, with Aperture, with my DMG files and the computer becomes completely unusable slow.

I have reinstalled High Sierra in the 1 TB and everything works fine as before, I boot in High Sierra HD the most of the time.
Interesting. Hopefully a Mojave update will help speed things up and I won't have to resort to downgrading, but good info. Thanks!
[doublepost=1552235825][/doublepost]
If your issues go away after a restart and come back gradually, then yes, adding RAM will help you.
If your issues are persistent even right after a restart, it won‘t be as much of a help.
It definitely seems to run better after a restart and gets worse. Overall it's a little slow, but it does get worse. I ordered 16 GB of RAM to install and it'll arrive tomorrow. We'll see how much it helps!
[doublepost=1552236662][/doublepost]
If you're using swap, adding RAM will help some.
Which it is, rather quickly after restarting. We'll see how much it helps when I triple the RAM tomorrow! (Figured it would be a cheap, easy option to try.)
 
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billchase2

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RAM arrived early, so I installed it a little bit ago. Up to 24 GB from 8 GB. I've been using my computer for about 45 minutes so far. The memory used is currently at 11.47 GB, so it's already using the new RAM. Swap is at 0 because of this.

I fired up Photos to see if it'll be better about processing and uploading. It currently says I have 15,330 photos to upload (no idea if this is correct), so I'll see where it's at in the AM. Previously, I was averaging anywhere from 0 uploads to about 75 overnight (which seems insanely slow since my current download measured speed is 178 Mbps and upload speed is 13 Mbps).

——————————

Update from 43 minutes after my original reply: My photo uploads are already down to 15,043 and my computer is still running super well! The RAM may have just done the trick... Will update again tomorrow!
 
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billchase2

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Ha, well last night didn't quite go as planned. We had high winds and the power flickered a few times overnight, so I had to shut off my computer from about 3am to 7am. However, the uploads are currently down to 12,684 so even in that small amount of time, it uploaded more than it had in the past month+! Can't wait to see where it is when I return from work tonight.
 
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MandiMac

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Ha, well last night didn't quite go as planned. We had high winds and the power flickered a few times overnight, so I had to shut off my computer from about 3am to 7am. However, the uploads are currently down to 12,684 so even in that small amount of time, it uploaded more than it had in the past month+! Can't wait to see where it is when I return from work tonight.
That‘s how a Mac should work. Congratulations on successfully having a working Mac again!*

*If there isn‘t anything else, that is. ;)
 

billchase2

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That‘s how a Mac should work. Congratulations on successfully having a working Mac again!*

*If there isn‘t anything else, that is. ;)
Thanks! I feel rather silly that it may have just been the amount RAM. Back when I purchased it, 8 GB was a pretty good amount so I hadn’t really thought about that being the problem. that this takes care of it!

If it does, my next issue to tackle is Time Machine being stuck at the “preparing” screen, as it hasn’t properly ran since the end of February...