escape upgrade-itis?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Q.q.qlp, May 6, 2015.

  1. Q.q.qlp macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2015

    I'm a casual computer user with an intel imac 6,1 (2009 ish?). When I bought it it was super fast and easily powerful enough for my basic needs. Now it is super slow and beach balls the whole time. It is running lion I think which is the latest os it supports.

    Is there a way I can return it to its old whizzy self?

    In the longer term what is the best way to opt out of this ridiculous situation where the os is upgraded every 6 months with more bells and whistles that I don't care about, need or even scratch the surface of? I mean even professionals must be annoyed that they have to try to keep up with all the changes right? I'm sure some of them are useful enhancements but I'd bet the majority are not.

    For myself I never even scratched the surface of what my old power pc g4 powerbook was capable of on os tiger let alone anything since. And now I beach ball even trying to surf the Internet or open word.

    Personally I smell a rat. Constant pseudo-upgrades for upgrades sake which offer no functional benefit. Memory hogging flashy effects so things look "cool" but with no actual benefit other than for Apple as you have to spend another £1500 or so on a new computer because the "old" one is now grinding to a halt.

    So what is the alternative? Can I have a fast stable powerful os which lets me just enjoy my computer? This was why I bought my 2 macs in the first place but the companies priorities have changed now. They used to be thoroughbreds, now they are all bells and whistles. Sick of it and want out. Any advice gratefully received! Thanks!
  2. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    An SSD upgrade is probably the best thing you can do to speed up an older Mac.
  3. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    If it's a 2009 then you can install Yosemite, I have Yosemite on my 2007 iMac downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store.

    The single largest upgrade to return that quick response time is to install an SSD. This will make it dramatically quicker.
    I installed an Intel X-25M 80GB SSD in my 2009 iMac back in 2009 and even with the computer being practically brand new it was so much quicker at every task I threw at it. It is still going strong today as a workstation in one of my clinics.

    If I were to install an SSD today for myself I'd most likely choose a Samsung 850 Pro (1st choice) 850EVO 2nd choice.
  4. Samuelsan2001, May 7, 2015
    Last edited: May 7, 2015

    Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Your gard drive is probably dying

    At 6 years old it is at the end of it's life. Replace it, preferably with an SSD but another HDD or hybrid SHDD will probably help.

    I am of course assuming you have done all the usual trouble shooting things like a Repair Disk and Disk permissions in disk utility or an SMC and PRAM reset.

    You can also run hardware diagnostic software to determine if your HDD is on the way out.

    although apples will often miss issues
  5. Q.q.qlp thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2015
    Thanks for the tip, I'll look into this. Our ram is capped at 3gb though so this is another issue. My main interest is getting off the merry-go-round of enforced obsolescence though. I was trying to point out that my 10 yr old laptop (let alone my 7yr old imac) would far exceed today's needs if it was allowed to function as it should and I suspect that they are artificially crippled somehow by the os either intentionally or for the sake of gimmickry bloating the system. They were both cutting edge and blisteringly fast not long ago. They should still be now. Would an older os help? Or Linux? Or something else? Thanks again!
  6. PBMB macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2015
    As the others suggested you have a number of options here. But if you don't want to do anything along these lines, and keep the machine as it is now, I think that your only option is to do a clean install of the original OS X version that was in the machine the time you bought it. This alone is going to make a big difference. Here is how I discovered this, through a disaster.

    I have an old Macbook, the plastic black one from the end of 2007. It runs OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). I noticed since 2-3 years ago, that it became really sluggish, especially with internet. I thought it was normal because today's web pages are much more heavy than what they were back at that time. But it was very slow under other kinds of usage also, where it usually managed well the load. I decided recently to put the machine under some tests with Techtool. In particular, I wanted to see at which point the hard drive is fragmented, since this Macbook was heavily used and had sometimes its hard drive almost full. Techtool revealed a high degree of fragmentation, so running the defragmentation tool was recommended. Of course I took all precautions (backups, e-drive to run the utilities on the start-up disk) and I launched the defragmentation process. When it finished, after many hours, it proposed to replace the directory file (or something like that) with the optimized one. I said yes, go on, and then it reported back that there was some problem preventing the replacement. There was nothing more to do at that point than restarting the machine. And then, ouch! Impossible to restart. Kernel panics and lockups in the start up sequence.

    This is how I came to the re-installation of the OS from scratch. And then, after restoring my files and applications, I noticed how much faster this old machine became again. Like it was in the beginning.

    So, yes, after many years of heavy usage, a Mac can become very slow due to fragmentation, especially when you manipulate big files ( > 20 MB, the smaller ones are automatically defragmented) under asphyxia conditions. You have to think about it, if you used your iMac in the same way. If yes, then maybe it is time to re-install OS X. It will give it a new breath. And then, you may consider updating to the newest supported version of OS X (most likely Yosemite).
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    This is a fallacy

    Technology gets better, the software gets better and far more complex to make the best use of it. Even just surfing the web requires a fair amount of processing power and RAM these days what with constant video ads interactive websites high definition video etc etc etc.

    People now expect to be able to have 20-30 tabs open, handoff and automatic updates to connected devices, endless processes running in the background, all while watching a video running on a second screen and this from a thin light laptop......

    Unfortunately if you want to be able to do all of this stuff (which is vastly different in terms of abilities of PC's even 5 years ago) then you need new hardware simple as that, think of it as an evolutionary arms race where as the hardware gets better the software makes more use of it. For example the current talk about lightroom 6 suggests a fantastic optimisation for retina displays and better CPU's.

    Your ten year old and even 7 year old hardware would be useless with huge RAW files, 4K video any newish games and even not great with modern day web surfing. The connection speeds are very slow on wifi, bluetoothy USB in comparisson to todays standards. And what with huge video files and photo files even hi def music files taking up so much bandwidth (wired or not) those speeds are needed.

    Unforunately for you computer use is constantly eveolving and the hardware to use it is doing so too. until that stops then you either have to play the game or go back to pen and paper.

    Also electronics fail that is also the nature of the beast as well. At seven and ten years old either one of those computers is an imminent failure waiting to happen.....
  8. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    You are stuck with two parts to the equation.

    If all you were looking to do was turn on your computer and run a local app that does something.. for your example, write in Word. Then the best steps you can take is to backup all your data off the mac. Reformat it and restore to the original configuration and software.

    You must realize that over time that unavoidable garbage accumulates inside your computers hard disk. The drive becomes less optimized as files get written all over the surface and so it becomes slow. Format and re-install and it will increase in speed.

    But that is only half the issue. Patches upon patches get installed. These are there to fix bugs and issues that are found as nothing is written perfect. If you are willing to live with the bugs, then don't install the patches as that will in some cases fix the slow down. But in other cases, the patches are needed and not having them will make things worse. You will never know.

    But if you want to surf on the internet, then you are at a disadvantage. The web browsers of 2009 are totally different than the web browsers of today. HTML has changed. We now have CSS style sheets and fancy graphics that were not possible 6 years ago. Those new apps require new OS functions and so the planned obsoleteness begins.

    You also need to look at the health of your computer components. There are lots of wear parts inside the computer, and some you would not think about. The obvious ones are your hard drive, monitor =, keyboard and mouse. But think down to the printed circuit board. They have laid down ultra thin pathways for the signals to travel down. They over time get worn where the molecular composition changes and will start to fail. Solder joints dry out and contact is not as good. you memory chips do wear out. The CPU and GPU gets caked with dust and debis so they run hotter. The power supply might not be giving as perfect a voltage to everything.

    Some times you just have to give in and buy a new computer.
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    I couldn't agree more...

    Great post
  10. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    Regardless of what's been said on this thread, an SSD upgrade should speed it up nicely and make it an ok machine for web browsing and office tasks. Mavericks/Yosemite are a bit sluggish on HDDs, and in addition they do slow down over time, so this is most likely what is causing the recent slowness.
  11. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    The 3GB cap on RAM will make a difference. While Apple requires at least 2GB to run Yosemite, I would suggest 4 as the bare minimum, and 8 is preferable I think for even a basic machine these days (for some future proofing). Yes, and SSD will make a significant difference, but that amount of RAM is kind of hamstringing your experience.
  12. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I would say that 4gb won't cut it with Yosemite. I have tried it with a mac mini with just 4gb and it had more issues than was worth it. Mavericks however worked fine with that amount of memory.

    Sadly with some things, just because it is newer, does not mean the OS is better. I really prefer Mavericks over Yosemite, but my iMac 5K doesn't work as well with the older OS.. so I have no choice. But my 2012 mac mini likes Mavericks far better.
  13. Q.q.qlp thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 5, 2015
    Thanks to all for these knowledgeable and informative posts. I've now got a few things to try. SSD sounds cool! But first I may try a clean install and see if that helps.

    I really have been impressed by the quality and helpfulness of these replies! Thanks again all!
  14. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    SSD also compensates in many ways for a lack of memory. Swapping out to "disk" is so much faster that you can get away with less memory. Swapping out when you're using a hard drive is awfully slow.

    Yosemite makes better use of memory than earlier versions too. I'd recommend going for an SSD upgrade and a clean install of Yosemite and see how you go. There are a few things like transparencies that you can turn off to let your older graphics chip have an easier time.

    It was five years ago that hard drives stopped being a sensible option within a computer. Nowadays they have no place other than in external backup and RAID storage.
  15. sukidabe macrumors newbie

    Aug 19, 2011
    iMac 6.1 = late 2006 24". You may want to rethink what to do.
  16. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    That is true, I had realized it's actually a late 2006 after my last post in this thread. At this point it might be time to look into a newer iMac.

    The OP probably isn't running Yosemite on it either, unless they followed a guide which explains how to install Yosemite on unsupported 32-bit EFI Macs.
  17. Melodeath macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2009

    For future reference, you do not HAVE to upgrade your OS every time Apple introduces a new one. I am still using 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, for example. Maybe that would solve your issue in the future, since you suspect the updates cripple your older systems and you don't care about the new bells and whistles of the latest OSes.

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