External SSD Boot Drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Whiskeynap, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. Whiskeynap macrumors newbie


    Oct 22, 2016
    I'm currently using a late 2013 imac that is running like garbage.
    Its a 21" 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5 with 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, and its running El Capitan.

    From the moment it boots, its slow. Excruciatingly slow. its using nearly 90% of the physical memory just on running finder.

    I've tried every cleaning solution i could find, but nothing solved the problem.
    I'm exploring the option of adding an external SSD and booting from that.
    Does anyone know if this is possible?

    To my understanding, this would provide greater improvements over upgrading the ram.

    Can anyone help me out with some insight/solutions
  2. Floris macrumors 68020


    Sep 7, 2007
    I am about to buy a 2016 iMac once they come out. And I am scared to read stuff like this. That a product from last year that's performing like my 2009 iMac ... could be my 2016 imac in a year from now..

    Makes me really reconsider to invest this money .. maybe i should get a cheap macbook pro 15" for 1750 euro, and then in 2 years just get another one.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 22, 2016 ---
    The SSD is fast, the USB connection to it is not. Even on USB3 it's not maxing out the ssd performance.
    Putting SSD inside, replacing the existing hard drive, is a massive improvement yes.
  3. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    I assume you have a hard drive. Slowness could be a symptom of a failing or nearly full hard drive. The RAM comment is irrelevant. You can certainly boot from an external SSD if you want to. I have a 2008 iMac that's booted from an external FireWire SSD--it's so much faster than the internal hard drive.
  4. drummer5645 macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2014
    $127 a 250g samsung ssd ext bootable. 2013 21.5, before 80-90 write, 105 read, after SSD 355 write, read 430. Turn on to password, around 45 sec
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Whiskey asked:
    "I'm exploring the option of adding an external SSD and booting from that.
    Does anyone know if this is possible?"

    OF COURSE it's possible.

    It's not only "possible", it's very easy to do.
    You won't understand just HOW easy it is, until after you've done it.
    And you won't believe how much faster the iMac will be until after you've done it.

    It can also be downright "cheap", considering other alternatives.

    The fastest, easiest, cheapest way is to buy something like this:

    The 240gb size is probably "all you need".
    If you wish, pay a little more for the 480gb version, but you may not really need it.
    (TIP: if you don't like the SSD on the desk, you may be able to velcro the Sandisk SSD to the back of the iMac, or to its stand.)

    Then, you'll need to do this:
    1. Plug it into the iMac
    2. Initialize the SSD using Disk Utility
    3. Install a "fresh copy" of El Capitan onto it.
    4. Get the external set up with apps, accounts, and SOME of your data (not ALL of it)

    You didn't tell us how much space was used on your current internal HDD.

    That would cue us into whether all of "what you have" will fit onto the SSD, or only some of it.

    The SSD should have:
    - The OS, of course
    - Your apps
    - Your accounts (home folders), but you may have to leave some things out (see below)
    - Possibly some data files

    IF you have large libraries of pictures, music, and movies, it's best to leave them on the internal HDD. It's pretty easy to tell apps like iTunes, Photos, etc. to "look at" the internal drive for the library instead of looking on the SSD.
    This won't affect the overall speed of the SSD.

    When you use "an external booter" like this, be aware that after booting you will now see TWO drive icons on the desktop -- one is the boot SSD, the other is your internal drive.
    Give them distinct names and you'll have no trouble choosing between them.

    Personal experience:
    I've been booting and running my 2012 Mac Mini from an externally-mounted SSD for almost FOUR YEARS now (since the day I unboxed it). It runs today as fast as it did the day that I first set it up. No problems at all.

    Again, putting together an external booter is easy.
    The most challenging part is deciding what you will install on the SSD, vs what you have to leave behind on the old internal HDD.
  6. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    Slowness can be a symptom of a brand new hard drive!

    SSD is the only way to go. Much faster than even fusion.

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