Extremely Slow iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by dede94, Jan 14, 2017.

  1. dede94 macrumors newbie


    Jan 14, 2017
    Hi everyone!

    Not sure if anyone else is experiencing the same issues I am having, but it's driving me nuts and I can't seem to fix it, so here I am pleading for help.

    My iMac (21.5" Late 2013, 8GB RAM, 2.7GHz i5, 1TB HDD, MacOS Sierra 10.12) has been going extremely slow. It has been happening gradually, about 4-5 months ago, it started locking up when trying to log off, consequently the same would happen when trying to shut down or restart. Switching users worked without a glitch. After that it was randomly getting slow, lately coming up to the point that typing is difficult.

    I managed to sort out the issue of it locking up when I reinstalled the OS, but since then the computer has been getting slower and slower.

    I have owned multiple macs and I've never had the issues I'm experiencing.

    What prompted me to ask here is that today I've been trying to type up an important document on Pages. Firstly it took a good minute or 2 to actually open pages, once it is opened, it took a good 30 seconds for me to be able to choose a new font. It then took another 45sec to simply recognise that I had clicked on the text body to start typing. Once I start typing 2-3 letters appear, and then I get the Beachball, it stays locked up for a good 30-60 seconds, and than the other letters start to slowly trickle in. This is very frustrating and it's making usage almost impossible.

    I've never had an issue with this, I mean I was using an Acer laptop prior to this mac, it was an absolute rubbish computer that cost me a 1/4 of what this mac costs, and as horrible as that was typing was never an issue.

    I really can't work out what the issue is, I try to keep the memory as clean as possible, by not keeping any more than 4-6 tabs open on safari, I've reverted to using safari as Chrome seems to eat up my RAM, I keep the bear minimum of apps running, literally the minimum to get my work done. Often it is 2 tabs os Safari, Preview, Pages and Finder. There isn't any music running, no Flash, and sometimes there is another user logged in, but even then, there isn't a lot of stuff open there either.

    Please help, I really don't know what else to do to fix this issue, and it is making me punch a hole through this mac.

    Thank you all in advance.
  2. andy9l macrumors 68000

    Aug 31, 2009
    England, UK
    That sounds suspiciously like a dying hard drive to me. Backup immediately if you haven't already done so.
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I agree, it may be the hard drive. Go into the Disk Utility Application (found in Applications-> Utilities) and it will give you the SMART status.

    Also make sure you have a current back up, just in case the drive is failing.
    Capto_Capture 2017-01-14_06-40-04_AM.png
  5. andy9l macrumors 68000

    Aug 31, 2009
    England, UK
    I would also mention that with regards to your manual management of RAM - you should stop doing that and relax. Use your iMac for what it was intended for. Let macOS handle it for you.

    I know it's easy to get dragged in to the whole 'I need 64GB RAM' but it's simply not the case. 8GB is more than enough for a huge population, myself included. I would consider myself a relatively heavy user, too.

    Run your apps as you would like to (not how you've trained yourself to). Look in Activity Monitor under 'Memory' tab and check the 'Memory pressure' graph at the bottom. If that's low/green, and the 'Swap used' isn't several GB in size, then you are absolutely fine with your current quantity of RAM. In the off chance that isn't the case, it may be time for you to consider a more powerful machine.

    Remember 'free RAM' is completely pointless. It's doing nothing for you. Like having a 5TB hard drive but having 100GB of data to store. It's overkill and providing no benefit.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get an external usb SSD and install a copy of the OS onto it.
    Set it up to become your "external booter".

    Things will run MUCH faster.
  7. dede94 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 14, 2017
    Thank you all for your input and apologies for the delayed response, I hadn't had a chance to sit down and type it up.

    The failing HDD theory sounds very plausible. I had run multiple tests on the HDD when it started giving me problems, I checked SMART status, it was fine, and I also ran the First Aid from Disk Utility, all returned as being fine. However in saying that, I never checked that again, and the problems have been increasing a lot since then.

    I will check tomorrow, as it is now very late in NZ, and keep you guys posted.

    As for backups, I normally have Time Machine running, I'll ensure that has been backing up properly, and I'll take a mirror of the whole drive as well just in case.

  8. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    Following this and other simular threads. I had an 2012 mac mini that was running quite fine until i moved it to Yosemite. It was exhibiting the same problems that you are seeing. Apple support told me that it should work and i wasted months going back and forth with them dealing with all layers of support. Eventually someone explained to me how to move back to Maverick and the computer starting working perfectly again.

    The solution to my problem was to crack open the unit (that is rather simple on a 2012 mini and added in an inexpensive 240gb SSD drive. I then reformatted the unit and it set itself up as a Fusion drive. I upgraded it to Yosemite and then to El Capitan and it has worked fine.

    I think if you look at the inner workings of Apple, they are in the business of selling new hardware. Everyone likes to push at Microsoft and how they are bloatware that force you into buying a new machine every 2-3 years. Well Apple have caught on and have made their latest OS require new hardware. The key part is the SSD drive to make it work. I have not moved to Sierra as El Cap seems to be working mostly. Well, on my iMac, Facetime camera fails to work every 2-3 days until i reboot. And a bunch of other crap but I don't think it was fixed in Sierra either. So I sit with what is mostly working now
  9. varian55zx macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2012
    San Francisco
    Your iMac has only a 1tb HDD, so yes it will operate extremely slow. This shouldn't come as a surprise to you.
  10. AL2TEACH macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2007
    Denver, CO.
    http://www.etrecheck.com/#about might help somewhat and pay attention to all things in red.
  11. nwellborn85 macrumors newbie


    Feb 10, 2018
    Sounds a lot like my late 2012 27" imac. If it keeps getting worse than it's most likely the hard drive failing. Like others have said, do a good backup before its too late.
  12. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    If they are platter drives they just can't keep up. And will just get slower as demands get higher. Apple tried to overcome this with the Fusion drive, but it was only a stop gap measure.

    Both Sierra and High Sierra are designed to run on SSDs. Follow the fisho's advice and run an external USB3 or TB SSD.
  13. nanosour macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2009
    Not sure I buy that a standard 1TB HDD is extremely slow. I'm still running a 2010 27" iMac with 4 GB of memory and it runs just fine with High Sierra. I typically have 6-7 apps up and running 24/7 and it doesn't bat an eye. I always have the following apps open.

    Safari (many tabs)
    Open Office
    iPhoto (with 28K photo/videos loaded)

    Obviously my memory is maxed out, particularly if iPhoto is open and there are many tabs in safari. But, by and large this machine just keeps pressing on like new.

    One possible cause of a slow down is if your HDD is pretty full. I make sure to only keep my HDD about a 1/3 of capacity as experience shows that this is a major slow down. Also, shut down Safari at least once a day as it, like all browsers, is a pretty good memory leaker.

    Hope you found what was causing your problem.
  14. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Accept it and move on nanosour.

    The day of the slow old platter drive is behind us. Go to an Apple Store or Reseller and sit and use a Flash Drive iMac but fasten your seat belt first. When you say memory is maxed out, do you actually mean the 32GB the machine can run?

    Also an SSD would make a huge difference to the iMac.
  15. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    @nanosaur - You also need to know that a 2013 21.5-inch iMac, standard hard drive will be a 2.5-inch, 5400 rpm platter, and NOT the 7200 rpm drive that would be minimum in a 27-inch iMac.
  16. MikeT2321 macrumors newbie


    Mar 30, 2018
    --- Post Merged, Mar 30, 2018 ---
    @dede94 - Did you ever figure this out? I have the same mac and I have the same exact issues. Its been slow since I bought it, I rarely use it bc I use my work computer but Ive had to use it recently and its unbearable. Hoping you found some resolution. Based on the lack of people on the internet with this same issue, im thinking I just got a lemon...Anyone else who can help please do!
  17. nambuccaheadsau, Mar 31, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018

    nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000


    Oct 19, 2007
    Nambucca Heads Australia
    Mike alas you purchased a slow computer with a slow 5400rpm notebook style hard drive. It is finding it harder and harder to keep up as the 'net gets faster and faster and graphics keep improving. Sadly all; the 21.5" models with the platter drive were lemons!

    Best way out is an SSD connected externally via USB3 and selected as the boot drive after your operating system has been cloned to it.
  18. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    You have been given "the solution" -- by me in reply 6 above and also by nambucca in reply 17 right above this one.

    THIS is "the answer".

    Whether you choose to accept it and try it is... up to you.

    If you do try, I promise that you will be rewarded for having done so.
  19. Wadsayed macrumors newbie


    Aug 3, 2018
    how do I do that , i have the same problem on the same computer
    thanks in advance
  20. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "how do I do that , i have the same problem on the same computer"


    1. Buy an external USB3 SSD -- the Samsung t5 would be a good choice. If you don't want to spend the money for a 1tb version, a 512gb version should do fine. Or even 256gb.

    2. Plug it into the Mac.

    3. Open Disk Utility

    4. Initialize (erase) the SSD to "Mac OS extended with journaling enabled" GUIO partition format.

    5. When DU is done, the drive should appear on the desktop.

    6. Download CarbonCopyCloner from here:
    CCC is FREE to download and use for 30 days.

    7. Launch CCC. Put your internal drive on the left. Put the SSD to the right.


    What you do next depends on HOW MUCH STUFF is on your internal drive. If you bought a 512gb t5 and have 750gb of stuff on the internal drive, it's not all going to fit -- of course.
    If you bought a 512gb SSD and you have maybe 470gb (or less) stuff on the drive, just "clone the whole thing".

    You will have to decide what to do here "on your own".

    But if I couldn't move it all over, I would recommend this:

    To the lower left of CCC's window, there is a choice:
    Clone -- all files (this is the default), or... "some files".

    Choose "some files".

    You are going to see a long list of choices.
    I would go into my home folder, and UNCHECK the following:
    - downloads
    - movies
    - music
    - pictures
    Leave EVERYTHING ELSE checked.

    These are the folders which tend to "grow in size" as the computer gets older.
    You will still be able to access them if you boot externally.

    Now, click "clone" (lower right) and let CCC "do its thing".
    It will take a while.
    When done, quit CCC.

    Now you're ready for a "test boot".

    1. Power the Mac down, ALL THE WAY OFF.
    2. Wait 5 seconds and press the power on button
    3. IMMEDIATELY hold down the option key and KEEP HOLDING IT DOWN until the startup manager appears
    4. Select the external SSD with the pointer and hit return.
    5. This is the moment of truth. Do you get "a good boot"?
    6. If so, GREAT.
    7. One more thing you need to do:
    7a. Open System preferences
    7b. Click the startup disk pref pane
    7c. Click the lock icon and enter your password
    7d. Click on the icon for the SSD to select it.
    7e. Close system prefs.
    Now the SSD is "set to be the boot drive".

    1. Power down again, ALL THE WAY OFF
    2. Wait 5 seconds, press the power on button again.
    3. Sit back and relax -- does the computer now boot automatically from the SSD?
    4. If it does, you're done. The SSD is now "your external boot drive".
  21. Wadsayed macrumors newbie


    Aug 3, 2018
    thanks ,
    does it matter if it is USB3 or Thunder plot
  22. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Get USB3.
    As fast as thunderbolt, and much cheaper.
    Prediction: do this, and you'll be very happy with the results.

Share This Page