How to speed up an iMac mid 2010 that's running very slow?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by tcapanema, May 5, 2019.

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  1. tcapanema, May 5, 2019
    Last edited: May 5, 2019

    tcapanema macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    Brazil
    #1
    Hi all!

    I have an iMac Mid 2010 that I bought around 2012. It was running very well until last year, I guess. I only did a RAM upgrade on this machine (it has 14GB of RAM). I wasn't using this computer for a while (8 months or so) and now I got a job that I need to do on this machine. It was stable and running smoothly as I recall last year or two years ago. I recorded / produced some music on this machine with Logic Pro X without having performance problems. I was able to open more than 40 tabs on Chrome without slowing down the system as well. But now, I don't know what happened, it became very sluggish. There's delay / lag while performing simple tasks like scrolling down a long page on Chrome and it's almost impossible to use it for multitasking. Well, it's not even possible to use it only to browse the web (I tried to use Google Chrome with 12 tabs opened and things went south). I'm so sad because last week I told a friend that my 2010 iMac was flying and that this would be impossible in an old PC running Windows. :(

    The HD was almost full, it only had 10 GB free so I got an external hard drive and moved some stuff to free up space. Now it has 250 GB free. I thought that freeing up space could solve the problem, but the performance actually got worse. I did two scans with CleanMyMac and now I repaired disk permissions with DiskUtility. And I don't know what else to do. I'm thinking about doing a fresh install. So here are my questions:

    — As for possible causes of loss of performance, anyone has any guess? Should I try to find out possible causes before doing a fresh install? Should I run a speed test to check where's the trouble (HD, CPU, RAM)?

    — Is there such a thing as "the best" or "most stable" OS for an iMac?
    I'd love to know that before doing a fresh install. I'm running Yosemite (10.10.5). As I said above, this OS was running smoothly for some years. I don't know if it's "healthy" (performance-wise) to run an old OS with updated software on it. I felt that after updating Chrome to the last version things got really bad (I've updated some other softwares to their last versions as well). Does this makes any sense? Does it makes sense to use an old OS with older software (maybe they're optimized or run better with an old OS, I don't know?)​

    I don't have any money to upgrade to a new machine or even to upgrade stuff on this machine (I was thinking about putting a SSD on it but I would had to send this computer to a professional to do that and that would be very costly).

    Well, I think that's it. If you have any suggestions or if you've been through this please reply!
    Thanks everyone in advance!

    TL;DR: My iMac 2010 was a fast and reliable computer until recently. I would like to know if I should do a fresh install and which OS version runs better with this iMac model (21.5-inch, Mid 2010 / 3,2 GHz Intel Core i3 / 14 GB RAM)
     
  2. chabig, May 5, 2019
    Last edited: May 6, 2019

    chabig macrumors 603

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    #2
    Chances are your hard drive is failing. The easy solution is to clone your system to and run it entirely off of an external drive (stop using the internal drive entirely). The harder solution is to replace the internal drive.

    Also, I’d run the latest OS compatible with your machine, probably High Sierra.
     
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

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  4. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 68000

    nambuccaheadsau

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    #4
  5. tcapanema, May 5, 2019
    Last edited: May 6, 2019

    tcapanema thread starter macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    #5
    Thanks for your input, @chabig! I just read a post on Apple forum teaching how to do that (clone your system and run it entirely off of an external drive). Is it possible to diagnose if I have a failing HD? After I cleaned up some space on this drive I thought about doing a defrag and I learned that this is not neccesary on a Mac.
     
  6. tcapanema thread starter macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    #6
  7. tcapanema, May 5, 2019
    Last edited: May 6, 2019

    tcapanema thread starter macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    #7
  8. aman88 macrumors member

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    Mar 21, 2019
    #8
    I actually have a 2010 21.5 inch iMac... I just bought a brand new 27 inch one, but plan on trying to see if I can fix the old one. I am pretty confident the issue is the harddrive as it takes forever to boot, crashes when you try to wake it from sleep or restart it, and has issues loading documents sometimes. I intend to buy a harddrive replacement kit off Amazon for ~ $100... this is not an SSD upgrade, but will replace it with a regular harddrive. 9 years is old, even for a Mac.

    I do not know when I will get to this, as I plan to buy more RAM for the new one before attempting to repair the old one. However, there is a youtube video on how to do it... Obviously you have to back up everything as a harddrive swap will delete all data.

    Either way I am opening the old one to take out the old harddrive to destroy it... if I cannot fix it then I will just take it to electronics recycling.
     
  9. tcapanema thread starter macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    #9
    I ran the long test before going to sleep. The status is "Completed without error", which means that the HD is fine.
     
  10. tcapanema thread starter macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    #10
    Hi, @aman88! Thanks for your reply. I'm sorry to hear that you're having HD problems with your old iMac. It seems that my HD is fine though. I just ran a long test with a SMART Utility last night and it completed the test without errors. Have you tried to run this test / software in your Mac just to make sure that your HD is corrupted? I hope that you are able to backup your disc / data at least. Do you have much stuff in it? How much free space it has? As I said in my first post, I've used almost all of mine 1 TB of data. I noticed that the system began to slow down after that so I'm trying to move some stuff to an external HD. My iTunes library is kinda big (161 GB).

    I'm happy that you were able to update to a new iMac though. That's my dream. But a new iMac in my country costs almost the price of a car :eek: so I need to deal / fix this old machine.
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

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    #11
    The internal drive is a platter-based hard drive.

    Over the course of time, these can become SEVERELY fragmented -- not just by "pieces of files" here and there, but ALSO by "fragments of free space BETWEEN the files".

    This is going to definitely be a problem if you use apps that record audio like Logic. Audio recording really needs large blocks of "contiguous" free space in which to write files. If the drive is fragmented, the heads of the drive will have to go "back and forth" looking for free space in which to write.

    You can see this by "looking at the drive" using an application that defrags drives.

    There are two ways to clean this up:
    1. Get a second hard drive that you can boot from. Put a defragging utility on that drive, and boot from it. Then, "point" the defragging utility at your internal drive, and let it "do the job". It will take some time.

    2. The other way also requires a second drive, but works differently. Get a second drive, and download either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper. Both are FREE to download and use for 30 days, so it won't cost you any money. Then, use CCC or SD to create a bootable clone of your internal drive to an EXTERNAL drive. Then, boot from the external drive. Open Disk Utility and ERASE the internal drive to Mac OS extended with journaling enabled. Then, quit Disk Utility, re-open CCC (or SD), and "re-clone" the contents of the cloned backup BACK TO the internal drive.

    When you do the second method, the contents of the cloned backup with get copied "contiguously" to the internal drive, which should get rid of the fragmentation.

    Really, there's something else you should be thinking.
    After almost 10 years, it may be time for a new iMac...
     
  12. ronharp macrumors newbie

    ronharp

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    #12
    Best solution IMNSHO. My 27" mid 2010 HD died. I replaced it with a hybrid HD.(small ssd = reg HD combo). I had used these over the years on my windows PCs with success. However, it just did not seem to be as fast as I would like. SO after some time on macrumors I ended up with a 512 external drive with an adapter for the USB. Startup is about the same as the internal HD but is much faster than that once running. I ran CCC to get the system on the SSD. I run CCC a couple of times a week back to the internal HD. I like Fisherrman idea of CCC to your SSD and then CCC back to the internal drive for the defrag. I do run the latest High Sierra.
     
  13. tcapanema thread starter macrumors newbie

    tcapanema

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    #13
    Hi, @Fishrrman! Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my thread. I really appreciated your answer and it brings some new light into my problem. I was not considering drive fragmentation after reading an article called "How to defrag a Mac (and why you don't need to)".

    Which one of those methods to defrag a drive would you prefer?

    There's a post on Apple forum called "How to safely defrag a Mac's hard drive", it's kinda old (from 2013) but I think it goes through step by step on how to defrag a HD using your recommended second method (using a second hard drive to make a clone / backup). Am I right or your method is different from this one?

    I live in Brazil and the entry level new iMac costs $2,477.00 USD here (it's more than double from the US price because of our import duties). The dollar price skyrocketed in the last two years and 1 BRL now is equal to 0,25 USD. Even old / used iMacs here are absurdly expensive. People are selling old iMacs from 2017 (21.5", 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM) for $1,515 USD. A new one costs $999 on US. :confused:

    I'm currently unemployed so, unfortunately, this is not an option for me.
    --- Post Merged, May 6, 2019 ---
    Hi, @ronharp! Thanks for jumping in.

    So you're running just the OS from an external SSD drive and that did the trick for you?

    A KingDian P10 (240 GB) costs $100 USD here, which is not much expensive — I could afford that and I'll certainly consider this option. I'll try to defrag my drive first and see the results.

    Now I'm my doubt if I should make a fresh install with High Sierra (the latest OS compatible with my machine) or if I should try the defrag CCC method first.
     
  14. ronharp macrumors newbie

    ronharp

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    #14
     

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