iMac dead HDD - Run off USB instead?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by stewart1988, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. stewart1988 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    #1
    I have an old iMac 5.1.

    The hard drive is now dead and after looking on YouTube on how to replace the hard drive I'm having second thoughts about doing it myself...

    I know I can boot off a USB hard drive with a Mac OS install on it but I was wondering if this would be a suitable for just every day use (Word, email, internet, itunes)

    What sort of decrease in speed could I be looking at by running my whole OS off a 2.5" usb hard drive?
    I'm currently backing up some stuff and going to install later, but wondered if anyone has done this and had good results?

    Thanks
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #2
    USB will limit you to 35MB/s at maximum, more like 25MB/s as average.
    But it will suffice your needs, but if you have a FW800 HDD (enclosure) you might be better of with that (65-75 MB/s).

    Also know, that if you have lots of documents and applications open and you run out of RAM, your Mac will swap some content from the RAM to the system HDD.
     
  3. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2011
    #3
    Swap as in replace/overwrite the document? Or use a temp folder and then decrease the write/read speed even more?
     
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
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    located
    #4
    Swapping RAM means, if you have for example 2GB of RAM and it is filled with open documents and applications, and you open another document or application and the RAM is too full to hold that document or application, some pieces of the RAM's contents will be copied onto the HDD into one or several swap files and then be erased from the RAM (which is only a temporary location to store files in anyway, to have faster access), so the new document or application can be copied into the RAM.
    No actual data will be deleted in this process from your files and they will stay the same as if they were in the RAM.

    http://searchwinit.techtarget.com/definition/swap-file

    What is Computer Memory? RAM vs Hard Drive

    The swapping will temporarily decrease the responsiveness of the system, a lot more when using an external USB 2.0 interface for the system drive.
     
  5. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #5
    I ran an imac off of a 250mb zip drive about 10 years ago when the hdd went, so slow and killed the zip disk after a month, but did the trick until i could get it repaired. USB should be far less painless than that.
     
  6. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2011
    #6
    Cheers guys :)

    Running off a USB shouldn't put the disk under any more stress and should be fine then...

    Not sure when I'm going to get the HDD sorted. Might have to see how much Apple charge or find someone local to fix.
     
  7. PurrBall macrumors 6502a

    PurrBall

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    Oct 25, 2007
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #7
    It will take longer to start up and applications will launch slower, but other than that it shouldn't be a problem for what you're doing.
     
  8. danny_w macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #8
    My HDD dies in my iMac 7,1 (original aluminum 24") a while back and I tried to hobble along using an external FW400 drive (faster than USB would be) but got tired of the long startup and incessant grinding of the disk. I finally bit the bullet, opened up the machine, and changed the drive myself. Not as hard as I thought.
     
  9. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

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    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #9
  10. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2011
    #10
    Cheers for that! Mine is a bit harder than the newer alu iMacs (Mine older white plastic and on mine you have to remove the EMI shield and tape inside whole thing)

    Just setup on an old 60GB and everything is nice... Boot up can be a bit slow but other than that I can't notice much slow down. Its not constantly spinning either and its really quiet. This will do till I get around to attempting the teardown! :)
     
  11. jasontrucks76 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2009
    #11
    I have been running a Mini this way for almost two years now. For the kids it seems to do the trick... I do hear "DAD.. this thing is soooo slow" from time to time but they seem to get over it.

    The main thing I do see running slow is some of the little kiddie sites my daughter goes to with heavy page loads. Pixy something or other.

    I can tell you this would not be an option for me to use daily... I am however a little spoiled with my current running systems.

    Take care!

    JT
     
  12. chris98vf macrumors regular

    chris98vf

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    #12
    a cheap Firewire 800 drive would be your best shot. It's not ESATA but it's pretty fast. You can find them on newegg.com for around $100-150 or so.
     
  13. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    #13
    Cheers! :apple:

    Finally got around to replacing the HDD and it wasn't that bad.. Just ripped a bit of the EMI shield at the bottom but just stuck it back together, should be fine...
     
  14. danny_w macrumors 601

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    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #14
    Unfortunately when I did mine I forgot and left the mic cable unplugged, and now I have been dragging my feet about opening it back up to fix the mic.
     
  15. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2011
    #15
    Did the same thing :D
     
  16. danny_w macrumors 601

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    Austin, TX
  17. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2011
    #17
    Now just wondering about getting the SuperDrive fixed. It just spits out any DVD I put in it. Audio/CDs are fine.
     
  18. danny_w macrumors 601

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    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #18
    I have never had much luck with Apple's SuperDrives, they all seem to do this after a while and the one in my iMac at work has never worked right from the beginning. I have an external burner that works faster and far better than the SuperDrive ever did.
     
  19. stewart1988 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    #19
    Yer might be easier and cheaper to just get an external dvd drive.

    Not used this iMac for some time (About a year) and don't see myself using the drive much anyway. Can just use my MBP to make an img of the disk if I really need too.
     

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