Late 09 Mac Mini questions

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Jessica08, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. Jessica08 macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #1
    I have a late 2009 Mac Mini that has been very slow the last few months. I was told I need to upgrade the RAM and also needed to clear space on my startup disc. I only have 5GB left.

    1. Can I upgrade the RAM to 8GB? I was told unofficially that it will support 8GB, but offically only 4GB. I don't want to encounter any problems with it if it cannot handle that much.

    2. How do I clear my startup disc? I know I have lots of pictures, music, and some videos. I have deleted a lot of music from iTunes, but I still have a lot of pictures.

    3. Would it be best to save all my pictures to an external hard drive then delete them from the computer or could I save my pictures to a USB drive and the external hard drive just for security? I am afraid that if I delete them from my computer that it will delete them from the external hard drive the next time I save data. I've never used an external hard drive so I'm not sure this is a valid concern.
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #2
    It supports 8GB. Mine has that. An external USB drive is an excellent idea and plenty fast for pictures. You should also get another external drive for backup purposes. If you delete the pictures from your main drive, the external will not be affected.
     
  3. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #3
    What brands of the memory upgrade and external hard drive do you all recommend?
     
  4. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #4
    Just about any RAM with the correct specs will work. If you want to be sure, go to the OWC website: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/memory/Apple_Mac_mini/DDR3

    Most externals are OK. They all will fail at some point. I wouldn't go for more than 1TB on USB as they can be slow to backup an entire disk.

    If you are going to crack the mini open for a RAM upgrade you might as well pop in an SSD to replace the HD. Plenty of youtube videos on how to do it.
     
  5. aajeevlin, Nov 2, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015

    aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Make sure to pick right SSD, due to some issue with the hardware, if you get the wrong SSD it will only run at 1.5 vs. the 3.0 that you are suppose to get. Search on the thread, I believe there were a few post about it. It is a known problem for the 2009 ones.
     
  6. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #6
    [​IMG]

    Also, could you tell me why it has started doing this upon startup, please?
     
  7. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #7
    That's the normal boot screen. Is it stuck there for a long time? It could be because your HD is full or its dying. 6 years is actually a very long time for a hard drive.
     
  8. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #8
    How come it didn't do that when I first got it? Maybe because I upgraded software? It would always go directly to my home screen. It just started doing this the last few months as well. It doesn't stay stuck like that. It takes a couple minutes for it to load though.

    I am thinking I will just upgrade to the SSD while I'm having the memory upgraded like you mentioned.
     
  9. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #9
    Its the standard boot screen for El Capitan (OSX 10.11) which came out in September. El Cap is a little slower to boot than previous version of OSX but runs better on our mini's for various technical reasons. Good idea about the SSD, it is really the biggest single speed up you can do.
     
  10. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #10
    An SSD will transform the responsiveness of the system. The 120Gb HDD in my Mac mini developed a fault last year. It's now running a 240GB Sandisk SSD Plus as they were on offer recently. I'd also recommend the Crucial BX100.
     
  11. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #11
    I see someone mentioned to make sure it runs on the 3.0 instead of 1.5. I'm not sure what that means and what to look for when purchasing an SSD?
     
  12. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #12
    It's the speed of the SATA link to the hard drive or SSD. Some new SSD models have issues with backwards compatibility on older machines. The two I listed, don't.
     
  13. aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Really the Crucial BX100 works well with 2009 model by running at 3.0? That's good to know, at the time of my purchase I believe only the M500 was said to be safe from this issue. I wonder if I should upgrade again, probably doesn't matter much anyways. I think by now
     
  14. Micky Do, Nov 2, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

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    #14
    With just 5 GB free on your HDD, I would suggest that the problem lies there. It is time to free up some space or install an new, larger HDD.

    I have an early 2009 Mini with 5 GB of RAM (1 GB original plus 4 GB) and the original 120 GB HDD, and Mountain Lion installed, still running adequately fast for my needs. It became very sluggish on Snow Leopard before I installed the extra RAM and Mountain Lion about three years ago.

    Earlier this year, as the HDD started to get quite full it started to slow a little, so I looked at getting a bigger HDD, or even going for a SSD. At the shop they advised me to simply get an external drive, for files I want to archive, but seldom use; mainly photos of sports events. A 500 GB external HDD has proved a simple but effective solution.

    No, you don't lose files from the external HDD when you delete or alter them on the on-board HDD. Once they are on the external HDD they remain as they were when you put them there.

    Sure, the on-board HDD in the Mini is over six years old, but with everything backed up by Time Machine on an external 1 TB HDD that is just a year old, I am reasonably well covered should the original HDD fail. The workshop can install a new one and have the computer back to me in a couple of days, with all files restored from the Time Machine HDD….. which they would do for me as part of the service.

    As an extra precaution I also back up to the external HDD from time to time. I have always backed up important work files to an external drive of some description or another, so I have them in more than one place. That way, if I land up getting a new computer I can just transfer the files I need to use, without having to recover things from the Time Machine HDD. That proved effective when I moved from my first, pre Time Machine Mini (a 2005 original) to my present one.

    Sure more RAM and an SSD will give your computer better performance potential, but would it provide cost effective performance you really need? Only you can answer that, based on what you do on your Mini.
     
  15. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #15
    Another quick question. Did you all upgrade the RAM yourself or did you take it into a shop? I'm watching these online videos, and it honestly doesn't look too hard. Just curious.
     
  16. multicore macrumors member

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    #16
    I just did mine. The biggest precaution is to do the install in a static-free environment and to ground yourself before you begin and again if you take a break for some other activity. Some advocate a constant ground, via a wrist strap for example, but I have not had any issues doing as I stated above. As with any disassembly, pay attention to the position and orientation of items as you remove them for when you have to re-install them. This is helped greatly by the many good guides available online.

    I just used the Crucial brand BX100 SSD and their 2x4GB RAM upgrade.
     
  17. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #17
    How would I get the OS and all my songs/pictures on there after I put in a new hard drive?
     
  18. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #18
    There is a bit of an art to opening the pre-unibody Minis. You've probably heard about the magic "putty knife" needed to (gently!) pry the plastic teeth of the bottom half from the cover; if you haven't done it before, it'll probably take some time to get it right. :) Plus, there are quite a few antennae in the 2009 mini, all with their associated cords, so you'll need to keep track of everything that needs to be disconnected and where it all goes when you reconnect it. But for the most part, it isn't all that hard to do (and yeah, there are some great online guides; I like the ifixit one).

    There are a number of ways to do this. :) Probably my own favorite would be to mount the old disk in an external enclosure, boot from it, and then reformat the internal drive as a bootable drive so that you can boot using that. (Might be easier to do this in reverse -- first mount the new drive externally, make it a bootable disk, then install it inside the computer.) Regardless of how you do it, once you've got the machine able to see both drives, you should be able to move songs/pictures between the drives as you'd like.
     
  19. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #19
    I have no idea what that means. Haha. I might need to let a pro do it. A Mac Resource store charges $125 labor for installing the hard drive then installing the OS and transferring data so I may go that route. I just like learning and doing my own stuff. :)
     
  20. multicore macrumors member

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    #20
    Well surprise, surprise! The Crucial salesman assured me it would and when I initially checked I saw the "Link Speed: 3 Gigabit", but now that I check again I see under that: "Negotiated Link Speed: 1.5 Gigabit". I will be contacting Crucial tomorrow.
     
  21. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

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    #21
    I had a shop install the extra RAM, and I had them do the Mountain Lion upgrade as well. I don't have the facilities or tools at home in my apartment, and at the time I had a very slow, not particularly reliable, so called 3G internet connection. Doing anything at home was not really practical. Besides with no credit card, I had no way of paying for the Mountain Lion upgrade…….

    ….. Better to leave it to folks who mess around with computers all the time than develop skills which I might apply on just the odd occasion every few years, I reckon. The technician did the installation and checked everything. It came back sweet; no worries.

    It helps that the local dealer's workshop is just a 10-minutes bicycle ride from where I live. In my experience their service is fairly prompt, and their advice is reliable.
     
  22. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #22
    That's wierd, I put one in a 2009 MBP at work and it was showing 3 Gigabit. :confused: That said it was before using Trimforce.

    I'll check the Sandisk in the Mini at home again.
     
  23. aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Sorry to hear that, it's good that you found out. This was the article I found when I was upgrading my Mini http://blogs.helsinki.fi/tuylaant/2014/01/upgrading-old-macs-to-ssds/
     
  24. Jessica08 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jessica08

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    #24
    I have been going through and deleting duplicate files and photos that I no longer desire to have or need so that has helped clear up a lot of storage disc space. I am not up to around 26GB free on the startup disc.

    Anyway, I have decided I just want to have a fresh slate when I get a new hard drive, but I do want my pictures, videos, and music to transfer over. What is the best way to start from scratch on the OS side of things, but still be able to get my stuff I do want on there back on there?

    I have assignments and such from college that I not longer need so I don't want all those put back on my new hard drive.
     
  25. aajeevlin macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    When you say you want fresh slate, do you mean files or configurations as well? If you don't care about either ones, just get the new hard drive, install the new OS on it, and you are good to go. If I were you I'd just purchase an external hard drive enclosure, and put the old drive in there. After you finished with the new install on the new drive, you can take your sweet time and copy the old files over as you see fit, when you are finally done, format the old hard drive and use as an external drive for data or time machine. The hardest process is actually opening up the mac mini and putting in the new stuff without breaking anything. The rest is simple.
     

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