Old iMac OS upgrade?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Hotspur00, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. Hotspur00 macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2013
    Hello all. I am new to posting to this forum, and my question has probably been asked, but I couldn't find a specific answer.

    I purchased my 24" iMac in December 2007: It has become seriously slow recently. I have emptied half the hard drive, cleaned out random applications and other clutter, cleared out login startup stuff, etc. Still very pokey. Tedious spinning beachballs just to open an app or web page. I am running 10.6.8 Snow Leopard. The HW/SW footprint is pasted below.

    Simple question: Should I upgrade the OS, and if so, to Yosemite? Can this old iMac handle the latest OS X? Will it improve performance?

    If not, should I upgrade to a recent version like Mountain Lion or Mavericks? (And how do you get them? Apple store only makes the latest one available.)

    Also, lots of useful apps nowadays won't run on 10.6.8.

    All help appreciated, of course.

    Hardware Overview:

    Model Name: iMac
    Model Identifier: iMac7,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 4 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Bus Speed: 800 MHz
    Boot ROM Version: IM71.007A.B03
    SMC Version (system): 1.21f4

    System Software Overview:
    System Version: Mac OS X 10.6.8 (10K549)
    Kernel Version: Darwin 10.8.0
  2. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    Could be a failing hard drive. Upgrading from Snow Leopard certainly won't help with speed on older hardware.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    After seven years of use, my thoughts are that your internal hard drive is now horribly fragmented.

    You will be told by some folks that "defragmentation" is not needed by the Mac OS, but that is misleading. In the real world, a defrag can breathe some new life into an old, but still working hard disk drive.

    It's not only files that get fragmented over time, the "free space" on the drive gets fragmented as well as files are written and re-written and shuffled about on the drive. You probably have thousands of fragments of free space, forcing the drive to "go searching" whenever it needs to read or write something. Especially if the drive is "filling up" on you.

    The simplest way to "clean up" an old drive like this is to do the following:
    1. Clone the drive to an external drive using CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper
    2. Reboot from the external clone (hold down option key at bootup until startup manager appears, then select the external drive)
    3. Verify you are booted from the backup, then use Disk Utility to reinitialize the internal drive
    4. "RE-CLONE" the contents of the external drive BACK TO the internal.

    By doing this, all the files will be re-copied contiguously to the internal, and all the free space will be grouped together at "the end" of the drive's platters.

    Insofar as an OS upgrade goes:

    You must recognize first, that if you use any older apps that require Rosetta (Rosetta permits apps written in the older PowerPC code to run on an Intel Mac), they won't work if you upgrade beyond 10.6.8. It's still possible to coax older apps to run, but doing so requires the installation of a "virtual machine" (such as VMWare Fusion or Parallels) and installing OS X Server 10.6 to run on the virtual machine.

    If this IS NOT a concern to you, yes, you can upgrade.

    On an older Mac with a platter-based hard drive, I would NOT recommend upgrading to Mavericks or Yosemite. You may find yourself quite displeased with the overall performance if you do -- because both Mavericks and Yosemite seem to require an SSD. Try to run them from an HDD, and the perception will be that the OS is "walking" instead of running, if you get my drift.

    I would recommend OS 10.8.5 "Mountain Lion" as a decent upgrade.
    It runs smoothly and quickly on a friends 2007 24" iMac (might be same as yours).

    Final thoughts:
    After 7 years of use, it might be time to start shopping for a new Mac -- lots of improvements through the years.
    The older iMac can be kept on as a backup...
  4. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2014
    SSD. It will seriously make it a new machine. Stick with SL, it works 100%.
  5. bjmoose macrumors member

    Oct 4, 2011
    I've got one of those as a secondary machine specs here. I put a 512G SSD in it, though the disk interface is SATA 2 (3Gb/s) so that limits the transfer rate compared to newer machines. Made a world of difference.

    Mine is running Yosemite, and for light tasks like MS Office and browsing it's a fine machine.
  6. Hotspur00 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2013
    Here's to defragging...

    Thank you all! Fishrrman, your defragging advice reminded me that I bought TechToolPro a long time ago and had forgotten all about it. I have an external drive on FireWire, so I set up their recommended bootable eDrive there, ran all the TechTool diagnostics and tools against the resident drive, and discovered a new meaning for the word "fragmented." Jeez, it was bad. Defragging took a really long time, but performance has improved noticeably.

    Regarding upgrade, I think I will go with Mountain Lion as you suggest (I have it on my MBP15, and love it – but I miss Spaces). I have heard from forums and friends that Yosemite: 1) has installation problems, 2) is buggy, and 3) is slow (as you noted). Definitely don't want to go there.

    It looks like Mountain Lion is still available for $20 at:

    Will post back how it goes.


  7. midorix macrumors member

    Nov 23, 2007
    For your reference, I'm currently using 2.8ghz 4GB ram mid 2007 24" iMac running on Yosemite. I recently did a clean 512GB SSD install and it did speed it up quite a bit. For the web browsing and Microsoft office applications, not much significant difference compared the late 2013 Macbook Pro I recently purchased.

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