Old iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Showbiz806, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. Showbiz806 macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2014
    I have an old iMac. It's the Core 2 Duo version at 2.16 ghz. It has a gigabyte of ram and is fine for what I use it for. I basically use it for regular internet usage and often typing things up or the occasional game. Its slowed down a bit over the years but is still holding up quite nicely for an old computer. I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to change the hard drive to an ssd and just keep it going for a while longer. I don't need much space so it'd be a small one for a low cost. Should I bother changing it? I know how to get into the computer and it's no problem. Will the current hard drive last much longer?
  2. itsOver9000 macrumors 6502


    Mar 29, 2013
    B.F., KS
    there are only 2 types of hard drives:
    those that have failed
    and those that will fail

    they all die sooner or later. I'd say get a cheap SSD and run the iMac til the whole thing eventually croaks.
  3. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    As itsOver says, I'd replace the drive just to protect yourself and reset the clock on drive longevity.

    But in addition to that, I see that you can buy 2 GB of RAM at crucial.com for just $36.

    Even with your modest use, that price is so ridiculously low that I have to suggest that too. Your computer can take 3GB, so if your current RAM is just a single chip you can just add this to it.

    (And if you have two 512 chips right now you'll end up with 2.5 GB. Either way, worth the price.)
  4. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    If it's the original HD, even most new mechanical hard drive will run much faster. Changing to an SSD might be beneficial, but that machine is a SATA 1 so you would max out around 180MB/s. A lot of new hard drives run upwards of 150MB/s. As long as you maintain a reliable backup, I'd just let it run until it craps out.
  5. Fishrrman, Mar 14, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014

    Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ I have an old iMac. It's the Core 2 Duo version at 2.16 ghz. ]]

    This sounds like the iMac I have -- it was the last of the "white Intel" iMacs, I got mine in 2007. It's still doing fine.

    BUT -- rather than open it up to replace the drive, which in itself is a big job, you might consider an alternative course of action.

    That is, get the SSD you want, find an external enclosure or dock, and boot and run the SSD externally, for now.

    Granted, the absolute speeds you get from it won't be quite as good as if you opened the iMac and installed the drive inside. BUT -- realize that the old iMac probably has a slower SATA bus inside, so you're not going to get anywhere near the speeds the SSD is capable of, anyway.

    Also -- at some point you're probably going to get another Mac, and you may want to "take the SSD with you" at that point. Having it as an "external booter" makes taking it along much easier, as well.

    The fastest external boot source would be via firewire 800. You may be able to find a 2.5" firewire 800 enclosure at a decent price. If you pick up one that has BOTH firewire 800 and USB3, the enclosure will prove very useful with whatever new Mac you get down along the line...

    BTW, I often boot my own 2.16ghz iMac from an external USB2/SATA docking station (with a platter-based HDD inside). Yes, the bootup time is on the slow side. But once up-and-running, it runs just fine.

    One other thing, unrelated.
    If you were to do the following, I'll bet you'd notice a nice increase in overall speed and responsiveness:
    1. Use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone the contents of the iMac's internal drive to an external drive.
    2. Boot from the cloned drive (hold down option key at bootup until startup manager appears, then select external clone and hit return)
    3. RE-initialize the internal drive using Disk Utility (yes, re-initialize it)
    4. RE-clone the contents of the external clone BACK TO the iMac internal drive
    This will re-concactenate all the fragmented files on the drive, AND it will remove all the empty free space that has "grown" between the files over the years, and place the free space at "the end" of the internal hard drive.
  6. Mikebike125 macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2007
    I am actually doing this right now but I have a question for you. After I boot from the external drive and turn on Disc Utility, what exact steps do I need to do? What do you mean "RE-INITIALIZE"? Should I hit the erase function and then create a new partition? Is that re-initializing the drive?
  7. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    My post from a very similar thread:

    Boot comparison of original drive vs SSD in my old 2006 iMac:

    It made a BIG difference in the general usability of the machine, day to day operations were a lot quicker and it extended the life of the machine for at least a year for my use as a designer.
  8. Fishrrman, Mar 15, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2014

    Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    [[ After I boot from the external drive and turn on Disc Utility, what exact steps do I need to do? What do you mean "RE-INITIALIZE"? Should I hit the erase function and then create a new partition? Is that re-initializing the drive? ]]

    "Re-initialize" means to ERASE the drive. It's like wiping the chalk writing off a blackboard with the eraser.

    So... you must BACK UP the internal drive first, with a bootable clone created by CarbonCopyCloner (or SuperDuper). CCC is free to download and use for 30 days. You can find it here:

    Once you back up, you boot from the external drive:
    - reboot
    - as soon as you hear the startup sound, hold down the option key and keep holding it down
    - in a few moments, the startup manager will appear
    - select the EXTERNAL CLONE with the pointer, and hit return
    - the Mac should boot from the external drive
    - when you get to the finder, go to "about this mac" and be sure you're actually booted from the external (because it's a clone, it will "look just like" the internal drive looks)

    Now, it's time to launch Disk Utility (in the utilities folder). Select your INTERNAL drive by clicking it one time, then hit the "erase" button.

    This will erase the internal drive, wipe it clean (don't worry about "security options", etc. All you need to do is a quick erase).

    Next, start up CCC again. You want to select the EXTERNAL CLONE as your source this time, and select the internal drive as your "target".

    What you are doing is copying the clone drive BACK TO the internal drive.

    Why do this?
    As CCC "clones back" to the internal drive, all the files will be written "contiguously" to the internal drive, starting at the "head end" of the drive. When done, all the free space (which had grown fragmented over years of use of the drive) will be re-grouped "behind" the files.

    Many folks will tell you that the Mac OS "defragments" itself automatically. This is not completely true. The OS -can- defragment -some- files of -certain sizes-, but not all of them. And it can't do anything about the thousands of bits of "fragmented free space" that develop over time.

    This fragmentation is a consequence of the way spinning hard drives work, and it's why spinning hard drives ALL require some "maintenance" over time.
    Just putting the Mac OS onto a hard drive can't change this, no matter what anyone says...
  9. Mikebike125 macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2007
    Thanks Fishrrman. I did exactly what you wrote and my iMac is much faster now. My only snag was that my iMac had a very small (25GB) Windows partition on it that accidentally got erased. I am pretty sure I only selected the Mac drive when I went to erase but the whole drive got erased. I had a backup of all the files lost so it isn't a big deal, plus I rarely went on that side.

    The erase function may only be able to erase the whole drive at once or maybe I just selected wrong. Either way I just put my CCC OSX back on the whole drive and it is working very fast now.

    I know it goes with usage, but how often is this wipe clean and re-install recommended? Every six months? Once a year?


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