parents old iMac is slow, I want to speed it up.

EEzycade

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 29, 2018
202
209
Mesa, Arizona
Years ago, my parents bought a base model 2013 27 inch iMac(1 TB hard drive). It was fast then but not now. It's not impossible to use but there are a few more beach balls than I'd like to see and the overall performance is just slow. It also has a crack in the corner but it's not a big deal. I know they don't want to buy a new computer(this is a family one) but I'm thinking if they could spend a couple hundred bucks to speed it up that would be good.

I know the big thing is to get an SSD in there. But I don't know if it's smart to pay a repair shop to open the computer and put in an SSD, not to mention it would call for a screen replacement as well. And I can't do it myself, I'm disabled. Forgive the total noob question here, but would it be possible to just get an external SSD, plug it in, and have the OS boot from that, keeping the old spinning disc as extra(albeit slow) storage? Could you point me to some resources that would tell me how to do that. And would it be worth it to chuck in some extra RAM to make it 16? Thanks in advance

Also, I think it's stupid that the base model still ships with a fusion drive. Come on apple.
 

Lankyman

macrumors 68020
May 14, 2011
2,010
763
U.K.
Years ago, my parents bought a base model 2013 27 inch iMac(1 TB hard drive). It was fast then but not now. It's not impossible to use but there are a few more beach balls than I'd like to see and the overall performance is just slow. It also has a crack in the corner but it's not a big deal. I know they don't want to buy a new computer(this is a family one) but I'm thinking if they could spend a couple hundred bucks to speed it up that would be good.

I know the big thing is to get an SSD in there. But I don't know if it's smart to pay a repair shop to open the computer and put in an SSD, not to mention it would call for a screen replacement as well. And I can't do it myself, I'm disabled. Forgive the total noob question here, but would it be possible to just get an external SSD, plug it in, and have the OS boot from that, keeping the old spinning disc as extra(albeit slow) storage? Could you point me to some resources that would tell me how to do that. And would it be worth it to chuck in some extra RAM to make it 16? Thanks in advance

Also, I think it's stupid that the base model still ships with a fusion drive. Come on apple.
First off FD is great for the average user. If it was me I would first be investigating why it now runs slow. There has to be a reason and it would irk me if I couldn’t get to the bottom of it.
 

Dahoffman85

macrumors newbie
Feb 24, 2020
20
9
I have the same late 2013 27” iMac, it has the 1tb spinning drive and 16gb of ram. I did the external SSD boot drive but honestly prior to that there was no slowdown in using it or many beach balls, if any at all. the 16gb of ram over 8gb makes a huge difference and check to see how much of the drive is full as it can really slow down if there’s not much free space. I’m with Lankyman, there might be another issue slowing it up and not just the fact that it’s 7 years old now. If you do want to go the external route though it’s real easy, just get the SSD and either Carbon Copy or SuperDuper and make a bootable drive, then select that drive in system preference and reboot, it’s that easy.
 

SKYNET-1

macrumors member
Feb 7, 2020
59
7
First off FD is great for the average user. If it was me I would first be investigating why it now runs slow. There has to be a reason and it would irk me if I couldn’t get to the bottom of it.

because the websites getting bigger n bigger, n need MUCH more memory then few yrs ago, second thing is: delete the browser cache, sure after will be better, for more ---> min. 8GB of memory, n for a feeling like a new computer --> SSD.

n yes, u can use the thunderbolt port for an external SSD, clone the OS to the external SSD n be happy for the speed :)
 

jerwin

macrumors 68030
Jun 13, 2015
2,776
4,607
very simple:

1TB 860 EVO. $150
USB3 SATA enclosure with uasp. $10--$15.

plug the SSD into the enclosure, plug the enclosure into USB port, clone the drive, set computer to boot into that drive.
 

SKYNET-1

macrumors member
Feb 7, 2020
59
7
very simple:

1TB 860 EVO. $150
USB3 SATA enclosure with uasp. $10--$15.

plug the SSD into the enclosure, plug the enclosure into USB port, clone the drive, set computer to boot into that drive.
i would choose a WD SSD blue or a crucial mx500, cheaper n for usb 3.0 nothing high end needed.
 

RogerWilco6502

macrumors 65816
Jan 12, 2019
1,147
1,046
If you want to investigate the slow-down, I'd recommend doing a clean install and seeing if that fixes the issues. If it does, then its probably the fact that it has likely been upgraded through many OS versions without any clean install. If you do this, make sure to make a backup of the data beforehand so you don't lose anything.

Hope this helps! :)
 

mbosse

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2015
445
98
Vienna, Austria
What I would do first is to check the health of you internal drive via reading the SMART data. Download drivedx (it costs a bit but has a free trial period) and post the screenshot here.

Magnus
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,442
6,735
Buy an external USB3 SSD, either pre-assembled or put one together yourself (2.5" SATA SSD + 2.5" USB3 enclosure). Samsung t5 could do the job.

Plug it in, format it (you didn't tell us WHICH VERSION of the OS is on the 2013 iMac).
For Mojave, use APFS.
For High Sierra and earlier, use HFS+ (Mac OS extended with journaling enabled).

Next, download CarbonCopyCloner from here:
Carbon Copy Cloner - Download
CCC is FREE to download and use for 30 days. This costs you nothing.

Use CCC to clone the contents of the internal HDD to the external SSD.
Set the SSD to be the boot drive in "startup disk" (System Preferences).
Reboot.
Done.
 

loybond

macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2010
548
282
The True North, Strong and Free
It's a 2013, so it has USB 3. You can easily use a USB 3 to SATA adapter with any SSD and get the speed boost. It'll probably do 450 MB/s read and write, like my iMacs did back in the day with this type of setup. Plus, add RAM, and the computer will feel decently fast.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,970
3,886
Your parents iMac, and the hard drive inside the iMac, are built in 2013. Seven years is a lot of time for a hard drive. There comes a point where the iMac cannot _reliably_ read the data on the hard drive, so to read some data it has to try ten times, or hundred times, or more often, and that's where your slowdown may very well come from.

So Step 1: Make sure they have an up-to-date Time Machine backup (unless they have nothing of any value whatsoever on their hard drive). Just last week I fixed some stuff on a Mac that had a backup from January 2018 :-(

Step 2: If they have no Time Machine backup, buy a cheap external hard drive. Do NOT by anything that has "BACKUP" in its name! You only pay extra money for useless features that interfere with Time Machine. Plug it into the iMac and make the backup.

Step 3: Use Activity Monitor to find out how much RAM is used. If you don't have enough RAM, then adding more may be a very cheap way to speed up your iMac.

Step 4: Check how much hard drive space is used. If the hard drive is close to full, that will slow down your iMac. You can get an enormous speed up by replacing a hard drive that is close to the end of its love. You get a good speedup by replacing a full hard drive with one twice the size. You get a very good speedup by replacing a hard drive with an SSD drive with plenty of space, but that may expensive.

But before you upgrade, check the cost, taking in account the work, and check how much a new iMac, or a refurbished iMac, or say a 2017 iMac from eBay will cost you. That may be not much more expensive, and may be much better value for money.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.