REALLY slow imac...Please help!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by sushifor3, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. sushifor3 macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    hi there; I am a computer/imac newbie and am really struggling with a sluggish machine.

    I don't know computers at all, so please bear with me. I'm having real problems with my imac and just don't know what to do. I'll give the info as best as I can. FIrst, a little history. Right after we bought the imac, roughly 3 years ago, my husband ordered the ilife or iwork package and installed it, along with the then-new Leopard. after installing all this on our one-month-old imac, the computer had a heart attack and wouldn't work right. we took it to genius bar twice and finally they erased the hard drive and started over. the computer worked well after that until a couple months ago. i first noticed streaming video wouldn't play and startup was slow. we had not downloaded any software updates in a year or so b/c i was nervous to. my husband downloaded a bunch (all available to us) a week ago, and since then the slowness has gotten worse.

    now the other relevant info:

    I don't know "what" our computer is, but here's what it says when I open "About This Mac:"

    Mac OS X
    Version 10.5.8
    2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

    I don't even know what that all means.

    The problem is that the computer is just really slow! At first we thought it was an internet connection problem, but it's not. Our internet connection speeds (looking are usually between 1.2 and 4 Mbps.

    Here are the major issues:
    Startup is slow...gray screen and little spinning dial lasts for a minute or two before blue screen appears and then computer is "on."

    Opening any application, like iphoto, safari, pages, etc, is slow. spinning ball slow...for up to a minute or more sometimes. Using applications is slow. When I use Safari and go to any web page, it loads slowly. often i get a spinning color wheel.

    Streaming video won't play buffers really slowly and then it "stutters" rather than playing smoothly. this is true for any streaming video we try.

    I have been searching online for "fixes" and have read various things, most of which I don't really understand, like erasing the caches from the Library (which I did), resetting PRAM (which I did), repair permissions in disk utility (which i did), uninstalling and re-installing Flash Player (which I did), and using a variety of software to clean up the hard drive (which I have not yet done). I also read that I should look at Activity Monitor to see what's going on...I'm doing that but don't understand what I'm seeing. But here it is...

    I'm on Safari and currently running a Youtube video in another is stutttering. I have two safari tabs open and nothing else. My Activity Monitor says:

    CPU % User 15-16%
    CPU % System 6-7%
    CPU % Idle 76-77%
    Safari is using Real Memory 191.45 MB
    kernel_task is using Real Memory 52 MB
    I don't see anything in the list for Flash Player (it's just not there...bad?)

    System Memory
    Free: 3.2 GB
    Wired: 403 MB
    Active 365 MB
    Inactive: 28 MB
    Used: 796 MB

    Disk Usage
    Space utilized 240 GB
    Space Free: 58 GB

    OK, what am I missing? What do I do? THis slow computer is driving me NUTS!!! I'm willing to buy software to clean it up if it really works...should I use apple software like "clean my mac?" i've read about using ONYX...should I? I don't know anything about any of these softwares and I REALLY need help here.

    Please tell me what to do and how to do it. Thanks!!!
  2. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68040


    Feb 9, 2010
    I'm not sure what your computer problem is but I just read another post. Check any external hard drives your husband might have laying around. Apparently, that's where everyone hides their porn.
  3. sushifor3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    that's not a problem here...

    anyone else on my legitimate computer problem? thanks in advance!
  4. breathesrain macrumors regular

    Feb 10, 2010
    The processor isn't under too heavy a load, and you seem to have plenty of free memory. I'm guessing it might be the hard drive- you said it was pretty full, and if reformatting it earlier helped then it stands to reason that it's the problem. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the hard drives on iMacs aren't user-replaceable.

    You can try getting an external drive (you can probably find a 500 GB one for around 75$, or smaller) and see if just freeing up space on your boot drive helps. You might also want to look into replacing your current drive...It'll probably be expensive, though. And it's good to have an external drive anyway, for backups.

    Try freeing up space on your hard drive by just deleting things you don't need. Make sure to empty the Trash, of course. Just don't delete anything important :) If that makes a difference, even a small one, than you know it's the problem.

    Edit: And I think Onyx is only supported on Snow Leopard.
  5. bluskale macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2010
    1) In the future, don't hesitate to install system updates. If you want, wait a week (or just set the interval for checking for updates to weekly), check out some news sites for any potential issues first (macfixit used to be a good one, but I'm not so sure anymore), then update. Most of the time there won't be any issues, and the updates generally fix more than they break. Some things, like repairing permissions first, can make it go smoother.

    Sometimes people have less issues if they download the latest 'combo' updater from apple. Combo updates can update a system from any prior installation of that release (so a combo 10.5.8 updater could update from any 10.5 install). You might try downloading this and running the update again.

    2) with ~ 50 GB free, I doubt that available free space is really the issue here. however, as far as general hard drive issues go... do you hear any unusual noises when your hard drive is spinning, reading or writing? typical bad noises portending an imminent failure resemble pinging or metal-on-metal type noises.

    3) open up, and see if there is anything that stands out in the messages, eg, repeated frequently or so on.
  6. sushifor3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    I don't hear any bad noises...

    So my hard drive space may or may not be an issue? how much should i have free for smooth operation?

    I just don't get what could be going on b/c according to Activity Monitor the CPU usage is really low and our RAM is good...

    Do I need to check my hard drive for spyware or anything like that?

    Should I try any sort of "maintenance" software?

    thanks so much!
  7. sushifor3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    i opened but i don't know what it is and what i should be looking for...can you walk me thru that? thanks!
  8. bluskale macrumors regular

    Mar 29, 2010
    1) try opening console, then open safari or something that is working slowly... see if you get any new messages to console, particularly ones prefixed with warning/error etc.

    2) rule of thumb is ~ 10 % of hard drive free for optimal performance. However, I doubt there's much need to have more than ~5gb free after a restart (the precise value will change depending on how much hard drive is used for 'virtual' memory)

    3) no harddrive noises is a good thing... while we're on the topic, if you don't have an external hard drive or something to backup your computer, you should invest in one and use time machine. hard drives can and DO fail, so it is best to have a backup of your important files, music, photos and so on so that they are not lost forever. External hard drives have been getting much more affordable lately, and one big enough for your whole computer should cost considerably less than $100.

    4) anyhow, you can still try running disk utility to see if there are any problems detected... I would go find your 10.5 disc, and boot from that (insert into computer, reboot, hold 'c' after startup sound, I believe). once booted from the cd, go to disk utility in the upper menu and choose to repair your hard drive... it'll run for a bit and then either say everything was ok, or it'll find an error which it may or may not be able to fix.

    5) failing any change with that, I guess you could try running cleanup utilities. I can't say I've ever had occasion to use any, however.
  9. ARF900 macrumors 65816


    Oct 30, 2009
    You should backup all your files to an external disk ASAP if you havent already, because if your hardrive fails without a backup you will lose EVERYTHING on your computer. Have you rebooted again since the update?

    Run disk utility click Macintosh HD and click repair disk, if you cant click repair disk click Verify first.

    If you live near an apple store you can always take it to them, they will diagnose it for free.

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