Why is my 2009 iMac running so slowly?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mattwolfmatt, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. mattwolfmatt macrumors 65816

    mattwolfmatt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    #1
    I have a late 2009, 21.5" iMac, running 10.9.4. It has a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 8GB RAM. The hard drive is only 32% full.

    Up until about a month ago, there has been no problems at all. I have been bragging to my PC colleagues that I'm using a 5 year old Mac, with no need to replace in the near future.

    However, recently, whenever I try and do anything - like load a website, open up a document, or (heaven forbid) try and do TWO THINGS at once, I get the spinning beach ball. Usually the beach ball goes away after about 2-3 minutes. But it's super annoying. It seems to mostly happen within 5 minutes of "waking" from sleep mode, or within 5 minutes of starting up.

    If this were 2004 and I were on a PC, I'd try defragmenting it. Is there something similar for Macs? I'd rather not buy a new Mac. Thank you for any advice!
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    Does your iMac take a long time in starting up or opening an application?
     
  3. librarian macrumors regular

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  4. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #4
    If the hard drive is failing, then a reinstall (or a downgrade) would likely make things worse - or kill the hard drive completely.
    Intell's question about OTHER slow response is a better direction, which can help decide that the hard drive is "on the edge", and may simply need to be replaced.
    And, then considering other options, such as replacing the HDD with an SSD, which will certainly bring back performance, and even a very noticeable increase - better than when your iMac was new.
     
  5. mattwolfmatt thread starter macrumors 65816

    mattwolfmatt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    #5
    Starting up, yes. Probably 5 min before I can do anything. It starts up fine, but whenever I open an app within 5 minutes, then I get the beach ball. Starting apps, not really too bad (unless during that 5 min start up).
     
  6. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #6
    Your hard drive may be starting to fail. Make sure you back up everything on that drive.
     
  7. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    Location:
    Atlanta, USA
    #7
    You could try Disk Utility. It'll verify the disk and repair it. Permissions too.

    Look in Finder. Applications --> Utilities --> Disk utility

    ----------

    Good advice.
     
  8. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #8
    Best advice right here ^. Everything you mentioned points towards that. If you have the money, go on Amazon right now and get this SSD. Or you can get the 256GB one for about $110.

    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX100...?ie=UTF8&qid=1405780017&sr=8-2&keywords=mx100

    If you get this, you will be able to brag to your colleagues for another few years :p.
     
  9. mattwolfmatt thread starter macrumors 65816

    mattwolfmatt

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    #9
    Hmm, this makes sense. This iMac did have a recall on it a few years ago (I missed the window) because of the possibility of failing hard drives. Thanks all.

    I do have a time machine backup and most documents are on Dropbox. I'm not too sure about replacing the HD. I've done it on Mac Minis but not on iMacs.
     
  10. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #10
    If you're not wanting to replace the hard drive, you could wipe it and sell it. Make sure you clearly specify that the hard drive maybe failing in the listing for it. Those older iMacs can still fetch several hundred dollars.
     
  11. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    California
    #11
    You could just use an external Firewire 800 drive like this to run from. Attach the drive and format with Disk Util then clone your old drive to this external. Then option key boot to the external and select it as the startup drive in System Prefs. Done.
     
  12. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    #12
    It's a little more complicated than a 2012 mac mini (I've done both) but there's a good guide here: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+20-Inch+EMC+2133+and+2210+Hard+Drive+Replacement/1008

    I used those instructions to install a 2TB drive in my ancient 2007 iMac (aluminum 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB mem) several years ago. It's been running fine since.
     
  13. mohdamerul macrumors member

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  14. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #14
    Could be the drive, but I would first check the temperatures to see if you have a failing or clogged fan.
     
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #15
    Here's a second suggestion (as per above):
    Downgrade to 10.8.5.
     
  16. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #16
    If the machine was working fine on Mavericks all this time until OP started having problems a month ago, what makes you think downgrading to Mountain Lion would fix this?
     
  17. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #17
    A downgrade won't help correct failing hardware. Even then, a 2009 iMac is very capable of running 10.9 or 10.10 without a problem or slow down, when not suffering from a hardware failure.
     
  18. seanemac007 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #18
    I just completed a swap of the hard drive in that same iMac using that very iFixit.com instruction guide. It was surprisingly easy. My only issue was a screw that was stripped. It took a wire cutter to gouge grooves into the outside before I could get it to budge, but it finally came out, and went back in fine (though not quite as tight). So all in all, successful from a physical sense.

    You should research the late 2009 iMac quirk where you need to replace their hard drives with the same brand as the original. This was my one mistake.

    From what I've read, this limitation is due to Apple at that point starting to monitor the internal temp of the hard drive using its internal sensors, so the cable gathered some of that info, but each manufacturer sends that info differently via the data port, so... and this is where I am not sure - if the drive is just not seen, or if the fans just run non-stop.

    I installed my new drive, but it was not the same brand as the original, and now I cannot even see the drive from the OS install disk application.
     
  19. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #19
    Late-2009 iMacs can use any brand hard drive. Some will present problem with the fans, but all are usable.
     
  20. seanemac007 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #20
    That is what I was afraid of... I completed the swap, and I thought vey successfully, but the drive does not even come up as an option to install the OS on to (though it is seen by Disk Utility).
     
  21. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #21
    You need to format it first with Disk Utility. Only after that can you install OS X.
     
  22. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #22
    You've to format it first with Disk Utility, under the Erase tab.
     

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