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Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 12:13PM
It's been slow as molasses since I upgraded to 10.10. It's an early 2008 core duo 2.8. I've tried about everything else. Apps take a lot longer to launch now, especially the first time aftert waking up. Safari takes 30 seconds to launch the first time after wake-up. Chrome is about twice as fast but still a whole lot slower than it was on 10.8.

I am not willing to open it up and install a new internal drive. Way too much hassle on these units.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: sekker
Date: January 25, 2015 12:16PM
I use an external SSD on my iMac, it's painful when I boot via the internal 7200 rpm hard drive.

I connect via firewire.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: BernDog
Date: January 25, 2015 12:28PM
I did an internal in mine a year or so ago. Early 2008, 2.4, 4GB. I didn't notice much/any slowdown in going to 10.10, so I think the SSD would be a boost. Since mine's internal (it wasn't that hard to do), I can't personally weigh in on the speed potential of an external boot drive, but the consensus seems to be that it's at least almost as good, if not equal.

Aside from that, though, you're describing a pretty major slowdown. Are you sure your drive didn't get close enough to full when doing the upgrade that that's causing the slowdown? In real world use, a drive with 10% free space is basically full. 20% free is safer. Just something to check on a seven year old computer. I've been running my iTunes and iPhoto libraries externally for a few years now for that reason.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2015 12:38PM by BernDog.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: jdc
Date: January 25, 2015 12:44PM
Ran an external USB 2 on a 2007 iMac -- was snappier than the internal 750 GB.

If its a machine you plan on keeping -- its not being replaced anytime soon -- then in IMHO just spend the time to open it up and get the SSD internal. Easily will give another few years+ of useful life. Its not nearly as hard as it looks.

[eshop.macsales.com]

I agree tho, it sounds like theres something going on beyond just Yosemite. Would a fresh install from scratch be out of the question?



----


Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 12:48PM
Quote
BernDog
Quote
Wags
It's been slow as molasses since I upgraded to 10.10. It's an early 2008 core duo 2.8. I've tried about everything else. Apps take a lot longer to launch now, especially the first time aftert waking up. Safari takes 30 seconds to launch the first time after wake-up. Chrome is about twice as fast but still a whole lot slower than it was on 10.8.

I am not willing to open it up and install a new internal drive. Way too much hassle on these units.

I did an internal in mine a year or so ago. Early 2008, 2.4, 4GB. I didn't notice much/any slowdown in going to 10.10, so I think the SSD would be a boost. Since mine's internal (it wasn't that hard to do), I can't personally weigh in on the speed potential of an external boot drive, but the consensus seems to be that it's at least almost as good, if not equal.

Aside from that, though, you're describing a pretty major slowdown. Are you sure your drive didn't get close enough to full when doing the upgrade that that's causing the slowdown? In real world use, a drive with 10% free space is basically full. 20% free is safer. Just something to check on a seven year old computer. I've been running my iTunes and iPhoto libraries externally for a few years now for that reason.

Yeah, the drive was very full when I started. I off-loaded 140MB of pix, then tried all the easy suggestions I could find online, including disk repair, PRAM reset, re-install of the OS.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 01:00PM
I suppose I could try popping out one of the 2GB RAM chips and putting a 4GB in.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: sekker
Date: January 25, 2015 01:03PM
Quote
Wags
I suppose I could try popping out one of the 2GB RAM chips and putting a 4GB in.

2 GB is going to be painfully slow on any Mac OS beyond 10.6. You are basically using the hard drive for virtual memory.

4GB and an SSD is going to add years to that machine's useful life.

EDIT: One reason it's been nice to keep the SSD external has been ease up upgrading. I just went from 120GB to 240GB on the boot SSD.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2015 01:08PM by sekker.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 01:06PM
Quote
sekker
Quote
Wags
I suppose I could try popping out one of the 2GB RAM chips and putting a 4GB in.

2 GB is going to be painfully slow on any Mac OS beyond 10.6. You are basically using the hard drive for virtual memory.

4GB and an SSD is going to add years to that machine's useful life.

I've already got 4GB of RAM - 2x2GB chips. Was thinking about replacing one of those with a 4GB. Supposedly 6GB is max for this unit, although I've heard of some running 8GB.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: sekker
Date: January 25, 2015 01:09PM
Quote
Wags
Quote
sekker
Quote
Wags
I suppose I could try popping out one of the 2GB RAM chips and putting a 4GB in.

2 GB is going to be painfully slow on any Mac OS beyond 10.6. You are basically using the hard drive for virtual memory.

4GB and an SSD is going to add years to that machine's useful life.

I've already got 4GB of RAM - 2x2GB chips. Was thinking about replacing one of those with a 4GB. Supposedly 6GB is max for this unit, although I've heard of some running 8GB.

You'll get more bang for the buck adding an SSD than going from 4GB to 6GB RAM.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Black
Date: January 25, 2015 01:13PM
You're not going to see much difference between 4 and 6 GB RAM. I'm running my 2012 Mini with 4 GB and never come slose to maxing it out (in part thanks to Mavericks memory management.)
I don't quite understand what's causing your slowness, but even if things weren't crazy slow you would see a huge benefit to booting via external SSD/FW800 over your HDD.




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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 01:14PM
It would have to be FW400
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: January 25, 2015 02:04PM
Just curious... why did you put Yosemite on that iMac?

Jeff
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 02:08PM
Quote
kj4btkljv
Just curious... why did you put Yosemite on that iMac?

Jeff

I like the way Yosemite integrates everything amongst my iPhone, iPads, and laptops. The tipping point came a couple months ago when I was downstairs on the treadmill watching Netfix on the iPad and the the phone range through to it smiley-shocked003
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Onamuji
Date: January 25, 2015 03:44PM
Any Mac older than 2012 is going to struggle with the the default graphics settings in Yosemite. Go to the System Preferences > Accessibility settings and check the box to reduce transparency. You'll be amazed how much faster Yosemite is without that useless garbage slowing it down.

After that... Yeah, max out the RAM and install a solid state drive.



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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: lost in space
Date: January 25, 2015 03:55PM
Quote
Onamuji
Any Mac older than 2012 is going to struggle with the the default graphics settings in Yosemite. Go to the System Preferences > Accessibility settings and check the box to reduce transparency. You'll be amazed how much faster Yosemite is without that useless garbage slowing it down.

That was a great tip. I never liked transparency and the low-contrast stuff. Thanks for that.



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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: BernDog
Date: January 25, 2015 03:58PM
Quote
sekker
Quote
Wags
Quote
sekker
Quote
Wags
I suppose I could try popping out one of the 2GB RAM chips and putting a 4GB in.

2 GB is going to be painfully slow on any Mac OS beyond 10.6. You are basically using the hard drive for virtual memory.

4GB and an SSD is going to add years to that machine's useful life.

I've already got 4GB of RAM - 2x2GB chips. Was thinking about replacing one of those with a 4GB. Supposedly 6GB is max for this unit, although I've heard of some running 8GB.

You'll get more bang for the buck adding an SSD than going from 4GB to 6GB RAM.

4GB PC-6400 chips are prohibitively expensive for what it'll get you. Another vote for not messing with that. My 2.4 runs 10.10 snappier (boot times, app loading, etc...) than it did with the Leopard it shipped with in 2008, just from going to an SSD. Obviously real processing power doesn't stand up to a current machine, but the OS is lickety split.

Regarding your reinstall, did you do a nuke and pave? If you do get a new drive, I think I'd start with a fresh install and do a manual migration just to make sure everything's fresh and clean.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Black
Date: January 25, 2015 04:22PM
Quote
Wags
It would have to be FW400
I looked up "early 2008 iMac" and saw one FW 400 and one FW 800 port...?
Anyways, external SSD booting via USB 2 is just a tiny bit laggy relative to FW800, but still sounds like a huge improvement over what's going on now.




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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Wags
Date: January 25, 2015 06:00PM
Right! I forgot I've got a FW8oo on this old beast
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: sekker
Date: January 25, 2015 06:06PM
Quote
Wags
Right! I forgot I've got a FW8oo on this old beast

The hard part is finding a decent-priced external case. OWC is my favorite source for FW800 peripherals.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: ka jowct
Date: January 25, 2015 06:18PM
[www.wired.com]

Shutting off the search options mentioned in that article should also speed things up. It did on my two Yosemite guinea pig drives.

I have it installed on an old 500GB hard drive, set up with two partitions, in an OWC Mercury Elite enclosure, connected via FW800.. One has a clean install of Yosemite. The other was an upgrade of a fairly barebones Mavericks system. Transparency is off. The search options discussed above are off. Both are very snappy on that less than optimal setup. I have 24GB of RAM in that computer, however.

Unless you did a pristine installation, you may have migrated some inappropriate stuff into Yosemite. Given that you have an older system, you might want to consider re-installing an earlier OS on an external drive. The support discussions at Apple are full of posts from people whose systems have slowed to a crawl after installing Yosemite, who want to know how to revert to an earlier OS.

There is a free utility called Etrecheck that might be able to pinpoint some bottlenecks.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2015 06:23PM by ka jowct.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: modelamac
Date: January 25, 2015 06:29PM
It will be limited by the speed of the connection to the iMac: Fastest = FW800-->FW400-->USB2=slowest (too slow, worse than current internal drive.

For what it is worth my wife's 207 C2D 2.8Ghz iMac does a quite decent job with 10.10 (6GB RAM).

IF I WERE YOU, I'd try a Safe boot then a normal reboot immediately after. This does a Disk Repair on startup.

I'd also try a different User account to see if the slowdown is system-wide or just in your User account. You might have fixable problems. Activity Monitor will tell you which processes are hogging the CPU.

Quote
Wags
It's been slow as molasses since I upgraded to 10.10. It's an early 2008 core duo 2.8. I've tried about everything else. Apps take a lot longer to launch now, especially the first time aftert waking up. Safari takes 30 seconds to launch the first time after wake-up. Chrome is about twice as fast but still a whole lot slower than it was on 10.8.

I am not willing to open it up and install a new internal drive. Way too much hassle on these units.



Remember how when you were little
you could just rip off your diaper and
just run around naked and everyone
thought it was so cute and funny?


Anyway, I need bail money.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Black
Date: January 25, 2015 07:05PM
Quote
modelamac
It will be limited by the speed of the connection to the iMac: Fastest = FW800-->FW400-->USB2=slowest (too slow, worse than current internal drive.

Clearly you have never personally tried it.

Also, I'm sure you're aware that technically USB2 is faster than FW 400 (right?) but I recommended USB2 over FW400 primarily because any possible speed advantage of FW 400 is negated by the extra expense of the enclosure. Moot now, since FW 800 is the obvious choice.
I agree that the problem does not seem to be the speed of the mac itself, but he said he tried "about everything else" in the OP.




New forum user map 8/2015: [www.zeemaps.com]
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Black
Date: January 25, 2015 07:12PM
Quote
sekker
Quote
Wags
Right! I forgot I've got a FW8oo on this old beast

The hard part is finding a decent-priced external case. OWC is my favorite source for FW800 peripherals.

I have/had two of the USB 2 versions of this:
[www.ebay.com]
And they were great performers. None of "my" version on eBay right now, just the FW400 version-- I guess they're so hgood nobody wants to give them up.




New forum user map 8/2015: [www.zeemaps.com]
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Carnos Jax
Date: January 25, 2015 08:20PM
The one thing that I would think gives all versions of FW over USB is the much, much higher number of input/output operations per second (referred to as I/O Rate). Because a lot of the data calls the operating system makes are small in size, but very frequent, the sustained transfer rate of the interface is not as critical I would think.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: TheToddler
Date: January 25, 2015 08:52PM
FW800 via SSD more than satisfactory .... You'll wonder how you ever booted internally.

Lots of people will dismiss this; they've never tried it.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: sekker
Date: January 25, 2015 09:14PM
Here's an enclosure that would work for $55 new:

[eshop.macsales.com]

More stylish, costs a bit more:

[eshop.macsales.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2015 09:15PM by sekker.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: jdc
Date: January 25, 2015 09:36PM
OWC has a case for $35 with FW800

[eshop.macsales.com]



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: Black
Date: January 26, 2015 03:20AM
Quote
jdc
OWC has a case for $35 with FW800

[eshop.macsales.com]

Excellent! You're not going to beat that price unless very, very lucky.




New forum user map 8/2015: [www.zeemaps.com]
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Re: Will an external SSD speed up my aging iMac?
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: January 26, 2015 04:45PM
First, what jdc says about keeping the Mac.

I'm not lazy, but I'm slow to get 'round to what I need to do. But if the Mac is going to be in the house for awhile, I'd definitely recommend an internal install, just for simplicity and neatness.

That said, some of my external SSDs boot off of FW800, one off of FW400, and one off USB2. Personally, I"d need a benchmark utility to know the difference, as they all "feel" the same.

And they are so much faster than the internal HDD that I'm not highly motivated to open up any of my Macs.

I *did* put a 240G SSD in my old BlackMacBook because it was so insultingly easy. This was after I took it from 2G to 4G of RAM. The RAM increase made no perceptible difference in operation for me, except that I could keep a more tabs open in Safari. It's at 10.6.8.

The SSD really, really sped things up.




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