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Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.

270 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Jan 19, 2013 5:19 PM by smitty195 RSS
smitty195 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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Jan 19, 2013 2:28 PM



I am asking this question for a friend who owns a 5 year old iMac. It only has a 500GB hard drive, and it is almost full (475 GB are in use, and we recently had to dump some items because it had reached it's limit). It has the factory-installed 8GB of RAM, but there are two empty slots which can hold 4GB each (or a grand total of 8GB of additional RAM, for a total of 16GB of RAM).


He also is a HUGE user of iTunes, and he has a 1.5 TB external drive that contains all of his iTunes files (we have iTunes set to automatically place all iTunes files onto the external hard drive so that it does not take up hard drive space on the iMac).


He is running OS 10.8, Lion (and wants to upgrade to Mountain Lion).


So, here is my question.....Will adding 8 GB of RAM make this machine "faster"? This machine has gotten very, very slow over the last year. When you launch any application, you get the spinning beach ball for a few minutes and then eventually, sooner or later, the app will come up. But everything moves very slowly----everything.


I was thinking that if we added the 8GB of RAM, that would fix a lot of our slow problems. Am I correct here, or would this not do anything? I was wondering if a 5 year old iMac with 8GB of RAM even has sufficient power to be running Lion in the first place.


Any thoughts on this? Thanks much!

  • den.thed Level 7 Level 7 (23,325 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 19, 2013 3:23 PM (in response to smitty195)

    Please recheck the spec's > How to identify iMac models


    It can't be quite that old, because the first 4 ram slot iMac's didn't come out until Late 2009.


    see > iMac: How to remove or install memory


    If your friend is only running iTunes, Safari and perhaps a few light weight App's, then 4GB of RAM should be sufficient.


    If you friend is running more App's, then he would probably benefit from having more RAM.


    see > Using Activity Monitor to read System Memory and determine how much RAM is being used


    However up front, it sounds more like your friends iMac is slow because the Hard Drive is either to full or has a lot of bad sectors.

  • den.thed Level 7 Level 7 (23,325 points)
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    Jan 19, 2013 4:37 PM (in response to smitty195)

    smitty195 wrote:


    Will a full hard drive slow down a computer? I was under the impression that it was RAM. This might be very important, because his hard drive is extremely full. Last week, he was getting messages that his hard drive was full, so we took lots of "stuff" out and put it into the trash can and deleted it.


    Yes for a couple of reasons. OS X needs plenty of room to move around and work in, plus read and write becomes slower on that part of the hard drives platter.


    At this point your friend really needs to backup if he is not already doing so and


    1. Farm out his photo's, movies and/or music to an External HD, as per the following article's:


    iPhoto '11: Move your iPhoto library to a new location


    iMovie '11: Copy or move a project to an external hard disk


    iTunes for Mac: Moving your iTunes Media folder




    2. Have an Apple Authorized Service Provider replace the 500GB Hard Drive with a 1T or larger Hard Drive.

  • den.thed Level 7 Level 7 (23,325 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 19, 2013 5:00 PM (in response to smitty195)

    Sounds like you have a very wise friend..


    You can check with your local Apple Store to see if they will do the work there, but many times they will refer you to an AASP.


    To check for both Apple Store and AASP's numbers in your area, click on the Service section @ > Apple - Find Locations and enter your zip code.


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