6 Replies Latest reply: Jan 19, 2013 5:19 PM by smitty195
smitty195 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

Hello,

 

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!

  • 1. Re: Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.
    den.thed Level 7 Level 7 (23,955 points)

    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.

  • 2. Re: Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.
    smitty195 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Okay, I will check his machine again---but we used that same link earlier to determine which machine he had, and that's what Apple's web page told us. But I will definitley re-check it.

     

    What are "bad sectors"? I have run Disk First Aid and it found a few very minor problems, but other than that, it came back perfect. There are no errorrs for it to repair.

     

    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.

     

    I am helping an eldery neighbor, so that's why he is not in this discussion himself.

  • 3. Re: Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.
    den.thed Level 7 Level 7 (23,955 points)

    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

     

    or

     

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

  • 4. Re: Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.
    smitty195 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Fortunately, he is already using Time Machine to back up his computer to the external 1.5TB hard drive. This is the same hard drive that holds all of the iTunes music. So it looks like we're doing all of the right things, except for the fact that his hard drive is so darn full.

     

    I didn't know that an iMac could have it's 500GB hard drive replaced with a 1TB---that's great! How would we go about doing that? Do we make an appointment at the Genius Bar, or is this something that we arrange over the phone with the Apple Store's 800 number? Thanks for you help---we really appreciate it.

  • 5. Re: Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.
    den.thed Level 7 Level 7 (23,955 points)

    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.

  • 6. Re: Add RAM or buy a new machine? Need advice please.
    smitty195 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Okay, fantastic! Thank you very much for your assistance. I know what we need to do now. I'm glad I didn't order the new RAM (if it can even take it---I still need to double-check that). I'll do Activity Monitor when I see him tomorrow, but it sure sounds like the culprit is just going to be that the hard drive is too small for what he has.

     

    Thanks again....I've got my work and research cut out for me now.