I've had my iMac for about nine years and have never re-formatted/re-initialized the internal hard drive. Overall it still runs ok, though some applications do tend to freeze rather more readily than they should. I'm certain also that it runs slower than when it first came out of the box.
I've upgraded the OS a couple of times, run iDefrag a couple of times, run the sudo periodics (daily, weekly and monthly) from Terminal, cleared out caches and generally tried to look after it and keep it clean and tidy. Last week I re-installed the OS from the DVD and ran all the software upgrades to get back to 10.5.8 in an effort to fix the freezing applications issues. It's a little early to tell if this has been successful.
But generally, in googling the merits or otherwise of defragging (the whole idea still scares me), I've seen that some people recommend cloning your internal HD to an external one, initializing the internal and then cloning back, as a more elegant, less dangerous and much quicker alternative to defragging. Some people also recommend doing this perhaps annually as a routine maintenance thing. Is this worthwhile, safe or valuable and will it serve to defrag an older, somewhat scattered disk?
Surely a block level clone, by definition, won't de-frag, and anything less than a block level clone is liable to miss certain root level items resulting in a less than reliable re-build. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick completely?
I also have an external Time Machine backup, but I've read that it too can try to be a bit too clever about re-building systems and leave out certain things that it assumes are already on the drive being rebuilt. Or have I, again, got it all wrong?
The bottom line is that I don't really know what I'm talking about.
What, if anything, should I do to get my iMac back to its very best?
Is nine years a long time for a hard drive to run on the same initialization? (OK, I guess nine years is a long time for a hard drive to run at all, but given that it still seems ok [touching lots of wood] should I re-initialize it anyway in the interests of good maintenance to keep it running smooth and fast?)
My setup is:
Mac OS X (10.5.8)
17" iMac PPC G4
80 GB Internal Hard Drive with around 19 GB free.
500 GB LaCie External Drive with 6 partitions:
of which one is a clone of the internal HD,
one is the Time Machine backup,
and one is a clone of the Install DVD.
I'm sure I'm worrying too much and that my backup systems are pretty comprehensive and that the clone, reclone option would work perfectly well. But on a system this old, would it actually be beneficial (and safe) to wipe the disk and start afresh?
Any thoughts or advice most gratefully received.