I've currently got a Mac mini 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 1 GB RAM running OS 10.6.8. I'm on a quest to either make my current Mac faster or find the ideal mac for databases. I upgraded recently from 10.5.8 to 10.6.8 in the hopes of making my computer more stable and faster, but things are running slower. No wonder, Activity Monitor hardly shows any green memory. Apple doesn't seem to sell memory for this Mac anymore. So I'm wondering whether it's time to just get a new Mac.
What Mac would you recommend for someone not using videos, music, images on a regular basis? Would you consider any of them to be overkill for mostly running database programs? Or would any particular one be insufficient?
The first question in your decision is are the database apps
you are running Intel format or PowerPC format? If they
are PowerPC format, they will be rendered useless with the
new Macs and OSX 10.8 as PowerPC support has been dropped
from OSX. In the same vein, if they are Intel format, are they
capable of running on OSX 10.8? So, buying a new Mac
could mean additional cost of upgrading software. If none of
this is an issue, for your purposes, probably even the base
Mini would suffice.
As mentioned, you could spend the bucks to just add memory
and perhaps a bigger, faster hard drive (not necessarily SSD).
Check out OWC and cost out your upgrade options.
I'm currently using FileMaker Pro 8, which is PowerPC format. My first plan was to just upgrade to FMP 12, since it runs on this OS etc., but now I'm wondering whether it's worth it to upgrade to it on this Mac. When checking out the newest Macs and OS 10.8 a month ago, I decided I didn't like it for several reasons, but now I'm thinking that sticking with this computer with upgrades here and there is running against the clock.
Incidentally, I realized the real memory hog was Firefox. My computer restarted itself yesterday with both FPM 12 and Firefox running, while I was doing nothing at all. Kernel panic?
Depending on how much the increase in speed is worth for spending money:
You have the MacMini2,1. Max out its RAM at 3GB and stay with Snow Leopard and FileMaker Pro 8 and consider a SSD.
I'd get the 2.3GHz i7 Mac Mini and max out the RAM and possibly consider replacing the hard drive with a SSD and upgrade to FileMaker Pro 12.
Check out RAM upgrades & SSD's at OWC
Just for curiousity:
Here is how I run FileMaker 7 in Snow Leopard Server installed into Parallels to run in Lion (or Mt. Lion):
[click on image to enlarge]
I do not use it often enough to pay for the upgrade.
I'm now tending more towards replacing everything and am wondering whether it's the propituous moment with Apple. Is there any way to tell whether the next new computer is just around the corner? Comparing my current computer to the other models available when I bought it in Fall 2008, I realize I got the most backward one & the only one unable to support 10.8.
Back to your original post, "...for someone not using videos, music, images on a regular basis..." and your main program is FMP. Your Mac Mini is perfectly suited already. Sure, it'd be nice to max out the memory; and I do recommend that you do so, or at least add some. As suggested, OWC is a reputable outfit and they have how-to videos. If you're not "tech savy" the process is fairly difficult on the early Minis. Check out their video for yourself.
Back again to your original post. I think you have issues with apps, plist, cache, etc Have you run 'repair disk' from you OS Install disk? Have you reset the SMP? Have you reset PRAM? Have you been thru your apps to find outdated, unwanted ones? Do you have any disk utilities like Cocktail or Onyx? Have you checked to see if maybe you have too many apps in 'start up'? I just think for you, the average home user, your Mini is quite capable; and maybe just needs a little TLC and maintenance. But, I do agree with adding memory.
...Is there any way to tell whether the next new computer is just around the corner?
That's always the tough issue; they keep these things pretty close to the vest.
You can google some "rumor" sites to see what may be brewing, but quite honestly even these sites can be way off.
At the end of the day, the day you need a new computer, is the day to buy. I always buy as much hardware power as I can afford and put the money into software updates later.
I lived with my iMac G5 desktop until August 2011 (when I purchased my 2.3 GHz i5 Mac Mini) and my Powerbook G4 12" until the first 13" MacBook Pro came out in 2009. And those are what I live with now (with the addition of two Snow Leopard Mac Minis used for Home entertainment and other purposes).
Well, almost correct. This computer is used primarily for work, which typically involves FMP or Excel, a browser, less frequently page layout software, Acrobat, emulators of older Mac OSs, and very rarely videos, graphics or audio files. The original problem that led to this post was with a large Excel file that started going haywire. Troubleshooting that led me to repair permissions, repair disk (nothing wrong), reset all sorts of prefs, and eventually install 10.6. After that install, Excel became extremely slow, and other apps also took much longer to open. So I cleaned up Font Book, got rid of unnecessary widgets, emptied caches, and otherwise tried to streamline things. The only startup item I have is for the printer. The other day I realized that Firefox is guzzling any memory that looks free to it, even if I don't have 50 tabs open. Followed steps recommended by Mozilla to solve that, but it seems to guzzle even more now (over 450 MB with 2 tabs open). I don't have Cocktail or Onyx, but maybe that would be the place to look next. I'll try resetting PRAM & SMP next.
I do want to start backing up the files I'm currently working on on an hourly/weekly basis, if not the whole HD. I've been lazy about that. Since that will involve buying an external HD, I've been putting it off to see whether it's worth it to stick with this computer (and get an HD with Firewire 400) or wait & get an HD with Thunderbolt. I dropped in at the Apple store yesterday to look at the new Macs, and they seem to be running fine without any memory guzzlers (even on those with just 2 GB), though the app startup time was a bit slow.
OWC looks great; I'd just have to either find a Swiss equivalent or wait till my next trip back to the U.S., which isn't around the corner.
I do want to start backing up the files I'm currently working on on an hourly/weekly basis, if not the whole HD. I've been lazy about that. Since that will involve buying an external HD, I've been putting it off .........
If you are using a computer for business it is MUST to maintain
as many backups as possible. Personally, I do daily backups
of data for client projects on USB memory sticks and incremental
backups of all data to external USB hard drives. I also do weekly
clones of my boot drive. In addition, since a lot of my work requires
the use Windows apps and I use Parallels virtual machines, I back
them up on a weekly basis as well.
Regardles of what you ultimately decide, cloning is always a could idea
if you are in business. If some how the internal drive gets corrupted or
otherwise gets unusable, you can reboot to a clone and immediately get
back up and running and sort out the internal drive issues at a later time.
Also in my case, I also have a Macbook Pro as often I need to take my
work on the road to customer sites. This also gives me an additional level of
functional back up as I keep it "mirrored" as much as possible to my Mini,
so should the Mini die catastrophically, I can get immediately back up and
If you depend on your computer for your paycheck, there is no such
thing as too many backups and is a cost of doing business in the computer
Now I'm tending towards upgrading the RAM on this Mac for the time-being. Would the 3 GB max you mention be the 1 GB I currently have + 2 new GB RAM? I see that OWC offers a 4 GB kit for my model. I'm assuming that would be replacing the 1 GB I have with 2 GB, plus using one more slot.
Does making backups interrupt your workflow? It sounds like you're probably making backups at the end of the day.
I was thinking a good solution for me would be to have a script automatically saving a copy of the currently open file every hour to a flash drive or external HD as I'm working. Two deterrants:
1. As far as I can tell, my important & large Excel file was getting corrupted while saving (Save as). At least, it was only after the save that data was misplaced.
2. The time it takes to save as a possible interruptor of my workflow. That's why I was thinking of a new Computer with Thunderbolt, since it should be fast. What are you using?