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FYI, in addition to publishing Low End Mac and doing some Mac consulting, I'm working a third shift job 2 to 4 nights a week, so replying to emails and phone calls may take some time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Maddening Slowdowns

Received an email last week from someone with an Intel-based iMac complaining of a "maddening slowdown" recently, especially with Firefox and Safari. She's running Mac OS X 10.4.11 "Tiger" on a Core 2 Duo iMac with 1 GB of installed RAM - and using Adobe Creative Suite. There's plenty of room on her hard drive (a nearly full hard drive can cause slowdowns).

Most likely culprit: Not enough RAM. You can run Tiger okay with 512 MB of RAM on a PowerPC Mac, but 1 GB is more realistic for Intel Macs. Add to that the memory demands of Adobe Creative Suite, and 2 GB is the least you want. She's ordered 4 GB for her iMac, and that's going to unleash its full potential.

I also suggested she try out Camino, which is my favorite browser (a version of Firefox optimized for Macs). And since she's using Comcast - same as here - I suggested trying OpenDNS, which might also speed things up a bit.

She emailed overnight that yesterday the "frighteningly slow startups" went away, along with a message from Spotlight. I hadn't considered that Spotlight indexing might be a factor, as I haven't typically allowed my G4 Power Macs to sleep, as that unmounts any devices attached to PCI cards - so anything on USB 2.0, for instance. (Since switching to my dual Mac/dual monitor setup with Teleport, I am manually sleeping both Power Macs at the end of my work day. Only the server remains awake 24/7.)

Anyhow, she's thrilled with the startup speed and very happy with Camino. The memory upgrade should arrive soon, and then her iMac will reach its full potential.

UPDATE: The problem returned, and it's sounding more like the hard drive is beginning to fail. Fortunately it's still under AppleCare.

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