I have a 2007 iMac, maxed out on RAM, with the original Apple Hard drive. Given that most drives would've failed by now, I feel like I'm on borrowed time.

That being said, I'd like to extend the life of this machine as much as I can, however it's very slow and feels slower than when I got it.

I can think of a few options and I'm wondering, based on experience, how likely these are to make the machine faster and extend its life:

  1. wipe the internal drive, re-install - hope being more space and a fresh install makes things better
  2. get some suction cups and upgrade the drive - dicey, but cheap
  3. find someone (Apple?) to upgrade the drive - more expensive, or maybe not possible?

I would probably not get an SSD for options 2 and 3, as I'm still concerned about reliability, and the price/GB is just to high.

Also note that I have repaired permissions and repaired the disk several times.

So, will these make a noticeable difference, or is it just that it's been 4 years and the machine feels slow?


First, start by determining whether it's just an issue with your current software, e.g. a user profile full of trash. On reinstallation from backup and how to determine whether it's maybe just your user profile. How to diagnose a slow Mac. Cleaning up Mac OS X.

Since your hard drive is already a 7200 rpm drive and you maxed out your RAM and don't want an SSD, I don't think you can do a lot here. SSDs are really fast though, and since you should always keep good backups anyway...

You should be able to find someone who'll replace the hard drive for you. We can't really say if you're skilled enough to do it on your own. There are tons of guides on the web on how to do it. It's still far from being a user-serviceable part though.

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  • The iMac hard disk is a 3.5" – mmmmmm May 20 '11 at 19:31

Have you done a Disk Utility "Repair Disk" on it recently? It might be that there are fixable problems with the volume data structures that are causing slowness.

After that I'd recommend the wipe (with "zero out data" so every block gets written to, allowing the drive to detect and lock out bad blocks) and re-install. Don't just directly restore a backup, but do a clean install of the OS if you can, then migrate your home directory over. That way you get a clean OS image in case there were things you'd installed on the system but forgotten about, or setting you'd changed, that caused slowness. The nice thing about this approach is that it doesn't cost anything but some of your time.

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  • I have done the repair disk/permissions stuff (updated the question to indicate this) – davetron5000 May 21 '11 at 14:46

I just replaced the hard drive in my 2007 iMac as the hard drive was showing signs of failure for a few weeks. I used Ccc to transfer my whole system to a new iMac. This left me with sadness about the old iMac. So I decided to go for the hard drive replacement, DIY thanks to some great videos that some great folks made. I fortunately had the original snow leopard dvd that made the rebirth easy. I am currently determining whether to leave it or upgrade to newer OS. But it is definitely snappier, and I don't see any more freezing screens, spinning balls, or blinking question marks, since the replacement.

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