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Hi Brian,  quick question.  I have a 2017, 20.5" iMac, 775 GB available of 1TB.  It takes about 4' for my computer to boot up in the am.  Is this excessive?  Should I worry about this?



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4 Minutes?!??

Yeah, that's a bit excessive. It could be caused my a variety of things. From clogged vents, a failing HD, you upgrading the OS to current levels without a lot of RAM. Plus, Apple really crippled the 21.5" iMacs on purpose in terms of slower components. Slower Motherboards / Chipsets, Slower / Less Powerful Video Cards, Slow 5400 RPM HDs, only 8GB of RAM, etc. etc. I love my 27" iMac, and I will be buying another one soon, but the 21.5" models are meant for General Computing and are really under-powered on purpose. Apple wants you to "Go Big or Go Home" and you are penalized if you go with the less expensive options. (Even if you configure a brand new Mac. Upgrades cost more for the same blasted thing as opposed to if you selected the more expensive model to configure outright.)

OK, first things first. Let's figure out a game-plan.

How are your externals in terms of capacity? You never want to go more than 75% - 80% Full on ANY Mac HD, internal or external.

How much RAM do you have on your computer. 8GB? 16GB?

What Partition Types are your external drives. NTFS? macOS Extended (Journaled)? What OS are you running.

HOW MUCH CRAP DO YOU HAVE ON YOUR DESKTOP?!?!! The more files and folders you have on your Desktop, the slower the damn thing runs. Why? Because the Mac OS treats all of those files as "Open Windows," for lack of a better term. Even if they are just sitting there, being unused.

Have you ever run a Clean Up Program, such as CleanMyMac X

You know what? Could you fill this out and report back...

Details about your computer's health.


Now, it could also be a failing internal HD, but it also could be bloated / corrupted software. Before the problems get worse, do you have a Full Time Machine Backup? Is this HD a 5400 RPM / Traditional Spinning HD model? If so that drive can be failing on you. For a comparison, my 27" iMac with a 1TB SSD Drive boots up in about 15 seconds, from pressing the power button to the log-in screen. It's about 15-16 seconds. Yes, you should be concerned with 4 minutes. Something is up.

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I have a Mac desktop running Big Sur 11.6.4 and Photoshop 23.3. It is over 6 years old, and has 16GB of RAM. Its hard drive has 776GB free out of 1 TBGB, and it runs a Radeon Pro 555 2 GB graphics card. The last time I shut down was last night. I run a cleanup program about once a week.

I have 2 EHD's and they have 4 tb available out of 6 tb.  These are Mac OS Extended (Journaled) .  I also run Time Machine with a WD hard drive and I have 679gb available on a 4tb drive.  It is APFS format.

On my desktop I have 3 aliases, icons of my  2 ehd's (when turned on), icon of Time Machine ehd and icon of Macintosh HD.

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Nothing is really jumping out at me, other than your Big Sur is a bit out of date. It's up to 11.7.10 now. If you head to preferences and then software update, you should see Apple bugging you to upgrade to the latest OS. Just below it, there should be something that says "Other updates are available." 



Then a "More info..." Link. Click that link.


At this point, you should see the other updates that are available. Usually Safari is listed and the latest version of Big Sur should be in the list. This screen shot is from a few months ago, and they are up to 11.7.0 now. I would update your Big Sur.



Now the bad news. Nothing is jumping out at me, other than you have a 6 year old Mac. Chances are, you have a spinning 5400 RPM Traditional (or Fusion) Hard Drive and that Mac is starting to show its age. 16GB today is like 8GB years ago. These days you want 32GB, or more. 64GB is also very nice to have. The Video Card is also a lower-end model, so Photoshop will either be lagging or complaining.

So what can you do?

In reality, it's time for a new Mac. But that's really expensive for a lot of people. most do not want to fork out $4300 - $4600-ish for a new Mac. Even if you went with a Mac Mini, Apple has made it that the only displays that look the best is their stupidly overpriced Apple Studio Display.

I'm sure you are going to ask, "What about the 24" iMac? That's cheaper."

It will put you right back into the same situation you are in now; the 24" iMac is really the replacement of the 21.5" Mac. Slower components, slower this and that...and Apple changed their screens, so calibrating them will be a challenge. Honestly? I really haven't seen many members here talk about the 24" Macs. I do know that some of the Calibration Companies next version of Calibrators will work with the future Apple Displays that are coming; older calibrators will not work with the screens coming in 2024 and beyond. It's only money, right?

I do have an article, Buying a Mac in 2023, which takes you through step-by-step on how I would buy / configure a Mac today. I'm thinking there might be a minor refresh in the next month or so, but the steps & options are the same. Keep in mind, with ALL of Apple's products, that there is no upgrading after-the-fact. Everything like the RAM, HD Controller, Video GPU, the CPU...is all built into the M2 chip. So if you don't fork out the extra money to purchase the upgrades, like RAM and HD Capacity, too-bad-so-sad...you are buying a new computer sooner rather than later.

The other thing you could do, is take your 21.5" iMac and have the HD replaced with a SSD model. This is something that I would not attempt yourself, hell, even * I * wouldn't bother messing with the screen / glue that surrounds it to get to where the HD is. OWC makes adapter kits for something like a Samsung Evo 860 or 870 SSD Drive, and then you would restore from your Time Machine Backup. I'd have a local Mac Repair shop do this for you. Now, don't get me wrong...this is a Band-Aid fix...you still need a new Mac after 6 years. But this option should get you about another year, just long enough for you to save up money if needed.

With the ongoing Import Tariffs from China, chip shortages (yes...it's still a thing, but it's better,) and the overall cost of inflation / cost of living where it is, I'd expect Macs to keep the same prices as they are now. ($4000+ for a new Mac) if you want one that's "Good for Photo Editing." 


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Thanks Brian.  I was afraid to update my Big Sur but since you recommend it, I will do this.  Unfortunately, I live in Canada and a new Mac is close to $6,000 CAD.  However, you have confirmed my suspicions about needing a new computer soonish.  I'll wait for the minor refresh you mention and then probably bite the bullet.  Ugh..

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At least you don't live in Australia. Their prices are a bit more, I think around the A$8000 mark. If you can hold on until Spring of 2024...new Mac Models should appear. This will give you enough time to save up between now and then. Honestly, I really don't want you to waste the money on your 21.5" Mac...I hate wasting money on this shit. :D 

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Wow!  $8K/!  Yes, I don't think I'll spend anymore $ on this machine.  I'll wait until spring and then get your advice on what to buy then.  Thanks so much Brian.  You are the best!

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