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January 12, 2010 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth upgrading my 2006 iMac from OS X Tiger to Snow Leopard?

Over the past few years this thing has been flawless, as of late however, it's been making me worry. I've been backing up the hard drive like crazy in preparation for the worst. I'm currently running Tiger.

For instance, recently the only way I can get it to shut down is with a hard close (holding down the power button until it turns off).

Some programs are getting sluggish when loading, etc, etc.

Anyhoo, I was just wondering if an OS upgrade might help, or because this thing is almost a whopping four years old if I should just start saving now for a new system. Below are the specs if it matters.

Thanks much for your help!

2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT w/256
500GB Serial ATA Drive
posted by Zoyashka to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Snow Leopard is great but I wouldn't advise anyone to spend money prolonging the life of a 4-year-old computer. If I were you I'd save up for a new machine (to make the purchase in, say, a year if you can hold out that long). The new machine will come pre-installed with Snow Leopard or whatever the latest OS version is at that time.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:59 AM on January 12, 2010

I'd probably just do a clean install of Tiger. It's possible, if your current install is really crufty, that upgrading to Snow Leopard might feel faster, but it's actually a downgrade in terms of performance from what a clean install of Tiger would be.

OS X got progressively faster and more responsive from 10.0 - 10.4; 10.5 was the first release that involved a performance hit (IMO). If you have good hardware, this hit might be worthwhile for the new features, but I was not particularly sold on them and consequently haven't upgraded. (Apparently 10.6 fixed some of the performance issues in 10.5, but I still think it's a net loss from 10.4; it's just masked by 10.6's requirement of newer, Intel-based hardware.)

Also, I think you should try to do some research and figure out why your system is slow. There is no good reason why a computer should just get progressively slower over time. Software doesn't wear out; if a computer is running more slowly now than when it was new, it's because you (or someone else) has installed something that's consuming resources.

If it's just that you're using newer, more resource-intensive applications than you did when your computer was new, and its hardware is just no longer up to the task, fine — that's a valid reason for upgrading. But to just buy new hardware instead of reinstalling the OS? (Particualy given that a new system is going to require you to move all your stuff, reinstall your apps, etc., anyway, while a clean OS install would just shove the existing system to the side and probably not break much...) It seems ridiculous that you'd not try a clean install first. Compared to the cost of a new machine, it's basically free.

The only problem I'm having with 10.4 today is that more and more applications are unfortunately requiring 10.5 or 10.6. Eventually you may get to a point where you really need an application that's 10.6 only, and that will force the upgrade. (And then the performance hit may force a hardware purchase.) That's unfortunate, but it happens.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:08 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your specs are remarkably similar to my year-old MacBook, which is humming along just fine with Snow Leopard. I don't suspect I'll need to upgrade for quite awhile, and, really, don't think you would have to either. I'd just get Snow Leopard, which should keep you current for awhile (until then next OS update, at least).
posted by General Malaise at 9:18 AM on January 12, 2010

For $29, it's definitely worth it, however your issues may be issues with just an OS reinstall.

Even though its 4 years old, it's in no way outdated with a 2.33ghz C2D. You'd be silly to think about replacing it already. You might think about bumping it up to 4GB of ram though.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:19 AM on January 12, 2010

I'm running Snow Leopard on an older MacBook Pro than that and it runs faster since and the OS has a slightly smaller footprint since the Snow Leopard doesn't have a lot of PPC and Universal Binary baggage with it. Things like the Finder being zippier makes the overall experience seem faster. And for $29 it was totally worth it.

But even on Tiger not being able to shut down w/o forcing it means you have some sort of errant process running. You can look in the activity monitor and see if there's something running that shouldn't. Also look at the Console to see if there a log entry or two for some process that has run amok.
posted by birdherder at 10:31 AM on January 12, 2010

Seconding wongcorgi—your system specs are still pretty good and there's no reason to get a new system.

If you decide to either keep Tiger or get the Snow Leopard upgrade, do an Archive and Install so you get a fresh OS install and get to keep your data.
posted by zsazsa at 10:37 AM on January 12, 2010

Also, by the way, you can't do the $29 upgrade from Tiger to Snow Leopard; you have to buy the full pack ($169, I think). Still worth it, as your computer will be current longer than Tiger is relevant.
posted by General Malaise at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2010

Its only 30 dollars. I updated my not often used OSX partition on my macbook recently and its about as powerful as your imac. As others have said, thats still a pretty powerful machine. Dont let the latest and greatest crowd make you feel bad about your hardware.

That said, I wouldnt just do the upgrade. Id wipe the disk and start fresh.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:46 AM on January 12, 2010

Also, by the way, you can't do the $29 upgrade from Tiger to Snow Leopard; you have to buy the full pack ($169, I think). Still worth it, as your computer will be current longer than Tiger is relevant.

You aren't supposed to upgrade directly from Tiger to Snow Leopard but it's really an honor system kind of deal. There's nothing on the SL disc to prevent the Tiger -> SL upgrade if one is comfortable violating the licensing agreement.
posted by 6550 at 11:07 AM on January 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Echoing the 'backup and reinstall' suggestions. From everything I've heard, Snow Leo isn't the performance boost for older machines that the previous upgrades were.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2010

Your Mac isn't "older." Sure, it's from 2006, but it's a 2.33 ghz Core 2 Duo. I'd recommend more ram though. Definitely! RAM makes such a big difference.

Snow Leopard is only $29, so there's little cost to the upgrade. I'm not sure it's much of a performance boost, but you'll get Time Machine and other goodies by upgrading past Tiger.

That being said... If I were you, I'd reformat your Mac's internal HD and do a clean install of Snow Leopard. If you're patient enough, DON'T import your backed up home folder at all. Drag & drop in your old files and reinstall apps from scratch. I say this because you're clearly having some problems that are either OS or hardware related. If they're OS issues, you don't want to import any gunk from your previously installed stuff into the new OS.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:54 PM on January 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, all good advice..especially the clean install--I hadn't thought of that!

2oh1...definitely a good plan with drag and drop, there's not much on there except for music and document files that I want to keep.

I'm glad to hear that probably I won't have to shell out too much money for a whole new system (fingers crossed). I'm quite happy with this one, just getting worried over the recent bugginess.

Thanks again!
posted by Zoyashka at 1:30 PM on January 12, 2010

FWIW, I have an early 2006 1.83Ghz Core Duo with 2GB of memory, and Snow Leopard runs just fine. It feels like some apps and the Finder are a bit snappier than with Leopard, but that could be just be me wanting it to be snappier under Snow Leopard. Anyway, I feel like it was worth the $30.
posted by DakotaPaul at 7:32 PM on January 12, 2010

I have the same iMac as you, and i'm running Snow Leopard, and everything is more or less awesome. You can do a clean install with the $30 upgrade CD. I think you are supposed to be upgrading from Tiger, but Apple doesn't really enforce this.

You might want to try and figure out why your system is getting slower. It shouldn't for no good reason. Are there apps you run all the time that might be fucking things up? Is your hard drive going to give up the ghost? Etc.
posted by chunking express at 7:43 AM on January 13, 2010

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