full hard drive suggestions
August 19, 2015 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Older imac 250 GB full except 4 GB now. Mostly iphoto and itunes. I have an external terabyte HD for backup. What is the easiest way to free up space? Move photos or music off the hard drive? Which would be better. Have already looked for wasted space, cleaned out various folders etc numerous times. Thanks!
posted by dougiedd to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The easiest way to free up space is indeed to relocate your iTunes and iPhoto libraries to an external hard drive. The process for this is easily google-able. BUT do not use your back up drive! Because if the back up drive fails, you've lost both the original and the backup. Buy a second external HD, they're cheap.
posted by ejs at 11:28 AM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Since it's an iMac, and not a laptop, you'll be adding drives which you want to be connected at all times. Make sure to get a drive with sufficient cooling to be always-on.

Depending on which iMac model it is, it may be easy to change out the drive for a larger internal drive.

You'll also want the fastest interface your iMac will support. If it is new enough to have Thunderbolt, go that way. If it has no Thunderbolt, Firewire 800 is what you want.
posted by tomierna at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2015

1 terabyte external hard disks can be had for ~$50 these days. That's your solution.
posted by monospace at 11:34 AM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding another external hard drive.

I have a very small internal SSD in my own old iMac, and every couple of months I use a free application called OmniDiskSweeper to hunt for big files and folders I didn't know were wasting space on my drive.

All it does is show you the files and directories on your hard drive in order of size, but it's smart enough to look in the places where you wouldn't.

It can't distinguish between an important file and something your computer doesn't need, so don't delete anything you don't understand, but whenever I run it I seem to find a few gigabytes worth of outdated, old, or unnecessary files lurking somewhere on my hard drive.
posted by Polycarp at 11:35 AM on August 19, 2015

ejs speaks truth. Buy another drive that's at least 50% bigger than you think you'll need. I've had good luck with Other World Computing's Mercury Elite series.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:36 AM on August 19, 2015

I got fed up and put all my photos in iCloud when the new Photos app came out. But, iPhoto really hated being on an external drive, to the point of making the whole system painfully slow. I had this confirmed with another mefite in this thread. I'd keep my photos local (and backing up to wherever) until confirming that the new Photos is better with external libraries.
posted by homesickness at 11:38 AM on August 19, 2015

I had an old imac like this. I got a 1tb WD mybook, which was one of the only firewire400 drives i could find. Worked like a charm.

My number one suggestion is to get this. Every drive i tried, especially firewire drives, was CONSTANTLY spinning up and powering down. That will kill a drive SO FAST. You want the drive spinning 100% of the time if your system is on(and i set long sleep times as well, to prevent further cycling).

Those OWC mercury drives are well designed and excellent by the way. I have several, and one of them is something like 13 years old. I gave it away to a friend and it still works fine despite getting carried around and abused. I know part of the durability is the choice of internal drive, but the case being sturdy and the cooling being good definitely contributed a lot.
posted by emptythought at 12:08 PM on August 19, 2015

Thanks ALL: this is a Mid 2007 20 inch IMac.
Would external be better than getting a new internal HD?
posted by dougiedd at 2:09 PM on August 19, 2015

Wow, that's an old machine. Since you've probably got a few years left of life in it, a 1TB hybrid SSD would be a good solution to your problem. The machine will definitely run quicker. I have a hybrid in my 2011 Macbook Pro and it's great.
posted by puritycontrol at 3:05 PM on August 19, 2015

By now that drive must be really worn out and tired.
Replace it with a new fast WD 1TB Black Label.
posted by Mac-Expert at 3:16 PM on August 19, 2015

Sorry to ask but is moving to a new Drive easy?
posted by dougiedd at 3:29 PM on August 19, 2015

I used to own that machine and it's borderline impossible to replace the drive. It's VERY fiddly and you need a bunch of tools including suction cups, you have to remove the display, etc.

Just get an external. I'm an experienced technician and I could have done the repair myself without any stress, but decided it just wasn't worth the effort/labor.

By the way, I sold my imac(exact same size/year!) to a friend whose still using it as their main machine. It still runs great! It may be old, but it can run the newest version of OSX fine, and wasn't choking up on anything.

The one internal upgrade I would do is max out the ram if you haven't already. That's super easy/simple to do because there's a little access hatch. Mine with 4gb felt twice as fast as a clients machine I checked out with 2gb.(and oh my god, if you have 1gb I'm so sorry. For sure upgrade.)
posted by emptythought at 5:49 PM on August 19, 2015

You might try running Disk Inventory X to find big files. It has a very powerful visual representation of files.

Seconding picking up an extra external drive with enough cooling to have it run all the time.
posted by gregr at 6:08 AM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm in the process of a massive data purge/transfer right now, too. My first step was to download the free software DupeGuru, which very effectively searches for all duplicate files that you may have on your various drives. Between the several internal and external drives that I scanned with the program, I was able, by deleting dupes, to free up more than 1TB of HD space.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:16 AM on August 20, 2015

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