How I Upgrade iMacs and PCs for Cheap ~ 10 to 20 times speed improvement on old computers

Honestly, 99% of people could get by with a 10 to 15 year old computer. This is what I do to prolong the lives of older computers. I'm not a profesional, so don't take my word as gospel, but that also means that if I can do it, so can you.

So, my neighbor has an iMac that he wanted me to fix for him. He was complaining about it being slow, you know, the usual. I turned on his computer and saw a loading screen. It was from 2013, 10 years old already, so I wasn't expecting it to be super fast, but I swear, it took almost 10 minutes just to turn on, and another 10 minutes to open the web browser. Actually using the internet was impossible, with each webpage being completely unresposnsive. I looked around his computer to see if he had some boomer virus installed, but I didn't see anything. I had my suspicions, but what I did next confirmed them. Finally, I opened the task manager and saw that it was only using like 11% of the CPU. Okay, it's just a slow hard drive. Just replace it with an SSD and it should be fine.

[Skip to instructions]

I went ahead and did that, and the computer booted in 20 seconds, and the web brower took another 5 seconds to open. The computer was actually usable now.

Someone else in my neighborhood also had an iMac from 2017 with the same problem. She would actually open MS Word, then go make a cup of tea because it would take twenty minutes to open. It's crazy that Apple was still selling them with Hard Disk Drives (HDD) untill recently. Especially when Modern MacOS basically requires a Solid State Drive (SSD). She was going to replace a 5 year old computer that was perfectly fine, just needing faster storage. The people at the apple store would probably have told her to get a new computer or charged her $200 to $400 for what I did.

If you have a slow PC, check if it's still using a HDD. There's almost no excuse to still have one in a modern computer, SSDs are pretty cheap now ($30 to $60). The rest of this post is about iMacs now.

I already had some experience fixing some of my other neighbor's computers, so this would be a simple fix. Macs are annoying though since they are designed to keep you from fixing them yourself. I don't have a mac, but lucklily, they use standard SATA hard drives. I found an iFixit guide online, but they want you to buy all of iFixit's things to fix it. Don't be fooled. That's absolutely not necessary. Here's what I did instead.

2013 to 2019 iMac hard drive upgrade

Modified from iFixit's Guide

What you need:

Before you start:

If you are ever confused, look at the iFixit Guide. Think of this page as a supplement to that guide tell you some tips and alternatives, rather than as a wholly independent thing.

  1. The screen of the mac is glued to the body. iFixit wants you to buy their pizza cutter to cut thruogh the foam adhesive, but any knife is good enough. Run your blade along the top and sides of the mac, cutting the glue in between the screen and the body of the mac. Make sure not to stick the knife in more than half an inch to an inch, but you should be fine if you accidentally do more. The way I keep track is that I estimate one of the sections of my finger to be an inch. (You know how your fingers have three bendy things to them).
  2. Slightly open the mac from the top of the screen and look inside. There are two cables connecting the screen to the rest of the mac. Undo them.
  3. IMPORTANT!!! Don't touch the power supply on the mac or you'll get shocked. Look at the iFixit Guide for details. I take zero responsibility if you die.
  4. I prefer to not remove the adhesive in the bottom, and open up the mac like a clam shell, but you could remove that if you want.
  5. You should see the hard drive secured by two plastic things and four screws. Use your screwdriver to remove the four screws.
  6. Take out the hard drive.
  7. Connect both the hard disk drive and the SSD to your computer with two SATA ports. (Skip this and the next step if you don't have a computer like this)
  8. Download and run clonezilla to clone the hard drive to the SSD. (Figure this out on your own)
  9. Now we start putting the mac back together.
  10. Put the SSD where the hard drive was.
  11. Put the two plastic things and the screws back.
  12. Connect the two wires that connect the screen to the rest of the mac.
  13. Use your fingers to remove the excess adhesive through which you cut, and put the mounting tape or other adhesive where the old adhesive was. (if you don't like doing this, than you can buy the adhesive strips that iFixit sells)
  14. Put the screen back

And that should do it.

P.S. If you're curious, it was a 1 TB hard drive running at 5400 RPM before I replaced it. Absolutely crazy to be using in 2023.