Drive Genius ( www.prosofteng.com) or
Disk Warrior ( www.alsoft.com) to check its
status and even recover damaged files.
First, I added two modules of 8GB RAM
memory (for $160) replacing one of the two
original banks of 2 x 2GB RAM modules,
giving me a total of 20GB RAM. This is easy
and can be done by anyone because there
is a small access door at the bottom of the
case for user-friendly upgrading. Before I
made any other modifications, I made sure
the new memory was working.
Believe it or not, the front glass screen
on an iMac is held on by magnets. OWC
provides small suction cups in its DIY kit so
you can gently pull the glass free from the
frame and remove the LCD screen—which
is held in place by eight screws—and get to
the computer’s guts. Some of the tasks are
fiddly, but unless you have giant fingers it’s
It would take several pages to describe
the exact processes involved and the
differences between all the iMac models,
but OWC’s website provides detailed
videos and step-by-step instructions that
take you through what’s needed to open
the iMac case and install new hardware.
Although it looked daunting at first, it
turned out to be very easy in practice. As
long as one is careful when detaching
cables and making sure they are plugged
back in correctly, the tasks are simple.
I set up my system so that I am only
loading the OS and programs on the
SSD while using the 2TB hard drive for
data storage. Rather than just transfer
everything, including five versions (!)
of Photoshop, from my old hard drive, I
decided to take the opportunity to create
a clean installation with the latest Yosemite
OS. This meant getting everything up and
running was a bit more complicated as I
had to re-install programs, often from their
original installation disks.
I placed the old internal drive in a
Newer Tech (sold by OWC) miniStack
enclosure case ($69), so I can still access old
programs and data easily. In fact, I can also
boot up from this drive if needed, although
I have not had to since I did the upgrade.
So far, I’ve found that all my reguarly-used
programs work on my rejuvenated iMac.
If self-operating on your Mac is too
daunting, OWC or your local independent
Mac store are good backup options.
WAS THE UPGRADE WORTHWHILE?
In one word: yes. The iMac boots up and
loads programs about five times faster now.
It boots up so quickly, in fact, that I now turn
it off if I’m going to be away overnight. I
also no longer find Safari getting sluggish
even when I have dozens of windows open.
Bottom line: for a modest $500 to $600,
I have what feels like a new computer. As
long as the main motherboard, display
and graphics card keep working (they are
too expensive to replace economically),
I reckon my iMac will be good to go for
another few years.
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BELOW: Once the glass cover and LCD screen
are removed, you can see the guts of the 27-
inch iMac. The main hard drive is in the center
and the optical drive is to the right.