How I solved my slow iMac with constantly working HDD


The mighty iMac – great once you fix Spotlight

A couple of days ago, I blogged about that I could have managed to solve a really frustrating problem that made my iMac dead slow. Turns out that I had.

In short, my 27″ iMac has been really (really!) slow since I bought it. The HDD was working more or less constantly, especially when starting and waking up the iMac, but also when just running e.g. Firefox. When the HDD was reading and writing like hell, the iMac went into slow motion mode. I use OS X 10.6.7 and have a BootCamp partition on which I have Windows 7 installed.

Neither the retailer, nor the service provider (to which i sent the computer for service) nor Apple Support were able to figure out why this was…and as a matter of fact, the SP did not even confirm the slow behavior. They probably just ran Disk Utility…and managed to scratch the chassi when doing so.

Last Thursday, however, I finally managed to solve the problem and end 6 months daily frustration. To help others out, I sent the solution to my colleagues…and instantly received a bunch of responses from equally frustrated colleagues who had the same problem without being able to solve it.

The problem turned out to be (as discussed at that Spotlight tries to index the BootCamp partition. When it fails to do so…it just tries once more…then once more…then…well, you understand 🙂

The solution is to add the BootCamp partition to the Spotlight ignore list. When I did, the problems stopped immediately and my Mac is now fast as lightning. It’s an amazing difference. You may need to re-add the ignore after rebooting (I had to do it once) and maybe add a certain file to the BootCamp root, but when you have, you will be in a world of speed.

Now, since no one (except the great people at the forum) was able to help me out with this problem, my advice to Apple is to:

  1. Fix the Spotlight bug (duh)
  2. Recognise it, so that you know what is causing something that makes your great computers sooo slow and your customers soooooooo frustrating.
  3. Recognise it, so that, when people call in in desperation, you will be able to help.
  4. Please, tell your SP:s not to scratch my monitor the next time I send it to them. It is impossible for me to prove that they did.
If you have the same problem, I really hope that you found a solution (and some piece of mind) here.