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From Just a Power-House to BEAST

Nov 13, 2017

and "There and Back Again" with the old iMac. There was about a month between postings recently – a couple of (minor, major, exasperating, fun) computer issues contributed to that. the short version is that both hard drives in my 27", 3TB Fusion Drive iMac needed replacing – the SATA totally shot and the SSD giving warnings. This isn't common, but considering the use I put a machine to, combined with my amazingly good luck in the past with hard drives lasting seemingly forever, I was long overdue for this.

The New iMac

     First I ordered a new machine – from the Apple Refurb store (for those who don't know about this look for the word "Refurbished" in very small print near the bottom of Apple's home page. You can get hundreds off along with full warranty, and I wouldn't buy any other way). It's anbother 27" iMac, 3TB Fusion, 32 gigs RAM, Radeon Pro 580 Video Card, 5K display and 4.2 i7 processor – it's a beast. AND almost $600 reduced, with full warranty. Cool. The only caution here is that if you see something you want, act fast. The best deals are usually one-offs, and can disappear while you're trying to make a decision.

Of course it took almost a week to salvage everything from the damaged HD on the older iMac, backup drive and on-line backups (last resort because it is definitely the slow way), and get everything up and running again.

 Naturally, I had to construct a new icon to replace the standard HD icon on the home screen – an iMac screen sporting a little beastie – naming the HD "Beast" Hey, it's things like this that put a smile on one's face after a week of trauma.

Above: three images showing the process on the old iMac (below) and, or course, my "Beast" icon for the new machine.

The Old iMac – the other trauma

     I then ordered two new drives for the "dead" 2012, downloaded a couple of instruction videos and proceded to take it apart – to the point where the iMac was an empty shell sitting face up on my work table, parts and screws strewn in an orderly fashion around the room. 57 steps apart and another 57 steps back together. Lots of coffee went down, and Nan stood by to lend a hand in operations that required three.

     The first complication hit after I got everything back together and went to boot up – nothing but three beeps. I looked this up and this means "bad RAM". I soon determined that at least one of two 8 gig RAMS (they work in pairs) had gone bad in the process. Fortunately I had gotten them from OWC and they had a lifetime warranty. I'm up and running on two 4 giggers while awaiting delivery of the replacement eighters – which will take the thing back to 24 gigs.

     I do not recommend this procedure to either the faint of heart or anyone not prepared to handle complications. My solution to potential "complications" is to get my replacement parts from OWC on line – this gives me access to the best telephone tech help, from the most Mac knowledgeable people I have found. This time was no exception. After the RAM issue was cleared up, I found that the system restore set-up didn't want to "find" the hard drives properly. This would be necessary if I were to, as planned, set the SSD drive for the system & apps. and the SATA drive for everytingh else. So I called tech help.

      Tech help said that this inexplicably occurs with some machines. and that the solution is to go into the Unix code hidden under the Mac OS and restore the Fusion Drive system – that's where the two drives come up and function as one drive. The machine comes this way out of the box, so it's definitely acceptable, if not preferable. That meant a good half hour of typing Unix code dictated to me over the phone. Not really a lot of fun. I could have gotten the code on line, but since I already had the techie on the phone, and it was free, I kept the guy on there until I was up and running.

     I'm now configuring it for our oldest girl who can sure use it – hers is about the same age, but smaller, much-much slower and not tripped-out at all. This one, with two new, faster hard drives, 3.4 i7 processor, great Video card for 2012, etc. pretty much rocks now. She'll have all that room, along with 24 gigs of ram and a speed gain over her machine of about 10X.

     I would fix Caron up with a cool icon for her "new" iMac if i thought she would get as much of a kick ut of it as I do. But, while she does write children's books, she doesn't really retain an eight year old’s (Nan’s assessment) urge to play with her toys that I have.