Has your mac been running
After nearly two years of daily use, mine was. I started
with a basic Macbook, the first aluminum unibody model. 2.0GHz C2D, 2GB
RAM, 160GB, nearly full HDD. I got the beachball all the time and I was
considering a new mac. Thankfully, I upgraded instead. Here's what I
did, maybe it can help someone else as much as it helped me.
I replaced the 160GB, 5400rpm HDD with a 64GB SSD 500GB $69.95
I upgraded the 2GB of 1066MHz DDR3 to
I swapped the optical drive for another HDD. I got the optical bay
to SATA converter on eBay for $15 and a 500GB Samsung HDD on eBay 500GB $69.95
I ran a fresh install of Snow Leopard on the SSD using the DVD, before I put the optibay in.
I used the magic of Mac OS X's Symlink feature. A symlink is like a
shortcut/alias except the system doesn't see it as a file; it treats a
symlink as if it were the folder if was linking to. Creating a symlink
for your documents, music, and movies folders allow you to store all of
your data on the HDD while leaving the system and all apps on the SSD.
This effectively gave me the performance of a 512GB SSD ($1400 on
Amazon) for the price of $139.99 (SSD) + $69.99 (HDD).
Having 8GBs of RAM is overkill for most applications, at least in
10.6's stock configuration. The following tip essentially gave me an
SSD-grade performance boost all over again. Essentially, you can use a
RamDisk to turbocharge your system. A RamDisk makes your computer think
a portion of your RAM is actually a logical drive such as an SSD or an
HDD. Esperance DV is a software program that will create a RamDisk and
restore data to it automatically upon startup.
The speed boost comes when you copy your computer's most-requested
files to the RamDisk and fool it into thinking they are on the boot
drive. Again, making a Symlink will do this for you. First, make a
backup copy of your Macintosh HD/Users/yourname/Library/Caches folder.
Then, copy that to your RamDisk, delete the original folder and create
a symlink that points to the RamDisk. The result? Everything is much
much faster. Simple, everyday tasks such as web browsing, managing
folders, etc become instant. I have even noticed a difference in
I also moved Google Chrome, iTunes, and my iTunes library (not the
songs, just the database) to the RamDisk. The result is around 600MB
less of usable RAM, but extreme improvements in everyday computing
Then, I tweaked settings in Mac OS X to see if I could make it even
faster. Two programs will help accomplish this: Onyx and Maintain1. In
Onyx, I turned off all animations and useless Mac OS X services. This
not only sped everything up a bit more, it killed off all those
annoying transitions that are cool to watch the first time, but kill
Finally, in Maintain1, under the 'Net' tab, I checked the 'quick
increase' box. This changes some settings and optimizes your internet
connection for high-speed service (no, I'm not sure exactly what it
does. Something to do with time-out values). It resulted in a very
noticeable acceleration in page load time.
For $290, I made my Mac 'feel' faster than almost any Mac on the
market today, that I know of. It proved to be a much better option than
buying a new one outright.
Yes, the argument can be made that my computer isn't technically any
faster at processor-intensive tasks. It still uses a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo
processor and NVidia 9400M integrated graphics. Rendering video is only
slightly faster (due to disk improvements), and gaming is still
terrible. However, for everyday tasks such as web browsing, it is many
Note: Some of the procedures I outlined here are probably risky,
such as creating a symlink and moving your cache, not to mention
installing an optibay. If you're not comfortable with technology, you
should probably not attempt this. But if you are, have fun!
The best way (that I know of) to efficiently create a working symbolic link is by using the terminal.
Here is a list of what each of these four commands do:
- Copy all files in your 'documents' folder into a new 'Documents'
folder onto Macintosh Data HD (note, the * is used to indicate a space)
- Modify the old Documents folder to allow it to be removed (usually Mac OS X prohibits this)
- Remove the old Documents folder
- Create a symbolic link where the old Documents folder used to be,
that points to the newly copied Documents folder on Macintosh Data HD
cp -Rp ~/Documents /Volumes/MacintoshDataHD
chmod -R -N ~/Documents
rm -rf ~/Documents
ln -s /Volumes/MacintoshDataHD/Documents ~/Documents
The same procedure can be used to move the user cache to your
ramdisk, although I highly recommend you make another backup of the
folder as well (never have your only copy on the ramdisk, because
Esperance DV isn't the best about saving).