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  1. #1
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    I just replaced a mid-2015 iMac with a new 2019 iMac. The new model has a faster processor, a faster Fusion drive and a faster video card but has only 8GB of RAM compared to the older model which had 16.
    I have my Photos library on an external USB 3.0 Western Digital drive (not an SSD drive) and it is pretty large (85,000 items, total size about 690GB of 3TB total for the drive).
    I have noticed since transferring everything to the new iMac that while just about every program (including Windows 10 running under Parallels, Microsoft Office and Pixelmator (Original and Pro) run much faster than before EXCEPT Photos. There a lots of pinwheels - like when having a picture open to larger view (double clicking), opening the Edit screen or trying to us the Edit In command to Pixelmator Pro. Much more pinwheels and hesitations than when the same drive was plugged into the older iMac.
    Could lowering the amount of RAM from 16-8 be the cause? I have tried running Photos with Activity Monitor running and the little graph of Memory Pressure never changes from Green to either Yellow or Red.
    I do realize that this is a large library to keep on an external HD - especially a non-SSD one - but Photos (as opposed to every other app I have used) seemed to work much better (again same external hd) on the older machine.
    Any Suggestions? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    chscag's Avatar
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    You didn't identify which iMac you purchased. The 27" model has user upgradeable memory, so are we to assume that you have the 21.5" which does not allow user upgradeable memory?

    And.. any time you have that size library on an external hard drive, it's not going to be a speed demon. I have no idea why it seemed faster on your 2015 iMac. I suggest if you wish to operate that way, that you purchase an external SSD with a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connection. That's going to be an expensive external hard drive but it will be very fast. I know, because I have one that I use with my 2017 iMac from one of its USB-C/TB3 ports. It's a Samsung T5.

  3. #3
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    ferrarr's Avatar
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    How did you "move or copy" everything to your new iMac? Could this just be an "indexing" of the new macOS or Photos setup?
    -- Bob --
    Please backup. Everything has a life cycle, unexpected and warning free. Nothing will last as long as you want it to.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    You didn't identify which iMac you purchased. The 27" model has user upgradeable memory, so are we to assume that you have the 21.5" which does not allow user upgradeable memory?

    And.. any time you have that size library on an external hard drive, it's not going to be a speed demon. I have no idea why it seemed faster on your 2015 iMac. I suggest if you wish to operate that way, that you purchase an external SSD with a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connection. That's going to be an expensive external hard drive but it will be very fast. I know, because I have one that I use with my 2017 iMac from one of its USB-C/TB3 ports. It's a Samsung T5.
    Sorry thought I did they were both 21.5 models which don’t allow users to upgrade the RAM.
    I realize what you are saying about the size and the drive but that doesn’t explain the change from the performance on the older iMac. That is why I am trying to see if anyone knows if the RAM - the only way the older iMac was better - could be the culprit.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ferrarr View Post
    How did you "move or copy" everything to your new iMac? Could this just be an "indexing" of the new macOS or Photos setup?

    Time Machine backup. And an Apple senior tech had me also try setting up the newer iMac as a new install and only reinstall Pixelmator Pro thinking it might be something with the Time Machine backup but the Photos library acted the same.

  6. #6
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swandy View Post
    Could lowering the amount of RAM from 16-8 be the cause? I have tried running Photos with Activity Monitor running and the little graph of Memory Pressure never changes from Green to either Yellow or Red.
    I do realize that this is a large library to keep on an external HD - especially a non-SSD one - but Photos (as opposed to every other app I have used) seemed to work much better (again same external hd) on the older machine.
    Any Suggestions?
    Some thoughts:

    1. How many different apps do you have open when the pinwheels begin?
    2. How many photos do you have open at the same time?
    3. What sort of connection do you have between each computer & the drive (old & new iMac)? Both USB...or something different?
    4. Have you looked at Activity Monitor to see if there are any unexpected apps running that might be slowing things down?
    5. Do you have any virus apps or "cleaner" apps running? These can sometimes cause issues.

    Just trying to "tease" out some details & see if we can come up with something.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
    Some thoughts:

    1. How many different apps do you have open when the pinwheels begin?
    2. How many photos do you have open at the same time?
    3. What sort of connection do you have between each computer & the drive (old & new iMac)? Both USB...or something different?
    4. Have you looked at Activity Monitor to see if there are any unexpected apps running that might be slowing things down?
    5. Do you have any virus apps or "cleaner" apps running? These can sometimes cause issues.

    Just trying to "tease" out some details & see if we can come up with something.

    - Nick
    1. Usually nothing much - maybe iTunes and Pixelmator Pro when I am exporting photos to it.
    2. Only allows you to enlarge and edit one photo at a time, so one.
    3. USB 3.0 on both, though the newer iMac has USB-C and I purchased an adapter by Syntech to convert the USB 3.0 cables to USB-C but that doesn't seem to improve the throughput of the drive.
    4. Yes (thought I mentioned that in the original post). The graph at the bottom Memory Pressure is always Green and Photos rarely goes slight above 1GB of ram - usually in the 700-900MB range.
    5. No to both. And the Apple Senior Tech had me run a program to search for Malware and it came up empty because that was his thought.
    Thanks

  8. #8
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    chscag's Avatar
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    Converting USB 3.0 cables to USB-C is not going to improve the speed of the transfer as the input-output will still be at USB 3.0 speeds. The 8 GB of memory that you have in the newer iMac should be sufficient so I don't think that's the problem either.

    What was the size of the Fusion drive on the 2015 iMac and what is the size of the fusion drive on the 2019 model? Apple has clearly stated that the larger the fusion drive, the larger and faster the SSD part of the drive will be. Even though the newer fusion drive is faster, if it is smaller than the one you had on the 2015 model, that would mean the SSD part is also smaller and likely slower. That could be the difference.

    When all is said and done, like I stated above you really need a fast USB-C/TB3 connected external SSD to move that many photos at fast speeds.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    Converting USB 3.0 cables to USB-C is not going to improve the speed of the transfer as the input-output will still be at USB 3.0 speeds. The 8 GB of memory that you have in the newer iMac should be sufficient so I don't think that's the problem either.

    What was the size of the Fusion drive on the 2015 iMac and what is the size of the fusion drive on the 2019 model? Apple has clearly stated that the larger the fusion drive, the larger and faster the SSD part of the drive will be. Even though the newer fusion drive is faster, if it is smaller than the one you had on the 2015 model, that would mean the SSD part is also smaller and likely slower. That could be the difference.

    When all is said and done, like I stated above you really need a fast USB-C/TB3 connected external SSD to move that many photos at fast speeds.
    The older iMac had a 1TB Normal (non-Fusion) drive. The new one has a 1TB Fusion Drive. (And yes, unfortunately, I figured since the drives were designed for USB 3.0 speeds, using that adapter would not increase the speeds. What it did was free up the regular USB ports.

  10. #10
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    chscag's Avatar
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    Well now it's even more of a mystery why your new machine isn't faster?

    Here's why.... You stated that your old machine had a normal hard drive, however, Apple used the slower (5400 RPM) and smaller (3.5") type hard drives in their 21.5" series iMacs. Only the 27" models had the faster 7200 RPM drives installed. The newer iMac with the fusion drive should be many times faster than the older one.

    I suspect now that there is something else going on with your newer iMac. It definitely should be faster than the older one. You might want to have Apple check it out while your iMac is still under warranty.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by chscag View Post
    Well now it's even more of a mystery why your new machine isn't faster?

    Here's why.... You stated that your old machine had a normal hard drive, however, Apple used the slower (5400 RPM) and smaller (3.5") type hard drives in their 21.5" series iMacs. Only the 27" models had the faster 7200 RPM drives installed. The newer iMac with the fusion drive should be many times faster than the older one.

    I suspect now that there is something else going on with your newer iMac. It definitely should be faster than the older one. You might want to have Apple check it out while your iMac is still under warranty.
    I have a faster external SSD drive - USB-C - on order from Amazon. Not sure if I should waste my time copying the library file to that drive and see if everything improves. Because unfortunately once the library is actually copied, iCloud will not realize it is the same library with the same files (because it is on a different drive) and will start the Updating and then the Uploading procedure all over again. (Why iCloud does not realize that these are the same files it already has backed up and just on a different drive is beyond me!) But several people - including yourself - seem to feel that aside from moving to a 27" iMac which can have a bigger internal HD/FD/SSD drive than 1TB, that would be the best shot of improving the Photos performance.
    And while I agree that I would have expected Photos - even on the USB 3.0 external drive - to work at least as quickly as on the older iMac, every other program that I have tested (including Pixelmator, Pixelmator Pro, Parallels w/Windows 10 and Microsoft Office for Mac) all work noticeably better on the new iMac. Only Photos is screwed up. Thanks.

  12. #12
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swandy View Post
    4. Yes (thought I mentioned that in the original post). The graph at the bottom Memory Pressure is always Green and Photos rarely goes slight above 1GB of ram - usually in the 700-900MB range.
    This is not the answer to question #4 I asked above. You answered a "memory pressure" question...I didn't ask about "memory pressure"...I asked about if you saw any unexpected apps running. To answer this question you need to click on a different tab in Activity Monitor (there are 5 tabs that can be clicked on for different info.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
    This is not the answer to question #4 I asked above. You answered a "memory pressure" question...I didn't ask about "memory pressure"...I asked about if you saw any unexpected apps running. To answer this question you need to click on a different tab in Activity Monitor (there are 5 tabs that can be clicked on for different info.

    - Nick
    Sorry you are right. Nothing that didnít check out in a Google search.

  14. #14
    Photos for Mac - 8GB of RAM question
    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swandy View Post
    Sorry you are right. Nothing that didn’t check out in a Google search.
    Good deal...thanks for checking. If there had been some unrecognized apps running in the list...they may have been using up a lot of system resources...leading to the pinwheels.

    It does seem that the external HD to computer interface may be the bottleneck. Why things performed better with your old iMac is hard to say. I think as alluded to earlier...maybe there was something that was carried over from the Time Machine restore.

    Just a wild thought. Since the Time Machine restore was from the old 2015 iMac to the new iMac...what OS version was the old iMac running? My thought is...if the 2015 iMac was running an older OS version...make double sure that the apps being used now on the new iMac are fully compatible with the OS being run on the new iMac.

    A potentially outdated app coming from the 2015 iMac Time Machine restore usually shouldn't run on the new iMac...but from time to time...individual apps can have more of a gray-area like compatibility.

    There's a website called roaringapps.com which tracks the compatibility of many apps...and the compatibility categories for some apps can have...Yes, No, and sort of a "Maybe"...when users report mixed results with a specific app and OS version.

    - Nick
    - Too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
    - Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some slow computer tips: Speedup
    - Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
    - Apple Battery Info. Battery

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by pigoo3 View Post
    Good deal...thanks for checking. If there had been some unrecognized apps running in the list...they may have been using up a lot of system resources...leading to the pinwheels.

    It does seem that the external HD to computer interface may be the bottleneck. Why things performed better with your old iMac is hard to say. I think as alluded to earlier...maybe there was something that was carried over from the Time Machine restore.

    Just a wild thought. Since the Time Machine restore was from the old 2015 iMac to the new iMac...what OS version was the old iMac running? My thought is...if the 2015 iMac was running an older OS version...make double sure that the apps being used now on the new iMac are fully compatible with the OS being run on the new iMac.

    A potentially outdated app coming from the 2015 iMac Time Machine restore usually shouldn't run on the new iMac...but from time to time...individual apps can have more of a gray-area like compatibility.

    There's a website called roaringapps.com which tracks the compatibility of many apps...and the compatibility categories for some apps can have...Yes, No, and sort of a "Maybe"...when users report mixed results with a specific app and OS version.

    - Nick
    Thanks for that. Nope it was also running the latest version of Mojave like the new iMac. And one of the techs went through the apps and checked for Malware. We also set up the new iMac as a new machine without the time machine backup and Photos still acted funky. Have a much faster external HD coming today (SSD that is made for USC-C rated at over 500Mbps) so hopefully that will solve the issue.
    But thinking of just creating a new library and letting iCloud download all the photos. Might be quicker than copying the old library and waiting for the annoying update/upload cycle that occurs whenever you move a Photos library to a new drive.

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