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My 2008 iMac (4Gb ram) was running super slow! Well slower than normal :-)))

Lots of spinning beach ball.

Backed it up with time machine.

Ran Disk first aid and it said drive was OK.

Erase HD and reinstalled El Capitan and it still super slow, even with basic install files only. Again when I try to do anything I get the spinning ball and it takes ages.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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    Welcome to Ask Different. The Activity Monitor app may help shed some light on this issue. Launch it from /System/Applications/Utilities, open the CPU tab, sort by "% CPU" and post which processes are on top. Now switch to the Memory tab and post from the memory pressure graphic at the botton of the window the values for "Physical Memory", "Memory Used", "Cached files" and "Swap Used".
    – jaume
    Oct 12, 2022 at 8:00

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If you have the original hard drive, it's likely failing -- 14 years is well over the life expectancy.

Installing the OS is a large effort of writing data, so not advisable for an ageing disk.

Also, make sure the drive is not full.

Finally: El Capitan was released in 2015. Though your iMac is supported, it's right at the limits. A 2-core CPU with only 4 Gb is going to struggle with anything, frankly.

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  • Thanks for the reply, replaced drive about 3 years ago, that seems OK. Was only really using it for web & mail, so wasn’t stressing it. Oct 13, 2022 at 8:46

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