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Snow Leopard, memory and my iMac

It's well over four years since I bought my daily workhorse, an iMac, in August 2008. I had failed to notice how much it had slowed down. To overcome frustrations with new software that won't run on older operating systems, without risking losing access to older software, best friend and computer guru Bob Tennent kindly partitioned my hard drive so that the old operating system and a newer one could coexist peacefully. Belatedly, we realised that (unexpectedly) the older software would work under Snow Leopard after all, so that as long as I avoided migrating to the latest operating systems (Lion or Mountain Lion) I don't have to upgrade or replace my favourite software. So the partition was hastily abolished, data restored, and I thought life would return to simplicity.

All that disc formatting and backing up took quite a while, and in the meantime we had realised that an upgrade to 4 gig of internal memory was long overdue. (The iMac had arrived with 2 gigabytes, which in 2008 was adequate, but OSs are memory-hungry.) So I ordered two 2-gig memory cards from Mr Memory and was pleased to note they offer a free lifetime warranty and that the total cost would be under £40. They arrived today, and I expected that I'd be able to fit them myself. Having weathered the fitting of ROM chips in my BBC Micro days, how hard could it be?

Armed with the clear instructions, I closed down, took precautions against static and easily removed the existing 1-gig chips, replacing them with the two new chips. This took under 10 minutes, including clearing a space to set the iMac face down for access to the memory slots. Helpfully, the base of the iMac stand even has diagrams confirming how to access the memory slots. It all seemed really straightforward, so confidently I powered up ...

Total disaster: ... blank screen, no startup sound, dead iMac!

Blind panic! I must have put the chips in the wrong way round and perhaps ruined both chips and iMac. Powering down again, I took out the new cards, hoping that I might get going again with the old. A slow iMac seemed infinitely preferable to a dead one. Slow down, breathe deeply and engage brain: I tried a systematic process of inserting the new cards, one at a time, in each slot. Aha: one worked fine solo, and the other doesn't work at all. So I've kept the good one, and restored one of the 1-gig cards, so now I have a 3-gig iMac!

Although they unwittingly supplied me with a dud chip, my impression of Mr Memory is actually still very positive. Paul Atkinson, the man who answered the phone today, didn't give me the "Hasn't your husband got a soldering iron?" line that I used to get in my BBC Micro days. He didn't tell me I'd got it all wrong. He commended the process that I had adopted, and seemed certain that the chip assembly was defective. Apparently they test all chips before dispatch, but sometimes a single one of hundreds of tiny solders gets dislodged in the post, and that is all it takes for a chip to fail. He apologised for its failure, gave me a returns number and Freepost instructions, and now I await a replacement.

And although I'd never have planned to upgrade from 2 gigs to a mere 3, I can tell you that the difference in speed is already noticeable!


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 3, 2013 4:07 PM.

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