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Ask Max: iBook hard drive is maxed out, can I updgrade?

Asked on 10/01/2008:

I have an iBook OS 10.3.0 500 MHz Power PC G3 with 128 MB built in RAM and 512 MB added. I searched online and found out that I reached the limit - 640 MB. There are no more slots :( The hard drive has a 9.36 GB capacity and 8.69 are being used - there are 683 MB left.

I have a LaCie external hard drive attached by firewire - 112 GB with 93 GB still available. When I had my iBook updated to Panther I had the operating system and everything on it copied on the LaCie drive in the store just to calm me down for the procedure. I have since added to the computer Adobe Creative Suite and I think I also added a new Microsoft Office and probably downloaded a lot of freeware and stuff. (I already had the previous Adobe software so now I have for example Pagemaker and InDesign both, I also have Pagemill and Adobe Golive. I will never use Pagemaker, Pagemill or Golive again) I added a lot of fonts too. Also, the computer still runs Classic whenever I make the mistake of opening something in an old program.

Anyway - I can't use Photoshop anymore because it's too slow. And it CONSTANTLY says the Startup disk is full. Every tiny thing I try to do in Photoshop says that.

I really want to solve this problem. I tried recently to direct Photoshop to use the LaCie drive for memory - I forget where I found that area. But that made no difference.

I am using large files because I'm in school taking Photoshop - the files are too big for my computer I think.

I try as much as possible to store files only on the LaCie drive. One thing I just thought of is I could actually not drag them onto the desktop before opening them in Photoshop and instead put them on the LaCie drive - open them in Photoshop from there and work on them. I hadn't thought of that - maybe it will help.

Even so, the Mac is completely filled up memory-wise. And most of it is stuff I never use.

So here are my questions for you --1.Do you have any recommendations for clearing out my iBook and having almost everything on my external hard drive?
2. Is it possible to run some of the software from the external hard drive?
3. Are there things that I could get rid of altogether? Like why are there 393 MB of applications in iPod Software Updater from looks like 2005 and 2006 - I don't update with the Mac I use iTunes on my PC for that and also those are old and outdated aps.
4. Is there an area in the Mac or freeware program that shows you how the Hard Drive is being used - like shows which applications are taking up what amount - like a pie graph or something? Then you can just delete whatever you don't want anymore?
5. Do people get rid of the Classic OS - or is that impossible?
6. Why does it say the startup disk is full? What is a startup disk? Why is Photoshop using the startup disk? Can I allocate more memory to the startup disk? Can Photoshop stop using it and use the external hard drive?
7. Is there always going to be a slowness issue just because of the "500 MHz" - I just made note of the fact that my PC says Processor Speed is 1.56 GHz. Is that 3x the speed of the Mac?

If I can't solve this issue should I --
1. Buy a new Mac?
2. Just use my PC and buy Adobe Creative Suite for it and not bother with Macs anymore?


The slowness you are experiencing is the product of your computer's limited processor and RAM, as well as your internal hard drive being full.
The hard drive is the only thing left to upgrade, and it is something you will have to take into an Apple Authorized Service center. A 120GB PowerBook hard drive can be installed into your iBook to replace your current internal drive. You may have to pay extra to the service department to move the data over, but you could also clone your drive using Carbon Copy Cloner and your external drive.

Almost all your problems stem from your internal hard drive (aka Startup drive) being full. In general, you need to have twice the available hard drive space as RAM installed in the system. For you, that would mean having 640 MB X 2 empty space on your hard drive at all times. You can delete the old "System Folder" used by classic and the "Applications (OS 9)" folder if you do not use Classic applications. That may be a good starting point.

Your PC seems newer, and by processor power it probably is over twice the speed of your Mac, but the Windows OS does slow down a system if it's not well maintained, so your actual benefit from switching to the PC could be lost.

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