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Old 08-22-2010, 08:30 AM   #1
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Mac hard drive caution!

We have a MacBook Pro, the hard drive of which crashed a week ago---5 weeks out of original warranty. No, we didn't buy the extended warranty---shouldn't need one with a Mac! We had the hard drive replaced (with a 36-month replacement warranty) in Kalispell, WY, but nothing could be retrieved from the original. All the settings, photos that had not been backed up, etc., were lost.

In trying to determine why this happened, the Apple tech offered that using the laptop on irregular road surfaces stresses the hard drive---i.e., that wonderful, handy Verizon portable broadband I'm so very fond of using any time, any where, particularly when driving through or near the signal areas of a big city. He couldn't say this was what or why this happened, and maybe I should have known better, but I didn't.

This is our second Mac laptop, the one we had for 7 1/2 years had no such problems. However, my daughter has a friend who recently had a hard drive crash on a 13 month old MacBook.

Wanted to share this info with y'all.

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Old 08-22-2010, 08:48 AM   #2
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Has nothing to do with it being a Mac. Macs and PCs use the same cheap hard drives these days. It's not like the old days when Apple insisted on using higher quality drives that you rarely saw on PCs except for high end servers. As computer hardware becomes cheaper and smaller, it also becomes a little less reliable. Apple has to cut corners to compete with crazy cheap PCs that dominate the market share, and their reliability has suffered slightly in comparison to years past.
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:53 AM   #3
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A few thoughts...

Vibration is one killer of laptops while cruising down the road but heat is another and by far the worst to other components of the laptop. If you put your laptop on a blanket or soft surface where the is obstructed, the laptop may overheat causing premature failure.

I made a "lap table", so to speak, after I learned this. A piece of 1/4 inch plywood with some spare laminate on one side and two in memory foam on the other. the last laptop was five years old when I passed it down and got a new one 4.5 years ago. the new one is still going strong. It also gets the laptop up to a better position for me to type.

I used 3m headliner adhesive to connect foam to the plywood and it works good coz, when I wanted to replace the foam, I had to destroy it to get it off.

Not sure if this is the solution but it worked for me. Sometimes there is going to be a premature failure and there is nothing to avoid it. I have been lucky. I also pack an external laptop drive to backup the data with.

Using IBM/Lennovo with Win XP on the laptop with a file sync utility and sync each time I shut down if possible.

Best of luck with your next hard drive.
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Old 08-22-2010, 08:54 AM   #4
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Time Machine is a wonderful app that would have saved you a lot of grief. Since it is included on your MAC I would suggest that you learn to use it. In addition, I would suggest that you store the backups that you create in two places. Since I fulltime, one of my backups is in the Airstream with my computer, the other is stored in the Tow Vehicle. Losing all of your photos and documents is a tragedy and is unnecessary with the technology that is available for computers today.

As for using your MAC while on the road being hard on the machine? Balderdash! He was making that up as he went. Thousands of people do it all day every day in vehicles from 18 wheelers to electrics without issues. There are so many things that cause hard drive failures in computers that narrowing it down to one thing (short of dropping it on the floor) is near impossible. Mechanical items fail. Period. Backups are your best bet to preserve your data.
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deauxrite View Post
Time Machine is a wonderful app that would have saved you a lot of grief. Since it is included on your MAC I would suggest that you learn to use it. In addition, I would suggest that you store the backups that you create in two places. Since I fulltime, one of my backups is in the Airstream with my computer, the other is stored in the Tow Vehicle. Losing all of your photos and documents is a tragedy and is unnecessary with the technology that is available for computers today.

As for using your MAC while on the road being hard on the machine? Balderdash! He was making that up as he went. Thousands of people do it all day every day in vehicles from 18 wheelers to electrics without issues. There are so many things that cause hard drive failures in computers that narrowing it down to one thing (short of dropping it on the floor) is near impossible. Mechanical items fail. Period. Backups are your best bet to preserve your data.
I like the idea of two backups...I do that at home but not so much with the laptop on the road. And, external laptop drives are inexpensive enough now to do this without hurting the pocket book too much.

Thanks for the contribution!
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:13 AM   #6
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well there is a LOT of issues in the op...

no back ups, no MULTIPLE external back ups, no dvd/usb/flash back ups?

no extended warranty? this is essential with any mbpro kept for MORE than 1 year.

the tech is wacky about mobile use and PROBABLY lying about data recovery.

it is true that heat, dust, vibration contribute to drive failures but some are just gonna die regardless.

the smaller stuff has increasingly SMALLER tolerances inside, so failures happen.

HOPEFULLY u kept the 'defective drive' as the data CAN be recovered probably.

it won't be cheap but unless the drive has something MORE than just a failure recovery is possible.

considering HOW CHEAP back up drives are now

and how EASY the cloning applications ((check out superduper!)) are to use...

time machine makes an "ok" data back up approach

but it's not ideal for cloning PERFECTLY IDENTICAL back ups...

cheers
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:13 AM   #7
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Maggie, as Journalist says, there are only a few hard drive manufacturers and they are interchangeable with mac/pc's. These conventional hard drives have platters spinning at 5400 RPMs (or more) and have small read/write heads that sit above the platters with a gap of less than the thickness of a human hair. Not for truly on the move use, whether mac or pc.

However, a new type of hard drive is out now with solid state (memory chips) storage and has no moving parts. They don't yet have as much capacity and are more expensive. These are optional on higher end laptops, and you'll probably be able to have one installed in your mac or pc.

Solid-state drive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:35 AM   #8
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Lost the HD on my iMac when it was about 2 years old and fully covered under Apple Care Protection plan. 100% recovery of files due to Time Capsule backup.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:24 AM   #9
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Wow! Lots of good information here! I would like to think my own stupidity did NOT cause the hard drive to fail. Thanks, folks!

Our backup hard drive is at home in the fireproof box. Yes, I apparently need to find something to use on the road. Got a bit too confident, with the ever-and-historically-reliable Mac. I will look at the Time Capsule app and the other suggestions. Do have the pooter on a lapboard, minus ventilation underneath, too.

Do we know if charging via a converter in the cigarette lighter has any negative effect? I'm doing that regularly, also for the router.

We shipped the original hard drive to my computer-genius-programmer-software-writer son, to see what he can do with it and recover. I hate to think the Apple approved tech did not know what he was talking about. Son just says, "sometimes mechanical things fail".

If Apple is using cheaper and less reliable hard-drives, SHAME ON THEM! They have a reputation to uphold and millions of customers out there! The new hard drive was $125, then $60 for labor, which seemed reasonable and was less than we expected.

Thanks, y'all. We are heading into the Northern Cascades in WA state today, may not be able to check back in for a day or two.

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Old 08-22-2010, 10:39 AM   #10
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There are several online backup services such as Carbonite and Mozy. Might be something to look at while traveling. It is not a question of if a hard drive will fail the question is when. I learned the painful lesson by losing many of my kids high school photos. Now I burn all my pics to a DVD every couple of months. Good thing about onine backup is the safety of not having your copy at your home in case of real disaster like flood or tornado. Down side is cost but really it is cheap compared to the value of lost photos and files.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:43 AM   #11
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Apple is using first rate commodity hard drives. Hard drive duds are ever present and sometimes come in runs. Remember the IBM Death Stars in the early 2000s?

I wouldn't blame myself for the failure. Just get a little USB back up drive for your travels and keep at it. Online backup is good idea if your connection is adequate.
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:38 PM   #12
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I'm still stuck on the first paragraph. I can't figure out where Kalispell, WY is. I do know where Kalispell, MT. is, and where Wyoming is, but lost in trying to find Kalispell, WY.
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:25 PM   #13
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replacing the hd on a mbpro unibody takes about 15-30 minutes tops, it's incredibly easy now.

reloading the leopard OS using the discs that came with it and then running the online UPdates....

is about 1-2 hours tops (almost the same steps as when first opened new by the new owner...

for 100$ the new drive could be DOUBLE the original size and spin at the faster 7200 speed.

so, yes and not, the price u paid was ok.
________

new apple folks THINK there is some legendary reputation for "better quality" parts in macs...

that's a bit like the mythical a/s legend for quality.

macs DO have cleaver/creative/integrated designs and look neat/trim in use...

but the parts used have never been ANY BETTER or worse than other 'quality brands' or industry standards.

the REAL value of macs has been the simplicity of use which is a function of the OS primarily, not the mechanical/electrical parts.

just like the real value of an a/s is REPAIRABILITY and ease of towing in a cool looking package.

bummer about the drive failure...

in nearly 30 years of pc use the ONLY drive, screen, wifi or mother board failures experienced have ALL been on macs.

but they do look cool...

cheers
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:09 PM   #14
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..2air's right on (as usual) about Super Duper (I use it daily) and everything else (that's why he's my forums hero and why I try to make my posts look just like his...but dumber.. see, even my winking emoticon is a drooler: ;-)...

HD's now come in solid-state w/no moving parts..cost more, but hey, do the math after a drive fail and it looks real cheap...I get most of my drives from Other World Computing or Mac Gurus...

Super Duper is cheap and worth a lot more..
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:00 PM   #15
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Like earlier mentioned, I would highly suggest using the Time Machine feature. It works great and saved my butt last spring when my HD gave up the ghost. . I also load all of my photos up on to Picasa (Googles Photo service) so that no matter what happens I will have copies of some sort (of course there are other fine photo services besides Picasa). I am also thinking that besides using Time Machine, I may also back the drive up on to the "cloud" that is getting cheaper all of the time.
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Old 08-23-2010, 11:26 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LFM View Post
I'm still stuck on the first paragraph. I can't figure out where Kalispell, WY is. I do know where Kalispell, MT. is, and where Wyoming is, but lost in trying to find Kalispell, WY.
You're right, it was MT. Sorry---it's all so beautiful out here I got confused.


Thanks for all the suggestions and info, folks.


Travel safe,


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Old 09-05-2010, 08:54 PM   #17
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I agree with others. Time Machine is great. You can buy a relatively inexpensive external HD. This would at least offer you backups incase your MBP HD crashes. Google Mac Life for sources.
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:09 PM   #18
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Apple's Mobile Me service gives you remote storage at an affordable price in the cloud. It's available to access anywhere just takes a little work to drag files to it but it appears as another drive on your drsktop.We also use Time Machine in the office.
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:27 AM   #19
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Update

We recently sent our original hard drive off to DriveSavers, Inc., in Novato, CA, who were recommended by our Mac folks here at home. Their initial, 48 hour assessment is that data should be able to be recovered, and if they can't recover 90% or more there is no charge. Needless to say, the recovery is going to be painfully expensive.

DriveSavers says MacBooks are not meant to be used any time, any place, but on a flat and stable surface---for exactly the reasons some of you have said. They also said one is lucky to get a year and a half with the newer hard drives, and to always back up with that vulnerability in mind. I'm very disappointed in Apple, for installing less reliable hard drives in such an expensive and trusted item. Their representations regarding usage locations could also be improved.

It seems that truly mobile travel and usage calls for the expensive, alternative hard drive----or the IPad, which we may consider if they get a camera installed in the 2011 version.

A lesson learned. Back up, back up, back up.


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Old 10-27-2010, 06:37 AM   #20
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my MacBook is on it's third hard drive. I bought the high dollar black one right when it first came out. Oh, yeah, fourth battery also. I love my Mac, but this model is a lemon in my opinion. I will soon be retiring it.
Time Machine is a must. Loosing the birth of your children photos is devastating...
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