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Aw, crap!
Authored by: maddys_daddy on Oct 11, '04 04:28:32PM

You guys have me a bit worried now. After a not-so-pleasant first experience with Mac's (I keep encountering battery problems with my 12" G4 PowerBook, and all signs point to a logic board defect), now it seems, from reading these posts, that a hard drive failure is inevitable and unavoidable. Now I'm not bashing Apple here, but why has my Dad's old Dell Inspiron been running flawlessly (albeit quite slow now) for about 4 1/2 years with nary a hiccup. (He's been running Linux on it for a couple of years, so that eliminates OS issues). I do make backups of my important stuff, as I realize that you should always plan for the worst, but from the almost religious and dogmatic following that DW seems to have here, it seems that the hard drives in Apple products fail as a matter of mere routine. Is this what I have to look forward to with my 1 year old PB? Because when I forked over the $1600+ for what I thought to be a superior quality product, when I could've bought a faster, more featureful (read more gadgety) PC laptop for less money, I did so because I thought it would last me faithfully for years to come. Please tell me that you all are anomalies. Please tell me that the money that I thought I was spending on quality actually bought quality.
Again, no disrespect intended to Apple or Apple products, as I will NEVER return to the "Dark Side of MiSery," but as the months go by, I discover something else that causes me to be a little bit more disenchanted with my enamoured PowerBook.

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Aw, crap!
Authored by: bryanzak on Oct 11, '04 04:42:09PM

Well... in my case I've used DiskWarrior exactly once to restore a corrupt volume. This is the only case like this that I've experienced in the past... I dunno... six years? Maybe longer. I haven't update Norton in years, probably not since the System 7 days.

Other than that one time (and that was a direct result of a bad beta of Quicken hosing my directory structure so badly that nothing else could fix it) I can't remember any real disk corruption.

During these past six years I've pretty much ran two or three macs in the house at all times (probably five different models over the years). At work I've been programming on macs for the past fifteen years using a variety of models and OS versions.

So, while I have DiskWarrior and update each time it comes out and recommend it to anyone asking about disk repair tools, the last time I actually used it was years ago. I consider it nothing more than insurance. And since I do contract programming from home as well, it's worth the extra peace of mind. ymmv

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Aw, crap!
Authored by: ahunter on Oct 11, '04 04:54:58PM

HD failures are par for the course no matter what you buy. 2002 was a bad year for me: I had two disks go (not in a Mac, in a PC). First started producing bad sectors (which was pretty much non-fatal to my data, and detected by SMART). The second, replacement for the first, suffered a logic board failure, which is very much an 'Aaaah! My data! My beautiful data!' moment. Especially as it spewed garbage over the IDE bus in its death throws, causing a fair amount of corruption to another, innocent disk.

In general, hard disk life is pretty random: you should 'expect' 3-4 years of life on average if you use your computer heavily. HDs have moving components: eventually they will sieze, or suffer a head crash, or just develop bad sectors.

Apple don't make hard disks, so you can't really blame them when they fail: HDs in Apple computers won't fail any more than HDs in any other computer. Some HDs are immortal, though. You can tell which these are because they either belong to someone else, are too small to be of any use or never have any important data on them (writing important data to them will instantly cause them to fail). A 40Mb disk of my acquaintance looked like it was seized, but actually could be started by hitting it with a hammer. This particular disk was from the era when it was thought that by even breathing too hard in the vincinity of a HD you could cause a head crash, and you had to remember to run 'park' before shutting down, so the percussive maintenance was guaranteed to give anyone nearby a near heart attack. (This is certainly not a recommended way to, uh, rejuvenate a disk with anything that matters on it, though. This particular disk contained a copy of Windows v1.0, so it was somewhat satisfying to hit it with a hammer)

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Aw, crap!
Authored by: Makosuke on Oct 11, '04 05:16:12PM

First of all, there are two entirely different things we're talking about here:

1) Hard drive "failures", which involve a mechanical failure of the physical components of the hard drive. Although data may be recoverable from these cases, the hard drive is unrepairable and must be replaced.

Apple has no control over this, nor does any other computer manufacturer.

2) Data/directory corruption, which invlove a problem with the data on the disk NOT (for the most part) caused by a physical problem with the disk. In these cases, software tools should be able to fix problems, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the physical disk.

Apple's OS can have some effect on this, but I've seen no evidence whatsoever that indicates the MacOS is any less prone to issues than any other OS--most will run fine for years without issue, but any could have random problems at any time.

If you want a more detailed explanation:

1) Apple (or any other computer maker with the exception of Toshiba and IBM to a lesser degree) has no control over the longevity of the physical hard drive--the company that makes the drive is NOT Apple, and regardless of who you buy your computer from, a desktop drive will be either a Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital, or Samsung, and a portable either Toshiba, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate, or Samsung. Apple uses several brands in each case, depending on a number of factors. Some hard drive makers make statistically more reliable drives than others, some make cheaper ones, and some make faster ones, but they're all similar.

So, fundamentally, if a hard drive in computer A lasts longer than the hard drive in computer B, it's mostly the luck of the draw. The only thing that could possibly make a difference is cooling, but Apple cools their drives well enough for the most part, so that's not worth complaining about.

2) Drive corruption is something that an OS maker can have some effect on, and so that's where you could be complaining about Apple vs. Microsoft vs. Linux, and where Diskwarrior, fsck, and other similar utilities come into play.

And, based solely on my personal experience with a few dozen computers running a variety of OSes over the past ten years, Apple does a reasonably good job of preventing drive corruption, and has been getting MUCH better about it over the generations of OSX. I've seen ill-maintained Macs run for years without problem, and I have yet to have the need for any 3rd party tools to keep my home drives running properly.

Directory or data corrupton does occur from time to time, and some programs are more prone to it, so tools like Diskwarrior are great to have as a just-in-case, but I've yet to see any proof or even anecdotal evidence that Apple's OS (or hardware) is any more likely to have drive corruption problems than any other.

Consider it a cost of using a computer, just like driving a car--sure, the computer might run perfectly for years, but that doesn't necessarily mean there's any special magic about the hardware maker or the OS--it could well be dumb luck, and no matter what you run, problems WILL happen eventually. Be prepared.

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Aw, crap!
Authored by: derrickbass on Oct 11, '04 08:25:50PM

I have no experience with Windows (thank goodness), but Mac OS is definitely more prone to disk damage (the software kind) than other UNIX-like OS's I've used.

For example, even though all of my drives are journaled, I occasionally scan them with DW or DU and sometimes find problems (always minor, so far). That should NEVER happen on a journaled disk and the fact that it does indicates a problem with the OS.

Another example: if you run LimeWire on a nearly full disk or from an encrypted sparse image (e.g. Apple's FileVault), you may end up with overlapping files (which, by the way, DW takes FOREVER (i.e. days) to repair). Since programs not running as root can only access the disk structures via the OS, it cannot be the fault of those programs; there must be a bug in Mac OS X somewhere (presumably a race condition allowing overlapping allocations when two threads request disk blocks nearly simultaneously).

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Aw, crap!
Authored by: robmorton on Oct 12, '04 09:54:39AM

You are reading about disk utilities. There are going to be a ton of stories about hard drive failures when talking about disk utilities. The people that have never had the issues, are probably not reading or responding.

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