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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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