Friday, March 28, 2008

Hard drive crashes

Loyal readers may recall that the hard drive on my MacBook crashed last summer when the poor thing was only about 3 months old. It got replaced for free, of course, but I did lose some data and e-mails. I now back up daily. But the same thing just happened to one of my colleagues, and she lost something like three years of data. It was the same batch of MacBooks that mine was - we got ours from the university at the same time.

Are Mac hard drives are somehow more vulnerable to crashes than PC hard drives? That certainly wasn't my impression, but it strikes me as a fishy coincidence that two MacBooks in the same office have crashed irreparably within their first year of ownership.

A further question: hard drives are especially vulnerable to sharp jolts, which is why you should never move a computer when it's hard drive is spinning. Why, then, is it okay to go jogging with an iPod? That little hard drive seems indestructible. So my book project is always in danger, but my Go-Gos music will apparently never die.


Anonymous said...

i have a feeling the problem is about bad PARTS batches that Apple is now buying, perhaps as a result of the higher demand that comes with increased market share. i'm nervous, as i think my mac was in your batch, too. and i'm backing up more often, though not daily. mac is clearly not immune to parts problems.

what i will say in the other direction, though, is that my students' bombing computers have been about 6/1 PC/Mac. still, i agree that it's weird that they are crashing so new, and I just heard about a third.

did anyone see if they're running any recalls on the product(s)? that's what they did for that motherboard that went out on an iMac of mine a few years ago.

anyway, yeah, it's depressing.

Seth Masket said...

One thing I've learned since posting this is that Apple doesn't make hard drives for the Macs. The ones that died in my office were Seagate 120GBs. As yet, I haven't heard of any recalls on this product. And while most of the folks I've talked to agree that hard drives are pretty vulnerable, most were surprised that these died so young.

I've also learned why the hard drives in iPods aren't as vulnerable. They're just not turned on very much. The iPod loads up the next 5-10 songs in its RAM and then shuts the hard drive down until those songs are played. It's very easy for the iPod to predict what you're going to want next, so it only needs to run the hard drive for a few seconds every twenty minutes or so. A computer, however, has dozens of operations going on at once, so the hard drive is essentially always spinning, and therefore always vulnerable.