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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:05 AM 

Joined: Thu May 27, 2004 12:38 AM
Posts: 34
Small rant ahead, and a big question at the end ...

I have lost my third hard drive in my PowerBook G4 (1.25 GHz, 15", purchased 10/03). :shock: Even though I am reasonably good about keeping a bootable back-up available, there is still almost nothing quite so jarring and deeply inconvenient as losing my onboard hard drive.

Drive #1 kaput, replaced by Apple at 8 months ... Drive #2 kaput, replaced several months before AppleCare was over. Have used #3 (now dead) drive for just over 2 years, so Apple won't even talk to me about any kind of "lemon" consideration.

If you will indulge me here ... Apple Customer Service sez to me: "2 years on any drive is thought to be normal." My (NOT!) favorite part of that conversation follows: "Apple provides computers that are expected to last no more than 3 years, and that is why we provide AppleCare. We expect customers to upgrade their equipment every three years." Perhaps y'all think I am making that up, but it is exactly what she said. Not believing my ears, I asked her to carefully confirm what she had said -- that we, as Mac users, should expect our drives to crash-and-burn every 2 years, and our computers to become unusable after 3 years -- and she stood by it without wavering. I asked to speak to a supervisor, and she told me, "I am the supervisor. You have reached the end of the line with me."

Y'know, I am a Mac user since 1989 -- but this dismissal of me as a customer, and (unvarnished?) truth about how Mac views its customers now GIVES ME PAUSE. Can Bill Gates really be all that evil?

OK, rant over. Now to the nitty gritty of this post request.

I absolutely cannot afford to buy a new laptop. Not even a refurbished one. Simply not an option. Right now, I am using what was my bootable back-up (housed on a nifty little Seagate external drive). Since my using our external drive meant that now hubby does not have a back-up available for his desktop Mac (since the Seagate is now tethered to my PowerBook), we bought -- for very little $ -- a second back-up external drive. Although I'm not sure how we will do it, but I'm hoping that I'll still be able to use SuperDuper (thanx to a Bob C. tip!) to somehow "daisy-chain" the Seagate external to the new external drive, so I have this one backed up. (Currently, I am flying without a net.)

Honest! I promise I'm now going to ask my question and, finally, here it is:

Is there any reason that I cannot just continue to run my laptop from the external drive?

Frankly, it's quicker and more responsive than my on-board drive(s) ever were, and also has more space! It is not very large, so if I had to travel somewhere with it, I could just pack it -- along with my PowerBook -- into a bag. And, of course, I give up being able to run on battery power -- but my PB battery now only gives me about 30 min. of power anyway. (Another investment I'm unwilling to make in this "now obsolete," per Apple, computer.) OK, not quite as convenient, but I don't travel much with my PowerBook. Also, having lost 3 drives in this computer, I guess my fear is there is something inherently wrong with my laptop that causes me, ultimately, to burn out so many drives. I am SO not abusive of my laptop -- I keep it elevated on one of those S-curve shelves, it has plenty of air circulating around it, I use a remote keyboard. About the only time I take it anywhere is to ApplePickers! LOL!

So I guess I'd really like to know if there is anything wrong with this plan? At some point, hopefully I can just buy a new laptop when finances are more stable. But am perfectly willing to put up with this inconvenience until I can. Hmm ... carrying around a small external drive vs. the $ to buy a new computer? It's not a hard decision -- unless it's somehow a BAD decision in some way I don't see.

Any and all input welcomed, as I try to sort all of this out. :roll:

Fishers, IN

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:36 AM 
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Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2002 5:56 PM
Posts: 515

While I may not approve of the attitude you received through AppleCare, having a hard drive die after two years isn't that rare.

I don't doubt that Apple expects people to upgrade every three years. I'm just surprised you got someone honest enough to tell you that. I've seen Macs far longer than three years. However, the hard drive is usually a common point of failure. If you're careful, the logic board and other parts of the Mac can last 7 years or more. While I've seen hard drives last 7 years or more, I would never depend on that kind of luck.

Now to your question. As long as you're willing to deal with the limitations of only using the external drive, there's no reason you can't keep using it as your boot drive. It's not like using an iPod as a constant boot drive. That's not recommended.

As long as the Seagate has a FireWire or USB2 connector and the new drive has the same type of connector, you can get the Mac to see both drives as soon as you buy a cable to connect the two drives. FireWire would be the preferred connection method, but I realize that USB2 drives are cheaper.

Once your PowerBook can see both drives, you can use SuperDuper to clone the drives. Since you probably don't have money to get the paid version that will only copy the files that have changed (thereby greatly reducing backup time), you may want to look at Mike Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner ( It's freeware that asks for a donation if you use it regularly.

Hope this helps.

Bob C

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