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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

MacBook Pro Newbie Concerns


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mo949252

 
Member Since: Dec 19, 2007
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Hey Everyone,

First off, I am a brand new Mac user (switched over from ~15 years with Windows) and I hope this is an appropriate place to post this thread. If not, please let me know.

I had been thinking about buying a new laptop for quite some time. I had an HP and the fan broke and the RAM needed some serious upgrading. I had been getting bored with Windows and thought that maybe a switch over to the Mac OS X might be a nice change of pace. So far, I am really getting to know the Mac OS X operating system and it has been treating me well. My main concern is with the hardware & construction of the MacBook Pro itself.

I feel like I did a considerable about of research before I decided to buy the laptop, but I will admit that I was a bit impatient. In my research I came across certain issues such as screen defects (yellowing, etc), warped cases, exploding batteries and hard drive failures. From what I collectively read, the screen issues were limited and if I purchased a new MacBook Pro, I could rest assured that my screen would be all right. I also wasn't too concerned about a warped case. I found out that the defective batteries were a recall and that I wouldn't get one with my new MacBook Pro and I honestly did not read too much about the hard drive failures.

I've had my MacBook Pro now for about a week and I still find myself reading articles and forum postings about people having issues with their MacBook Pro. I was just wondering how concerned I should actually be. My screen seems fine, extremely bright and clear. My case is flush and not warped. But I do have a few issues I hope someone could clear up for me. After a mere 2 load cycles, my battery is already down to 98% it's full capacity. I have read a ton of different articles about this saying that it is normal and if I want I could calibrate my battery and so forth, but should I even worry about this?

Another major issue is that my hard drive seems to make a minor clicking/clunking noise intermittently. It seemed normal to me at first and I wasn't concerned, but now it does it more frequently. I tried to search the web for information but wasn't too successful. Some people said that it is normal for a hard drive to make noise (the drives are parking or something), some people said that it is bad for a hard drive to make any clicking/clunking noise or any noise whatsoever.

I hope I don't sound too paranoid or anything, I just want to make sure that I invested my $2000 in something that will last me a few years. I am a college student and barely had the money to spend on the laptop itself and would be quite upset if I need to bring my MacBook Pro in for repairs and all this garbage. Are a lot of the issues ironed out from older models? A lot of the articles I read were from 2006ish and early 2007 before a newer model came out. How can I find out when my MacBook Pro was assembled? And would that make any difference if it was built in late 2007 as opposed to earlier?

A little info about my MacBook Pro:
Purchased December, 14th 2007
2.2ghz Core 2 Duo
2gb RAM
120gb HDD
Mac OS X 10.4.11
Did not purchase the AppleCare protection plan as of now.
(Might possibly purchase it down the road).

If anyone can help a newbie out and help me ease my concerns and paranoia, that would be greatly appreciated.
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mo949252

 
Member Since: Dec 19, 2007
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I recently came across a few posts online that aimed at solving the issue with the clunking hard drive. It seems that the sound resembles the hard drive parking its headers which means that it is loading/unloading aggressively in order to save power or increase power management. A hard drives life can be expressed in the amount of load/unload cycles it can handle. The Fujitsu 120gb Hard Drive on my MacBook Pro has a 600,000 load/unload cycle. Now assuming this noise occurs every 10 seconds on average. (Sometimes it's less, sometimes it's more) and there are 86,400 seconds in a day (60sec in a minute times 60min in an hour times 24hrs in a day). That means the drive loads/unloads 8,640 times a day. Assuming that I am remotely right, that means that my hard drive will last approximately 69 days (600,000/8,650).

I probably sound crazy right now, but I really can't express how anxious the idea of possibly having to deal with this issue down the road is making me. Witha restocking fee of 10% for all Mac computers it would be ridiculous for me to return it. Using PC's for about 15 years I never once had a hardware issue, let alone need to have hardware replaced.

Anyone think that my concerns are justified - or am I just crazy and delusional up at 2:15am when I should be asleep?
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mikesmith2

 
Member Since: Dec 08, 2007
Location: Reading. UK
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I have also just bought a Mac book Pro after many years with PC based machines.

If you research these PC based laptops you see that they also suffer many problems, but the percentage of those that are faulty and those sold is relativly small, as with the Mac.

Seasons greetings to all from the UK.
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bobtomay

 
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Partly crazy, partly delusional, partly you spent a lot of your hard earned cash.

1) Quit reading all that junk. Spent a lot of money on it. Use and enjoy your new system.

2) My battery was down to 98% after the first week or two. Bought same day I joined here. Just moved to 97% sometime during the last week - a year later.

3) As far as hard drive noise - my MBP is totally silent - but different drives have different noise levels. My external 750GB Seagate, can hear it park and unpark every time. Not unusual. If you start hearing a constant clicking while trying to access the drive, now that's another story and would take it in to have your local Apple genius bar check it out.

Just as FYI: The latest PC World has a customer satisfaction, hardware failure, and customer support rating for both Notebook and Desktop machines. Guess which PC manufacturer comes out on top in both.

Bottom line: While it's good to do some homework prior to making a purchase like this (took me 3 months to research and decide on which external drive to buy), once you get it home, now it's time to enjoy your purchase. Forget about looking up and finding everything that people have posted about and then inspecting yours, does mine have that...does mine have that..... Come on man, relax a bit, enjoy. You've got a great machine there. Spend your time using it instead of inspecting it. If something is wrong, and hardware failures do occur, it will show up without the need for you to do all that.

And you have 12 months to purchase Applecare.

I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.
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goobimama

 
Member Since: Apr 28, 2006
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Thing is, if the machine runs perfectly, no one is going to go around the net looking for solutions. However, if there is a problem obviously one will go around posting stuff around the net. Part of the reason why there are so many problem threads on this forum.

There will always be a few rats amongst many rabbits, but rest assured, if you do get a rat, you can very well give it back for a rabbit... (crappy logic? I know!)
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Big-Foot

 
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Having founded a Hard Drive Repair facility back in the 80's which is still running well today - I find myself able to at least partially address your concerns about the HDD.

First off - Cycles are not Events. In most cases a Cycle is 1,000,000 events. The cycle is actually defined by the mfgr.

I have not rec'd my MBP yet but will next week (Christmas). In most Intel technology Windows and Bios configurations, there are power saving settings that will tell the hard drive to shut-down after so many seconds of inactivity. During the shut-down, the heads are moved to the park position and a latch is activated to lock them in position for storage / travel.. The louder click you hear is most likely the relay for the spindle motor to engage and then the solenoid that releases the head rack. This is usually followed by a light fluttering sound which is the head rack seeking Track-Zero via Servo data - then the drive will seek to the destination ordered by the OS and read into cache memory the contents of the track under head-0.

Enjoy your new computer and just know that hard drives are much more resilient now than they were even 10 short years ago. But - as always - hard drives are not very tolerant about shock (sudden jarring) while they are powered up - nor do they like to run over 135 degrees F.

Merry Christmas!

Regards - Randy in Minneapolis, MN
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MACyMouse

 
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Ok so do I have a problem if my HD doesn't click at all? Seriously.... I've never heard mine click at all. I've had my MBP for over a year now.

I can barely barely hear it whir down when I shut down and take it to work. I"ll have to listen more carefully, maybe I haven't heard it because I'm not really looking for it?

Now if it starts clicking while I'm on it "playing"... I'll worry.
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Big-Foot

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MACyMouse View Post
Ok so do I have a problem if my HD doesn't click at all? Seriously.... I've never heard mine click at all. I've had my MBP for over a year now.

I can barely barely hear it whir down when I shut down and take it to work. I"ll have to listen more carefully, maybe I haven't heard it because I'm not really looking for it?

Now if it starts clicking while I'm on it "playing"... I'll worry.
Some drives are louder than others. The sound or lack of sound from a drive is not indicative of quality. Back in the 80's and 90's some of the loudest drives on the market were the ones that had the highest MTBF.
So to recap and address what you said - yes, if your drive has been silent all along and is suddenly and chronically making louder sounds, it may be time for concern..

All this said - and as much as I trust the technology itself - I will never trust a hard drive to contain the only copy of data that I think is vital.
All devices will eventually fail and to this day the hard disk drive is the world's most delicate electro-mechanical device bar none.

Regards - Randy in Minneapolis, MN
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MACyMouse

 
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Well... like I mentioned.. mine's as quiet as a mouse... I had to put my ear down to the keyboard to hear anything at all...

But yes, I agree... I have an ext. drive that I back everything up to. Just don't know "when" my drive will fail... now or 5 years from now..
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mo949252

 
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I suppose that my biggest concern is not if my hard drive will crash or fail or what not, but when. I may not be a computer genius, but I feel that I know a significant amount more than the normal/average computer user. I am well aware of the delicacy of hard drives and that all hard drives operate differently, even within the same model and such.

My biggest concern with the hard drive is - when will it need to be replaced. With all of my previous PCs, I never once had a hard drive issue and sometimes those things were abused. I plan on treating my MacBook Pro like a baby but would certainly be quite upset if the hard drive failed on me a few months or even a year down the road because of some power management feature or some other reason that is out of my control. I'm not going to worry so much within the warranty period because I can always get it replaced, but I'm the type of person that will worry incessantly about my hard drive after the warranty is up. I plan on purchasing AppleCare in the near future, but my finances are not always so expendable.

I might be heading to the local mall this evening and might make a stop at the Apple store to talk with a genius. Any suggestions on dealing with them?
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Big-Foot

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mo949252 View Post
I suppose that my biggest concern is not if my hard drive will crash or fail or what not, but when.
That's the $10,000 question...

You indicate that you are very careful with your equipment and obviously that will play a large role in the longevity of your hard drive et al..

In the business of disk drive repair we found that fully 75% of all the failures were electronic in nature. Many electronic failures were caused by surges. Some by overheating. Power surges are minimized in most disk drives by the motherboard maintaining a small amount of current flow through the logic board even when shut down.

Of the HDA (Head Disk Assembly) failures - most were caused by abuse or overheating but some were caused by media failures that were noted as Stiction (Static Friction) where the head's air-bearing would get stuck to the platter. These drives would not spin back up as the head was bonded to the platter. These failures were caused typically by over-lubrication of the platter. It's not seen much any more.


With LapTop / Notebook drives, there are more HDA related failures due to people thinking that they can knock the machine about or carry it while running and plunk it on someone's desk... While the drives do not typically crash immediately when this happens the air-bearings and media get damaged a little more each time. Finally there are bad sectors in the media, the air-bearing has too many chips in it or landing scars in the surface and will no longer fly correctly - ultimately the drive will fail and typically at the worse time with a lot of data that is not backed up...
The other dilema that LapTop and Notebook drives suffer is overheating due to the machines being used on a soft surface that blocks airflow. Thank God for manufacturers that have temperature sensing technology on-board that can shut the machines down during periods like this. Still - too many HI-TEMP events will add up in how much damage is done..

So - the moral of the story is to take care of your equipment and it will typically take care of you. Also, never - ever turn your machine off with data on it that is not backed up..

I hope this helps someone someday..

Regards - Randy in Minneapolis, MN
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goobimama

 
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@mod89723: I'd seriously suggest you use Time Machine or some other automated backups solution...
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jacintosh

 
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As far as sounds go, my new MBP is as quiet as a church mouse. It hums like a fine tuned watch. An excellent computer in every way.
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Big-Foot

 
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A quiet drive is always welcome but as I said before it's not really indicative of the quality and life expectancy of the drive.
All of them will fail eventually - bar none..

If you were to find the ultimate home for a hard drive it would be securely mounted to an imoveable 2,000 ton boulder in a climate with a light 80f breeze, rock steady power and 50% humidity..

Merry Christmas to all!!!!

Regards - Randy in Minneapolis, MN
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