All Macs Go To Heaven

My Macbook Air has been behaving poorly for a few weeks. Now that I have a more stable internet connection, I was finally able to run a bunch of diagnostics and confirm that my SSD (solid state drive) is failing, which is not surprising for this particular machine. In fact, it was expected and replacing my computer in late 2015 was on the books.

I have one of the first generations of Macs with a SSD and there were problems with some of the drives, as there often is with generation 1.0. This would have likely been a warranty item had it happened sooner, but this machine is four years old, so I’m out of luck. In addition to a new hard drive, I need more RAM and a new battery, so I’m looking at replacing rather than repairing at this point.

I bought my first/last brand new Mac eight years ago. Since then, I’ve played the used Mac market well and replaced my older Macs with newer ones for very little money because of the trade in value of my older units. My current Macbook Air cost me absolutely nothing and I haven’t even put any money into it. It has served me very well for two years, but it is a four year old machine, so it’s time to go to Mac heaven. And by that, I mean eBay. I should be able to get $500 or so for it by advertising it honestly for parts (in pristine condition, it’s still worth just over $1,000). Not bad for an older dying computer that was free!

Apple has made a lot of changes in that time to both hardware (mostly connectors) and software. I am getting exponentially behind and increasingly fearful of switching to the new operating system because, well, I don’t handle computer change very well. 🙂

Even so, after much thought, I’ve decided that my next Mac is going to be brand new, just to reset the clock, so to speak. I want another Macbook Air because of the battery life and slim profile, but everything I’m seeing used or refurbished only has 4GB of RAM. I made the mistake with my last brand new Mac of not being patient, buying off the shelf, and being stuck with not enough RAM within a year. My current machine has 4GB and it isn’t enough. So I might as well bite the bullet and go the custom route. Plus, by buying new, I get the full warranty and a capital expense that will help me with my taxes!

I built my dream MBA on the Apple store to get the final cost so I could figure out how much I was short and make a plan to scrape together the rest. It was surprisingly reasonable. I’m glad I’ve stepped away from the MacBook Pro. Since I’ve known this day was coming for a while, I’ve been putting a little bit aside for months and was hoping to buy just before leaving for Mexico at the end of October. (No, I wouldn’t save anything by waiting and buying in the States.)

However with two hard crashes in as many days, I don’t have the luxury of time and I need a new computer ASAP…

Because I don’t know yet just when the new job pays (there’s apparently a cheque in the mail) and with transcription being too slow right now to do much more than cover the essential bills for August, I’m loathe to empty out savings and bridge the gap with credit to buy the computer right this second. So I’m hoping my current Mac can last another 60 days or so, the amount of time it will take for the July money to fully roll in and for Apple to get the new Mac to me.

But at the rate the hard crashes are coming, I think my hand is going to be forced and that I’ll have to buy as soon as the expected cheque lands in the next 10 days or so (if it really is in the mail). Which will mean being tight for a bit, but, hey, my expenses here are low and my food stores are topped up. I can ride this out!

It wouldn’t have been so long ago that imminent computer meltdown would have been a crisis. Now, it’s just a cash flow issue thing. Things are really improving! 😀

Next problem, where do I get the darn thing shipped? Of course, Apple won’t ship to a PO box and I’ll need decent internet to set it up. I really need to make a friend in Moose Jaw! 🙂

20 thoughts on “All Macs Go To Heaven

    • I wish making a friend in MJ was that easy. 😀 I think I’ll probably ask a neighbour from the hamlet who works in town if he would be willing to receive it at his job and then I’ll schedule a library day to deal with updates.

      I’ve been on Macs now since 2003ish. I don’t care how much they’ve gone down in quality since Jobs died, I will never go back!

      I usually do a trade in when my Mac is fourish years old. That’s when they still have enough value to make a real dent in the purchase of another unit. But then, my older unit will go on to have a long happy life elsewhere.

  1. One thing you can do cheaply to stretch the life of the existing mac is to use something like superduper or carbon copy cloner to clone your SSD to an external USB drive, and just run from the USB drive for a while. It will be slower, and will reduce the portability of your setup, but should run stably for the time you need.

    Optionally, OWC via the macsales website makes 3rd party SSDs for most of the mac line that cost a lot less than the apple hardware. You might be able to get one of those for very little investment, clone the old one to the new one and swap them, and have the machine in even better condition for resale after you get your new one.

    Additionally, you state that you’ve resisted upgrading the software and hardware. My first macbook air had only 4GB, and I wasted no time upgrading to an 8GB model when they were released, yet I still found the system memory constrained quite often. Either the Mavericks release or the Yosemite release (I forget exactly when it happened) changed how memory is used and allocated, making it a lot less wasteful. I now do more than I used to before running out of memory, and rarely use more than 4GB of my 8GB. The performance improvement was astounding.

    Good luck with it all. 🙂
    Jim

    • Jim, I completely forgot that I could run off my SuperDuper! backup! Thanks for the reminder!

      My old MacBook Pro was very user-customizeable, the MacBook Air, not so much. I think I’m better off not messing with it and just letting it go for less money. Again, it really was a free machine, so any profit will be worthwhile to me and I don’t have time to muck about with it anyway.

      You know, you’re not the first person who has mentioned better performance once leaving Mountain Lion… I may kick myself when I move to Yosemite and wonder why I waited that long. But I’m still going with the 8GB. The price difference isn’t significant and I am going to kick myself if I don’t. 🙂

      Thanks for your input! I’m going to do a trial run later today of booting with SuperDuper! to see if it’s a viable option.

    • My Dave says that memory change was introduce in Maverick. But he highly recommends the 8 GB anyway.

      I wish we were close enough to help you with this changeover. We appreciate our MBAs. We just upgraded to Yosemite 10.10.4 after Dave checked it out and gave his approval so you can safely risk going that high. It does include the new Apple Music which is having some teething problems but this is not a problem if you keep it from activating.

      • Thanks for that, Linda. I’m definitely going with the 8GB RAM.

        I hear that there are a lot of teething problems with some of the newer apps. I’m not moving to Photos, that’s for sure!

  2. Here’s hoping your new computer gets there before the old one dies completely. Computer problems are the pits, I go through plenty of it at the library, plus clean & repair them for a few people. Haven probably has a physical mailing address doesn’t it? Can’t you just use that, add the PO address and it will get delivered somehow? Around here the delivery people often leave UPS deliveries at the PO anyway. Sometimes FedEx too. I know you need a new, reliable computer for your work, but making the repairs on a PC laptop would have been relatively easy, just parts & DIY.

    • Linda, computer problems with a Mac are so much less of a pain than with a PC because there are so many fewer variables and so many more diagnostic tools available to the user.

      Haven has a physical address, but it’s not a civic address like 1 Main Street. Rather, it’s a land description. But the reason they won’t ship to a PO Box is because they use a courier service, and courier services don’t come to my hamlet.

      I could have also made the repair if I really wanted to. When the hard drive died on my old MacBook Pro, it was worth changing it out myself. But I also need more RAM, a new battery, and to upgrade to the newest operating system and connectors. It’s just time to buy a new computer. Once I have my new machine, I’ll get a third of the purchase price back by selling this one. Can’t do that with a PC.

  3. I have a late 2008 mbp – for $160 I put in 8 gigs of crucial ram and a new 1tb 7200rpm hard drive. I honestly feel like I have at least another 2 or 3 years left on it. I do lots of graphics / processor intensive stuff.

    I upgraded b/c the apple genius told me to just do it myself – he said most macs after 2007 are user upgradeable for ram / memory. I am glad I did and it wasn’t hard!

    • The MBP are much more user customizable than the MBAs. The absolute only reason I traded my late 2009 MBP for the Air was because the Air is more portable, otherwise I’d probably still be using it. I maxed out that MPB — new hard drive, more RAM, new battery. But I really didn’t need the processing power and the 17″ screen was just too massive for my needs.

      Adding the money I put into my MPB and subtracting what I got for the iMac I sold to pay for part of the MPB, I’m at something ridiculous like $750 out of pocket for BOTH the MBP and the Air. I’m just not having any difficulty justifying a major capital expenditure this year, especially since I can afford it. If I couldn’t, then, yes, I’d be looking at replacing the battery and hard drive on my current machine, but it just seems like the time is right to change it out now.

  4. If I can go from Mountain Lion to Yosemite and survive it will be a snap for you 🙂

    I only needed 4GB of RAM for my new Mac Air but did need to upgrade from the basic 128 SSD to the 256 SSD and they still couldn’t transfer any of my stored photos.

    As to delivery of your new computer how about asking UPS or Purolator or whoever the courier company that will be shipping it to use the Moose Jaw office of UPS or whoever as the delivery address. I don’t see why they would not do that for you and hold it till you picked it up.

    • I’m mostly worried that some of the apps I rely on won’t work under Yosemite. Most of them have not been tried, so I’m going in blind.

      I have a 250SSD on the current machine and know I can drop to 125 to save lots of money. I don’t store media on my computer; all photos and movies are on an external drive.

      I really don’t want to have the computer shipped to MJ if I can avoid it since it’s such a trek. I’m going to ask a neighbour here in the village if I can have it sent to his work and then schedule a library day to do my updates.

  5. Gee, my MacBook Pro 15 is 4 years old. Wonder if I need to be looking at a replacement. It seems to run fine with OS-X Yosemite, 8GB, 500GB HD. I have the classic version with the extra ports and a super-drive that lets me watch movies. I love it!

    • If you reread my post, I’m not replacing my machine because it is four years old. I am replacing it because it needs a new hard drive (several hundred dollars), more RAM (not upgradeable on this machine), a new battery ($200), and it needs to be updated to the current OS.

      Just in repairs I’m at least halfway, to the cost of a new unit for work on a machine that is nearly obsolete and yes still worth a lot of money. So let’s say $700 worth of repairs/upgrades means the new machine is costing me only an extra $700. Then I sell this one for at least $500. Extra out of pocket for replacing rather than fixing ends up being just $200.

      Just six months from now, this unit will have halved in value and I’ll be lucky to get a couple hundred for it. This is how I manage to have high end recent Macs on my budget — I know when it’s time to trade them in.

      I’d probably still be clunking away on my 2009 MBP that I maxed out if it had had decent battery life and was more portable.

  6. Have you checked online about SSD failures… Maybe Apple will repair for free and in my experience it only takes 3 days from time you send it in to time you get it back (US experience, and hopefully same in Canada.)

    Here is one article I found:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/10/17/apple-issues-macbook-air-firmware-update-to-check-test-for-ssd-failures

    And another:

    http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/18/4853430/apple-recalls-last-years-macbook-air-due-to-faulty-ssd-drives

    My service experiences with Apple have been outstanding… Best of any company I have ever dealt with, once they have admitted to a problem which was the case on my MacBook Pro.

    I have used Macs since 1984 and needed their service only twice, both for out of warranty issues they covered at their expense, most recently for an iPhone with a bloated battery.

    If nothing else, and if the SSD is indeed the problem, you can get it repaired for free and get more for it on eBay.

    What software are you concerned about? If you would like I can test the software on my beta El Capitan machine and my Mavericks machine for you.

    • Thanks! The recalls you link to are for a later model than mine. Mine. 🙁 And sending in to Apple isn’t an option. I was going to do that with my iPhone and it was something like eight weeks to get it back and I had to pay my own shipping. I was rather appalled by how Apple dropped the ball with that and it really left a sour taste in my mouth.

      With the laptop also needing a new battery, I’d rather just sell it ‘as is’ on eBay than deal with it. Again, this machine cost me absolutely nothing, so anything I make on it is pure profit.

      The app that I am mostly worried about is called Express Scribe by NCH. It is the worst software ever created by the worst company in the universe, so please don’t ever give them any money. But if you could check that their free version of Express Scribe works, I would be grateful!

      • Wow, that does not sound like the experiences I have had or that Apple is known for… Sounds more like dealing with a cell phone carrier! Yikes.

        I try to avoid cell carriers like the plague. It sounds like someone really dropped the ball as you say.

        I will test your software on both machines an report back.

        • I was really not impressed. Apple said that they would send me a ‘loaner’, a refurbished phone, if I was willing to let them hold something ridiculous like $800 on my credit card! It was utterly unreasonable, especially since my phone wasn’t worth anywhere near $800 (in fact, I got it free in a promotion) and they weren’t sending a new one! So I’ve been dealing with a flaky phone ever since. The store that sold me the phone for my carrier tried to help as much as they could, offering to take care of the shipping for me, but they couldn’t do anything about the hold on the credit card thing.

          I miss Steve Jobs. The company has gone downhill so badly. But it’s still so much better than Microsoft. Nothing can make me go back there!

          • I tested Express Scribe both in Mavericks and In El Capitan and it seems to run fine in both with no crashes or unusual behavior.

  7. Thanks so much! ‘No crashes or unusual behaviour’ IS unusual behaviour, though. 😀

    There’s a few other things I’m worried about, like iWorks, but I’ve known for ages that I’ll need to eventually update them.

    I didn’t even realise that they were already working on the next OS after Yosemite. Definitely time for me to get with the program and upgrade!

    Again, thank you for taking the time to run the test on Express Scribe.

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