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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I regret buying an iMac

The iMac is a great machine until something goes wrong. Here's why you might think twice about buying one

iMac teardown
iMac teardown
TechRepublic's teardown reveals the crowded insides of a 2011 iMac.
(Credit: TechRepublic)
I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of all-in-one PCs, but a few years ago I was seduced into buying an iMac.
I'd like to blame it on an Apple ad campaign -- or the cumulative effects of multiple Apple ad campaigns -- but I think it had more to do with me briefly playing around with the review samples that made their way into our labs year in and and year out and rationalizing that the sleek, space-saving iMac would make a good hand-me-down computer for my kids when they were old enough to use one. Whatever it was, in the summer of 2010, when the iMac line got upgraded with new Intel processors, I walked into an Apple store and plunked down close to two grand on a 27-inch Core i5 model with some extra RAM. The guy next to me was buying a fully loaded Core i7 version for his daughter, who was headed off to college.
For the record, I was replacing a 2003 "Quicksilver" Power Mac G4 that had grown long in the tooth but still worked with one hard-drive replacement along the way and a few memory upgrades. And just so this doesn't devolve into an argument about Mac versus Windows machines, at the time of the purchase, I had more Windows machines in my house than Macs. Except for my work laptop (a Lenovo), I'd built all my Windows machines and they were much more powerful than anything I had on the Mac side. I still use them today.
Truth be told, I was happy with my iMac purchase -- until the hard drive failed on me last month, around 22 months after I'd bought it.
I'm normally pretty good about fixing these things and I'm well versed in using Apple's Disk First Aid. But the drive was one sick puppy. It wasn't exactly dead, but it was on life support. "Your drive has a hardware problem that can't be repaired," the warning message read. "Back up as much of the data as possible and replace the disk."
When good disk drives go bad: The message you don't want to see (click to enlarge).

(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
I had backed up most of its contents to a network drive, but I did have some family photos from the last three months that I hadn't backed up and wanted to save.
Original report | 14 aug 2012