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View Full Version : Are PowerBook drives cheap and nasty?


Penman
Sep 8, 2004, 02:53 AM
I'm a little shocked to say that my PB 17" 1.5 (so you know how old it is) lost its main 80 Gig 5400 rpm drive this weekend. Bad noises, grinding and an inability to read data and boot. I'm in a small European country with no Apple support right now and sent the machine back to LA with my girlfriend (here for the weekend) to be repaired ASAP under warranty.

The good news is that I should have it back in the next couple of days (Apple are slow but Apple authorized in Hollywood can do things on the spot). I know drives are mechanical and unpredictable but I wonder if 5400 rpm units are flaky? I've not seen any 80 Gig 7200 rpm units on the market and am beginning to think that speed might increase error rates and thus be avoided in favor of reliability.

My PB lives on desks and travels between them in a Zero Halliburton briefcase (and not the cheap one either). I don't smoke and the thing has never been handled roughly. I know the drive failure is not related to my treatment of the machine.

Anyone else had a problem with a new PB drive?

Penman.

PS Yes I have backups - that's not the point though.
PPS So there.

stoid
Sep 8, 2004, 03:09 AM
Drives fail. It's natural for it to happen now and then. They are such delicate devices that even tiny manufacturing defects, especially in the bearings like your problem sounds can bring a seemly healthy drive to it's knees very quickly. If you get the 7200 RPM drive, it will increase your computer's speed and should not cause any additional chance of failure.

tobio
Sep 8, 2004, 08:04 AM
My new 12" PB about 4 months old, had an 80gig HD which reported S.M.A.R.T. errors very soon indeed. The computer was misbehaving in a very similar way to yours, it took apple a little convincing that there was a problem, but the following link tells you about it. Standard warranty covered it.

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=152349

It sounds like the operating conditions, and the symptoms are very similar between the two of us.

I think that because 80gig hds are still quite new that maybe they are more delicate than their smaller cousins.

wPod
Sep 8, 2004, 08:49 AM
7200 RPM drives usually arent in laptops because they use more energy and would suck the battery life of a machine. they also are louder b/c they are spinning faster and would create more noise than the nice quiet apple laptop. if these two things are not very important, then get a 7200 RPM drive, otherwise the 5400 is fine. as for the drives apple uses being flaky it is likely just a minor hd failer and nothing specific to the drives apple uses. hard drives are one of the most likely things to go out on any computer because they move the most and have the most likely chance of getting some sort of mechanical error, especially in laptops. do not ever move your laptop if you know the computer is in use and the HD is being accessed. try to only move the laptop when it is in sleep mode. im sure you are generally safe in that sense but just thought id mention this to anyone else who might be reading.

Penman
Sep 8, 2004, 09:13 AM
7200 RPM drives usually arent in laptops because they use more energy and would suck the battery life of a machine. they also are louder b/c they are spinning faster and would create more noise than the nice quiet apple laptop. if these two things are not very important, then get a 7200 RPM drive, otherwise the 5400 is fine. as for the drives apple uses being flaky it is likely just a minor hd failer and nothing specific to the drives apple uses. hard drives are one of the most likely things to go out on any computer because they move the most and have the most likely chance of getting some sort of mechanical error, especially in laptops. do not ever move your laptop if you know the computer is in use and the HD is being accessed. try to only move the laptop when it is in sleep mode. im sure you are generally safe in that sense but just thought id mention this to anyone else who might be reading.

Actually - I have moved my laptop while the drive's spinning (carefully) on occassion. Normally when I'm moving from one end of my apartment to the other. I always counted on the G-sensors to protect the drive. Perhaps I shouldn't. If that (very occassional and careful) movement was the cause - others be warned.

Penman
Sep 8, 2004, 09:15 AM
My new 12" PB about 4 months old, had an 80gig HD which reported S.M.A.R.T. errors very soon indeed. The computer was misbehaving in a very similar way to yours, it took apple a little convincing that there was a problem, but the following link tells you about it. Standard warranty covered it.

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=152349

It sounds like the operating conditions, and the symptoms are very similar between the two of us.

I think that because 80gig hds are still quite new that maybe they are more delicate than their smaller cousins.

I wonder. It's the maximum number of platters at the highest density and speed they make. Additional temprementality seems normal. My PB also ran superhot (software often logged 53 degrees celcius). I wonder if the expansion and contraction the drive suffers thanks to the heat effects the reliability?

Penman
Sep 8, 2004, 09:19 AM
7200 RPM drives usually arent in laptops because they use more energy and would suck the battery life of a machine. they also are louder b/c they are spinning faster and would create more noise than the nice quiet apple laptop. if these two things are not very important, then get a 7200 RPM drive, otherwise the 5400 is fine. as for the drives apple uses being flaky it is likely just a minor hd failer and nothing specific to the drives apple uses. hard drives are one of the most likely things to go out on any computer because they move the most and have the most likely chance of getting some sort of mechanical error, especially in laptops. do not ever move your laptop if you know the computer is in use and the HD is being accessed. try to only move the laptop when it is in sleep mode. im sure you are generally safe in that sense but just thought id mention this to anyone else who might be reading.

According to the sites I see that's not true. Some faster drives use less power and create less heat because of other efficiencies. I'd get a 7200 piece if they made an 80 gig. Without that capacity I'd only have a couple of gig spare. Hopefully by the end of next year (upgrade time for me I figure) there'll be bigger, faster solutions. With Flash card specs stretching to 2 TB let's just hurry up about going solid-state. Flash isn't fast enough for main memory but sure makes one hell of a drive.

gekko513
Sep 8, 2004, 10:57 AM
I wonder. It's the maximum number of platters at the highest density and speed they make. Additional temprementality seems normal. My PB also ran superhot (software often logged 53 degrees celcius). I wonder if the expansion and contraction the drive suffers thanks to the heat effects the reliability?

Yes, overheating could affect the reliability of a hard drive, but I'm not sure if 53 degrees is enough to qualify as overheating.

wide
Sep 8, 2004, 11:27 AM
maybe someone can help me out here...

to me, a computer should be durable. granted, if i get a mac i will not throw it around as much as my dell (because macs are cooler), but when it comes to worrying about GENTLY carrying a computer around the house with the drive spinning... i don't want to worry about doing that.

i carry my dell 600m around the house by the screen latch (so that the body of the computer is at a 180 degree angle to the lcd screen) with the drive spinning and a dvd burning. i have left it in my briefcase (with the drive spinning) for hours on end until the battery runs out. i have pushed my fingers into the LCD screen many, many times without and damage whatsoever. and for some reason, I have not had any problems with my computer.

the only problem i have is with my dell touchpad, but that's my fault since i spilled water on it one time (a lot). (and the touchpad still works 90+ percent of the time.)

what im wondering is that if apples are so reliable and such good machines, why do they so frequently have hard drive and screen problems? does apple offer onsite support so that when these things happen, you dont have to wait in line at the apple store to get it fixed (some people dont have the option to mail it in to apple and wait a couple days until it's fixed and then wait until apple mails it back and you are at home when the fedex guy arrives.

i really like mac os x, the design of macs, and the programs that come with them, but it seems that it might be too much of a hassle to switch over. can someone convince me this isnt true?

rhpenguin
Sep 8, 2004, 08:17 PM
I wish i could.... I love OS X as well, but my iBook has had several major repairs to it in the last year and a bit (hdd, cd-rom, 2 logic boards and a trackpad). Granted my PowerMac is roughly 5 years old (i just recently took ownership of it) now and its still tickin along very nicely.

I think its just certant models that have design flaws (such as my iBook) and theres nothing you can do but avoid them. But Apple is usualy very good about repairs.

dabirdwell
Sep 8, 2004, 09:21 PM
I carry, rotate, invert and occasionally bump my 15"1.25 all while I type, insert and retreive discs, use the trackpad...

I, too, think the PowerBooks should be able to function under these conditions, and so far the AlBook has been superb. No hardware issues in use under any conditions. So far.