A Macbook Scare

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by r0k, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    This weekend I spent a little time on the phone with Apple. I have AppleCare on my 3+ year old Macbook but have called so rarely they didn't have it recorded properly. It didn't matter as I bought it 2/27/2008 so it is out of AppleCare whether they can find my record or not.

    Lately my Mac has been getting slower and slower. I got rid of FF 3.6 and got Chrome and things got a lot better. When FF 4 came out I grabbed FF 4 because I was tired of sites not looking right in Chrome. All was well for a few weeks but this past week I have had to force quit Firefox 4 every time I walk away from the machine for more than a few hours. But yesterday it got really ugly in that when I tried to relaunch FF, I got a message that it was already running. No problem. I'll just reboot. After all I reboot whenever there's a mandatory reboot software update. Unless I skip the update cuz I don't feel like rebooting. And my Mac wouldn't come back. It got to a blue screen spining and sat there. It sat there long enough for me to get through some preliminaries on the phone with AppleCare. As we talked the machine finally got booted up and I was able to launch FF. They suggested I delete some login items which I did and they told me that more in depth debugging could be done for free at the Apple Store at a 15 minute genius bar appointment and anything beyond that would start costing money. Hmmmm... I decided to leave well enough alone and live with my Mac as is.

    But today I got another FF 4 crash and decided enough was enough. I popped in my OS X Snow Leopard DVD and did a reinstall. Normally this would take 30 to 45 minutes but this time it got stuck on 31 minutes remaining. This time I became concerned that I really did have a hardware problem. Darn. So I powered down and booted up and this time the install hung at the same spot but I went outside and did some yard work. When I returned, the install had succeeded. Whew. I allowed Software Update to make me current again. I had to reinstall crashplan. I decided I couldn't live with the bulging battery any more so I drove by the Apple store and picked up a replacement. This is scary. If white Macbook batteries bulge and die after 3 years, why would I want to buy a unit with a battery that can only be replaced by Apple. Why would I want to do without my machine for hours or perhaps even days while they performed the switch. Well thank goodness I have the cheap little white Macbook with the replaceable battery and I don't have to find out. Yet.

    So other than the little hiccup with crashplan, I think I'm good to go. Even all my littlesnitch rules are intact. It was pretty funny that I had to tell little snitch to allow the install to phone home. I really don't mind. At least I'm not fumbling with key numbers every time I want to install OS X. And yes, even if I only do it every other year I don't want to be bothered with proving I'm not a thief.

    Normally these threads are posed to ask a question. So now that I've told my story, here are a few questions...

    FF 4
    Is Firefox 4 really so bad that it is crashing left and right? Should I consider going back to Chrome or even... Safari :eek:

    Are the newer Macbook batteries replaceable in a single Apple Store visit or are people living without their Macs for days at a time whenever the batteries wear out?

    Has anybody felt it was worth it to shell out for support after AppleCare ran out or do you turn to the forums? I've pretty much decided that as long as my old Macbook hangs on by a thread I'll keep it no matter how tempting those new MBPs are or those soon to arrive new iMacs. I even debated getting a new MBP rather than shell out $129 for a battery, but if I want to sell this thing off when I replace it, I wont' get much for it with a bulging battery. While I can understand not needing AppleCare on a desktop, would you consider skipping AppleCare on a MBP?

    One thing that has me wanting the new MBP is the time it takes to rip a dvd in handbrake. It takes upward of 3 hours. My Macbook geekbenches at 3100 and the slowest new MBP is over 5900. Is dvd ripping a lot faster with a faster machine or is the rate really limited by something else? I plan to relegate all my dvd's to the basement between the 8 tracks and the 78 records so ripping speed is important to me. Also the newer machines come with more disk space and SSD options.

    Ok here's where you get to suggest what I should do with my money. I would make it a poll but telling me what to do with my money isn't the only point of this thread...
    1. Get the new MBP, why'd you wait so long? :cool:
    2. Quit being so materialistic. You can get 2 more years out of that Penryn Macbook. :rolleyes:
    3. All you really need is an iPad :apple:
  2. frankieboy, Apr 30, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011

    frankieboy macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2009
    I recommend you get that genius bar appointment that Applecare suggested, or if you know how, check your hard disk for directory errors and bad blocks.

    You may be eligible for a free replacement if the battery is bulging: bulging (i.e. threatening to rupture) and ruptured batteries constitute a manufacturing defect and a safety hazard, so I think Apple's policy is to replace them for free, unless they find evidence of abuse, tampering (like, pry marks) or that you put the thing in an oven or something.

    Batteries in new models should last a lot longer than 3 years, probably 4-5 years, and are in fact not hard to replace yourself, but you have to get the part on the grey market, because Apple won't sell it to you.

    I have gotten Applecare on some of my MBPs and not on others, so yes, I'd consider skipping it. Very fortunately, I find I have used it when I had it, and not needed when I didn't. You pays your money, or not, and you takes your chances, or not. Economics (Austrian-school) teaches us that value is subjective, so the question is, is it worth the cost to you to have Apple assume the risks covered by Applecare. No one but you can know.

    You will find Handbrake-ripping a lot of DVDs a much faster, more pleasant experience on a new MBP. The four-core i7s are true champs at that kind of heavy lifting.
  3. Detrius macrumors 68000

    Sep 10, 2008
    Asheville, NC
    All of this. You probably have a bad hard drive, and I cringed reading your story where you reinstalled the OS, as that's usually when the drive croaks.

    The new batteries are a revolutionary new technology. NiCd batteries from a few decades ago got you 300 cycles. The battery that you're replacing should get you about 350. The new Lithium Polymer batteries should get you 1000. It's a big deal.
  4. flottenheimer macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Up north
    Next time your Mac chokes try formatting your drive and do a clean OS X install - rather than installing on top of a mess.
  5. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Yea it sounds like you're having problems with some internals that's making your computer run so slow; I'm going to go with a failing hard drive or some files on there that are causing you problems.

    You should always do a clean install though; installing everything over something that doesn't work is never the right way to do it (when you have the option to delete the files anyway).
  6. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I'm waiting for crashplan to finish its initial seed of my data. I have perhaps 2 or 3 days left and then I'll consider a wipe and install. All has been well since my archive and install but I don't leave firefox running for days chewing through 1.4 gig of memory.

    The MBP I'm considering is the base 13 in MBP because MicroCenter has it on sale for $999. It's hard to pass up unless I can prove to myself my current machine can make it another year.

    I've been thinking about a HDD upgrade so perhaps I'll give that a try since it's been mentioned more than once it seems like my HDD is suspect in all of this. As for a clean install, I've only really done it once on my daughter's Mac Mini after she hacked the admin password and made copies of all the programs I had restricted with parental controls. There must have been 50 copies of iChat scattered around her system in different places and rather than deal with the mess I wiped and installed and used a non trivial admin password. Even my old G4 Mac Mini has never had a wipe and install and that thing started out with Tiger (I think).

    Thanks for all the replies!
  7. acies909 macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2007
    Harrison Twp, MI
    If you have a Apple Store near by, you can go there and the Apple Store will price match MicroCenter. Just make sure you bring in the sales paper and make that MC has it in stock. I worked for MC and not a big fan of the customer service because they are always out for the big sale because they are commissioned based, where the Apple Store always has had the best customer service and employees are hourly not commissioned and will spend more time with you than anyone at a MC.
  8. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    That's good to know. Thanks a lot! I'll keep it in mind if I decide to jump. Right now the new iMac is tickling my fancy as my iPad solves all my portable needs.

    For now, my tired old Macbook is running just fine. I close FF whenever I walk away and relaunch it when I return so it isn't sitting there gobbling memory while I sleep. I found a whopping memory leak listed on bugzilla as allegedly fixed in 4.0.1. I would say it's NOT fixed. Well, actually to reproduce the leak you had to run Lion and since I'm running 10.6.7, perhaps I'm seeing a different leak. I know that before I did my most recent archive and install, I could sit there and watch FF allocate RAM until it hits about 1.4 gig and the only way to use my Mac for anything whatsoever is to force quit FF 4.

    Today's (non)events...
    This evening, I went to the Apple store to replace one of the kids' phones with the 3GS, which cost $1 less than Verizon wanted to replace a broken LG Env3. It's Verizon's loss. I can handle dropped calls better than I can handle being asked to pay to replace a phone that was defective the day we got it. It has been going through resets since day one. VZW has looked at it before and offered to upgrade firmware and they even admitted the thing was inherently unstable and said we shouldn't go to the new firmware unless the problem got worse. In fact we actually wasted more time in the Verizon store waiting to see someone and then arguing about the lack of a free option to replace her gimped phone. We were there because today my daughter's phone got worse. It got so bad the phone never powered on at the VZW store and barely stayed powered long enough for the Apple tech to get her phone numbers off and onto her iPhone. That was long enough for me. It was the last time she ever had to use it. So this errand kept us out for over an hour and I didn't get back to my Macbook until after dinner. I was pretty sure I'd come back to find FF 4 all stupid and stuff but...

    Here I am 2+ hours after I walked away from FF 4 with 6 tabs open and it hasn't gone kuckoo nutz. Activity Monitor confirms FF 4 is eating less than half a gig of memory. Of course I don't have any windows open with flash active on them either. It looks like I may have dodged the bullet when it comes to needing a new Mac or even a wipe and install (crossing my fingers about the latter). I've already got a bluetooth mighty mouse lying in a drawer and a magic mouse along side it collecting mega dust. I've also already got an Apple bluetooth keyboard I use very rarely. So if I picked up an iMac, I'd be wanting to do some trading to get something instead of yet another Apple mouse. I guess I'd have to give that trackpad thing a try. But alas, my problems appear to have been completely solved by an archive and install of Snow Leopard.

    Darn. Those new iMacs were looking kinda nice. :D
  9. 100Teraflops macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Elyria, Ohio
    Stop wasting time and buy a new Mac! :) Its not like you are experiencing computer problems. ;) Use your current machine as a "project." After you fix it, you could either sell it on ebay etc or keep it as a beater.
  10. DrakkenWar macrumors 6502


    Nov 7, 2010
    San Antonio,Texas
    3hrs to rip with Handbrake and whatnot?!?!

    I think I am onboard with most here that are calling for a complete format and reinstall. However, that is only something I would do after you replace the harddrive and soon!

    I have never owned a macpro, however I know here with my Dual G5 1.8 now with 4 gigs of ram and the stock superdrive, a usual rip takes me around 1.5hrs give or take, though settings for the rip do have an effect.

    Also, I do not know how long you have used FF, I have been there since was the Mozilla Suite way WAY back in the day on linux machines, the first releases can be huge memory monsters, if everything works with 3.6 and it is supported? Stick with it, until something breaks to the point where you need to move on.

  11. r0k, May 4, 2011
    Last edited: May 4, 2011

    r0k thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    As much as I love Mac gear, saving money is never a waste of time. As for making my current Macbook into a "project", nothing could be further from the realm of possibility. I might pass it on to another family member, but the only "project" machines I have right now are former PC's that are running various versions of Linux.

    Nothing worked with 3.6. I had to switch to Chrome to get anything done. But Chrome rendered almost a dozen of my most recently visited web sites incorrectly. I'm very reluctant to use Safari. Would you believe the only current instance of Mac malware relies on Safari right now? I've followed the recommendation and switched off "open safe files after download" but I like the convenience of having my main account an admin account so I won't use Safari for much of anything. This leaves me with FF 4.0.1 which I left running over night and it actually shrank to 375 Meg from 450 Meg when I walked away from the machine last night.

    As for a wipe and install, I'm not ready for that just yet. I've only had to ever do it once on the 5+ Macs we've owned and it was the result of a machine being badly hacked by a kid trying to get around parental controls. While wipe and installs were a common and necessary evil back in my Windows days, I try to avoid them on OS X. I suppose Time Machine could make it "quick" for me to restore, but I've had situations where the destination volume on my Time Capsule became corrupted so I'd have to check it with disk utility before attempting a wipe and install followed by a restore from Time Machine only to find all my stuff was not really backed up. I also back up my Documents folder to crash plan but again that's not a full backup so I'd hate to find out crashplan was the only safety net I had after a wipe. I'd really like to have my entire home folder seeded to crashplan but that will take days given our upload bandwidth cap.

    I'm considering something like carbon copy cloner. If I use that, it would be rather convenient to replace the hard drive without waiting for all my network based backup gear to be fully in order.

    Downloaded CCC, full backup is running now to a disk image on a firewire drive. Once it finishes, I'll pop a 2.5 inch 320ish gig drive in a Mac compatible usb enclosure and let CCC extract my image to the new disk. I was amazed to find it's donationware. I'll make a donation just as soon as I have OS X up and running on my new disk.

    The FF 4 bug I referenced in an earlier post can be seen on bugzilla.

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