How safe to get 6-8 more months out of 5-year-old MBP hard drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by maluspumila, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. maluspumila macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2013
    I have an early 2008 Macbook Pro that's been my personal computer for a while (separate PC laptop for work). I take it places now and then, but mostly it just sits on my desk at home, so there's little travel-based wear.

    I was thinking about getting a new rMBP and could afford to do so, but there's nothing particularly slow or wrong with my current MBP. Hard drive's a little small, but 4GB of RAM works quite well for almost everything I do with it.

    My only question is: How safe is it to trust that a 5-year-old laptop hard drive will keep on going for another 6-8 months or so until the next version of the rMBP comes out? I make regular Time Machine backups, but it would still be a real pain if my hard drive died unexpectedly.

    I know hard drive quality is highly variable and hard to estimate, but even anecdotal evidence would be useful. (My old mid-2004 iBook is still alive and kicking, although I only turn it on every few months or so these days.)
  2. Dark Dragoon macrumors 6502a

    Dark Dragoon

    Jul 28, 2006
    There's no real way of knowing.

    I've got drives that are old and still work fine, such as a laptop from 2004, Mac mini from 2005. But I've also had drives abruptly and without any warning fail after only a few months of use.

    I use Time Machine for backing up, and the time spent to recover one of my systems is only a few hours (I also have everything duplicated on two computers). However maybe you could consider using something like Carbon Copy Cloner to regularly clone your drive, that way if it fails you can immediately boot from the clone.
  3. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hard drives can go at any time. Some may last years, others just a month, so it pays to backup at whatever age your machine, and I wouldn't be more concerned than normal about trying to get another 6-8 months from your drive.

    Regarding backups, I find it prudent to keep an additional backup of my most important files (content of Documents and Photos), since Murphy's Law can strike down your backup if your primary drive goes.

    Also, it's not a pain to restore your machine from a Time Machine backup. It may take a little while, but Migration Assistant makes it a breeze. It takes your machine back to an identical state, without needing to setup apps, your accounts or anything.
  4. maluspumila thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2013
    Dark Dragoon and ohbrilliance -- thank you for the suggestions and comments. It seems like if the laptop hard drive has held out this long, it's not particularly more likely to fail suddenly due to age ("I wouldn't be more concerned than normal"), as opposed to normal random unpredictable failure.

    I'll continue with the regular backups and probably also get a large-ish flash drive and start up a separate documents/photos/etc. backup on that, as suggested. Really, even though a new Mac would be cool and all, I don't particularly need one quite yet, and I actually don't want to take the time right now setting things up on a new computer and learning what's changed in Mavericks... when things are calmer, I'd enjoy it a lot more, but now it would be less fun.

    (And I only think restoring from a backup would be kind of a pain because I've fortunately never had to do that before. Sounds like Time Machine makes that as painless as can reasonably be expected.)
  5. deluxeshredder macrumors 6502a

    Nov 30, 2013
    Devices (including hard drives) usually break down very young or very old.

    There is a high chance that hard drive will continue to work for years to come.
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Agree with the post directly above.

    If the MBP is still working, just keep using it.

    If you're worried about the internal hard drive, get an external drive and keep a CLONED and BOOTABLE backup, and update it regularly.

    That way, if your internal drive suddenly fails, just connect the cloned backup, reboot, and keep going -- exactly as before (notwithstanding that you're booting from a different source.

    You can then either
    - replace the drive, or
    - replace the MacBook.
  7. maluspumila thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2013
    Cool, I appreciate the advice. I'll definitely start running Carbon Copy Cloner, especially since external drives have become so cheap.
  8. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    Yep, I agree with this; I've had two drives fail in less than a year... and I also have one that's now 16 years old and still going fine. Chances are that you won't have any problems, but naturally keep making backups :)

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