Nothing lasts forever....

Discussion in 'iMac' started by an-other, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. an-other macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2011
    I've always been an Apple evangelist when people ask me about buying a computer. I'm starting to see a trend with the iMac. The hard drives are failing at 4.5 to 5 years. I've now witnessed a fourth one. Has anyone else seen this?

    It's also a bit of a challenge as this is at the window on the "vintage" category at the Apple store. Yes, it's a premium cost for the repair, but they'll stand behind their work. I've upgraded plenty of machines in my lifetime (and have a hard drive graveyard drawer to prove it), but I'm always a bit reluctant to mess with friend's machines.

    The latest failure is a 2008 20" model (A1224.) Has anyone here replaced a hard drive in this machine? Any thoughts and comments to share?

    I've watched the OWC video, and have solid experience with their upgrade kits. I guess the removing the glass panel thing has me concerned about the unexpected.
  2. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    All hard drives eventually fail. End of story.
  3. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    I've got a 24" Early 2008 iMac (A1225, EMC 2211). Two months ago I opened it up and put an SSD in the original HDD bay and a 2.5" HDD in the original optical drive bay. I would definitely do it again, and would definitely replace a failed drive myself if the need arose. (Sure it would be a hassle, but worth it to me.) I'm still using the origninal 320 GB drive in an external enclosure -- no problems with it.

    I don't have a lot of relevant experience and I work slowly, so I admit it took me two or three hours. I used the correct guide from and that made all the difference to me; I'm not sure I would tackle it without good instructions and pictures. Definitely check iFixit for guides for your machine. (I didn't know OWC had videos so can't compare it to the iFixit guide.)

    I used two nondescript small suction cups (one maybe 1" in diameter, and the other one smaller!), and the glass came off easily. It was a lot easier and a lot lighter than I expected. My big concern was getting dust/dirt/fingerprints on the inside of the glass or on the LCD panel. This may be a dumb idea, but while I still had the glass by the suction cups, I had a helper put plastic wrap ("Saran wrap") over the inside surface. I did the same with the LCD panel. My house is rather dusty, we have a cat, and I knew I'd be blowing some dust around from inside the iMac (although I did the major dust-blowing outside) so applying the wrap gave me confidence that I wouldn't get too much on those surfaces. In fact it seemed to work well, as I didn't even clean those surfaces upon re-assembly -- they looked nearly perfect. Afterwards I wondered if static electricity might have caused a problem (?), but apparently I didn't zap anything as it all works well now!

    I'm not sure about the differences between your 20" and my 24" but I expect they're pretty similar in this regard.

    Good luck!
  4. X-Ravin macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    5 years is a pretty typical MTTF with non-enterprise class drives. This why almost any important storage is RAID protected. Hard drives are about the most unreliable part of computers these days. Once they get over a few hurdles, SSDs should solve that. Even with the write limits they should theoretically be more reliable than mechanical drives.

    For important data storage (ie our NAS), I will start refreshing drives around the 4 year mark.

    Now of course I'm sure others will say they've had disks last far past 5 years, I'm simply saying 5 years is a good mean time. I work in the data storage industry, you should see how many drives we replace on a weekly basis in the datacenter, that will change your thinking on HDD reliability haha!
  5. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Pretty much this. And remember 5 years is an average, some drives will fail after a year or 2, however over time on average your drives will last 5 years.
  6. an-other thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2011
    A quick clarification

    Some people have misinterpreted my post as a complaining about a hard drive failure. Sure, it'd be nice if they lasted forever. That's not what I was after. I was just surprised with the consistency of iMacs having drive fail at the 4.5 - 5 year time frame in my experience only. I was wondering if that was other's experiences, too. Not that it matters, this wouldn't put me off recommending the iMac to anyone looking for a home desktop. I'll be picking up one for me Mum by year end. That's faith, but you'd have to know her to understand.

    I have plenty of dead hard drives lying about. I think the shortest life span was about two years. I just replaced a Tivo drive that lasted eleven. I also check my NAS daily to see if everything is ok. I have a SSD in a PS3! but I wouldn't necessarily say that's a rational cost effective solution.

    I'm glad to hear about the experience replacing the 2008 iMac hard drive. I'd welcome any other's to post their experience. I'm especially interested in learning from other's mistakes.
  7. LorenK macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2007
    How about Apple doesn't make the hard drive? In case you don't understand this simple bit of mechanics, mechanical devices fail and the more precise the mechanical device, the quicker it will fail. That you get five years from a hard drive is good, that's why every computer manufacturer says back up. Do you own a car? I suppose it never has to be repaired?

    Things fall apart. To expect otherwise is to live in Neverland.
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Its pretty much a coincidence ;) However, this is also the time when most HDDs will fail. So not very surprising IMO.
  9. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    Yes, I've experienced hard drive failures.

Share This Page