Apple: MacBooks Can't Handle GarageBand

Two Apple customer service representatives told reader Mark to blame his MacBook’s four hard drive crashes on GarageBand, professional-grade software that his puny consumer-grade laptop ‘can’t handle.’ Every MacBook comes with GarageBand pre-loaded as part of Apple’s iLife suite.

Mark writes:

Hello Consumerist,

Recently I went into an Apple Store with a broken hard drive on a black Macbook. This was my third hard drive crash on the machine in 18 months. Previously I had another apple notebook which had no problems in the four years I used it.

After the second hard drive crash I took the machine to the Genius bar for service and it was sent away to Apple in California. After getting it back about ten days later I was informed that they had replaced the DVD drive (?) in addition to the hard drive and was told if I had any trouble with this hard drive they would replace the machine.

This time when my hard drive crashed I took it into to be replaced again. After a few days I called Applecare and asked them whether I could request a replacement machine. They informed me I should contact my local Apple store that was doing the repair and speak to them about a replacement and if that didn’t work I should speak to Customer Relations.

When I called the Apple store I was put on the phone with an Apple Genius again who told me that he wouldn’t replace the machine. I asked him if it was unusual to go through four hard drives in a year and a half and he asked me what I used my machine for.

I told him I was a musician and I recorded using Garageband in addition to surfing the internet, etc. He told me that Macbooks are consumer level machines and that often they can’t handle writing big files like the kind Garageband uses. He said I should use an external hard drive for recording with Garageband.

He refused to replace the machine and when I asked for the number for customer relations, he game me a number which was actually the Apple Care hotline.

After I navigated the Apple Care menu, I spoke to a tech support person who connected me to someone at customer relations. He agreed to replace the machine and was much more polite than the Genius I spoke to on the phone.

He put me on hold and called the store to cancel the repair. After that had been arranged he warned me that since they were replacing the machine if I continued to experience the same behavior with my next machine it would be my fault.

He also told me that Macbooks were consumer level machines and they weren’t made to handle certain programs. I asked him if that included Garageband, which comes in the iLife suite ( and is obviously targeted at average consumers as it comes with the operating system. He didn’t address that directly, but seemed to agree with me.

I was pleased with the service I got from customer relations and also pleased with Apple agreeing to send me a replacement computer. I can’t say I’m pleased with the Genius bar guy I talked to , though my previous experiences haven’t been so bad and the guy I actually met at the store was nice).

I have to say I’m completely perplexed with why a black (supposedly high-end) Macbook can’t run Garageband without crashing the hard drive. In all their Macbook ads online they show Garageband in the dock of the Macbooks and they include it with all their new computers. Surely it’s meant to be used. Maybe just occasionally?

There’s a world of difference between “can’t handle” and “runs better.” We expect better performance from better hardware, but Apple claims clunky old G4s can handle iLife, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that it will smoothly on Apple’s top-of-the-line consumer notebook. Right? Tell us in the comments if we’re missing something.


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  1. nicemarmot617 says:

    As far as I can see it, the Apple-PC war really lines up like this:

    Hardware: Roughly equal. Neither has superior hardware.
    Price: Apples are much, much, much, more expensive than PCs. A comparable Apple to my BF’s 17-inch Toshiba would run him $3000. He paid $800 for his Toshiba.
    Software: I think everyone can agree that Apple’s software is superior in usability and stability, though far from perfect.

    So basically, if you buy an Apple, you’re paying a huge premium for their OS and software. So it surprises me very much that they would pre-load their machines with software they were not capable of running. If I was this guy I would be very angry.

    • idip says:


      I agree.

      I love the way Macs look but… realistically, they are very expensive. I’ve had someone tell me that I can get a Mac for the same price I paid for my computer. That is very far from the truth (I paid $350.00 for my computer) and it cost me 30 bucks to upgrade the RAM to 3GB it’s the best computer I’ve ever had and have not had any problems with it.

      I can’t find a cheap Mac. The Mac Mini comes the closest and I don’t’ even think I can upgrade the RAM myself.

      Now I have heard great stories about Customer Service from Apple but you really are paying for it.

      To the original question… if Apple includes iLife on the Macbooks then it is NOT unreasonable to assume your computer can handle the program.

      What Apple told the consumer is almost like … well… you can’t compare that. Apple is the only one to make their computers.

      If Apple is not going to take responsibility for the program they perhaps they should create an “iLife Lite” for “consumer level machines” without that software.

      On the other hand, notebooks are not desktop replacements and should never be confused as such.

      • NotYou007 says:


        On the other hand, notebooks are not desktop replacements and should never be confused as such.

        There are high end laptops out there that can rivial a deskotop with ease. Have you never heard of []

        Granted you can build a much better desktop at their site but you can also get a laptop that will smoke a lot of desktop computers with ease. A high end laptop can handel anything that a desktop can with ease.

      • @idip:
        The reason that you can’t find a Mac for the price that you paid for your computer is that Apple doesn’t compete in the low end of the computer market. One, it’s not profitable, and two, low end machines don’t provide the type of user experience that they want to be associated with their brand (remember when Vista was first released, and new, low-end Vista notebooks were coming with only 512 MB of RAM, when you really need four times that to run Vista?).

        If you compare an Apple and a Dell notebook with the same Intel C2D processor, the same memory and hard disk options, and the same screen size, they are priced competitively. Yes, you can get a Dell notebook with a giant screen and a crummy processor for much less than the cheapest Apple notebook with a giant screen (and a better processor standard), but they aren’t the same.

        • 2719 says:



          You should never use the phrase ‘priced competitively’ when comparing Macs vs PCs. Even with regular pricing Dells are cheaper, plus with their promotions and coupons it gets even better.

        • zsta2k7 says:

          Macbook Pro
          2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 (3MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
          2GB RAM
          250GB 5400RPM HDD
          15.4″ WXGA+ screen
          Mac OSX

          Dell Vostro 1510
          2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 (6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
          2GB RAM
          250GB 7200RPM HDD
          15.4″ WXGA+ screen
          Windows Vista Home Premium

          Definitely comparable…

          • katylostherart says:

            i have the low end macbook, it records garage band stuff just fine. it makes movies just fine. if the file’s too large to write and i don’t have the hd space, it just doesn’t write it and tells me i don’t have the room to do so.

            @zsta2k7: minus that part where you mention vista :)

          • nknight says:


            You’ve just compared two completely different machines targeted at completely different markets.

            That Dell lacks at least:

            * Decent video card. (+$150, but see below)

            * 802.11n (+$49)

            * Bluetooth (+$20)

            * Camera/mic (+$40)

            * DVI output (no upgrade available)

            * One firewire port short (no upgrade available)

            So already you’ve gone from $1093 to $1352, and you’re still missing bits.

            And the “see below” on the video card… The MacBook Pro carries an 8600M GT 512MB, the Dell’s $150 upgrade is only an 8400M GS 256MB.

            You really have to look at the Latitudes to try and compare raw specs, but even then, the differing options mean you can’t get a really good comparison.

            You’re still getting those cheap, crappy plastic cases, too…

          • @zsta2k7:
            You’re still not comparing machines with similar specifications. The Vostro is Dell’s low-end business model. The 1500 is half an inch thicker than the MacBook Pro, and weighs more. The 2510 is comparable to the MacBook Pro.

            You have to get the Vostro 2510 to get a built-in camera. Add $50 to get a full-featured version of Windows. Add $20 for on-site service. Add $100 for an Ultra Sharp screen. Add $90 for a larger hard drive. Add $49 for 802.11n wireless and $20 for Bluetooth…

            I show a price of $1727 and that’s for a machine with a slightly larger footprint than the MacBook Pro. For $322 more, I would take the Apple. I have been happy with the performance, quality, and value of the Apple products I have purchased.

            • mmmsoap says:

              @segfault: Yeah, the mac is going to cost at least $300 more, but so is a similarly spec’d PC that’s been pre-built. For that $300, people without the skill-set to put together components that will work together, much less assemble them, get someone to do it for them. Additionally, if a component is inserted wrong (seriously, all of us who build our own have accidentally bent a pin on a processor during assembly) it gets swapped out with a new one before it gets to the consumer, ensuring that they have a working machine.

              On the same vein, I pay a mechanic to change my oil, because that isn’t my skill set. I’m told it’s cheaper to do it myself, but that’s not a skill I know or am interested in learning.

              I like Apple products a lot; they’re well thought out from a user point of view. Instead of a UI that evolves as a result of updates, it is proactively designed on each product. However, from anecdotal evidence (I know, the plural of anecdote is not data) it seems that Apple has serious Quality Control issues. Most people I know either have a perfect machine for 4-5 years, or need it replaced/fixed 3 times in the first year. Both examples come from the same factory, yet totally different repair histories.

              I’m surprised at the Genius’ response to the OP. Most of the time, the Geniuses are excellent about replacing any machine with AppleCare, no questions asked. They care about keeping their customers happy, as word-of-mouth (ie– fanboy support) is critical for Apple keeping its market share against the tide that is Windows.

    • SilverHammer says:


      Didn’t have time to read all the comments, but yours stuck out. Speaking as someone who has used extensively both Macs and PCs, and a variety of laptops to boot, your boyfriend’s Toshiba is a piece of junk. The innards are all the same, but every Satellite I’ve ever used was indistinguishable from a Dell.

      Compare a Macbook to a PC laptop with good build quality, like a Sony Vaio for instance. Comparable specs, including 2gb RAM and 160gb HDD and the Sony is $1349, $150 more than the Mac. Combine that with the fact that, as you said, you pay a premium for the excellent software, and the Macbook is a steal.

      Now, the Macbook Pros are certainly expensive. But I have a $2000 LG laptop that’s about 3 years old and it looks and runs brand new, whereas the ubiquitous Dells my friends have are totally screwed. The mouse is soft as hell, the keyboard is shit, and you’re using Vista on top of it.

      Wal-Mart’s meat is cheaper than Fresh Market, but if you think it’s the same, you’re nuts.

      • nicemarmot617 says:

        @SilverHammer: I didn’t say they were the same. I agree that Macs are generally superior. I’m merely asking if they are worth the absurd premium. I don’t think they are. Their hardware seems to fail as often as PCs. This causes me to seriously doubt that it is superior. I wouldn’t argue that the operating system isn’t better, it is way better. Especially better than Vista.

        Frankly, I don’t like Mac OS and never really have. It’s just my preference. And as for the piece of junk Toshiba – well, we got rid of all the bloatware and it’s running just fine.

        Vista DOES suck though.

        • SilverHammer says:


          Actually, you did say they were the same. You said “Neither has superior hardware.” Of course, the HDDs and the RAM and all that is hardware, but so is the chassis, the hinges, the mouse, the trackpad, the build quality. This is also the hardware.

          Further, this “absurd premium” you speak of is nowhere to be found. For comparison, I used the Toshiba Satellite U400, their entry-level 13.3″ consumer laptop. For Apple, the standard white Macbook, also 13.3″. For the Mac, we have a 2.1ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2gb RAM, 120gb HDD for $1199. Toshiba’s Satellite comes with a slightly less powerful processor, 1gb more ram and lots more space with 320gb HDD for $949.

          This is a difference of $250, a 25% difference. It’s not insignificant, particularly given the amount of cheap space with the Toshiba. But as I said, the build quality of the Toshiba is just not there. I have a Sony television and could have saved hundreds by getting an Insignia or some such. After all, they display the same pictures. But I’m not so hard up for $400 that I want to replace my Insignia 3 years down the road. At any rate, and I can’t speak for the Toshibas, but I get a $100 discount for Apple products through my university, and for $150, the Macbook gets my money every time.

    • ars_workerbee2 says:

      @nicemarmot617: no, you’re wrong. i guarantee it. if you compare the video card, processor, display resolution, etc, in a $800 toshiba 17″ laptop to a macbook pro, they’re hardly similar.

      here’s the $800 toshiba: []

      it isn’t even possible to configure a 17″ toshiba with a dedicated graphics card, let alone a 256 or 512 MB one, a display over 1440×900, etc.

  2. NotYou007 says:

    I would love for anyone to explain to me, someone who has been a computer tech since 1989 that how writting very large files to a HDD is going to kill it. Yes, hard drives can fail at anytime and just because you had one hard drive last for four years doesn’t mean the next five you own will but what they said makes me laugh.

    “””He told me that Macbooks are consumer level machines and that often they can’t handle writing big files like the kind Garageband uses”””

    That is just to freaking funny. As I said, the system might slow down while this takes place but that is about it. What is funny as well is he used the word “often” so he is implying that somtimes they can and sometimes they cannot.

    Best of luck and thanks for a laugh.

  3. WNW says:

    Writing big file to the HDD =/= HDD failure. That doesn’t make sense on so many levels. Software CANNOT break hardware. If it could you’d see many many virus writers taking advantage of a vulnerability like that. Mac Genius is an oxymoron.

    • NotYou007 says:


      Software can break hardware. Have you never heard of the Chernobyl virus which did damage the BIOS/EEPROM which is hardware. You had to replace the EEPROM because the virus would kill it.

      So yes, software can kill hardware but what this idiot told him is just false.

    • dewsipper says:

      @WNW: Set the wayback machine, but I remember a time when software definitely COULD wreck your drive – you could send the head wracking back and forth by telling it to overwrite two certain locations on the drive or something like that. I never wrote the codes myself, was just victim to it. That “fast” back and forth motion would kill the drive.

    • coolkiwilivin says:

      @WNW: Actually it can. Steve Gibson has some private tools that can actually damage a sector. Harddrive failure is not a question of if but when. Unfortunately you’ve encountered the typical Mac response. Our corporate sales rep, is always trying to sell our company. “We’re ready for the enterprise! blah blah” but things like this is exactly they way they treat enterprise customers. Instead of owning up hardware issues or providing a decent warranty they blame it on the OP and stick it to them. My suggestions go through Dell’s Large corporation channels and get a machine with Completecare support for 3 years. I’ve seen machines where the user accidentally poured a cup of coffee into their laptop and Dell replaced the whole machine no questions. Another one had a baby throw up into the laptop and they swapped out the motherboard, keyboard and power button. I talked to the Apple rep, none of the above situations would have been covered. Again you need to get completecare and go through the large business sector if possible. Otherwise you’re no better off than with Apple. Try as they might, you’re unfortunately seeing that Apple is just a computer company and they make hardware and software that’s no less buggy than anyone else. Well actually worse b/c they control the hardware so they shouldn’t have any problems because of that.

  4. Writing big file to the HDD =/= HDD failure. That doesn’t make sense on so many levels. Software CANNOT break hardware.

    Yeah, someone’s getting odd information. And I’ve never had a problem with GarageBand on my mom’s MacBook or my MacBook Pro. Not a hiccup.

  5. NoWin says:

    It’s quite possible if the OP has the basic Ram configuration and is using the DVD drive for burning or Vid playback, and compiling in GarageBand, and surfing, and Mail, and a few other apps “all” at the same time, the HD could be overheating. (Yes, the bottoms do get a tad warm when you max out the processor services)

    If the op hasn’t maxed out the ram, do so, and consider something like a heat dissipator laptop stand or pad or stand to help with the airflow at the bottom of the MacBook. If he keeps a scad load of apps open while using GB, close out a few and stick w/ the app-task at hand.

    GB is a processor intensive app (but there are worse ones), and many musicians in my neck of the woods here use MacBook Pros, or MacPro desktop units. Just my observation.

    I’ll be the first to say a HD can go south (Maxtor’s=grrrrr), but 4? I’d be looking at something he may be inadvertently doing that may be accelerating the demise of the HD’s.

    • Hyman Decent says:

      [GarageBand] comes with the operating system

      Technically, no. It comes with the computer. When you buy a retail (upgrade) copy of Mac OS X, it doesn’t include iLife. You’ll likely wind up upgrading to the newest version of the OS but not the newest version of iLife. (I know, I’m splitting hairs with regards to Mark’s situation.)

      FWIW (not much, since I’m not an expert), I think NoWin‘s explanation is the best so far.

      @balthisar: The new, top-of-the-line Hyundai Genesis may well be better than any Lincoln currently available.

  6. schweetzy says:

    OP: which Apple Store did you go to?

  7. Altdotweb says:

    The main question is:

    How come the Apple Store Genius and the Apple software architects were not looking for the same?

  8. Chongo says:

    I know someone who runs both Logic 8 studio and serrato (I think that the name, its a proffesional DJ program that allows you to spin records that sync to MP3’s). All on a Macbook (not pro). Works fine.

  9. Mike8813 says:

    I have an early 2007 model Macbook, not even as good as what he’s using.

    Now I haven’t used Garageband to digitally record any instruments since… you know… I can’t play them. But I have used Garageband on many other occasions without incident. I used it to make the entire soundtrack to a ~50 minute home movie. Fades, effects, music, the works. I’ve even recorded some podcasts using it.

    Like I said, I haven’t used it to capture my key-tar skills or anything hardcore like that, but with what I have done it’s worked great. I’m certainly no “genius”, but I’d say it’s the computer that was at fault here… Not the software.

  10. DanR2 says:

    This genius was no genius.

    Total nonsense what the tech told him.

  11. scootinger says:

    Ridiculous…depending on which models you look at, a MacBook and MacBook Pro could very well have the exact same processor and/or hard drive. And GarageBand has been around for quite a while, so a MacBook that you buy today probably runs it better than the fastest Macs 2-3 years ago.

    The only area where the MacBooks are inadequate are with graphics processing, meaning that they cannot run many games as well as a few apps like Final Cut Pro due to the integrated Intel graphics prcoessor. Furthermore, the X3100 IGP’s on the newer MacBooks have horrible drivers on Mac OS X, meaning that graphics performance is absolutely atrocious – it’s worse than the GMA950 Macbooks, and worse than my parents’ 3-4 year-old G4 iMac and iBook.

  12. cookmefud says:

    my powermac g4 was a slug when it came to running garageband, even with juiced up ram and a mostly open hard drive.
    it was a fun program to mess around with, but yeah, it crashed out my system more often than not, and I always had to ensure that nothing else was running in the background if I wanted to use that or any other programs that used a lot of system resources.

    most of the problems I had with my laptop was with hard drive failure, and intermittent power issues. I think that this was due to the sheer heat that my laptop put out. I think that this was due to the fact that the machine was just not built to run some of the preloaded programs that came with it. it forced it to work overtime constantly to keep up, and eventually led to the meltdown of the motherboard in my laptop.

    I think that apple stuffs so many programs on their computers that are for high-end users in an attempt to justify a bit their high cost. unfortunately, my experience has been that half of these programs never really get used anyway, but it makes the overall computer experience feel like you’re using a slightly out of date computer all the time because it’s always just a little bit sluggish or quirky. that sucks because they are really great machines, they just need to have their OS streamlined a bit.

  13. digitalgimpus says:

    They use the same SATA drives. You can even swap if you want.

    The Genius just didn’t know what they were talking about, or didn’t want to be bothered. Rather sell new computers than work with older ones.

  14. tooki says:

    Google’s now-famous hard disk reliability study showed that (at least for desktop drives) disk activity level had NO effect on drive longevity, other than with very young drives, where high activity seems to accelerate early infant death (drives that would have failed soon, anyway). Notebook drives are not designed for as heavy use as desktop drives, but that’s still relative.

    And a more relevant point: MacBooks and MacBook Pros use the same hard drives.

  15. ryecob says:

    laptop drives should indeed survive some amount of digital audio recording, but they are far from ideal.

    any laptop musician looking to get the most from their rig (be it a mac or pc) records and plays back files from an external drive. replacing the stock internal drive with a 7200rpm model would improve GB’s performance but battery time would suffer.

    repeated HD failure as described above sounds like an overheating issue. improper ventilation or excessive disk caching (as a result of not enough RAM) could be to blame.

    as someone who worked pro audio tech support for many years, I can’t help but wonder about the users recording environent and if he was totally forthcoming when talking with customer support.

  16. goodpete says:

    I’m going to have to agree with Digitalgimpus. They probably use the exact same hard drives in both a MacBook Pro and a MacBook. Furthermore, the idea that Garage Band’s “big files” and heavy writes and re-writes would damage a “consumer grade” hard drive so much is ridiculous.

    Anyone who uses a low-end computer for a DVR will tell you that their hard drives often last several years, even under that heavy stress. The stress put on a hard drive by a DVR is far more than you could ever put on a hard drive with Garage Band.

    What might be the case is how you treat the computer. Hard drives in laptops don’t tend to last as long as hard drives in desktops. The big reason is that hard drives don’t hold up well under acceleration. If you’re someone who likes to carry his computer around in his backpack while it’s suspended or running, that can cause issues and potentially fry a hard drive really fast. Also, if you tend to move the computer around when it’s running (even just carrying it in your hands while it’s running) then you’ll probably go through drives faster than the average customer.

    It’s much more likely that the problem is a bad SATA controller or bad power supply on your computer and it’s toasting the drives by itself. Lots of computer companies also replace broken parts with refurbished, sub-par parts. So you might have just had a run of bad luck.

    I say, get a replacement computer, chances are, that will take care of your problem.

    Good Luck!

  17. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    Doesn’t make sense. I’ve written whole movies to my HD and it hasn’t crashed yet (Black macbook) songs are much smaller in size. I call BS. Why give this person 15 minutes of fame?

  18. ShariC says:

    I’ve been using Macs since 1988 (and PCs since about 1995). I’ve bought 12 Macs during the course of my use of Macs (chronicled in a blog post of mine recently so I recall this pretty well). I noticed as I went back over my history that there was a distinct hardware quality degradation reflected in my use. The bottom line is that new Macs, at least at the consumer level, are full of poor quality components. This is especially true of the optical drives and hard drives. You can expect a hard disk to fail on a consumer level Mac within two years (likely earlier) of purchase. Macs went from being a machine which didn’t need an extended warranty to one that really does.

    I still buy and use Macs, but my expectations are rather different than they once were, and I don’t think they are qualitatively so much greater than another brand. Apple still has better customer service and a far less byzantine process for dealing with problems, but it’s no longer offering machines of the highest quality for the higher price.

    The Genius explanation about Garage Band is essentially saying that the low end machines can’t take too much use before their components fail and that’s absolutely true in my (considerable) experience.

  19. teh says:

    I’ve always had poor service when going into the apple store for tech support. I’d suggest that Mark calls up the proper apple tech support and tell him the bullshit that the “genius” was trying to sell him. Occasionally the real tech support is nice and will offer some compensation.

  20. balthisar says:

    If the hard drives are failing, it’s not the computer that’s at fault, or the use of the computer. It’s be freaking hard drive. Now when the tech indicates to use an external hard drive, what does that tell you?

    READER MARK: go get a copy of SMARTreporter. It’s free, and it’ll monitor your internal hard drive’s health. Even Apple trusts it. When it indicated problems on the drive in my then-new iMac a few years ago, the Apple tech stopped running through the script, and let me do a repair (out of the country, at that, and it was while I waited).

    Comparisons for Apple vs PC: don’t forget all of the other goodies that you get built in with an Apple, like the built in mic, camera, bluetooth, wifi. I’m not going to bother comparing “like systems” because it’s like this: if I’m in the market for a Lincoln, why the hell should I be pricing Hyundais anyway? It really only matters if you’re “a price conscious consumer” and then maybe you should stick with a Salvation Army computer anyway.

  21. dancing_bear says:

    Genius is the most pretentious name for an associate ever. Give me a break, f’n snobs.

  22. QrazyQat says:

    Genius is the most pretentious name for an associate ever.

    I don’t normally bash any machine/OS, but I’ve used Windows stuff for some time now (I’m am Amigoid, originally) mostly because I wanted to play games and a while back that’s what you needed. But I’ve thought off and on about going to Linux or Apple, but really, it seems that Apple goes out of its way in every commercial, announcement show, and things like calling these tech guys “Genius”, in some sort of odd effort to make me stay away from them. I’m not sure it’s possible to sound more pretentious and dopey than they do. Why? they’ve got some good stuff.

    Oh well, at any rate, since I know one heck of a lot more than this particular “Genius” when it comes to hard drives (and I know not much) I guess that makes smarter than genius. What would you call that? What’s smarter than a Genius? Apparently any random guy at Best Buy. :)

  23. madog says:

    I honestly think whatever harddrives they put in the MacBooks were just MADE to fail. They did have an issue a year or so ago with a certain firmware/version of a drive that they put in them that had a physical problem that lead to a very high percentage of them having head crashes/platter scratches.


    Who knows how long that lasted or how many machines they sold around that time that had those bad drives on them.

    All I know is that I see a lot of MacBooks, more so than any other, come in for drive failures.

    And while that comment about GarageBand not made to run on a MacBook is absolutely retarded, they do include iDVD on MacBooks without the dvd burner in them. Straight from Apple regarding sys requirements for iLife ’08:

    * Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 processor.
    * iMovie requires a Mac with an Intel processor, a Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0GHz or faster), or an iMac G5 (1.9GHz or faster).
    * iDVD requires a 733MHz or faster processor.
    * 512MB of RAM; 1GB recommended. High-definition video requires at least 1GB of RAM.
    * Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later.
    * 3GB of available disk space.
    * DVD drive required for installation.
    * QuickTime 7.5 or later.
    * Other configurations may be supported. AVCHD video and 24-bit recording have additional requirements. Visit iMovie ’08 Camcorder Support for more information on AVCHD.
    * 24-bit recording in GarageBand ’08 requires a Mac OS X compatible audio interface with support for 24-bit audio. Please consult the owners manual or manufacturer directly for audio device specification and compatibility.
    * Burning DVDs requires an Apple SuperDrive or compatible third-party DVD burner.
    * iPhoto print products are available in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and select countries in Europe and Asia Pacific. Internet access required; fees and terms apply.
    * iWeb requires Internet and web server access (MobileMe recommended).
    * Some features in iLife require MobileMe. MobileMe is available to persons age 13 and older. Annual subscription fee and Internet access required. Terms and conditions apply.

    Finally, don’t let them boss you around. Apple does have a policy that on or after your third major repair [one or the other, always forget] you are eligible for a replacement computer. Always explain how unhappy or disappointed you are with them but never be rude.

    The phone service is OK, and if you think they are being unfair call back and get a different person. You’ll generally get better help over the phone then from a corporate store. You can always call back, but it’s harder to get another person right away when you have to make an appointment.

    Either way, don’t expect that 100% of the people you talk to will know everything or have the right answer. Play the field. At least the phone techs are reading from a script. Sometimes the person at the store will have no idea and would rather lie to you than say that he’s not sure.

  24. deadandy says:

    Please, you simply cannot compare similarly equipped Macs and PCs on a price basis. The way MacOS (based on UNIX) runs processes and threads is so much more efficient than Windows that the same hardware goes a MUCH longer way in a Mac than on a PC. Look up some performance tests.

    • Kirk Douglas says:


      I disagree, if it is the operating system that is more efficient, why does a standalone copy cost $129, comparable in cost to let’s say Vista Home Premium? Are you saying that this efficiency is worth megabucks when installed in conjunction with Apple branded hardware?

      Let’s then look at Psystar, who by all accounts sell a decent clone, with equivalent, perhaps better performance on non-Apple hardware, for hundreds less. Apple is using their clout as the only maker of Apple Computers to gouge the consumer.

    • geckospots says:

      @deadandy: I came across this link in another Mac/PC Consumerist thread, and I think it’s a pretty robust comparison:


  25. b612markt says:

    I feel bad for the OP and I think the Apple tech is an idiot. I have a white macbook and I’m running Logic Studio on it (the big brother of Garage Band.) There are other factors at work and it sounds like the tech was just too lazy/incompetent to deal with it.

  26. madog says:

    Oh, and the thing about the store people, that;s cause a majority of their workers are part time and therefor can be unexperienced.

  27. RichasB says:

    It’s sad. My new 800 dollar 12.1″ TOUCHSCREEN HP laptop (tx2510us) with an AMD Turion Ultra processor sounds like it’s handling life way better. I use Guitar Pro 5 on it, no problems whatsoever.

    Heck, even the cheapest or most expensive Macbook comes with a lousy Intel X3100 integrated GPU while my comes with an ATI Radeon HD 3200 gpu. I can play Crysis on it :D

    Besides, people need to realize already, that Apple is a HARDWARE company that inflates its prices for the same hardware you can get in almost any generic HP. They’re the Nike of computers (along with Sony). You pay more for a brand name. My friend paid $649 for an HP with the same specs as the lowest Macbook ($1049).

    And don’t be a dummy and say that it’s because of the OS, both Leopard and Vista can be purchased for $200!

    That extra $400 goes towards Steve Job’s black turtle-neck collection ::shuuders::

  28. yikz says:

    Consumer-grade laptop or not, they need to be able to handle large files. Perhaps Apple needs to further define their “consumer-grade” laptop. In fact, they should label it “Consumer-grade”, and then they should reduce the price accordingly.

    If large files are a problem for a laptop, then Apple needs to make that clear to the consumer upon purchase, not 18 months and 4 hard drives later.

    If this was a common issue, then Apple should have made this known, offered a refund or recall, etc. The truth is probably that this is not a very common failure or we would have heard about it on countless forums over the past 18 months.

  29. Dyscord says:

    You can replace the Ram on a macmini fairly easily.

    I owned an ibook a few years back and it ran garage band just fine. The thing to note is that Macs tend to be notorious for not having enough memory out of the box.

    The thing with apple is that you tend to get what you pay for. PCs may be cheaper but they come with a bunch of crapware in order to drive the price down. Also in my experience, Macs tend to last longer.

  30. spittingangels says:

    Something is fishy about this recollection of events, although I can’t quite put my finger on it. Just wanted to point out a few inaccuracies, though.

    “GarageBand, professional-grade software”
    Nope, Garageband is consumer level software, meant for hobbyists. It is not optimized as well as the professional recording app, Logic. It works well enough if you are only using a few tracks but quickly becomes a resource hog once you’ve got it going with several simultaneous tracks. That all being said, you should be able to run Garageband fine on a MacBook so long as you’ve got plenty of RAM (as in 2GB) and are sticking with 44.1kHz/16bit recording and not trying 96kHz/24bit.

    “black (supposedly high-end) Macbook”: The color does not make it high-end. High-end is a MacBook Pro. The ‘black’ MacBook, as the owner cites twice, just means he paid more for looks.

    That being said, it’s difficult to know what transpired with his recollection of events. It’s only said that the hard drive crashed but we don’t know the symptoms. There a many ways a hard drive can fail. If it was locking up or hanging while he was trying to record, that may have simply been lack of adequate resources for what he was trying to do. The Genius would have been right in recommending he use a faster external drive for recording, especially if using Garageband for anything beyond a ‘hobbyist’ approach (anyone with a portable computer should have an external hard drive for backup purposes, in any case).

    It’s also strange that he had 3 hard drives replaced and no mention of a logic board replacement. It’s usual practice to replace the logic board on the second or third repair for a repeat issue such as this. It’s perfectly acceptable to replace the DVD drive on the second repair as it’s on the same controller as the hard drive so could possibly cause communication issues.

    For the CSR to note that any further issues after replacement may be his fault may have indicated something in his service history that is questionable. Even if not, though, these are not lemon machines using inferior hardware. It’s rather uncommon to have 3 hard drives fail in a row, by his recollection, each last about 6 months, on average. It’s more logical that the assumption was a hard drive each service while the real issue (probably the logic board) was not addressed. However, if he did continue to have the same issues with a different machine, then that WOULD indicate the possibility of improper use. He shouldn’t take it as a perception of being blamed, which he seemed to do here. The CSR was just covering all their bases and I highly doubt they would’ve phrased that the fault would be his in such certain terms.

    He was well within his rights to get a full machine replacement at this point though. If he was promised a replacement machine if the issue continued on his second repair, he could have prevented any runaround by making sure that person put it in writing in his service ticket. If it wasn’t in the ticket, there’s no way the next person he dealt with could have corroborated that promise. Oh, and he states he took it in for repair the 3rd time and then, a few days later, requested the replacement. He should’ve asked for the replacement right off the bat.

    Oh, and by my count, he had three hard drive crashes, not four, as the article author states, although it seems he never when through with the third repair so it’s not possible to know if the 3rd time was actually a hard drive issue or not. Still, after being a technical support agent for several years, I inherently don’t trust any hard drive and make sure I always have a backup (and in the case of my macs, have a bootable external firewire drive for each system).

    But, for those of you at home keeping score, we have two confirmed hard drive failures and one speculative hard drive failure. Still doesn’t add up to four.

  31. Quatre707 says:

    Would someone buy a $350 Compaq to run high-end software suites, full-time, for business functions?
    Of course not.
    Well, the entry-level Macbooks are essentially $350 Compaqs with a better chassis, and some other non-essential bells and whistles.

  32. QrazyQat says:

    A $350 Compaq, or any other computer, can write large files without its hard drive failing. The Apple “Genius” is a dunce. Period. End of story.

  33. bassboost says:

    I’m not a techie, but the machine itself must have been inherently defective to begin with.

  34. Kingsandy says:

    Tip –

    Applecare does not have Genei working for them on the phone! The person you spoke to was not trained on technical issues, only really what they can read off a script and learn from osmosis.

    Trained Genius employees are in stores. You won’t speak to anyone near their level at Applecare until you are elevated to at least tier two. The employee who spoke implied that Garageband was not designed for Macbooks probably just misspoke (insert own excuse here…)

    Take it into a store, let them put it through triage for a day or two and if it is still Kernal Panicing or straight crashing then they’ll probably replace it.

    But remember Kernal Panics are not always logged by the system so the evidence is not always there.

    Also if you re-installed your operating system from a bad back-up the problem will be replicated as well. So when he said “if it happens again its your own fault” A paraphase i’m sure, he might be on to something, but I’m sure it was not an ultimatum

    Anyway, Garageband runs perfectly well on Macbooks. When in doubt, cleansweep and install!

    • madog says:

      @Kingsandy: True, and I should have specified. I was mainly referring to calling Apple Care as a better alternative to getting your computer replaced during this circumstance. While the first level of support can’t do much, it’s not too difficult to get escalated in order to get something like that done. If the computer SHOULD be replaced and someone says no it’s much easier to call back and speak to another rep then it is to bypass another person at the store.

  35. dizavin says:

    hah, “top of the line” and “consumer model”.

    two phrases that when put together, make the worlds most perfect oxymoron.

  36. billco says:

    There is no such thing as “consumer level” vs “professional level” in computing. There is “working as designed” and “not working as designed”.

    Music software certainly isn’t too demanding for a modern hard disk. Even a 192kbit/24bit channel needs just under 600 kbytes/second, while a decent hard drive can sustain over 60 megabytes/second, though some of that performance is lost through excessive seeking. You could realistically record 32 channels of such high-resolution audio, simultaneously without overtaxing the average hard drive.

    The problem with Apple is the same as with any other tech support environment. It is harder to fix the actual problem, than it is to make the user go away. That’s the result of hiring random underpaid schmucks instead of industry pros, combined with nonsensical management tactics and a total lack of accountability.

    Garageband, and any other application, should be able to run on ANY hard drive made in the last decade – I said DECADE! If your hard drives are dying prematurely and it’s more than a random fluke, you’re either getting flaky hard drives (like the old IBM Deathstars), or the computer is doing something vile like under/overvolting or overheating. Hot hard drives die young.

    • ShariC says:

      @billco: Consumer models are cheaper and have lower specs. Pro models are more expensive and have higher specs. There are consumer models and pro models. Both should work equally well, but the reality is that the pro models are built better because they tend to sell to corporate customers or people with bigger pocketbooks whose patronage a company really does not want to lose. Consumer models can fail because the profit margin is slimmer and the companies don’t mind losing their business as much as trimming their already slim profit margins on low-end models.

  37. mizike says:

    The “Mac’s cost 4000% more than any other PC” argument has been debunked so many times I can barely believe people still raise it. A simple google search will provide numerous price comparisons.

  38. Brontide says:

    Are Mac’s more expensive – probably by a small margin, search you will find many more honest comparisons.

    This story also points out a few contradictions. Apple was going to repair the laptop despite the “warning” about using Garage band. Consumer relations replaced the laptop as a courtesy.

    I have a MBP that I have had bad luck with, but every time they happily accept my word on problems that will cost them hundreds of dollars in parts and turn it around in a day or two. They have now even replaced one or two items that were off Apple care. This is one MBP out of a dozen or so that I know of personally and I’m the only one with hardware issues.

    I would also point out that he probably got a much nicer MacBook out of this swap since an 18 month old unit would have been a crappy GMA950 video card and a much hotter CPU ( might have contributed to HD failures ).

  39. jonworld says:

    Writing big files to the hard drive causes it to die? I’ve never heard of anything like that happening. Four hard drive failures in the same laptop would lead me to think it’s a faulty power supply. After all, the “life” of all a computers’ components essentially depends on the power supply. If the power supply is spitting out too much voltage on the hard drive cord, chances are it has the possibility to kill 4 hard drives that are put on that cord. After all, computer components are very sensitive to voltage.

    ..but don’t listen to me. I’m only 17 and have very little official computer training.

  40. CyberSkull says:

    I’ve never had a problem with iLife on my PowerBook G4. Granted, I don’t use them that often, but those that can run on my hardware do run with no issues.

    As for the external hard drive issue, laptop hard drives are slow. You will get vast performance improvements if you open large files off of an external drive.

  41. I’m Mark, the Macbook owner. I think I should probably respond to this comment as it has a few good points that I can help clarify.

    A couple notes:

    The black Macbook contains a faster processor, more RAM and a bigger hard drive standard. At the time you could also upgrade the white Macbook to similar stats and it would cost less, which I wasn’t aware of when I bought it.

    The hard drive crashes occurred when I was doing basic tasks like surfing the internet or watching a video, never when I was recording. I rarely record with more than three tracks and most of my songs are around three minutes long.
    Thankfully, I do have an external hard drive which I have made back ups on.
    They took it in for a diagnostic test in CA after the second hard drive crash so I assume they tested the logic board there.

    There’s nothing “questionable” in my service history as far as I know. Then again I guess I might have looked at a Genius the wrong way or something, who knows.

    If I continue to have issues on my next Macbook I’ll let you know. Before this I had a Powerbook G4 for four years and used it for the same things without experiencing any issues.

    The apple rep told me that if I continued to experience problems with my next machine it would indicate I was doing something wrong to the machine. Which I don’t really believe is necessarily true since, as far as I can tell, the only thing I’ve “done wrong” is use Garageband frequently.

    Why didn’t I ask for a replacement right off the bat after the third hard drive crash? I had to think it through honestly. After about the third day with a stalling online project and loss of communication and entertainment I decided I wasn’t willing to let this continue happening every six months. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

    For the record, three hard drive crashes, 18 months. The Geniuses verbally confirmed it was a hard drive crash each time, including the last time. It wasn’t four as stated by the Consumerist. Sorry for any confusion.

    • spittingangels says:


      If it’s never crashed when you were recording then Garageband has nothing to do with it. If you told this Mac Genius that and he fed you that line then I concur with the prevailing consensus here that the guy was a moron. You were right to pursue the solution you did.

      MacBooks use the exact same hard drives as every other major computer manufacturer out there so there’s no reason why you should’ve had an excessive amount of failures. I could guess Apple may have gotten a bad batch of drives but the timeframe is too wide for that. More likely is the scenario I posited about the logic board being the culprit.

      Unfortunately, the Mac Genius at the store does not diagnose the issue at the store if it’s mailed off to a repair center. The first time you brought it in they might have but the subsequent services would’ve likely been mailed away for repair. The problem with this is the repair facility uses a different tracking system for repairs and so doesn’t always have as much visibility on reoccurring issues, they get a separate set of notes and don’t see the system’s complete service history. It’s up to the Mac Genius or the Applecare rep (if you call in) to indicate a repeat issue.

  42. DominiqueRhesus says:

    The prevailing wisdom for recording and editing multi-track digital
    audio applies to all such programs (GarageBand, Cubase, Logic,
    ProTools, Sonar, Digital Performer and everything else). Thusly: Use
    one hard drive for your operating system, and use a separate external
    FireWire or eSATA hard drive to record the audio tracks. Some people
    also advocate using a third hard drive on the FireWire or eSATA bus to
    hold sample libraries for virtual instruments.

    Most people that use GarageBand just dabble in it, so using just the
    main hard drive is no problem. But if you use it for serious heavy
    multi-track recording and editing, you will wear out the main hard
    drive. Moreover, your system won’t run well and you will limit the
    number of tracks, files and edits a project can juggle simultaneously.
    GarageBand will run out of headroom and start to hang and make errors
    on playback. You will get much better performance with two hard
    drives, as above.

  43. I don’t imagine this is the official position of Apple at all… and iLife is intended to run wonderfully on a Macbook-any of them. Finally, it isn’t like the hard drive in a Macbook is any less reliable than the hard drive in a Macbook Pro, or most any other PC laptop for that matter…

  44. Interrupt19 says:

    Wow, the “Genius” at that store needs to go back to training.

    The HDs in MacBooks and MacBookPros are standard 2.5″ SATA drives made by various manufacturers. They are interchangeable.

    There is no reason why GarageBand would cause a drive failure unless you are recording with the laptop on top of your speaker cabinet. (Vibrations are bad for drives).

  45. duffm4n says:

    The real point here is that the hard drives in almost all consumer laptops (Dell, Apple, HP, Sony, etc) are low-end Samsung drives. Upper level models will sometimes use Hitachi.

    But no matter what you’re doing, you should never lose 3 hard drives in a year. That’s just ridiculous.

  46. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s giggilicious how the last Dell thread said that you’re a fool (a fool) if you buy Dell Consumer w/o a Gold Support package. A FOOL.
    Yet every time the Windows fanboys trot out Mac vs PC comparisons, they compare the most underpowered, obsolete-equipped, no-name brand components in a laptop that weighs a ton and has the form factor of a phone book, or alternately is a beige box the size of an ’80-era CPU vs the sleek form factor of an iMac.
    Which, duh, costs less, but is far less valuable (if you value your time and sanity).
    Compare Apples to apples, oranges to oranges, guys. nNight does a back-of-the-envelope one without breaking a sweat that does so. You should do the same, else you’ll simply look, well, like a PC fanboy.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Trai_Dep: To be more precise, the consensus on the last Consumerist Dell Is Hell posting was, buy only Dell Corporate, with a Gold Support package, or you’re taking huge chances, and when your box dies, the ones that did Gold Business will snicker at you for your fool-heartiness.
      Heh, typing w/ one foot out the door. :D

  47. lostsync says:

    i’m also a musician and i recorded on a home built Pentium II 400 with 256 mb RAM using Cubase SX until p4s were nearly ubiquitous and I was able to replace my machine with an Athlon 3200+. I experienced minimal problems, none of which were related to what I used my computer for. If Garageband is truly to blame for this individual’s problems, Apple clearly needs to address this issue.

  48. ClarkCalliope says:

    You should never bounce audio to a laptop hard drive. The RPM are too low.
    That is why you should use an external hard drive with higher RPM,
    especially one made for handling audio, such as a glyph. The Mac genius was

  49. FergusonPorpoise says:

    I guess I am a bit perplexed as to why any hard drive could not handle
    this? But Is this like buying a Black & Decker drill to use daily
    at work instead of a professional grade drill? I was not aware that
    hard drives had grades of quality like this.
    I always thought hard drives had larger storage and speed ratings and
    that is it.
    As someone who has owned a MacBook and now owns a MacBook Pro I have
    been questioning the quality of Apple products lately.
    Has Apple short changed its customers? Is Steve Jobs just a marketing
    genius who sells good looking China made crap for big profits just
    because it looks good? In my opinion I do not think this is really the
    case, but I don’t think Apple has any better quality then any body
    else. What I do see is Apple laptops have heat issues especially in
    uses that require constant CPU or graphic throughput. Such as in
    Garage band. Why do I say this? The last few days I have been
    importing much of my CD music collection to my MacBook Pro. I hope to
    have everything on my iPod for listening. But I noticed that continued
    importing caused the laptop fans to really speed up. After a few
    CD’s the fans were running full bore. Now this if telling me that my
    MacBook Pro is really struggling to maintain a good temperature with a
    simple task of importing CD’s.
    As a someone who does not consider himself a true Mac fan, I must say
    I find Apple products have a few issues of eliminating features for
    looks. But I also now think Apple puts more stress on components by
    limiting fan speed too much in order to maintain less noise and better
    battery life. This added heat is bound to affect components other then
    the CPU and GPU. Of course the next one I would think
    of for heat failure would be the hard drive.
    It would be very sad if a $1000 plus laptop is only designed for
    limited use such as web surfing without significantly reducing its life.
    This too me is unacceptable.
    What has also been disturbing to me is Apple’s ability to use its Mac
    fan base to stick up for a company that obviously is more concerned
    for its stock holders then its customers. Many products defects are
    rarely addressed until the forums are filled with complaints and law
    suits begin to appear. This too me is about a company who artificially
    tries to maintain its quality in the public eye for as long as it can.
    I don’t see how any company can cover up product quality issues for
    very long without causing a negative view in consumers.
    Even with Mac fans. Thanks for your time John Scott.

  50. Segador says:

    I’ve never understood why people who visit this site (and thus obviously care about their money) would ever purchase a Mac computer. I can put together a VERY good PC for $700(screen included) and upgrade it quickly and easily. A low-end Mac starts $300 higher than that, and it seems you have to take it to a “genius bar” at the
    Apple store (hope you have one near you) to ever fix/tweak it. Maybe I’m just not seeing how truly awesome all that extra glossy white plastic is.

  51. post_break says:

    I love how the owners of the black macbook think they have a higher end machine. Its the same motherboard, hard drive, ram, ect as the white one. You just paid $200 more for that black color.

    So the macbook pro with the identical hard drive as the macbook can somehow handle garageband better?

    Sure it has a dedicated gpu and faster cpu but the hard drive is the same crappy 5400rpm sata drive. Apple should replace the drive as many times as it takes, they are manufactured by Seagate who still has a 5 year warranty on their drives.

  52. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    Folks, let’s keep this comment thread on topic.

    Discussion of price points between Macs and PCs, or general Mac vs PC debate, is not appropriate for this thread.

    Please make sure your comment is relevant to the topic posted before posting further.

    • SilverHammer says:


      Actually it is relevant. If the tech support’s line was about whether the Macbook is a “consumer grade” machine and, as a result, can’t run big programs like iLife, then you have to wonder if the Macbook Pro is any better for significantly more change.

      Likewise, the price points of the Macbook versus PC equivalents is relevant, since many posters have described their less-expensive PCs’ ability to run processor-intensive programs. So, whether the price of the Macbook is inflated or not, given the OP’s Mac’s proclivity to breaking, is certainly relevant.

  53. factotum says:

    Heat kills so I would like to ask the OP what kind of temperatures he sees when recording his music. I use a widget called iStat Pro on My MB Pro that displays temps for the hard drive, enclosure, GPU, CPU, etc.

    When I convert videos using Visual Hub I used to regularly see the CPU hit 140+ so I installed SMC fan control to manually force the internal fans to maximum AND I have a laptop cooler underneath. That brings it down to around 115.

    The worst temp is the graphics processor. For example, right now with Firefox, InDesign, Word, Seismac, and VLC player running, the CPU is 97, the HD is 77, but the GPU is 108 (the infamous nVidia 8600M GT).

    So, to the OP, do everything you can to get the heat out.

  54. dequeued says:

    When I took my uncle shopping for a new computer at the Apple store, they tried pulling this crap on me.

    They said that regular macbooks couldn’t handle Adobe Photoshop, well they could handle it, they would just crash a lot because it ran a different architecture, and he needed to buy a powerbook.

  55. efesus says:

    This guy get no sympathy from me. He probably bought a base model MB and wants run multiple tracks of garage band.

    I own a MB and a MBP both of which I use for multi-track audio for television productions and everyone knows that you NEVER write the files to your internal hard drive unless you have a 7200 RPM hard drive, and you’re only creating a maximum of FOUR tracks. Any more tracks or anything slower is just too much stress on the entire system.

    The OS (Mac or Windows) needs free space on the hard drive for part of it’s operations, and if this moron is running multiple channels of Garage Band, with Effects and Plug-Ins, the machine has no other place for it’s processes.

    I wouldn’t have replaced his machine, let the jerk learn, buy another one, and equip it correctly.

  56. endless says:

    i was thinking about this the other day and i thought of this possible scenario for apple:

    apple starts heavily growing market share, expanding through places like best buy.

    apple manages to anger best buy enough that they stop selling mac computers again (it has happened before, i could easily see it happening again. apple isn’t good for BB selling geek squad, strike 1, they aren’t good for margin stand alone, strike 2, and they do run sales like the student sale, which best buy cant easily match without losing/ not making money)

    and apple from what i heard has actually decided to put less mini apple stores into best buys and more just stand alone stores.

    as apple grows, they lose a lot of their advantages, they get more customer complaints as they find more bad customers. they cause more complaints when they pull stuff like this article is about. and they lose their magical no virus claim as virus writers start targeting them.

    they lose their advantages and all of the sudden these expensive mac stores they have opened start losing money and closing, windows 7 actually doesn’t suck (long shot) and all of the sudden its 1998 all over again.

    unlikely, but it could happen.

  57. guroth says:

    hard drives fail faster with use. A large company running a server farm that is writing data 24/7 can expect hard drives to last a couple months to a year depending on how much they are getting used. Grandma can expect her HD to last 6 years because all she does is email, while little toby playing WoW can expect his to last 4 years before having decay issues

  58. chris_d says:

    I deal with this stuff all the time. The most logical explanation is that the model and revision of hard drive being used has issues. We had this with some IBM POWER systems we had. For several months, a hard drive would go bad about every other week. I would have to RMA it with IBM, and after a few of those, I concluded that the entire series of drives was bad — they were all the same model and had sequential serial numbers. I asked IBM to proactively replace the drives, but that was going to be difficult to get them to do. Eventually most of the drives failed, and I RMA’d them one-by-one. The newer model that replaced them has experienced NO failures, even though the machines have the exact same workload.

    What the Applecare people are telling you is B.S. There’s little difference between consumer-level drives as far as reliability. Enterprise class drives are supposed to have higher MTBF, but how much is questionable. Using the drive a lot shouldn’t make any difference. We have consumer-level SATA drives that get hit hard in a double-parity RAID configuration and haven’t had a single one fail in two years.

    I would call up customer relations again and ask to speak to a supervisor and complain about getting the run around. Or email Steve Jobs or some other Apple execs. The problem is not you, it’s crappy drives.

    If you think the machine is getting too hot, I’d recommend a program called SMCFanControl. It will let you speed up the fans on your system to make it run cooler, which should help if the hard drives are failing due to heat problems. It also is nice if you are actually sitting the computer on your lap.

    Regarding quality and prices, in my experience, the components Apple uses on the motherboards in their pro models (capacitors, for instance) are higher quality than the consumer models. I’ve seen a lot of failures of iMac G5 computers, but virtual none on Power Mac G5 computers.

    Regarding pricing, comparably equipped Apple notebooks are usually within a few hundred dollars of a Dell, but they are more expensive. What do you get? More capable firmware with time-saving features like Firewire Target Disk Mode (extremely useful), and a better operating system that requires a lot less babysitting, so that I actually get work done instead of troubleshooting the OS. So PCs do come out cheaper, as long as you consider your time to be worthless.

  59. AlphaWolf says:

    I have never heard of a consumer hard drive failing because it of an application that uses the hard drive more than normal. I call bunk on this.

    I have both Macs and PCs at work, and I find the entire Mac vs PC debate silly, it all depends on what you use your computer for.

  60. sashazur says:

    A hard drive in decent shape, in a laptop that is properly cooled, isn’t going to fail because of a specific program.

    But if the hard drive is marginal and/or the laptop or hard drive is running hot, then a program that makes the drive run more could conceivably push the drive over the edge – but in this case the drive would probably die sooner or later anyway.

  61. airren says:

    I think the genius in question is the problem. I run an old bottom of the line consumer grade ibook (ibook for god’s sake! it’s over four years old!). I’m running the latest Mac OS and can manage large files in Photoshop, record in Garageband and even play World of Warcraft on it. I think there’s something else going on here.

  62. aedude01 says:

    I came in here to call BS on what the tech is saying too.

    First and foremost let me start out by saying that the few times I’ve had to deal with Apple tech support, they’ve been great. They’ve gone out of the way to make me happy as a customer, I’m sorry you didn’t get the same great experience I did, but at least you got someone that spoke English unlike calling Dell :)

    Anyway, moving on. MacBooks and MacBook Pros are both capable of running GarageBand fine. My friend works at a school that has a hundred of these suckers that they use in multimedia class and they tend to use GarageBand in there a LOT. It sounds like maybe the current batch of MacBook hard drives are bad? That or maybe there’s another short in your system somewhere. Hopefully the new machine you get will have this issue fixed.

    As a side note I used a MacBook Pro (first edition) to edit a HD feature project and things didn’t really slow down on the thing till we had imported in around 250 hours of HD footage and edited that down into a muti-sequence/component 1hr 50 min project.

    Now I know that Macbooks can’t run FCP, but if a Macbook Pro can handle that much HD footage, a MacBook should be able to handle a 65-100mb audio file.

    Hope it all gets resolved ASAP!


  63. aedude01 says:

    I forgot to mention in my previous post, when we edited the HD project, we used external drives extensively.

    If you decide to get an external drive for your audio project I highly recommend the Western Digital myBook line (the big ones not the smaller ones w/out power supply). These suckers have a huge fan inside so they’re a little noisy, but incredibly durable.

    Under any circumstances DO NOT GET a LACIE BigDisk, we had several of these things fail on us (not the actual hard drive but the USB interface part). I had to rescue the files myself by ripping the drive apart, fixing the connection, and plugging it directly into my desktop machine. DO NOT BUY THESE, YOU WILL LOOSE EVERYTHING ON THEM unless you know how to use a soddering iron.

    Best of luck!

  64. CharlieInSeattle says:

    I’ve had my black mac book for over 2 years, I’ve just recently put a new hard drive in it. There was nothing wrong with the old hard drive, I just wanted a 250GB HD versus the old 80GB one. That said, garageband can’t kill HD’s I use it all the time, it’s just silly to make that kind of statement. Good Mac geniuses don’t stay at Apple for long or at least that position for long. I know I’ve hired two. ;)

  65. OrtizDupri says:

    The Seagate hard drive that came in the Macbooks for about a year and a half (I think it was 2006-2007, unsure of months) had a tendency to, well, crash. Apple knew this, continued selling the computers with the hard drives, then when the hard drive crashed would replace it. I happened to have this happen to me about a month after I bought the computer… while I was sitting in Iraq. So, no replacement, as to mail the computer back and wait for its return would take around 3 months. Instead, I ordered a laptop hard drive and Macbook RAM off of Newegg for far less than I would pay through Apple, replaced them myself, no issues.

  66. ELC says:

    @nicemarmot617: NONSENSE & FUD on the price comparison. It’s amazing how somebody so out of touch with the reality of this is the first responder. PLEASE READ THIS for price comparison truth:

    There are many articles that have done this and show that on EQUALLY COMPARABLE machines, the price difference is not that much – and sometimes Apple machines are cheaper.

  67. David in Brasil says:

    I guess that my milage is different than yours. I switched from Windows to Mac about 9 years ago, and bought a Mac Powerbook, OS 8.6. It crashed more often than anything I had ever owned before (and I’ve owned a lot of computers). Sudden, unexpected and catastrophic crashes that took all my work with it. After putting up with this for several months, I went back to Windows and gave the Powerbook to my kids for internet cruising only; that’s all it was good for. Are today’s Macs better? Perhaps, but I’m not going to gamble another couple of thousands of dollars on fanboys’ say-so.