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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