Is upgrading an old laptop worth it?

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    Nov 01, 2013 1:09 AM GMT
    My laptop melted down today. Yep, even though I knew I should have waited, I downloaded the free OSX upgrade. Turns out to have a fatal interaction with Western Digital hard drives which, of course, is where my backup was icon_mad.gif They put out a press release about an hour too late.

    I'll probably go get a new hard drive tomorrow and try to recover some files off the old one. Nothing really essential on there. But... I've tried upgrading old computers before. It seems like once I start replacing drives, processors, etc., they never last much longer anyway. As best I recall, my computers last about five years on average. I looked it up and in fact, I bought the laptop exactly five years ago today. Spooky. Other than abruptly dying, it was doing most everything I wanted it to do OK. The power consumption is a bit more than I'd like, when using it to control the boat. The local price for a 1 Tb drive is about 25% the cost of a new computer. Of course, I could do better on-line.

    Anybody get much mileage out of refurbishing 5 year old computers?
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    Nov 01, 2013 1:30 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidMy laptop melted down today. Yep, even though I knew I should have waited, I downloaded the free OSX upgrade. Turns out to have a fatal interaction with Western Digital hard drives which, of course, is where my backup was icon_mad.gif They put out a press release about an hour too late.

    I'll probably go get a new hard drive tomorrow and try to recover some files off the old one. Nothing really essential on there. But... I've tried upgrading old computers before. It seems like once I start replacing drives, processors, etc., they never last much longer anyway. As best I recall, my computers last about five years on average. I looked it up and in fact, I bought the laptop exactly five years ago today. Spooky. Other than abruptly dying, it was doing most everything I wanted it to do OK. The power consumption is a bit more than I'd like, when using it to control the boat. The local price for a 1 Tb drive is about 25% the cost of a new computer. Of course, I could do better on-line.

    Anybody get much mileage out of refurbishing 5 year old computers?

    I'm not getting the picture. Was this a 3rd party internal drive? Did the upgrade physically damage the drive or just wipe it? If the latter you could probably reformat it (after trying the recovery) and use it again. If it's an external drive then it seems to me you should be able to continue using the laptop (ignoring the drive issue).

    Apple did this once before several years ago with firewire drives with a certain firewire chip on the drive side; the upgrade wiped it if it was connected during the upgrade. If you disconnected it during the upgrade and afterwards connected it it went ok.
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    Nov 01, 2013 2:21 AM GMT
    The specific problems aren't very interesting. Just thought I'd throw out the question of how long people hold onto a laptop and whether it's worth going all frankenstein on it when it gets old. Kind of weird that mine is exactly five years old, to the day, when it shows its first crankiness.

    Apparently this particular problem has to do with drivers that come with WD external drives. They are (now) recommending that everyone delete them before attempting the upgrade. The internal drive OSX partition is corrupted and non-repairable (windows partition OK) and the partition of the extrnal drive that contained the time machine backup is erased.

    I could reformat the disk, but sort of want to try to recover a couple of files, which might take (me) a long time. No big deal though - I don't keep the sole copy of anything very important on the laptop. Half a dozen half-written stories and the notes from rebuilding my boat.

    In any case, I'm going to get the upgrade working flawlessly on the laptop before I let it anywhere near my main computer.
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    Nov 01, 2013 3:26 AM GMT
    I worked in the IT department at a university. Our policy was that a computer (desktop, laptop) that was 3 years old was eligible for replacement.

    At home I've been following that rule as well, although my current one is doing very well. I taped a little postit on it saying when I set it up; May 2011, but I'm thinking that I'll keep running it after next May until something fails. I put it together from scratch and from the previous build only reused the case, a very nice Lian Li one.

    If you can afford to replace your laptop I don't think many would say you're doing it too soon.
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    Nov 01, 2013 4:26 AM GMT
    I finally read the fine print, which says that my current laptop is the very oldest that will support the new OS. And not all of the features will work. Of course, since I don't know exactly what those feature names mean, it doesn't eat a hole in my psyche yet. So five years seems about right.

    (I could have afforded a new laptop last week, but got stuck away from home with car problems. Ended up spending $800 for a problem I could have fixed myself at home for $90 icon_mad.gif)
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    Nov 01, 2013 4:30 AM GMT
    Just sell it. Even broken Macbooks have a decent resale value.
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    Nov 01, 2013 4:32 AM GMT
    Try Ubuntu. You might salvage a machine.
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    Nov 01, 2013 4:44 AM GMT
    Oh, I don't sell old machines, I just move them down the food chain. Usually make them in to instrument controllers in the lab. This one, I'll probably just dedicate to controlling my boat. Run the chart plotter, AIS, autopilot, keep the log book, and serve up the music. The only thing is that it uses a bit more power than I'd like. Might have to add a solar panel or two.
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    Nov 01, 2013 5:28 PM GMT
    Slight shock there for a minute. I use a WD USB external hard drive with my Macbook, but only with Time Machine. I've never used any of WD's software with it, so I'm going to assume that it will continue to function under OSX McCain-Palin.
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    Nov 01, 2013 5:40 PM GMT
    If you haven't upgraded yet, it's worth doing a search & destroy on the utilities listed below. And disconnect the externals during installation

    And now I hear that there are bugs in the mail program too. As I suspected, it's still too soon to upgrade, unless you enjoy beta-testing

    Dear WD Registered Customer,

    As a valued WD customer we want to make you aware of new reports of Western Digital and other external HDD products experiencing data loss when updating to Apple's OS X Mavericks (10.9). WD is urgently investigating these reports and the possible connection to the WD Drive Manager, WD Raid Manager and WD SmartWare software applications. Until the issue is understood and the cause identified, WD strongly urges our customers to uninstall these software applications before updating to OS X Mavericks (10.9), or delay upgrading. If you have already upgraded to Mavericks, WD recommends that you remove these applications and restart your computer.

    The WD Drive Manager, WD Raid Manager, and WD SmartWare software applications are not new and have been available from WD for many years, however solely as a precaution WD has removed these applications from our website as we investigate this issue.

    Sincerely,
    Western Digital
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    Nov 01, 2013 6:08 PM GMT
    Speaking generally, when something breaks on a machine that is 3 or more years old, it's best to just put it out to pasture and get a new machine, as things are always advancing technology-wise.
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    Nov 01, 2013 6:41 PM GMT
    It's too bad Apple doesn't test their upgrades and systems outside of their own headquarters and feels the need to maintain a veil of secrecy.

    Microsoft releases new versions and service packs to developers (which includes the 3rd party hardware people) before they're released to the general public so that they get tested on as many different systems as possible. You don't hear about these kinds of problems with Windows.
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    Nov 01, 2013 7:24 PM GMT
    ^i assume that was intended to be ironic.
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    Nov 01, 2013 7:30 PM GMT
    I think things can go wrong with any software and it is important for things to be tested. But they can't catch everything so I wouldn't blame the manufacturer so long as it went through best practices in terms of testing.
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    Nov 02, 2013 12:40 AM GMT
    I ran a Time Machine backup before upgrading to Mavericks, and just a little while ago I plugged the drive in and did another Time Machine backup. I did check the applications folder, and there were no WD utilities anywhere. Everything still works.