Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Big Crash of May 2007...a Rant Post

Typical Sunday morning, got up, fed the calico, made my latte, and read the paper. Next I made my way to my computer to catch up on emails. Found an interesting link on book promotion to forward to my sister, but my iMac kept freezing up. At first I thought it was just my email application or maybe even that particular email, but then everything started acting weird. After trying the normal restart, which seemed to make the situation worse, I did a hardware test. Expecting it to test normal, my heart fell to my feet when Disk Storage Error popped up. Oh go ahead, everybody else has asked it and I know you want to...had I backed up? Yeah right. Yes, I had backed up my writing files, yes all my web work had been backed up, but the 200,000 pictures of the calico in iPhoto, iTunes, applications, and email...that would be a big NO. Meant to, talked about it, even had it down at the bottom of my to-do list, but we also know where good intentions lead, and that is where I have been residing this past week.

I have Apple Care for my iMac, but to get them to look at it you have to sign-in to their genius bar. You can do this online which is great, that is if you have a working computer to get online. I tried calling, but after 20 minutes and 20 options and still no human contact, I gave up. I remained calm and called my sister to ask her if she would sign-up online for me on her mac, and if you believe I was even remotely calm at that point, I have some swampland, name-brand software and enhancement pharmaceuticals I will sell to you at bargain prices. Pam secured me an appointment, I packed up the beast, and flew off to the Apple Store via Starbucks, because I find when you are totally freaking out, there is nothing like a little caffeine to put more of an edge on.

When I arrived at the Apple Store I was next in queue. I am sure it was only a 5 to 10 minute wait, but it seemed like an eternity. The genius fired up the iMac as I stopped breathing, clinging on to a glimmer of hope that from my house to the store it had magically repaired itself. We would all sing and dance in celebration, and after several embraces, I would depart back to my home, back to the la la land of no reality that I prefer to live in, if people would just let me. But they do not, as my inner world is interrupted and shatter by the words “...your hard drive is failing.” This was followed by the dreaded back-up question. However, he did give me a false sense of hope in that the drive did connect. My options were to pay them $50 to backup my data or I could buy one of their external hard drives and backup the data myself at the store. I knew that their drives would be twice as much as I could probably get one someplace else, but I did need one (it was at the bottom of things-I-should-purchase list). I told myself that this was the punishment for not being diligent in backing up my data, and a small price to pay get my data retrieved. I purchased an external drive and thought I was on the road to salvation.

Here is where things went horribly awry. The details are fuzzy, as I have already started to repress and block out parts of this hideous ordeal. For some reason, the genius rebooted my machine when connecting the external hard drive. I am not sure why because I have since connected it without rebooting and it pops up in my finder window, no problem. As you guessed, when rebooting the machine with the new external, it does not reboot. But not to worry, the genius informs me I have 14 days to return the external hard drive if I want...gee thanks. He tells me to keep trying to reboot it. The drive would show up, but accompanied with the spinning beach ball of death. He told me force quit and keep trying. At this time he also gives me a name and number for a data recovery place I can take my iMac to try to retrieve the data, but no promises or any idea on cost. Then his shift is over, and I am (with much relief I think) handed over to another genius.

This genius sees that the drive is showing up which he says is a good thing. I explain to him it was always showing up but with the spinning beach ball of death and I was told to keep rebooting. He tells me to let the ball spin, it was connecting but taking longer since the drive is near failure. Sure enough, after several painstaking minutes it does mount. I then begin to transfer over my data to the external, and even though I knew I would take a lot of flack from my illustrator sister, yes the first thing I saved over were the 200,000 pictures of the calico and iTunes. Then I saved over my documents. Next I tried email, but got a database error, I tried again, but no luck. I decided I would give up on the database for the time being and start moving over the applications; however, it was closing time at the store and they pretty much wanted me out. Since I had gone ahead and purchased the external, the genius said he would continue the backup for me. I told him what I had already saved over, and what they needed to try to save was the applications and email. He wrote this information down and I was rushed out the door. Before I left I did ask for a time frame of which I was told it could take an hour, it could take 5 days. I tried to get a hold of them on the phone the next day, but again, 20 minutes and 20 options, I gave up. Side note: I did ask how to get in direct contact with a human, and I was told it was option 11, I don’t know if this is the same for all Apple Stores, but I thought I would pass that on.

I went back in on Tuesday for a status. I was told they were working on it, but they were having trouble getting the data, and up to me to have them keep trying or give up. I told them to keep trying. Then it was not an hour after I got home I received a call from them that they retrieved all they could but the drive was in complete failure now; however, I should be tickled pink because he was able to retrieve all my iPhotos, iTunes, and Documents. Uh, I had already saved those files to the external, it was the email and applications they were suppose to be trying to retrieve. Oh, he wasn’t able to get those, but he did create a duplicate file of everything I had already saved. Well, isn’t that helpful. I could tell I was not giving him the “oh-my-hero” attitude he was expecting. I asked when I could get my iMac back; he said it would be ready the next day.

Don’t get me wrong. It was my bad for not backing up and my bad for using my email as a filing system. Besides losing my address book and contacts, I also lost resource material, writing ideas, promotional ideas and important links I saved in emails versus to my document files. I am sick to my stomach on that, hard lesson learned (which most of mine are) and take complete responsibility; I should have been better about backing up my system, no excuses. If this had been the only thing to fail for me on my iMac, this post would have a completely different tone, but you see, it is not the first time. I bought my iMac in October 2004, then in January 2005, the midplane assembly and video card had to be replaced, in July 2006 the logic board went out, and then here in May 2007, the hard drive. Each repair equated to at least 3 days in the shop, and then 1 to 2 weeks recovery. I know that sounds excessive, but when your computer is your lively hood, and you are out-of-pocket for 3 days; yes it can take a week or two to recover, especially this time since I have to reinstall all my applications. It will probably take two months or more just to realize what all I have lost.

As I said above, I do have Apple Care and have not had to pay for any of these repairs, but that is not the point. The point is at the amount it costs for a 20” iMac; you should not have that many fatal hardware issues. This is my first Mac and I will never go back to a PC, but I will also never buy first generation products from Apple again either. I am guessing I just got a lemon, which has to be rare because if everyone had these issues with their Apple Computers or iPods, Apple would no longer be in business.

When I went to pick up my computer, I ran through my iMac’s repair list and asked what was going to go wrong next. The genius joked about what a lucky person I was to be plagued with such problems, I did not laugh. Instead I replied it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, so since my Apple Care is up in a few months what can I expect to break down the day after it expires. He said the LCD screen...oh joy. Nothing like living on borrowed time.

Thank you for your time...rant over.

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