Why I Love My Mac

by Steve Wildstrom   |   February 8th, 2013

iMac photo (Apple)My aging 27″ iMac, the system I use most for work, had been acting cranky lately but I was busy and ignored the symptoms–until I couldn’t anymore. On Wednesday evening, I tried to reboot it and it just sat there, twiddling endlessly. With enough patience, I finally got it to boot.  I ran Disk First Aid verify, and when that failed, repair. Still no happiness. But, as you can guess from the headline, this story has a happy ending.

So first thing yesterday, I decided to make a clean backup before heading off for the Mac emergency room, a/k/a the Bethesda Row Apple Store. I had to postpone   my Genius Bar appointment a couple of times because the backup took longer than I expected. When I finally got it in, the young woman at the Genius Bar ran diagnostics and told me that while the drive passed hardware tests and would probably be fixed by reformatting, it was covered by a free replacement policy Apple had put in place for a batch of flaky 1 TB Seagate drives that turned up in iMacs.

The Mac was ready to come home a few hours later, with a new hard drive loaded with OS X Mountain Lion. I went through the preliminary setup, plugged in my Time Machine drive and let the restore run overnight. I had to jump through a few additional hoops, such as reactivating Microsoft Office 2011*, but this morning, it was back to its old happy self.

This experience is the major reason why I continue to use Macs and to recommend them to others. Over the past 20-something years, I have suffered through the failure of many Windows systems and in  every case, getting them fixed and rebuilt was a monumental time-suck of a do-it-yourself job. Even if you back up conscientiously, restoring from a Windows backup is a complicated job that requires both time and skill. At best, you might have a fairly recent system image that will allow restoration of the disk with applications and a more recent incremental backup to restore data.

And, of course, there is nothing like the Apple Store for Windows. Even if I had a convenient Microsoft Store–there’s no full-service store in the state of Maryland–they do not offer the range of services that Apple does. I probably would have spent a day and a half fixing the machine myself had it been a Windows box.

The Apple Store is a huge part of the reason that Macs (and iPhones and iPads) provide a vastly superior customer experience. If you doubt that, head for the Samsung Store or the Google Store the next time you have a problem with your Galaxy S or Nexus 7.

——

*–Reactivating Office could have been a real pain, because it required a product key, something that is becoming an increasingly serious issue as software is downloaded rather than purchased in a box that makes retaining the key easier. Fortunately (and unlike just about any consumer) I was able to retrieve a key from my Microsoft Technet account. Of course, this problem is caused by Microsoft, not Apple. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that  my Adobe Creative Cloud CS 6 applications fired up without licensing glitches.

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.
  • Rich

    Macs have always provided a greatly superior customer experience but it’s like people who are stuck on Windows just don’t see it until they work with a Mac, and then they say “Wow! It’s so much better!” Then you want to ask them “Why does it take you guys so long to wake up?”

  • http://twitter.com/IanRobinson Ian Robinson

    1Password can store your software licenses.

  • Jocca

    Apple gives you the best computing experience you can have. The support is top notch and I would be stupid to exchange this for something cheaper but so much less satisfactory.

  • pawhite524

    Could not agree more with this article. I had a similar experience with my MBP a couple of years ago. The Scottsdale Apple Store gave me a 60% larger capacity hard drive “because we didn’t have your original sized one here, we’d have to order one.”
    I could go on and on about positive customer service experiences with Apple or about the truly aggravating times I have had with Dell telling me “It’s a software problem (i.e., a Microsoft OS problem) and Microsoft telling me my “problem was caused by hardware (Dell).”

  • AdamChew

    My 2006 Mac mini is still going but then I use it mainly to surf the net which an iPad is more than sufficient. It used to be my work horse and under appreciated by many when it first came out.
    The beautiful part is it can boot up from an external HD.

    • http://twitter.com/qka qka

      My PowerBook G4 is still going strong, and in daily use. I don’t have an iPad, so the PB is my secondary computer, kept beside my chair in the living room. Mostly for casual surfing – looking up TV programming & related trivia.

  • Seth

    You were fortunate in being able to salvage your material and readily re-load it onto a fresh drive that Apple provided. A member of my family whom I support tech-wise bought a 27″ 2013-version iMac. Tried to migrate the old machine’s material from Time Capsule – 900 gig loaded, only 200 could be found, roughly. No idea where the rest went – not in any user’s home folder. A mess. Then another try – created triplicate users – 3 of each. NG. Tried the same by migrating from an external quad-interface HDD that had been the old machine’s boot drive – NG.. Apple had no useful suggestions. Migration via USB: NG Finally got it to work by buying a $40 Thunderbolt to FW800 adapter, recovering the new Mac’sdrive, reinstalling ML. Then the fun began trying to get it to back up to the 2TB Time Capsule. Wouldn’t adopt the old backup. Had to add a second drive to the TC and use that. $160. Nasty experience; worst in 25 years of Macs for me. Sticking with my Mac Pro 1,1 and SL for as long as I can. There’s no new Mac I want to buy nor do I want to run ML on any machine of my own. Win 8 looks like a loser so I’m between a rock and a hard place.

    • steve_wildstrom

      I have twice restored systems for Time Machine with no problems–but I have always used a locally attached backup drive. This time, I had a drive that was failing but not dead, so I was able to do a clean backup onto a clean drive. which takes a lot of risk out of the process.

    • jfutral

      Holy kaw! You really had 900 gigs of data to _restore_? Not 900 gigs of _total_ back ups? That’s insane. I thought I was having a hard time trying to decide if I need a 500 gig hard drive for my next laptop when I can barely fill 250 gigs now. Sorry to hear your troubles.

      Joe

    • Air_Cav

      Sorry about that, In the past I have had no trouble restoring data from Time Machine. I have done it on two occasions. Once due to a failing hard drive in my iMac i had to go back a few versions of the TC backup but all was well

      As to setting up a new machine, I have also done that a few times and while slow (lot of data) it worked well. I use my gigabit Ethernet network to set up a new machine, faster than FW800. I have not yet used Thunderbolt since it is so new and I stick with FW800 for TC and Superduper

      Is TC set up with all the defaults? 900 GB is a lot and I normally keep most of my data on a RAID 2 NAS which also gets backed up. plus I use Superduper with an external FW800 drive

  • brichpmr

    Simply getting into the habit of a daily or weekly Carbon Copy Cloner bootable backup to an external drive via FW800 or USB 3 can make it simple to migrate ftom that backup to a new internal drive should replacement become necessary.

  • Brad

    Back in the “stone age” of the mid to late 80s, Mac had a big advantage: an active community of users that demanded great service and were quick to let the guys at Apple know when they were not happy. It’s thanks to that community that we have a company that knows what’s important. I got my first “Big Mac” in 1985. It did the job I needed to do then, and my current Mac still does.

  • Air_Cav

    I have to support Steve on this one. Years ago when I had enough of Windows, it was too much work to support it at home and I am the home sys admin. I got to the point where I wanted to use the computers to work with not support them and by going to Mac’s I was able to accomplish that.

    For a long time I had a work notebook (Win 7 Enterprise) and I still did most of my work on my own Mac and the Windows machine, as lightly used as it was it still was a hassle

    Windows machines are better ((IMHO) for tweakers, gamers, etc but I much prefer the Mac for daily use