My Mac when I bought it 3+ years ago was running OSX Leopard. During that time it's withstood 2 upgrades, the first to OSX Snow Leopard, and more recently to OSX Lion and it's still been going strong.

Although during that period, I've bought a new iMac for my more power hungry computing, benefiting from a more powerful graphics card, more storage, RAM and a nice big display, my MacBook in reality still gets used the more often. 

Throughout the 3 years, it's been used every morning and evening commute, and every evening and weekend. The batter life is still standing up, but over the last 6 months or so I've noticed it start to slow down a little, and I've been running low on free disk space. 

To attempt to deal with this I've bought a utility called CleanMyMac (from MacPaw). It's actually a really good utility, freeing up 79GB of space at my last count, and although my Mac did seem to speed up for a while, and have some more free space, I couldn't help thinking that after removing absolutely everything that I didn't need I was left with only 42GB of free space on a 150GB disk. So I thought it's time for a wipe and re-install. As I'm an ASP.NET developer, my development takes place on Windows (which I normally run in a VM on my iMac), so I thought it a good opportunity to install Windows 7 using Boot Camp. I pulled my original OSX Leopard disks out of the cupboard, blew the dusk off and expected to have to install from them. The instructions said to boot with the option key held to boot from the DVD, only when I did this I noticed a 'Recovery HD' partition. It's worth pointing out at this point that I've dual-booted my MacBook with Windows 7 before, so it was somewhat a surprise to see this partition as it wasn't there in the past. 

Anyway, curiosity and all that, I had to boot from this new Recovery HD partition. And a good job I did... it turns out that OSX Lion (as it's a downloadable upgrade) creates the partition and puts the necessary software there to be able to restore your computer in the event of a failure etc. Neat. Unfortunately, it does require that I download the entire OS installation all over again. So about 4 hours later and I had a nice clean install of OSX Lion on my MacBook and it was running as fast as the day I bought it. 

Now to install Windows 7... went with a few hiccups installing the BootCamp software/drivers within Windows 7 after I'd done the initial install, but nothing I couldn't get around. 

I started this on Saturday, and by Sunday evening, I had pretty much all of the software that I own, in both Windows 7 and OSX re-installed on my computer. After installing some updated for Windows 7, I shut-down to boot into OSX when it comes back on with a BEEP-BEEP-BEEP! BEEP-BEEP-BEEP! with the hard-drive light flashing in time with it. 

What could have happened to my Mac now? Unfortunately as it wouldn't boot, I couldn't jump on the internet to find the problem so easily. So, using an alternative device (in this case, my trusty Windows Phone 7 - had to get that in there!), I find that the problem is likely to be with some new RAM that I've installed... only I haven't installed any new RAM. I have been wanting to up the RAM in this thing from 2GB to 4GB (the max it'll take) for some time, but I got the new iMac instead of a cheap RAM upgrade. 

So anyway, for the first time since I got it, I took my MacBook apart. Battery cover off, battery out, hard disk out, bottom of the case off, and finally released both sticks of RAM. Both looked absolutely fine, so I tried putting one back in at a time and booting up... with 1 stick in, it powered on without the dreaded BEEP! I'd been hearing, so I put the second stick in, and tried again. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP! Argh! 

On the upside, the online posts in the Apple discussion forums were bang on, it was the RAM. Just so frustrated that it's encountered a problem without having had a jolt or anything of the sort. I've tried reseating it a number of times without any improvement. Oh well. 

After putting the MacBook back together, with only 1 stick of RAM in it, I've powered it up, and here I am now, writing from my ever so trusty MacBook. 

Pleasantly, my MacBook is still running faster than it was prior to be wiping it and reinstalling OSX Lion, so what's the point of upgrading you may be thinking. Well, as a web designer and web developer... a large portion of my work takes place in Adobe Fireworks, and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. And running both of these separately tends to hog a fair amount of RAM. I don't think I'd have a pleasant experience running them with only 1GB though for the next few days while I wait for my RAM upgrade to arrive, I'll no doubt find out. 

I'm also quite pleased that the laptop has lasted me so long without any hardware problems. It comes with me everywhere, and I've never owned any other computer for so long. Usually I find that they don't perform as well as I expect, or encounter some sort of hardware problem. Even the best of laptops that I've owned (my Sony VAIO TR1MP) encountered a major hardware failure, and after waiting nearly 6 months for replacement parts from Sony, resulted in them giving me a full refund. I think the longest I've ever owned a computer (whether desktop or laptop) prior to this must have been 12 months, and I think that was a little Dell Studio computer that we used as our Windows Media Center powered home entertainment system - which to this day is still running fine (as far as I know) at my sister-in-law and her boyfriend's house as their primary PC. 

Anyone else had this particular problem? How long have you had the hardware on a computer that you're using a lot last you?
Posted: 08/01/2012 23:16:56 by Kurt Farrar | with 0 comments

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