Previous 1 2 Next 29 Replies Latest reply: Dec 6, 2012 9:43 AM by Isetmyhaironfire
bigjmart Level 1 (0 points)

Ok here is the deal.  I'm in the market to buy another imac but I need some input from other mac users before I do. I'd like to give you a little background on my experience with owing a mac.

I bought a brand new imac in 2008. I loved did everything I needed it to. I recorded my songs (garageband), edited video (final cut pro studio then later switched to express), surfed the web....etc. I carried it around with me to go to gigs or places to record. But after a couple years of use it started giving me trouble on startup. It got where it would not want to start when i turn power on. It would give me a flashing folder with a question mark in it. I wasn't sure what was going on so I learned that if I turn it off and turn it back on again, I could get it to start after a few times. I should have gotten it seen about but you know, as long as you are able to get it going and use it , you can tend to put off something like that. I wondered what was wrong with it but just went on using it anyway. This went on for months until eventually one day, it would not start. At all. So i took it to a local repair shop and they told me BOTH the motherboard and hard drive are done. I'm not a computer expert but I didn't understand how both would go out at the same time or the chances of that.

So, here are my questions before I buy another one. I wouldn't want to repeat the mistakes.


1) does anyone have any idea of what went wrong my imac? was it something I did wrong? or did I just have a dud machine? Could I do something differently in the future so this doesn't happen again? What type of maintenance is required on these? It only lasted about 3 years so it makes me wonder how long does other mac's last?

I'm looking at both used mac's and new ones.  There are used imacs out there for sale that appear to be very well taken care of and in pristine condition.......Should I buy a used mac that is already 3 or 4 years old and expect it to last a long time if it's in good shape now? Or (if imacs lifespan is only a few years) should I buy a new one to be sure I can get even a few years use?

Can I expect them to only last 3 years?

Is it really normal for an imac to last 10 years or is that the exception?

  • BigDag Level 1 (0 points)

    I will try and answer all your concerns.


    1) Do not worry about what happened to your iMac, sounds like an end of Friday off the production line, unlucky. Keep to all Mac products, be careful on 3rd party software, use Intego Virusbarrier x6.  Also get MacPaw clean my mac this will keep all your registry in tip top condition. Other than that enjoy the iMac for what you want to do, it's just a tool to make your life easier and have fun. It will last 5 years plus......10 years will be optimistic if you want to keep up with the operating system of the day even if all the hardware is still functioning well.


    2) if you have the budget buy the best you can afford, at least 8gb RAM. I use the on-line Apple store, their delivery of hardware is excellent and you can customise your computer, I have used it for two years and never had a problem and you are covered for dead on arrival with a 14 days return window for full replacement, after that you get full AppleCare warranty for 1 year included so your drive, screen, hard disc etc is all covered. Would never recommend second hand as you may inherit someone else's problems. Avoid buying 1st generation products like Retina MacBook Pro as quality improves once the initial production run surge is levelled off and any gremlins are sorted, this takes 6-12 months.


    My experience of Apple is very good after three years. I have iMac 27", Minimac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, 2 Timecapsules, 2 airport extreme, 2 airport express, atv2..........alot of hardware and software. Only two problems were ever experienced and only on the iMac (hard drive was replaced after 2 years and the optic drive after 3 years) it was used heavily every day and my Apple retailer repaired it same day. It is still working perfectly and I treat it with love and care, if we move house it gets packed in original packaging to avoid knocks and vibration.


    Never forget the other side of the coin, the beautiful smooth working well integrated software, no other company on the planet does it this well. It is a package, it needs you to go online to your Apple store and browse through the product range, read about the features and get excited by what it can do for you, pick what you need and set an upper limit budget. Do your research first like you are with this post and good luck.

  • Limnos Level 8 (47,146 points)

    It is hard for us to diagnose the issues you had with the old computer.  The startup issues could just have been a corrupt directory issue which could have been easily repaired with running Disk Utility from your system installer disc.


    Motherboard and hard drive?  I suppose it is possible if one failed that it could take out the other.  Still, we don't know much about "a local repair shop".  Was this a place where people really know about Macs?


    I have a Mac that is 10 years old and running well.  Now that's not to say that Macs made today are the same.  Think about modern cars made of plastic and compare those to 40 year old cars made of metal.  Which ones will still be on the road 30 years later?  Here's Apple's official statement (basically 5 years):


    Vintage and obsolete products -


    Apple's software support is also a nominal 3-5 years.  After 5 years it's rare to find updates that apply to your computer.


    The above is not saying anything about how long hardware should last, just that after 5 years they don't even want you walking in the door with an older computer because as far as they are concerned it's ready for the recycle pile.


    With 4 years I would say your 2008 computer met a slightly early demise.  On the other hand if you had walked into an Apple Store with it they would probably have looked at you somewhat askance and honestly, totally fail to comprehend why you aren't already looking for a newer machine.  We bought an iPhone last December and when I asked about how many years the battery would last the salesperson said, "Oh, at least two years, by which time you will be wanting to replace it with a newer model anyway." Okay, should I be anticipating still using this iPhone 6 years from now?

  • WZZZ Level 6 (12,845 points)

    Apple's doing the reverse of the razor and blades. They're virtually giving the blades away (the OS), and charging an arm and a leg for the razor, the computer. And much money to be made on the locked up Mac "ecosystem." Apple gets 30% of an app that's sold, and everything outside the Gatekeeper walled garden, for which developers must pay $99 -- and set by default in ML to exclude non-Gatekeeper approved, non MAS apps (and how many users will even realize it's there or can be changed?) is virtually, effectively blacklisted. So, even though they're giving the blades away, they're making it up quite handily elsewhere.


    Anyway, at this rate, the longevity of a computer won't matter much. It will be nothing more than a terminal to access the Cloud. That was Jobs' vision.

  • MichelPM Level 6 (11,344 points)

    Your iMac probably needed some software diagnosis and repair which you could've gotten from either an Apple store, an Apple authorized reseller/repair center or right here in these forums.

    If you took your iMac to just a general computer repair center, chances are these people didn't know much or any at all about Macs or Apple computers.

    Lots of very knowledgeable and extremely helpful Mac users here.

    Turning the Mac on and off randomly when it won't start properly is not good for the OS or components.

    Also, how careful were you when transporting it?

    iMacs are not laptops. The components and HD in iMacs aren't really designed for constant transportation for prolong periods of time. iMacs are desktop computers and are designed as such.

    Three years is a very short time for a Mac to go completely bad, but since you admit that is was not that we'll cared for and didn't do any thing to solve your issues earlier on, it may be possible an iMac could undergo fairly catastrophic failure.

    Relatively speaking, hardware-wise, you should be able to get between 6-8 years of useful life out of a Mac.

    In my case, I pushed this to almost 10 years.

    That said, Apple tends to decide to obsolete Macs within a 4-5 year range by limiting what hardware will run their latest operating system. Sometimes it can be sooner than this.

    Doesn't mean that the Mac isn't still useful past this time, it just means Apple will no longer support it or have any more OS software or software updates for it.

    I think your iMac just needed some early repair/maintenance.

  • Limnos Level 8 (47,146 points)

    Put it this way.  Based upon the performance of Macs 1990-2000 I personally feel you could buy a Mac (especially a tower desktop which are rare now) in 2000 and fairly anticipate with a few upgrades in hardware and software to see at least >5 years use out of it:


    I used a IIci dating from 1989 until mid 1990s when I was given a Quadra (IIci still worked).  ~7 years service

    I used a 1993 Quadra 650 until 2001 when I bought a used G3 beige (Quadra still worked). ~ 9 years service

    I used a 1998 G3 beige until 2005 (replaced because web absolutely required a G4 but G3 still worked). ~ 7 years service

    I am using a 2002 Quicksilver as I write. 10+ years service


    My only recollection of hardware issues was routine replacement of PRAM battery and one failed hard drive.


    Do I feel I could expect the same if I bought a Mac today? We're not supposed to speculate so I cannot say my answer.

  • Limnos Level 8 (47,146 points)

    That said, Apple tends to decide to obsolete Macs within a 4-5 year range by limiting what hardware will run their latest operating system. Sometimes it can be sooner than this.

    Doesn't mean that the Mac isn't still useful past this time, it just means Apple will no longer support it or have any more OS software or software updates for it.

    I think your iMac just needed some early repair/maintenance.

    I kind of feel we're getting closer to the point where hardware and software last about the same amount of time, vs. the good old days where as long as you could tolerate running old software your hardware was still running strong. This really does remind me of cars.  By law the manufacturers have to provide parts for 20 years.  So why produce a car that lasts more than 20 years?  If your software support plan is only designed with a 4 year lifespan in mind...

  • bigjmart Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes I will also admit that I may have bumped it into a wall a few times when transporting. I tried to be very careful and thought I was babying it , although i never had a major accident with it, it would get kind of bumped and knicked

    . I was learning about final cut pro from a friend that had an imac too and he carried his around all the time doing work for people. That's what made me think it was ok. Your answer helped me see that maybe I did have a hand in it's early demise. I have wondered about this for over a year now.

    I will be sure to be in contact with this forum when I get another imac. I would want to diagnose problems early from now on to prevent a crash. Thanks to you for your insight and to everyone else on this board. I really needed answers and some support before I make a decision on buying another one.

  • bigjmart Level 1 (0 points)

    Also, about transporting.... i was told when I first got my imac not to EVER move it while it is on because of damaging the disk inside...... so i was always careful not to do that.

  • bigjmart Level 1 (0 points)

    Yeah the local shop had a guy that supposedly was the 'mac guy' of the shop but who knows how much they knew compared to an apple store. It was already out of warranty by the time I took it in. I tried to take it to my local university apple store only to find out I needed to be a student for them to help me.

    You said my computer met an early demise at 4 years but it's been at least a year since it crashed so I would say it only lasted 3 years tops.

  • bigjmart Level 1 (0 points)

    Just wondering why you say at least 8 gb ram? My last one was 4 gb ram it did everything I needed. The main thing i want is to record my songs and edit video. I don't even care if it's older version software. Right now, i have nothing but a pc laptop to work with and it is limited to what I can do. I really look forward to having a workstation again like I once had.

  • bigjmart Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks everyone. All of your input helps.


    So i think what It comes down to is what do you guys think about (for now) if i bought an imac with no problems that is like as old as 2007, 2008, or 2009? As long as there's no problems and it works. If i pay half the money of a brand new one, between 500 and 600 dollars, what is the outlook on that? Will I most likely be able to get one, two, or three more years out of that imac? I just don't want to spend the money and it break next month. I've got projects on hold right now that I have a goal of finishing in the next month or two. But of course, you want to get your money's worth out of it, more than just to finish a project. I'm hoping to get at least two or three more years out of a used machine and I just don't have the budget right now for a new one. Thanks.

  • Limnos Level 8 (47,146 points)

    8GB because right now a new Mac will come with Mountain Lion which requires 2 GB minimum which means in reality twice for smoother running, that so 4 GB, but in a few more OS upgrades (if things go as they have for the past 20 years) you will likely need 4 minimum which means 8GB in reality.  If you're doing video it is nice to have a RAM edge.


    I guess if you're strapped for funds you could postpone on the RAM in the hope it comes down in price but check out all the specifications of the Mac you want to buy.  You don't want to get one where you are having to throw out old RAM to fit in new because then you are just buying it all over again.  And certainly make sure it is one where you can do it yourself.  Heaven forbid getting 4GB in one with RAM soldered in or where you have to pay Apple to install more.

  • Allan Jones Level 7 (33,942 points)

    One factor affecting longevity is heat. A computer used in a climate-controlled environment can last longer than one used in widely varing temps (an outdoor gig in Houston, Texas in August would not be a happy place for any computer!)


    Heat degrades some logic board components. We had a G3 iMac CRT from 2000 that worked fine here in an air-conditioned house but started to fail when we gave it to our daughter, who lived in an apartment without A/C. After Portland Oregon had an unseasonably hot August when it would get to 90F (32C) in her apartment, the iMac started acting up and eventually would not start. That model had no fan--it relied on convection cooling, which was not enough for that environment. Even after returning it to our comfortable house, it would "sorta" work but not very well after the "heat stroke." She replaced it with a Mac Mini which has shown no tendency to overheat in summer.


    For years, all Macs have enjoyed thermal protection that shut down the computer if the CPU got too hot, but this does not mean other components on the logic board won't slowly "cook" over time in continuous high-temp environments.


    My current iMac (details below) is my first for my own use. I've always had towers but could not justify a Mac Pro for what I do today. Its fans are very quiet. The only time I heard them speed up to handle higher heat was while booted into Windows (via BootCamp and Windows was doing one of tiose thigns it does that runs the hard drive overtime. In OSX, internal temps reported are seldom over 100F (38C) ina house that is a constant 76F.


    That said, no current iMac has the massive fans found in most tower computers; there's not room. There are software packages that let you set a particular fan speed in known hot comditions that wil run the fans faster than what the default Apple programming calls up. The most common is SMC Fan Control. I use it on an older MacBook Pro of a vintage when their video cards could fail under hot conditions. The fault was with an particular NVIDEA video card, not entire series. Mine is still OK, largely because I've stayed aware of its heat issues and use the above utility to kick up the fans when I know I'm doing anything that will make the computer run hotter.


    If your outdoor gigs are more often that not is high-temp seasons, you may need to consider a Mac Pro with its most robust cooling. It's heavy and you'd also have to lug a monitor, but it may be the better choice than Macs built with a compact form factor that basically rely on smaller fans typically used in laptops.

  • Limnos Level 8 (47,146 points)

    Mountain Lion just came out.  We don't know what Apple plans for the future, and they are keeping us on our toes by bringing out two OS upgrades in one year.  Part of the decision is how important you feel it is to run a newer OS.  I think even ML excluded some 2007 Macs, and certainly even some newer ones for some features (Airplay).


    Mac OS X: System requirements for Mountain Lion (10.8) -


    3 years from now we could possibly be at least one more OS upgrade, or maybe two? Who knows?  How important is it to you to be able to follow those?  To me it is only important in as much as everybody follows the pack and then I start getting shut out with my old hardware when some web innovation says I must be running an Intel Mac in order to read my e-mail.


    Another consideration is Apple is making it hard to upgrade to anything but the newest OS version.  It used to be you could find old system discs on the used market.  Now everything is downloads, and the license stays with the account used and doesn't travel with a disc like it used to, so even if somebody does sell you a used Mac with Snow Leopard on it originally but with Lion on it now, you won't be able to reinstall Lion without buying it yourself.  If Apple decides to pull the plug on an OS you cannot upgrade.  Even now old Mac owners trying to upgrade to Lion are having to try through the backdoor since Lion was pulled from the online store.  One nice thing about my Quicksilver is it made the journey through 5 major system upgrades (OS 10.1/OS9.2.2 - OS 10.5).  With the new OS purchasing and [un]availability structure I think those days are gone.  Unless Apple changes the way it does things with older OS availability then buy a OS 10.8 Mac today and I very much doubt you will be able to get hold of 10.9 when 10.12 is the current OS.


    Personally, my next Mac will be a 2010 Intel running Snow Leopard which will run my old PPC software, and I'll keep it at that until somebody pries it from my dead hands.  I'll then have to rethink the situation in 2020.

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