Moving my Mac mindfully.
September 30, 2010 10:08 PM   Subscribe

Moving filter: This iMac needs to get from point A to point B. Which is the safest route?

So I'm moving in two weeks; stowing most of my things in a ABF U-Pack Relocube and flying with my dog. Originally I thought I'd be able to take my 20" iMac (which is necessary for my business) in its original box as carry-on, but Southwest's carry-on dimensions are too small for it. Which leaves me with a couple of options, but I'm a bit unsure as to what's the safest:

Option A) Ship the box (possibly in another box, padded?) to my new home either using USPS, FedEx, or UPS. If this is best, which should I use?

Option B) Pack the box well and check the box as luggage.

Option C) Secure it in the ReloCube and just have it shipped with the rest of my things.

Option D) is there an option D? I can't think of one.

I'm leaning away from B), because I'm wary that even with it being a 2 hour flight it's going to get damaged. But I'm curious if any of you have had experiences moving your computers and what the safest way to get it to my new home would be. I'd love to use this as an excuse to just upgrade, but I don't have the money to replace this thing right now. I'd prefer an economical option but overall it needs to get there safe!

Thanks all!
posted by actionpact to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A box around the original box should do it, assuming you have all the packing stuffs.

A pack and ship place will pack it for you; they've got an idea on packing it well and have the supplies.

If you go this route and can afford a Time Machine, get it now, do a good full back up and carry it with you.

Sure sw is going to say no? Can't hurt to call and ask though not knowing the dog and your ability to manage both this whole trip, I don't know where that would reside on the probability scale.
posted by tilde at 10:24 PM on September 30, 2010

I'd go for option A, with that extra box around, and proper insurance on it.
posted by davejay at 10:29 PM on September 30, 2010

I purchased my 24" iMac online and it arrived via Fedex perfectly fine, so I'd go with Option A) Fedex. Go directly to a Fedex shipping center (not an affiliate that ships via Fedex and others). Pay for insurance.

Anecdotally, my friends have had a laptop, a video camera, and a brand new cell phone still in its box stolen by baggage handlers on three separate flights, so I wouldn't go that route. Also, in the small print of tickets, airlines limit their liability to a pitifully small amount per bag, so there's little recourse if it is stolen.
posted by sharkfu at 10:29 PM on September 30, 2010

Seconding a good time machine backup, regardless of the option you choose
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 10:33 PM on September 30, 2010

Checking the box as luggage is a bad option: most airlines will not be responsible for electronics in checked luggage, even if they outright lose the box. The total baggage liability for domestic flights (international flights are covered by a crazy set of treaties) is limited to a couple thousand bucks anyway, FYI.

I like option A, with appropriate insurance on the package. I've done this many a time with nary a hitch, and actually, I've done it with laptops in far more inappropriate packaging. Backup goes on a separate hard drive that stays with you in your carry on.

Option C is worth considering because it's cheaper, but I'd look into ReloCube's policies for insurance. They might not cover computers or electronics at all, or their insurance may well just be based on a set cost per pound, which an expensive computer would vastly exceed in value.
posted by zachlipton at 12:35 AM on October 1, 2010

Option D) Buy an external hard drive, and clone the iMac's drive. Use a program like SuperDuper! (commercial, but free version has manual cloning) or Carbon Copy Cloner (totally free). That way, you have something in case something happens to the iMac, especially since you say you use it for business. Worst case scenario - you get another Mac and access your files off the HD.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:05 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, shipping the computer should cost you less than $100 (having them pack it for you + insurance + shipping costs).

You can write it off as a business expense.

I just shipped 3 computers (1 19" dell all-in-one, 1 17" laptop, and 1 large PC tower). None of them were as valuable as your iMac though. The total cost was $70, including packaging for the tower. I sent them Fedex ground.
posted by reddot at 6:00 AM on October 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everybody, I really appreciate your input! Sounds like option A is the one for me; the ReloCube unfortunately only does a cost per pound, so they couldn't really replace it (all the onus would be on me packing it wisely and safely).

And ZeusHumms, I'm already ahead of you on option D-- after a catastrophic hard drive failure last year, my external HD is my best friend. Unfortunately I'm still on Tiger so I have no Time Machine, but those cloners are a godsend.
posted by actionpact at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2010

Since you are engaging in a high-risk event, it might be smart to get another external backup drive and get two clones before you go. If you have super-critical files that aren't too big, I'd use something like dropbox or as an extra tier of protection.

You can't have too many backups.
posted by chairface at 12:28 PM on October 1, 2010

I've answered this before, and in the interim, I've had one friend use the product I mentioned for a 20" as well.

This is not a commonly used item; I sold mine on craigslist when I was done. You may find one on your local craigslist, and you may be able to sell it onward when you're done.
posted by mhz at 9:04 PM on October 2, 2010

I JUST shipped an iMac in its original packaging from DC to NH for under $30 via UPS.
posted by citywolf at 1:29 PM on October 19, 2010

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