AppleCare expires soon. What next?
February 13, 2012 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I bought my beloved 13" MacBook Pro in mid-2009 and the AppleCare is set to expire in a few months. Thankfully, it still runs great. What would you recommend I do with it?

It gets used daily, but never leaves the house and has always been handled carefully. It's clean, has no dings or scratches, has a healthy battery and runs pretty fast.

I could do one of two things:

1. Keep it. If I don't simply keep it myself, my spouse could use a better machine and I can finally get that MacBook Air I have my eye on. However, he isn't much of a computer user beyond general internet surfing. I'm also worried that some expensive component like a logic board could fail after the warranty is expired, which is why I could also...

2. Sell it while it's still in good shape. I could run this machine into the ground, or I could make some money back to put toward a new laptop. Unfortunately, I don't know the going rate for a three year-old MBP or how to safely sell a high-ticket item. Craigslist? What do I do with my hard drive? Wouldn't removing it completely - the only truly safe option - significantly reduce the value?

At any rate, would the Apple Store be able to do any maintenance, testing or cleaning on this machine? Or would they be really confused about why I'm bringing in a healthy computer?

Lastly, what should I watch out for now that I'm out of warranty?
posted by theraflu to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would run that puppy into the ground, but then my home laptop is 4 years old as is my work one. I too am eyeing an Air, but I'm going to wait until mine gives up the ghost entirely. If you get another year out of it that would make up for any $ you could get out of it, and there's a chance it'll last much longer than that if taken care of.

Make sure you do regular backups. Other than that I wouldn't "look out" for anything. Eventually it will die. Anything with moving parts (including you) will die. Just be smart about it. Plan for the eventuality and start saving some cash, and get an Air then.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:44 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

A guy I work with had his trackpad replaced while it still had Applecare. He said he told them it was intermittently sticky (which it wasn't); they took it in the back for ten minutes and came out with a new trackpad installed. He said he did this in large part because the trackpad gets such heavy use that replacing it before it dies was a no-brainer for him.
posted by rtha at 12:48 PM on February 13, 2012

FWIW, I still regularly use my 2006 MacBook, and it's holding up fine. I bought a desktop for photo editing when the 'Book couldn't handle it anymore, but for 99% of the rest of the stuff I do, it's still viable. As cjorgensen says, I'd run it into the ground.

If you want to sell it, just back up the hard drive and wipe it with secure erase in disk utilities. For one of my old computers, I think I did a 35x wipe (i.e., every single bit on the drive was written "0," not once, not twice, but 35 times) before donating it. It took forever, but I was pretty confident nothing was left on it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:49 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you considered getting a SSD drive to replace the HD in the machine? It's a cheap tuneup ($1 per GB) that you can be felt immediately.
posted by jchaw at 1:05 PM on February 13, 2012

For one of my old computers, I think I did a 35x wipe (i.e., every single bit on the drive was written "0," not once, not twice, but 35 times) before donating it.

In case you're wondering why you would do that: it's because simply writing 0 over every bit of the hard drive once will leave a trace of what's there before. The bits that were already 0 will have a slightly but detectably stronger magnetic field than the ones that were written from 1 to 0.

I'd keep it and run it into the ground myself, too. It still does everything you want it to do and it's already paid for. If you have the $1500 (or whatever) in hand now, hang on to it, and in a year or 18 months you will be able to buy a laptop that's at least one speed-bump ahead of the one you are considering now, for the same price. And you won't have inconvenienced yourself one whit doing it.
posted by gauche at 1:14 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

How old is the battery? Even if it runs well or "well"-ish now, a battery of that age will certainly need replacement in a year or two, if not sooner. In buying a used laptop, the buyer is essentially guaranteed of having to tack on the cost of a replacement battery (~$100-150). As a seller, factor that into your expected selling cost.

If I had the cash, I'd put a $100-200 SSD in there. Make it a really great Internet and work appliance. The SSD uses less juice and runs faster and cooler.

Whether I sold it or kept it, I just wouldn't expect the battery to last much longer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 PM on February 13, 2012

A battery of "that age" meaning the same age as the laptop.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on February 13, 2012

If you decide to go with thing 2, removing the drive is overkill, as is a 35-pass erase. To expand on what Admiral Haddock said, you can boot from your OS X install disc and perform a secure erase on the internal drive. (You can't erase a drive that you booted from, which is why you'll need the install disc.) Then reinstall a clean copy of OS X and it'll be good to go for your buyer. I'd go with the 3-pass random erase. Anything more is way overkill unless your laptop contains secrets of interest to an intelligence agency.

If it were me, though, I'd probably keep it unless I had a really compelling need to upgrade (e.g., it felt sluggish doing everyday tasks). A DIY SSD upgrade would probably be on my list ahead of upgrading the machine.
posted by Nothlit at 1:19 PM on February 13, 2012

SSD to keep it humming. The performance boost is like that of a RAM increase, and the hard drive is the most likely component to fail. The lower drive capacity won't be as much of an issue if it's a hand-me-down browsing machine for your spouse. I'm with gauche: run it into the ground, or at least until its hardware becomes an active impediment to whatever you want to do with it.

If you do choose to sell it, do so (via Craigslist or similar, face-to-face) before the AppleCare expires and make it part of the selling price.

How old is the battery?

As old as the laptop, presumably, since it's a unibody. Apple charges $129 for a replacement. Coconut Battery is a good way to tell the effective capacity.
posted by holgate at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would keep it and just make sure you're backing up regularly. Probably worth it to have a bootable backup (e.g. not Time Machine, but rather something like SuperDuper, which lets you create an exact bootable clone of your machine).

If you ever need a new MBP for an emergency, you can always get one refurbished. That's what I did.
posted by starpoint at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2012

I have the same computer, and after installing a SSD it screams. Highly recommend it.
posted by mullingitover at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2012

Yeah, if you haven't experienced it, the difference a SSD makes is pretty incredible. It's like a new machine. Better, even.

I'm not sure what the max on your model is, but I just put 8GB of RAM into my 13" 2010 MBP (2.4GHz Core 2 Duo) for $40 at Newegg. This thing is stupid fast now.

I'd run it as-is, or with one or two minor upgrades, and run it for another year or two. Keep saving up and you'll be ready for that Air with all the bells and whistles. (Are the new models out yet? Soon?)
posted by xedrik at 2:32 PM on February 13, 2012

I've got a late 2008 13" MacBook Pro which I gave to my wife when work gave me a brand new 13" Air a few months ago. Best decision I ever made, she never complains about performance, it takes care of itself, and I don't have to touch Windows anymore at home. Compared to the year old Lenovo X10 it replaced, the 3 year old Macbook Pro runs like a dream. I suggest you keep it.
posted by furtive at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2012

Run it into the ground. I only just replaced my 2006 MacBook a few days ago, and the old MacBook still running well enough to be used as a daily, light-use laptop, so I've passed it on to my mom.

Some upgrades that will keep your MacBook Pro running like a new machine: like others have mentioned, upgrade to SSD (replacing the hard drive on your own isn't too difficult on MacBooks), max out on RAM, and replace your battery if Cocobattery tells you its effective capacity is lower than you'd like (though if you never take it anywhere, this is low priority). Barring some catastrophic hardware failure, your MacBook Pro probably has at least two more good years, probably more. I'd really only suggest replacing it when it has trouble with daily tasks and you've already maxed out the available RAM.
posted by yasaman at 3:32 PM on February 13, 2012

I just recently took my 2008 Macbook to the Apple store because I suspected that there might be an issue with the wireless card. In fact, there wasn't anything wrong with it when they looked at it, but when I was there, a Genius noticed that my Mac looked pretty bad (cracked bezel in several places, dingy keyboard) and they offered to replace the bezel and keyboard before my warranty was up. I don't know that every Mac store will be like this, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to ask.

Upgrade the RAM yourself. It makes a huge difference when you max it out.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:02 PM on February 13, 2012

A mid 2009 computer is fine these days. I had a computer from 2005 I used until 2010, when it started running a bit too slow (not a mac), though it did receive ram and hdd upgrades. It still works fine, even now. Keep regular backups, put in an SSD if you want the speed increase, a new battery if the old one has lost too much capacity, and save your money. This is a computer, you shouldn't be a slave to the warranty, or get rid of it just because the warranty is expiring.
posted by defcom1 at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2012

Not a Mac user, so I can't comment on upgrade paths, but I just wanted to point out that a 35-pass is massive overkill, even if you *were* trying to hide from various three-letter agencies.

Modern drives are nothing like the old MFM drives that those techniques were made for, and even the best data recovery companies in the world can't recover a drive that's been overwritten with random data in a single pass. If you're feeling really Spy-vs.-Spy, grab DBAN and run a 'dodshort' wipe (three passes, random data) and call it a day.
posted by -1 at 12:09 AM on February 18, 2012

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