As someone who has done their share of experimenting across the popular computer playing fields that are Windows, Apple and Linux, I remain convinced of one thing: as long as variables are introduced (read system and application software update installations), we will suffer the inevitable degradation in performance these endeavors bring.
As our computers age, they feel less snappy and this is because they actually are this way. If you regularly update your machine with software that creates increasing demands on its overall processing power, there will come a day when you will seek at least one solution to regain some “oomph” in your daily computing life.
Many times, if you are not inclined to attempt repair yourself, you will bring the machine in question to your tech person. When a tech person hears complaints of slowness, random crashes or general malaise, after ruling out hardware issues, he/she will often turn to a clean install of some kind to remedy these issues.
Once a PC is infected with say, malware, a complete reformatting of your disk (erase) and fresh installation of your Windows operating system and programs is often the path of least resistance, not to mention the biggest time and expense saver.
On a Mac, random glitches that were common when users of the latest Snow Leopard version tried updating to Lion or Mountain Lion (if their machines supported it) were sometimes solved by an Archive and Install of the operating system. Other times, nothing short of a complete re-formatting and new installation of either Lion or Mountain Lion would suffice.
For those experimenting with Linux, I’ve had software updates completely brick my systems in both Ubuntu and MintPPC, leaving me no choice but to start over—erasing and reloading everything.
Could I have troubleshooted the source of these problems before resorting to erasing and reinstalling? Sure, and I did, but their comes a point when we ask ourselves what our time is worth. So, always having a backup in the event of disaster striking, I just went the reformat and reload route.
All of these nuke and pave scenarios are indicative of the complexities of the modern day operating systems we use and love (sometimes).
I’ve used and abused my Power Mac G4 so much over the years, but never once needed to nuke and pave or even perform an Archive and Install in order to get things working again.
When I bought it used it was running Mac OS 9—and rather well, too. I proceeded to load OS X 10.2.8 Jaguar on it, as I wanted to finally immerse myself in Apple’s operating system of the future (OS X).
With the help of hacks and hardware upgrades I was able to get up to OS X Leopard 10.5.8, where Apple stranded myself and all other PowerPC Mac users.
But being stranded at Leopard has not necessarily been a bad thing when you consider all that I am still able to do with this sturdy, trusted and still fleet enough computer.
The build quality of the G4 Towers, especially the Sawtooths, were such that nothing that Apple has made since even Intel platform-wise, can hold a candle to in terms of durability, stability, performance, upgrade-ability and return on investment.
Whether it’s a logic board going bad on your Intel Mac or the integrated graphics failing just when your baby is mere days removed from its extended AppleCare warranty, we are left to accept that with technological progress, comes planned obsolescence.
Apple is all about sexy, and sexy, sleek designs promote heat buildup, which leads to premature failing of internal components—heat is the enemy of computer internal electronics.
As much of the country springs forward with Daylight Saving Time today, I am very content to still be able to fall back on my old Sawtooth indefinitely into the technological future.
Long may you run.