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Date: 19 August 2014. Apple versus Microsoft.


Side Note: Last year I posted a brief piece on computers titled
Computer Short-cuts that might be of use to the novice.

Recently an associate wrote saying "My wife and I would like advice on whether to get a Mac or a PC (laptop) for use on a long range trawler. The motherboard on my wife's HP laptop died and she needs a new machine." As over the years I have had more than one computer go belly-up, I offered Jonathan the following advice:

The first thing I would suggest is to purchase a SATA External hard drive enclosure. It's a small plastic or metal box that will hold the hard-drive from your broken laptop. You will remove the hard-drive from your wife's laptop and put it into the case.

This is my Sata, attached to my netbook via a USB to mini-USB cord.

You might note the red dot of nail polish on the cord ends for my SATA Drive. That's so I know what side is up.  It's easy and I can look smart even without my glasses on. The case is 3x5 inches. Mine is powered by the USB plug to the netbook so no outside power source is required. There's a standard end for the computer side and a mini-USB for the SATA case.

The price for a SATA drive case is less than $20 -- not expensive. Then, using a micro-USB to regular USB you will have essentially the entire computer in that one little case. She won't "lose her stuff" and it can be accessed or copied over to the new computer with relative ease. 

I pull the hard drive out of my dead computer, then put it into the SATA enclosure. Here is one of my old hard-drives:

Side Note: Unfortunately there are times when a hard-drive fails, but often it is the motherboard (computer "guts" versus data/memory) that ceases to function.  I am hoping the hard-drive on the HP is fine.  And so far almost all the hard-drives from my former computers are still functional and contain data I can access.

As for Mac or IBM/Microsoft, I am familiar with and use M$ products. At my age (over fifty) I do not want to learn a new system. This one I understand so I shall probably always be a M$ user. What are you most comfortable with? If you're an Apple user, I would suggest you stick with what is familiar.


One thing I liked about my Toshiba netbook (in addition to the fact that she draws just 15 watts) is that when I opened the box they have something called an OOB Experience. Out-Of-Box means that I have a USB flash drive with the entire computer as it came fresh and new. If (er, when?) I do something stupid, I can restore her to original and start fresh.

To me, that's a selling point. And no, I've not yet done the OOB thing, but it is there and that gives me confidence. I have my OpenCPN (my chart-plotter program) along with all the US charts on a sim card (like for the camera) -- if worse came to worst, I could be up and running relatively quickly.

The system restore process would take coffee of course!

As for computer operating system for you vessel? I suspect if you are
comfy with Microsoft there is little reason to change. Ditto the reverse.

And of course there is no reason you cannot have one of each aboard. If funds were bigger I would buy a second Toshiba just like mine -- so the peripherals (my 12-volt car adapter charger that takes the boat's power and turns it into 19-volts for the computer) would work on either computer.

Good luck. Do look into and buy a SATA drive enclosure for the broken computer. You need that. And yes, you can remove the hard-drive from your HP and put it into the box. It's not hard, nor does it require a computer technician.

Do you have multiple Sata drive cases or just move everything over after a new computer purchase?
And, did you take classes to learn this stuff or are you self-taught (via mistakes) like me?!

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