5.31.2007 | When crashing can be a pleasant surprise

My PowerBook G4 has served me faithfully for nearly two years now, and for the first time I had reason to bring it into the Apple Store for a potentially perplexing problem – when I selected a certain font in Fireworks MX 2004, the whole program came crashing down, and sometimes it brought down other applications with it. One incident caused a systemwide crash.

But even as I was experiencing these problems, I was still impressed with some of the recovery features of Mac OS X. For one, the systemwide crash I mentioned simply closed all my programs and logged me out instead of giving me a blue screen of death – no restart necessary. But the biggest surprise came after I took my computer in for repair.

I was told I was going to have to reinstall the operating system. Instantly I had painful flashbacks of sitting in front of a screen for hours watching a progress indicator while backing up important files before having to go through the laborious process of changing all my settings in every application. But this is Mac – they have something better.

By selecting an option during the reinstall process, Mac OS saved all my settings and applications exactly the way they were. After the process was complete, everything was preserved so perfectly that even my Firefox browser remembered the page I had been looking at when I last used it. I encountered only two minor glitches – I lost my user account picture, and I had to reinstall Flip4Mac, a program that lets me see Windows Media in QuickTime on Mac OS. But other than that, the process was painless and flawless. And most importantly, my problem was fixed.

So now though I can't say my Mac hasn't crashed, I can say that when it does, it does so more gracefully than Windows, and with a lot less time and effort lost. Kudos to the designers at Apple, and I look forward to their next release of Mac OS (10.5 "Leopard") in the fall.

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