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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 01:27 AM   #1
 
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Is It Safe To Do This With A Mac Mini?

Greetings,

Let me start off by saying that I was a PC user for 22 years and just made the leap to switching to Mac by purchasing a Mac Mini Intel Core 2 Duo. Let's just say I can't believe I didn't switch sooner! WOW.

Here is my question: I plan on doing a lot of traveling by R.V. this summer (about 10,000 miles in total) and I am wondering if it is safe to use the Mac Mini on the road. I know all about how to set it up in terms of mounting, power needs, etc. - that I'm not worried about.

My concern is the Mac Mini being powered up and in operation while the R.V. is moving. I guess what I am trying to ask is with the vibrations and bumps as the vehicle travels down the high way, is there any risk to the Mac Mini if it is being used?

I know with a typical PC (not a laptop) too much motion can cause the hard drive to ultimately malfunction and crash. Is there any type of danger with the Mac Mini?

I have read several articles on how to mount the Mac Mini in vehicles and even wire it through the vehicles stereo and even navigation systems. But not one article mentioned whether there was any danger or risk of damage if the Mac Mini is operational and being used while the vehicle is moving.

Any one have any input, thoughts, concerns, ideas?

Any help someone can provide would be greatly appreciated. I think the Mac Mini would make a wonderful addition to our road trips but want to make sure it is safe to do so first.

Thanks to all that reply.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 02:40 AM   #2
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My concern would be the lack of sudden motion sensor on the hard drive. After excessive jerky motion you may begin to encounter problems. I'd consider a refurbished macbook for your needs before I considered a mac mini for that reason alone (even though I realize you already own said mac mini).

The other solution might be something like this:
Buy LACIE RUGGED-NEIL POULTON 200GB 7200RPM USB2 FW FW: Storage, Hard Drives, Ext Firewire HD 7200 RPM, 80.1GB and over

(I'm not recommending the site, I just wanted to show you the product).
If the HD in the mini could get damaged then just don't use it . Clone your OS with Superduper! on a rough and tumble shock proof external HD and Boot off of that (and as a precaution you can "eject" your internal HD any time you are in transit just by dragging to the trash and typing your password).

Then again, I'm no expert and someone else may have a different opinion. I can't imagine a big luxury RV to really give the Mac Mini such a hard time (a trailer would probably shake the bejeezus out of it) but I think you have to weigh the risks for yourself.

Best of luck.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 03:29 AM   #3
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I second cap10subtext. Buy a rugged external HD, make regular backups using whatever software you like, try to be gentle with it and have at it. Macs are tough!
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #4
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Yep, backups are always an important place to start, and maintain!

I would be very careful to look at the mounting options to find a solution that physically isolates the mini as much as possible to reduce mechanical vibration. Don't just screw it down with plumbers' strap to a bulkhead ( This is obviously the extreme end)

Otherwise - happy motoring!

Z.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 11:32 AM   #5
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People do it all the time, in cars, tractor-trailers, and even light aircraft. It's true that hard drives can be subject to damage with shocks, but modern drives are fairly rugged and resilient in that respect ... look at iPods.

I routinely drive on very rugged roads in remote locations for long distances (400+ km; see attached photo for a "good section") and share them with transport trucks, all of which have hard drives in rather sophisticated data logging systems. Drive failure due to shock has not proved to be a problem.

Your motorhome is already shock-protected by it's own suspension, and, last time I drove one, it didn't inspire spirited driving, so I wouldn't worry too much. If you want to provide some damping in the mount, go for it, but I don't think this is a huge issue that should prevent you from doing what you want.

If you're really concerned, swap out the drive for a ruggedized version designed specifically for harsh environments. An example for laptops is here; there are many others. These units can withstand 150G's.

Your motorhome, and probably you, probably wouldn't survive a tenth of that. I'd say that's good enough.

Within two years you will have options to use solid state drives (flash memory) that will be large enough to replace or supplement your mechanical drive. Shock won't be an issue.

Personally, I would be more concerned with the quality and stability of the power supply in your motorhome, including the integrity of all connections, and the proper operation of voltage regulators. A bad alternator will take out your computer a lot faster than a road shock.

A solid security and backup regimen is a must unless you don't plan on using the computer for what most of us routinely use it for.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 11:40 AM   #6
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the hard drives mentioned are the way to go. As well, just make sure when you mount it, that you add in some rubber or form somewhere in your installation to help absorb any shocks.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 11:45 AM   #7
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 11:58 AM   #8
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Yeah - the quality of power is the bigger concern. A MacBook may be more appropriate if you are buying new. That way you have a battery backup (naturally) and there are readily available 12 VDC adaptors, which means you don't have to use an (electrically dirty) inverter to power the machine.

If you're still concerned about shock, devise some rubber or elastic mounts for the machine. Or spend a few thousand and replace the hard drive with a SSD like the MacBook Air.
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 12:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Personally, I would be more concerned with the quality and stability of the power supply in your motorhome, including the integrity of all connections, and the proper operation of voltage regulators. A bad alternator will take out your laptop a lot faster than a road shock.
True, since you don't have a laptop battery as an uninterruptible power source you may need to make an additional purchase. UPS with a reliable surge protector.

APC - Back-UPS ES - Product Information
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 03:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cap10subtext View Post
True, since you don't have a laptop battery as an uninterruptible power source you may need to make an additional purchase. UPS with a reliable surge protector.

APC - Back-UPS ES - Product Information
I second this. A UPS would be really necessary.

I worked in a office that was right beside the Sheppard Subway construction site. We had an unusual number of hard drives fail. Eventually the tech's figured out that it was vibration from the construction site. You may want to turn off the mini when driving, or at least turn it off if you a planning an extended run over unpaved roads.
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