In 2002 I learned my lesson about backing up your hard drive when the drive in my iMac DV+ decided to die a year after it replaced the previous one that died. The day it died I ran to the store and bought the best FireWire HD I could get for the price, (A 60GB LaCie SilverKeeper in the huge silver and blue case) ran home and immediately cloned the entire contents (Which back then was not even 15GB) just in time for it to die. I learned that day to always keep a backup.
Since then I have lost many HD's, but no data at all because I keep exact bootable clones of my data. Sure, it may be considered overkill to keep two exact clones and a Time Machine backup, but why take chances? I have 400 Gigabytes of data to protect.
In 2002 I bought a new iMac. One of the first generation "sunflower" G4 iMacs. This time I bought AppleCare. That Mac still works good enough to this day. Even though it is currently sitting on a shelf. It lasted the longest of any of my Macs despite being driven into the ground by me and my brother when I let him use it to replace his dead Compaq Presario. I figured AppleCare (A 3-year extended warranty) didn't matter and didn't bother with it again.
In 2005 I bought a Mac mini for use as my main machine to replace the iMac G4. It cost me $500 plus $1000 for the Apple Cinema Display. (The then current price) The most I spent so far. I didn't bother with AppleCare so I didn't get it. Since it was a first generation G4 mini it only had a 4200RPM HD which was painfully slow, so I used my FireWire HD as my boot drive to get some speed. After I replaced the mini, I discovered the FireWire port had stopped working. This wasn't a big deal as I now have no FireWire devices that even work so as long as the USB works I'm fine.
And now, in 2007 I bought the computer I am currently using. A shiny new MacBook. She's a beauty. But I didn't get AppleCare once again...
Last June, in 2008, on the last day of my 1 year warranty, I had the keyboard replaced. The infamous "CrackBook" incident in which the topcase (The keyboard and trackpad all in one) cracks along the palmrest area. This was a cosmetic problem covered under warranty. Less than a year later it is happening again. But now I have no warranty. So I just placed Scotch tape over the edge to keep it falling off and chipping so it doesn't look like crap.
A few days ago I noticed a horrible grinding noise, louder than my Xbox 360, and realized it was the fan spinning at a super high rate. It would go on and off, for a while I would tap the computer to get it to stop. But it eventually stopped responding to that.
I posted about it on a forum and was told that it might be the fan going and that it would cost an arm and a leg to ship it to them and have them replace it. I decided against that idea. I don't like shipping things if I can avoid it.
A few weeks of grinding went by and the other day the grinding goes away. I launch a fan speed and CPU temperature gauge and notice it is now running at 2000~ RPM and the temperature is climbing towards the 80's Celsius. Suddenly the computer is shutting off with no warning. Usually when it hits a high processor usage. I quickly realize it might be a safety feature built-in to protect the computer from overheating. It happened about 4 times in the last week, and last night I got a Kernel Panic. Something you don't see unless there is something terribly wrong. This morning in bed it was running extremely hot. Literally burning to the touch.
I went to the MacOutfitters and asked the guy what he thought. He said if it was the fan, it would be pretty cheap, but chances are it might be more than the fan. The cost to look into it would be $75.
I decided to think about it. I'm thinking more along the lines of saving up for a 13" MacBook Pro with AppleCare this time.
I went to Kmart and bought a Targus "Chill Mat" to help keep it cool-ish for now until I can afford the new computer. The new aluminum MacBook's are soooo nice.
Let this be a lesson to all of you. Always buy a backup hard drive, always keep your data safe. And always buy an extended warranty.