Going through high school and university with a PC was a frustrating experience, even being a very tech-savvy user. I built PCs for friends, knew Windows inside out, fixed problems myself… I wasn’t the average user. Still, I had to battle my fair share of issues ranging from viruses to hard disk crashes to constant reinstall of the operating system for one reason or another. Some of the time, it was because of how Windows would slow down over time. Many of my friends also echoed this concern.

I had never considered Macs during that period, primarily because of price but also because of obscurity. I didn’t know anyone that had or used a Mac outside of art professionals. In my Canadian elementary school, we had some Macs, but no one used them. Like others, I also used my PC for games, an application that the Mac never really took to, even today.

So I just dealt with the problems. When I had finished my degree and returned home, the idea of a Mac appealed to me, and I bought a white Macbook. I followed this purchase up with two iMacs, a unibody Macbook Pro and a Macbook Air. I even got the Apple router, the Airport Extreme. Why did I do this? I didn’t want to deal with the problems anymore. Even though I liked gaming and the openness of the PC platform, I just wanted to have a reliable computer that I could treat as an appliance. I looked past the 9 24″ iMacs I returned because of screen issues because the promise of reliability was just too great.

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Surely enough, they behaved like appliances for the most part—no problems for a reasonable period. No viruses, no crashes. Sure, I had to look far and wide to find software to do what I wanted, such as download downloading newsgroups or converting to specific formats. Still, I figured that was part of the price for reliable computing. I would even look past the annoying things, like how slow the 2.8 GHz dual-core iMac converted video compared to a PC of the same price. But then I started to notice something.

Macs weren’t immune to viruses, the way the commercials would have you believe. My Macs did catch a small, sort of harmless Yahoo virus that would send out messages even when we were offline. I turned a blind eye to this. What happened next really opened my eyes. I was renting out my basement at the time.

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I put my iLife CD and other Mac boxes and materials in storage, so I quickly downloaded it from a torrent site. It had a virus in it. This virus slowed the computer to a crawl, and I didn’t notice until I tried to restart Boot Camp (the Windows partition). To my surprise, it was corrupted and gone, along with any work I had on that partition. I then tried to restart in Mac OS X, and that, too, was corrupted. I had even more stuff on the Mac partition, and I lost it all (along with precious pictures).

You say, boo-hoo, you downloaded something from a torrent site; you should know better. Should I? Is that what Apple marketing is leading you to believe? I wasn’t aware of the Mac virus and didn’t think I should have to be, based on how Apple portrays themselves and many Mac users.

That may be from a torrent site, but tomorrow, something you download from another site, a free program perhaps, may also have a virus. They will only spread more now that Apple computers are picking up popularity. There are millions of people buying Macs thinking that they are better computers, inherently immune to viruses.

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