Good-bye, Hewlett-Packard

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Today I got rid of the least satisfactory desktop computer I ever bought, an HP Pavilion Slimline s5280t.  If you have one of these loads of crap, and it’s still running, buy a new replacement immediately and transfer everything.  If you wait, you may not be able to.

Here’s the failure timeline:

  • Nov. 2009 – bought the system and paid for extended “house call” support (a colossal mistake)
  • July 2010 – the power supply failed.  Online tech support was trying to coax me to “prove” it was a bad power supply by removing the motherboard (I am not making this up), when I balked and insisted on talking to a supervisor.  Getting a tech out to replace the power supply cost me an extra $200 which I consider close to extortion.  The damn thing was under standard warranty.
  • Dec. 2010 – the scheduled monthly hardware maintenance tool showed a hardware failure on the drive (which was one year old!) and when I called tech support they had me run a separate BIOS test which also failed.  Tech support confirmed this means the drive is failing.  This time they shipped a new drive and sent out a tech to install it without any arguments; apparently they knew about this.  I had even more trouble when I tried to restore a disk image taken with a new program which I didn’t fully understand, but I can’t blame that on HP; eventually I had to do a full rebuild.
  • Dec. 2012 – H-P sent out a routing upgrade to their Support Assistant (the program that did the hardware checks) which was so buggy I couldn’t install it.  I couldn’t get any sense out of H-P. Since it wouldn’t run, I uninstalled it and ran blind on hardware problems from then on.
  • Aug. 2013 – got a very strange message, “can’t access the D drive due to a recently installed update.”  System extremely slow.  Eventually ran CHKDSK which fixed errors in the master file table BITMAP.  I don’t have notes on the next item but it was just a couple of weeks later that the system wouldn’t come up at all.  I took it in to East Bay Computer Center in Oakland for diagnosis.  They said the disk was so far gone they couldn’t even recover data from it; they also said it was a poor-quality refurb.  Thanks, H-P support.  The only good thing about this is that it died the day after I took my regular local backup, so once they’d built me a new Win7 Pro 64 bit drive, I was able to restore all my data.  And rebuild all my programs…
  • Sept. 2014 – the power supply from July 2010 failed.  East Bay Computer now has the whole box and will build me a new drive and transfer the data from the old hard drive (which should be good because they installed it!).  They also said they get these H-P boxes in with problems all the time.

It’s only 4 failures, you say.  True, but four extremely disruptive and annoying failures in 5 years.  I’ve had Dell computers that ran for 5 years without a single problem; I’m pretty sure I had a Dell that ran for 6 or 7 years without any problem.  When I think of the days when Hewlett-Packard was the absolute gold standard for any kind of technical equipment, it just makes me cry.

In any case, I’m somewhat limited in my ability to respond to email these days, so bear with me.  I hope to get the new system back by the middle of next week.

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