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To buy AppleCare or not?

Most people are split on the decision to buy an extended warranty on their electronic devices. Some think it's the best "accessory" that you can buy for your gear, while others think it's a total waste of money. Speaking from my personal experience with AppleCare support -- it has been a worthwhile investment.

While I have never experienced a major problem with any of my Macs, iPod, or iPhone, AppleCare has definitely been there to solve those minor glitches. Case in point: this weekend my Mighty Mouse's scroll wheel stopped working (this is the 3rd Mighty Mouse in less than one year). I simply called Apple's support and told them what was going on. "My Mighty Mouse stopped scrolling," I said. The Apple representative gave me some simple troubleshooting tips to make sure that my computer wasn't doing anything strange. I was asked to check the scroll speed and then they asked me to reset the PRAM (I don't really understand that one, but OK). After that, the representative said that my mouse was, in fact, defective (no duh), took my address and said they would have a new one out to me in "5 to 7 business days."

That was on Saturday. On Monday I got a knock on the door from a DHL delivery guy with a box in his hand -- you guessed it, Apple overnighted me a wireless Mighty Mouse! The cost to overnight the package: $70. This is just one example of AppleCare's good service.
AppleCare is offered for pretty much every product that Apple makes. AppleCare is generally considered a better idea when you purchase a Mac notebook, as these are more likely to get toted around and abused more than a desktop system. This is also why the notebook AppleCare plans cost more. Not only do you get support for your Mac, but you also get support for some Apple accessories that you connect -- such as a mouse, keyboard, Airport base station, and the new Time Capsule. You also get support for new operating systems or software (such as iLife, iWork, Aperture, etc.) that you might install down the road. Note that if you bought a MacBook Air SuperDrive with your MacBook Air, AppleCare will also cover it. Below is some common questions about AppleCare.

How long does AppleCare last? Generally speaking, AppleCare is a 3-year service plan.

Do I have to buy AppleCare when I purchase my device? This is something that most people don't know. You can wait up to one year from the date of purchase to buy AppleCare. You'll get the same 3-year plan as if you bought it when you first purchased your device.

Does it only include a warranty? No, in fact, if you buy AppleCare for your Mac, you also get a copy of Tech Tools Deluxe from Micromat. You also get an extension of the usual 90 days of phone support to the full three year period.

What is my Apple manufacturers warranty? The standard 1 year warranty that Apple gives you includes your 90 days of phone support and one year of hardware repair coverage. When you purchase AppleCare, Apple extends both phone support and hardware coverage to three years.

What do you think about AppleCare? Had a good experience, bad experience? Tell your stories about it in the comments.

Most people are split on the decision to buy an extended warranty on their electronic devices. Some think it's the best "accessory" that...