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When purchasing AppleCare, you will either receive the product in 1 of 2 ways. First, you can physcially buy the product in which you will receive a small box. Inside the box you will find not much more than a serial number in which you can call Apple and activate the product. However, you will also receive a disk if you choose to purchase this way. This is how you will also receive an application called TechTool Deluxe.
If you purchase the AppleCare protection plan with option 2, which is a direct order, you will either buy a unit with AppleCare pre-installed; or you will purchase the AppleCare plan in which the activation number is emailed to you and you will not receive any physical product. In this case, you can still download the documentation and TechTool Deluxe application through Apple's website. The only catch is that your AppleCare must already be verified and set up on your computer, and you must provide the serial number.
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TechTool Deluxe is a program that is distributed by Apple and was created by Micromat. It is basically an all-in-one utility that allows you to scan your computer for errors. However, it is more than a utility that checks for disk errors and that type of stuff. It also, runs diagnostics on your hardware to make sure that your computer is running the way it should be. Items TechTool Deluxe scans for are: Processor, RAM, Video, USB, Drive Hardware, System Formatting, Directory Scan, Surface Scan, Random Read, Random Write, Linear Read, Linear Write, Seek, Read Buffer, Write Buffer, Volume Structure. In simpler terms, it scans your processor, memory, video card, usb ports, and hard drive capabilities to make sure that everything works correctly.
The good thing about having a program like this is that instead of having to take your computer to an Apple Store if you suspect something is wrong with it, you can do a physical hardware scan yourself. Also, if something breaks on your computer, you may need to send it in to Apple for a direct fix. This will allow you to tell an AppleCare technician over the phone what you may think may be possibly wrong with it before you send.
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Purchasing AppleCare is always a preference. If you didn't think that the price could be justified before, maybe knowing that you are also getting an application would better justify it. If you are knowledgable on the hardware aspect of notebooks and can do laptop repairs yourself than it is probably not worth the money; and you could probably find a free download of TechTool Deluxe somewhere. However, if you are like 95% of people, it would be worth the purchase because you are not only paying for 2 additional years of protection but also the parts that you would otherwise have to purchase... and you get TechTool Deluxe.