Wow, I wish I had done this a long time ago, my MacBook is screaming fast now! This is how a computer should run. Upgrading to a solid state drive (SSD) makes a huge difference and really anyone can do it. I’ll show you how.
The upgrade was about $430 since I went with the 1 TB option. For me, the amount of time I’ll save every day not waiting for my computer makes this upgrade totally worth it. Also, it’s a lot cheaper than buying another $1400 MacBook. You’ll get years more use out of your current MacBook with this upgrade.
If you’re unsure about doing this upgrade, then realize that there’s little risk. You should end up with a computer that’s WAY faster along with your old drive, which you can always pop back in if you need to. You’re also essentially ending up with a really good backup drive, which is good to have on hand, of course.
Let’s get started!
(click on any image below to see a larger version)
What You Need
You need the following to get this done:
- A new SSD (solid state drive) (about $400)
- A USB to SATA cable (about $22)
- Micro screwdriver set (I had this on hand but I got mine at Radio Shack)
- A can of compressed air (about $5)
The drive I bought was this one:
It’s a 1 TB (terabyte) drive, which is an upgrade from the 750 GB drive I already had installed (and upgraded a couple years ago). There were good reviews on it and I’ve bought memory from Crucial before and I trust them. I checked the Crucial website to make sure it was the right one for my Mac and then I bought it Amazon Prime and it showed up in two days (nice).
You’ll also need a cable to copy the contents of your current hard drive to the new drive, so I got this cable as well:
Apricorn SATA Wire Notebook Hard Drive Upgrade Kit with USB 3.0 Connection (amazon.com)
It comes with some software but what I did was skip that and use something else.
You’ll want a can of compressed air because it’s probably time to clean out the dust from the inside of your computer. Any electronic device with a fan will attract dust and dust is like cancer for electronics. It’ll kill it. If you don’t have a can of air around, then get one (or I bought 3 to stock up) because using it on your electronic devices even once a year will make them last much longer.
I didn’t know that you had to be 18 years old to buy a can of compressed air. I guess it has something to do with taking drugs… whatever.
Get the New Drive Ready
Before I started copying everything over, I got rid of some files. I cleaned out the trash and then got rid of spam/junk email and cleaned out my email trash. Doing this will help speed up the data transfer time a little.
I closed all programs, turned off the wi-fi and then plugged the drive into the USB. I’d even suggest doing a restart before you start this process – just to make sure your Mac is in the best possible state before doing this.
Next, choose the drive and then click on the Partition button. For me, it’s showing the “Apricorn Media” because that’s the cable that’s connecting it.
Name the new drive what you want. I named mine “TonyMac” and this is what’s going to show up as the name of your hard drive on your Desktop once you complete everything.
Choose to do just 1 partition and then apply it. It’ll ask you to confirm that you want to erase everything and that’s fine since there’s nothing on it.
Copy Your Data
Next, you’ll need to copy your data from your current hard drive to the new one. Like I said, there’s some software that came with the cable but I didn’t even put that CD because I know that this program works really well since I’ve been using it for years:
It’ll backup all your data and even make the drive bootable and that’s exactly what you need. It’s free software and I’ve been using it for years to do full backups every month or so. I also have used Carbonite and iDrive for more backup protection since the data I have on my laptop is valuable to me.
Install it and fire it up. You’ll be copying from your current hard drive to the new one that’s plugged in. Choose those settings, confirm you want to do the copy and then it’ll start.
I had just over 2 million files to copy and it took 10 hours and 43 minutes. The best downtime for me is on Friday nights, so I let it run overnight and it was done in the morning. I got to go have a beer with my buddy, Al, so the timing was perfect.
Once it’s done, you really don’t want to do anything more on the computer like download email or anything because that’s new data and it won’t be there when you swap out the drives. You’re best off just browsing that drive to make sure there’s data on it and then shutting down.
Install the New Drive
Next, you’re going to open up your MacBook, remove the old drive and put in the new one. This should take about 10-15 minutes. If you’ve never opened up a computer before, don’t be too scared. Really the only thing you need to worry about is not static shocking your computer. You’ll need to ground yourself before touching the computer… do this by touching a different metal surface and get rid of any shock that might be built up. Also, don’t have the computer plugged in and don’t go touching anything other than you need to when you have it open.
There are 10 screws that you need to remove using your micro screwdriver. Find the right bit to use and remove them all. The order you do this in really doesn’t matter but I do suggest you move them to side and arrange them so that you know where you removed each one from since some may be different sizes, like this:
Next, lift the lid and you’ll see the inside of your laptop:
Locate the hard drive and remove the screws around the clamp. On mine, there were four of them and then the hard drive was loosened up.
You’ll need to now remove the 4 star screws from the sides of the old drive and transfer them to the new drive. Here are two pictures showing that I did this (this is so it seats well into the clamps).
Screws on the old one (on top):
Next, seat the new drive. There was some kind of support ring that came with mine, so I put it underneath the drive but it turns out that it took up too much space, so I didn’t actually end up using it:
Make sure it’s nice and snug in there and that the drive is not loose at all. You can’t see it too well, but I put a label on the drive with the date that I installed it. This is good info to know when it comes time to replace it and I’d suggest doing that.
Clean Out Your Computer While It’s Open
Before you put the back/bottom cover back on, use your can of compressed air and give the inside a thorough cleaning using the air. Just stick into about every hole/space your can find and also around the fan. You should see some clumps of dust come out.
Put the Cover On and Start it Up!
Next, screw the back/bottom cover back on.
Plug it in and start it up. You should have a nice, speedy MacBook now – congrats!
Here’s how my system looks now:
I see that it recognizes it as an SSD drive (that’s important because of how the operating system writes data to it – there is actually a limited amount of writes and rewrites that can happen with solid state drives) and there’s plenty of space!
It’s running really fast – it now meets my standards of how well a computer should work. I’m a power user and I should not be waiting for it – it should be waiting for me. Apps launch quickly and I don’t see the Apple/Mac beach ball at all anymore.
If you’re considering getting a new Mac, doing this upgrade really should help your Mac last a few years longer. As you can see, it’s not difficult to do. You have the steps now, so do it! 🙂
Here are some more websites that explain this process:
- How to upgrade your MacBook Pro with an SSD (cnet.com)
- Upgrading Your MacBook Pro with a Solid State Drive (apple.com)
- Installing SSD (Solid State Drive) in your MacBook Pro 13″ or 15″ unibody (instructables.com)
- How to speed up an aging MacBook with a solid state drive (arstechnica.com)
How Did It Go for You?
If you’ve read this and tried it, please leave some comments below and let me know how it went.
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