04/04/2010

Upgrading a MacBook Pro disk

It was a bit of a daunting task, get a Solid State Disk (SSD), transfer the contents of the current disk on to it, then make sure it's all working and take the MacBook Pro apart and fit the disk.

Surprisingly it was all very easy, but there's a few things that need to be though about first.

Make sure you have an external (USB/Firewire) disk system that will take the SSD, plug it in and make sure it's recognised. It's unlikely to be formatted, so MacOS X will say it's unrecognised and ask to run Disk Utility. The disk needs to be partitioned (select partition type GUID) and a single partition, name it Macintosh HD (or SSD) and let Disk Utility do its magic. Once finished it will be mounted it and it appears as a USB or Firewire disk (depending what external system you have).

It's now all about cloning the internal hard disk, a couple of utilities were recommended Carbon Copy Clone and SuperDuper. In this instance Carbon Copy Clone did its magic and it was just configured to clone the Macintosh HD (the internal HD) and copy everything to the external Macintosh HD (which was the externally mounted SSD).

The internal disk had just over 50GB of data and it took about an hour to clone (so you've got time for a couple of cups of tea).

There was a beep to indicate it had finished and that was that. Just to be sure Disk Utility was run again and the disk verified, it did throw up a few errors, but they were permission errors and quickly fixed (it took under 3 minutes to scan the disk on USB).

Then go into System Preferences and select "Start-up Disk" and select the external USB/Firewire disk and reboot. This should get the MacBook to boot of the newly set-up disk. Happily the MBP booted and the hard disk activity light flashed away showing it was using the external disk. Then shutdown and remove the power from the MBP.

Removing the screws from the base of the MacBook Pro was easy enough (a small Philips screwdriver is needed) and the bottom just lifts off. Make sure you remember which screws go where as some are long and some short, though not too difficult to just lay them out in the position of where they sit on a table surface.

There's a site iFixit which specialises in DIY Apple repairs etc. They state that the bar holding the drive in place uses Torx 6 screws, however on this late 2009 13" MBP the screws were also Philips and it came away very easily.

Then carefully remove the hard disk and very carefully pull away the ribbon cable attached to it. Get the SSD (which you've removed from the external case) and attach it to the ribbon cable and insert it back into the hard disk space. Place the disk bar back and screw into place and replace the bottom cover, making sure that the screws aren't over tightened. Put the screws in, in pairs, as this reduces the stresses on the case and put opposites in pairs. Lightly screw them in, then tighten them once all the screws are in.

All that's required to to turn the MBP on and hopefully it will all work.

The MBP will boot significantly faster and apps load much faster. Performing a disk permission verification (with the SSD in the MBP) took under a minute (compared with 3 minutes when connected through USB).

As a TV commercial Meerkat would say "Simples"

The disk used was a 256GB Crucial RealSSD C300 2.5-inch SATA 6GB/s which is their latest generation of SSD.
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