How to upgrade your MacBook with an SSD drive?

How to upgrade your MacBook by replacing your hard disk drive with the new SSD drive?

A lot of people are questioning on how to improve the performance of their MacBook computers. The good news is that Apple allows two types of upgrades without damaging your warranty. It's RAM (Random Access Memory) upgrade and hard disk drive replacement. If your Mac freezes while multitasking (running several applications at one time) this may be caused by lack of RAM on your system, on the other hand, if it's working slowly, but you can  still complete your tasks, that means the your hard drive is slow to perform a read/write processes.

The option for you would to replace an old hard drive which probably is an old HDD (hard disk drive), the storage device, that uses magnetic storage. Nowadays, computers come with an SSD (solid state drive) hard disk, they are much faster, if compared with conventional hard disk drives. Unfortunately, their price to capacity ratio is much worse than hard disk drives, so you must decide what is more important to you - the capacity or speed of read and write processes. Since a lot of users, creates the post's in various technical support forums by asking how to replace the hard drive on an old Mac computer, we decide to describe all required steps in this one article.


Table of Contents:

How to choose the correct SSD for your Mac?

  • First of all, you should know some specifications in order to choose properly. We recommend to use SSD hard drives only on MacBooks released in 2009 or later with a 3.0Gbps to 6.0Gbps interface speed, and more importantly we recommend to choose 6.0Gbps hard disk. You probably consider why we recommend to buy more expensive drive, bear in mind, that in future you will be replacing your existing computer with the newer one and then you will have an option to use this SSD in an enclosure or the other machine.
  • Now the other option you have to device is the capacity of your new hard drive. The cheapest SSDs comes with 120-128GB, you probably consider that is quite much of space, but we recommend to check your existing hard drive, how much space you already have used. While hard drive is used only for operating system and several useful applications, 120GB is more than enough, but if you own an iTunes music library and photo or video library, the free space of hard drive will run out quickly. Bear in mind, that applications such as photo, music and video editing will work faster, while running on SSD drive. Although, you may use external hard drive to store your media content and some files that your not using casually.
  • Another very important specification would be read and write speed, the higher is better. When you decided required capacity, and choosing between manufacturers and models we recommend you to compare their speed in these particular process.

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Required tools to replace the hard drive of your MacBook

Before you begin any works, ensure all you have all required tools, check the list below.

  • New chosen SSD.
  • Enclosure for external drive.
  • #00 and T6 size screwdriver.
  • Drive cloning software.

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Prepare SSD for installation

There is two methods to work around, basically both do the same process just in different order. Whatever you choose, both are correct, and doesn't have any advantages between each other. One method would be to connect the new SSD through enclosure and clone your start up drive. The second would be to install the new SSD into your MacBook and then connect your old start up drive through enclosure, boot it and then perform a clone process. To begin with, connect your new SSD through enclosure and launch Disk Utility application on your MacBook, select the new hard drive and choose to erase it and set the format as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Once formatting process finishes, use your cloning software, we can suggest to use Carbon Copy Cloner, which offers you 30 days as free trial. After cloning process, restart your MacBook and after start up chime, hold down Option key, in the opened menu select the new SSD as the start up drive. If your computer boots properly, it means the cloning process was successful. Alternatively you may choose to install the ssd into your MacBook and then connect your start up drive through enclosure, format your new SSD and clone the old start up disk.


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Install the SSD into your MacBook

To instal SSD into your MacBook flip over the computer, locate 10 screw holes, use #00 screwdriver to remove all of them. Bear in mind, to store your screws in box or something similar, so you can be sure they won't be lost. Remove the bottom of your MacBook, it should come off easily, without any force. If you cant take it off, look up maybe you have missed some screws. Look for a hard drive in the corner, it will be held by a plastic bracket, remove the screws to release the holder and lift off the hard drive. Unplug the SATA connector, remove the plastic tape carefully and mounting screws located at sides of hard drive by using T6 screw driver. Add the mounting screws and plastic tape on your new SSD hard drive, plug in the SATA connector and put it into the rubber holders. Tight up the plastic bracket, then reattach the back case of your MacBook. Finally, boot your computer, if you stored a cloned copy of your start up disk into SSD before installation, hold down Option key immediately after start up chime, select SSD as your start up hard drive. Otherwise, connect your old start up drive through enclosure and follow the steps listed above. To finish the upgrade, when your MacBook booted, open the System Preferences and select Startup disk, choose your new SSD as default.


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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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