Upgrading Your MacBook Pro by Replacing the Hard Drive with an SSD

Written: July 25, 2014

As a technical professional I’m using my MacBook Pro every day of the week for work, so making it run a bit faster is always attractive and offers the promise of more productivity in the same amount of time. One upgrade that I’d been considering for awhile was replacing the hard drive with an SSD (Solid State Drive). The hard drive device has been around for decades and it’s basically a spinning platter that uses magnetism to store data, they are cheap, plentiful, and also prone to crashing.

On the other hand the SSD is a solid state device and has no moving parts, so there is nothing spinning that can crash and cause a catastrophic loss of data. Yes, in 10 years or so the SSD can start to have regions that kind of wear out, but I don’t plan on having this SDD around in 2024. After doing some research on SSD devices I opted to buy the Samsung 500GB 2.5-inch 840 EVO:

The instructions provided by Samsung were straight forward, however they were for a PC, not an Apple MacBook Pro, so I did a bit more Google research and found some free advise on how to proceed.

Copying the Old HD to the New SSD

The first step is to make an identical copy of the old hard drive over to the new SSD. In the Apple OS X there is the Disk Utility tool and it can make a backup, although I quickly discovered that my 750GB hard drive was larger than my 500GB SSD, even though the hard drive only used 320GB of space. The Disk Utility wouldn’t work with this size mismatch, so I had to find another method. Carbon Copy Cloner was the recommended alternative, and it worked well, so I kicked it off at night and came back in the morning when it was finished. They let you download and use the full version free for 30 days.

carbon_copy_cloner_logo

 

Installing the SSD

I powered down my MacBook Pro, unscrewed the 10 small screws on the bottom of the case, removed the old hard drive, plugged in the new SSD, then re-assembled. About 5 minutes of work.

Powering Up

The moment of truth came when I powered up the MacBook Pro with new SSD, and it booted OK, although it took over 1 minute of time which seemed way too slow based upon what others had written about where they saw about 25 seconds. I then did another Google search, and sure enough there was one more step that I had to do. From the Apple menu I selected: System Preferences> Startup Disk

I had to click on the name of my new SSD, then click the button: Restart

Mission accomplished, now the MacBook Pro booted in 25 seconds.

Not Quite a Clone

All of my data and apps worked OK after the clone, however a few of the apps knew that I had a new SSD and that it was not identical to the hard drive:

For Dropbox I just had to retype my email and password, while Microsoft Office insisted that I retype my 25 digit product key before it would start up.

New Speed

Yes, when I click on any app it starts up much quicker now, where the icon on the Dock bounces only one time instead of 4 to 10 times while the app loads from SSD into RAM. If you are the least bit impatient, then an SSD will help solve that. Opening up large PSD files in Photoshop is a breeze, and you don’t have to go fetch a cup of coffee while waiting.

Value

I basically waited to upgrade from hard drive to SSD until the price for a 500GB SSD reached the $200.00 price point, my threshold for a good value. Just a few years ago the same 500GB SSD would set you back some $1,500, so with time I am rewarded with a better value.

A New Parts Catalog Web Site

Written: June 26, 2014

Trever Dougan and his partner are starting up a brand-new parts catalog company called ICDT and asked me to help them get it up and running this month. For the Content Management System I selected WordPress, because it is the #1 CMS now with some 70,000,000 users. Trever wanted his clients to see all of the electronic parts he offers, but not actually order them, instead they can request a quote. I choose a catalog plugin and then added the quoting feature. Here’s a photo gallery to give an idea of how a prospective buyer can find their part and request a quote:

After a training session Trever is able to add new parts to the catalog, upload photos, add PDF specifications, along with updating any page or writing news articles. The theme for this website is responsive, so it works and looks good on the desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

I wish the team at ICDT all the best in their startup company.

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Information Architecture

Written: June 24, 2014

The title of this blog may not present a clear idea in your mind, however in the web world an Information Architect decides important things like:

To that end we learned all about WordPress and Information Architecture last night at the monthly WordPress Meetup group in Portland, our guest speaker was Lorelle VanFossen. You can see the presentation summary at Lorelle’s web site.

 

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Avoid This WordPress Theme

Written: April 22, 2014

Last night I attended the monthly Portland WordPress Meetup group and learned about membership sites, thanks to our guest speaker Bob Dunn. After the meeting ended I stayed around to meet new people and answer questions. An author approached me with a question about making her WordPress home page appear correctly, because something funny was happening. We used her laptop and logged into WordPress, then saw that it was using a Theme called StormMusic from SMThemes.

SM Themes

Based on my experience I knew exactly where to look in WordPress to control the Home page content, so I said, “Let’s click on: Settings> Reading“. This is what I expected to see in the WordPress dashboard:

Settings> Reading

 

This dialog is where I can define that my Home page is a static page, and that my blog posts should go on a page called Blog. Nice and easy. If you instead wanted a Blog style of web site, then you would click the radio button choice for Your latest posts, instead of A static page.

To my horror, all of these choices were missing. How could that be? What would make this standard WordPress dialog not appear?

It turns out that the culprit is the theme author, SMThemes. In their theme they decided to remove standard WordPress features, and instead do something totally different. I would call this very poor design, because they took a standard WordPress feature and removed it altogether, making a WordPress user like myself wonder if I’d lost my mind. When a company makes a decision like this, then I will recommend that you stay away from this theme in particular and probably all themes they have to offer in general. What use is a standard platform like WordPress if theme authors come along and remove standard features?

You have been warned.

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