Written: July 25, 2014

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

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.


8 responses to “Upgrading Your MacBook Pro by Replacing the Hard Drive with an SSD”

  1. Sunny says:

    I have Mac-mini at the momentn and would like to replace my 17″ Windows HP laptop with a macbook pro, prferrably 17″ screen size.

    I want to upgrade the Hard disk to SSD drive but I dont know how to clone/immage my present Mac mini HDD to SSD with the carbon copy cloner, how do I connect the HDD to SSD in order to clone the operating system and the present software.

    Best regards,
    Sunny Anibaba
    +44 7950 252 921 (UK)

  2. Daniel Payne says:

    To clone your HDD to SSD there is an adapter that allows you to plugin the SSD to a USB port. Then run the Carbon Cloner tool, it will prompt you to select the old HDD and the new SDD. Be aware that the cloning can take several hours to complete, especially if you have a drive with 300 GB or so used.

    • Sunny says:

      withThanks very useful information.

      I am now looking for a new 17inch macbook pro with SSD drive, 16 GB Memory, with i7 processor chip

      • Daniel Payne says:

        Sunny,
        You may only buy the 2011 model of the MacBook Pro used, because it is no longer manufactured by Apple. Good luck. I would check eBay and Craigslist for this MacBook Pro.

      • Eddie says:

        There are plenty of companies that do refurbished products. I just got mine with 16GB RAM i7, for 1400$, and I will be putting SSD drive in it. It came with a 1 year warranty just like new macs. By the time I am done with this computer it will be better than a new one. Screen Resolution is a non issue for me as a I have a new 27inch IMAC upstairs. I wanted the bigger laptop and they don’t make it anymore so this is the route I chose. Google refurbished Late 2011 17inch Macbook pro, and you will find plenty of options and companies who refurbish and mine looked brand new not a scratch on it.

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