Friday, February 24, 2012

Upgrade MacBook Pro Hard Drive

    Yesterday I finished upgrading the Hard Drive in my mid-2010 MacBook Pro. The hard drive I chose was the Western Digital 1TB Scorpio Blue. Trust me when I say that a full Terabyte huge, and coming from a mere 320 gigs, its like moving from an apartment into a new house.

    As with all things digital, especially computers, there is always those few pieces of information that never seem to make it in to the "how-to"'s of the internet. This certainly was no different. I did however get it done, after a few failed attempts that is.

    Before we go any further, I should mention that there are two ways to accomplish a Hard Drive upgrade. The first is easy, but takes forever. Its just a matter of swapping the drives and re-installing everything from scratch. Put any backed-up documents or photo's back in and your done. But what about your setting? All of the pages that your browser auto logs you into? Your desktop background? Screen Saver and music? Yes, you can backup and restore all of those things, but it takes a lot of time. There is, however, a better way.

    For less than $20 you can get either a External Hard Drive Case, or for around $6 you can get an USB to SATA cable adapter. I chose the latter, only because it also has the option to use older IDE Hard Drives as well as all SATA, SATA II, and SATA III drives in the same cable. Not to mention that it was only six bucks.

    For some "techie" type information, it is important to remember that any hard drive connected to a USB port can Read data into the computer much faster than it can save it. Writing new data takes noticeably longer than just reading it. Because of this, I recommend doing the physical swap-out of the drive first. That is, go ahead and crack open your MacBook Pro and put the new Hard drive in. There are a lot of "how-to"'s on the internet that can show how to do this.

    Before you do that you will need one piece of software. Don't worry, its free. Carbon Copy Cloner is a great utility for transferring all of your old files, and even your entire operating system from one drive to another.

    Next plug in your old Hard Drive to the USB to SATA cable, or external hard drive enclosure that you purchased earlier. Plug in the power, and connect the USB cable to laptop. Turn on the laptop. Your MacBook Pro will now boot from the USB drive, since this is your old hard drive it should start just like it always did.

    Once you are at the desktop, open Disk Utility and partition the new drive into one large partition. Make sure you select "1 Partition" and not "Current", even if there is only one partition already on the drive.

    By default, most new hard drives use the FAT (File Allocation Table) partition map. This will not work with a Mac, any Mac. After selecting your "1 Partition" go ahead an give the new partition a name. Then click the button called "Partition Map" and set it "GUID"(the missing info from other guides on the net that I mentioned earlier). This is very important. Make sure the format "type" is "Mac OSX (Journaled)". Save any changes and once complete you can exit Disk Utility.

    We are ready to begin. Fire up "Carbon Copy Cloner" and select your old drive as the source and your new drive as the destination. Set the "Handling of data already on the destination" to "Delete anything that doesn't exist on the source". Not there should be anything there already, but it is does affect the way CCC handles the backup.

    You will also see a "settings" button, its the one that looks like a little cog or gear. Make sure you select, "Back up everything". Once you feel you are ready, click the "clone" button and it will start copying everything onto the new Hard drive.

    At this point CCC will now ask you to make a "Recovery Partition". Do this from within CCC. It only takes it about 10 minutes to do everything it needs to do and your old recovery partition will now be copied. A recovery partition is not only a good thing to have, it is also necessary if you use any type of drive encryption. Also, some features of osX Lion do not work well with out it, so just go ahead and make it. It only take up around 800MB of space and is nice to have should anything go wrong with your computer down the road.

    Once you are done with that, sit back and relax, the cloning process will take about two to three hours for a standard 320G. Go watch a movie or something.

    After the cloning process is finished, quit CCC and "shut down" your MacBook Pro. Un-plug your USB drive and power back on. Once you are back to the desktop after booting from the new hard drive, open Disk Utility again. Select the new Hard drive and run "First Aid -=> Repair Permissions". This take between three and five minutes. Once that is complete, your MacBook pro is ready to use again, just with more hard drive space, a lot more.

Until next time ... 

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