Macbook Pro SSD Upgrade using only OS X Utilities


Go Speed Go!!!


Watch how how long my machine took to boot,

I am taking this Macbook Pro (2011) i5 system 3 minute boot time down to as close to zero as possible by switching to SSD.  This video demonstrates the speed problem I have with the factory drive.

The factory drive is also starting to make noises indicating that it will not be around for too much longer.  It will serve me well as a Time Machine backup drive once we make the swap though.  Waste not, want not…



I purchased a Samsung EVO 1TB SSD.  These can be had for around $260 currently if you look hard enough.  This drive will be able to max out the internal 6.0Gb/s SATA2 drive channel in this machine.  This features the newer 3D flash (fancy term for multiple layers stack on top of each other…) and the speed of this one is considerably higher than many of it’s competitors.  It also has a pretty robust warranty at 400TB of use.  It should last much longer than that, and I shouldn’t use that up in many years, but my Friend Shawn had one of these fail, so it is critical that we make use of our old drive for backups in the somewhat likely event of a failure.  Pay special attention to the software CD Samsung provides.  You will need to find a trash can for it unless you are on a Windoze machine, and if you are this article is not going to help you.  Sorry.



Step 1:  Attach your new drive to an interface

I purchased this 2.5″ HDD enclosure from Amazon for almost $10.  Since we will be dragging it around with us as a backup drive (until we overflow it with data eventually) it should be something we aren’t going to break easily, works with our bus speeds (USB2, Firewire 800, and Thunderbolt are all options for this unit,) and provides a reasonable amount of protection for our drives.  sabrent_running

Once I have  gone beyond the 320GB capacity of the factory drive I can replace it with a larger one.  I tend to come across old hardware frequently enough that one will probably just magically appear one day to take on the task.

For now this will work just fine.



STEP 2:  Initialize your new Drive

Open Disk Utility, click on your new SSD, and hit “Erase”  You need these options set to format your new drive:


Your drive name will differ depending on your hardware.  Once you have your drive formatted you can move on.


Step 3:  Boot into Recovery Mode

On newer OS X versions, hold down Command (Apple Key) + R to enter recovery mode.  Once you are here, select the Disk Utility option.  You need to be in recovery mode to clone your hard drive.  If it is mounted as an OS partition you cannot read the entire drive due to permissions issues.


You now need to select your external disk and click “Restore.”  From the resulting drop down you need to select whatever drive your OS X installation runs from.  Again, I am recording these steps “after the fact” and have already migrated to SSD as my system drive.  Your source device will be the internal hard drive on your laptop, and your target will be the external SSD.


Step 4:  Install your new SSD

Once your files are all copied over to the new SSD, you can shutdown your machine and you are ready to remove the back cover and swap out the drives.  I did not record this process, but this guy did:


Step 5:  First Boot!

You are now ready to see how fast it runs.  Here are some videos of mine after the swap.  As you can see the difference is huge.

Now all my other Macbooks seem very slow.  I will probably be spending a significant portion of my time and paychecks upgrading them all now.  My son also insisted on dual booting Windoze on his 256GB Macbook air and consequenly his Steam games have wiped out all his free space, so I make work out a trade for his old drive and some chores/allowance to get him a larger one.

If you do this, let me know how it goes in the comments section.  Enjoy!

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