Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

I am lucky enough to own 2 Macbook Pro laptops. I have an early 2011 15 inch and a late 2013 13 inch retina which I purchased when the first one developed a fault with the WiFi card and needed to go to the Apple store for a service.

My new 13 inch laptop was my first experience of using a computer with an SSD drive instead of a standard hard drive. I couldn’t believe the speed of the machine! From boot up to fully running in just a few seconds! Large programs such as Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro were loaded up for use in no time at all.

After years of using standard hard drives I now don’t have to wait for my programs to load. I was loving it.  I did nearly all my work on the 13 inch from then on.

The 13 inch is much, much lighter than the 15 inch, (or it’s equivalent 13 inch model) and in the end I just couldn’t deal with the wait time. I ended up hating my older laptop because of the “spinning wheel of death”.

In the 18 months I’ve had the 13 inch I’ve had zero problems with the machine. It has run for days and days without the need for a clean restart.

I have felt guilty about the neglect the old laptop was receiving. It was still a high performance machine, and as a web developer, there were a few projects I was working on that could benefit from utilising the extra screen real estate.

So I decided to take the plunge replacing a Macbook Pro hard drive with An SSD drive. We had another machine in the office that could use the same upgrade so I decided to have a go and do it myself.

Fortunately upgrading your hard drive is one of the few things you can do to an Apple laptop without voiding the warranty.

There was plenty of advice on this on the internet so i started to do my research.

What do you need?

what you need - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

The first thing to do was to find a suitable SSD drive. There are quite a few on the market, but after comparing gig size and prices I decided to go with Crucial. They have a large selection of drives and on their webpage you can check if the drive is compatible with your machine.

I went with two 50o gigabyte MX200 drives. Very reasonably priced at about £160 each. The price of these is sure to drop over the next few years, and will probably end up costing the same as Disk Drives today. Still it’s not too big a price to pay, and these are the same size as the drives I’m replacing, so I don’t have to get rid of any programs or data and I can move forward with the same machine but hopefully a whole lot faster.

Get your Crucial SSD drive here:

ssd drives - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

When ordering this I also got an anti-static wrist strap with ground cable, to protect the computer from any static electricity I may be carrying.

I also needed some kind of SATA caddy to create the new drive on. I opted for the All in 1 HDD docking interface. It has a whole collection of sockets for various memory cards and hard drives connected to your computer via USB. I picked mine up on Amazon.

You could find yours here:

1.This is a perfect 2.5”/ 3.5” IDE & SATA hard disk docking and card reader.
2.Built-in 2 port USB 2.0 hub
3.No need to screw and unscrew case
4.Connect to your computer using USB or eSATA
5.Built-in multi-card reader for SD/ MS/ CF/ XD-memory
6.Support E-SATA, USB1.1, USB2.0, SATAⅠ, and SATA Ⅱcompatible
7.USB 2.0 connection to computer for data transfer, data transfer up to 480 Mbps
8.Plug-and-play, easy installation, hot-swappable (no need to reboot the computer)
9.One button backup solution – you can easily backup your computer files to external hard disk

All in all a very useful device beyond this task – you never know when you may need one of these other interfaces!

all in one ports - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

The tools required to do the job are a Phillips #00 Screwdriver,  T6 Torx Screwdriver, and the anti static wrist strap with grounding cable. It is very easy to damage a drive with just a small static discharge – believe me, I talk from experience on this one!

Create a Time Machine Backup

The first thing I did before starting the whole process was to Time Machine backup the entire computer; good practice for obvious reasons.

There’s a ‘solution’ that didn’t work!

When I first tried to set the SSD disk up I followed the advice of this article.

This basically says put the new SDD drive into your caddy (the All in 1), initialise the disk with Apple’s disk utility, then use the program Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘Clone’ the main laptop drive to the new SSD drive. With approx 350 gigs of data on the disk the cloning process took 6 hours!

Afterwards, I chose the new SSD as the start up disk while it was still in the caddy, and all worked fine! Time to put the drive in the laptop and boot it up.

The only problem wass that it didn’t boot up! The laptop could not see the drive at all, no start up disk. I did some internet research and discovered that I was not alone with this problem. I was over 7 hours down the line and still no working situation. Yes I was beginning to get edgy!

I connected back up the caddy, and put the original laptop disk in it. The laptop happily rebooted with the old disk drive as the start up disk.

It saw the new SSD drive but there was an error. None of the data that I knew was on there was readable.

OK, what shall I do?

This got me thinking. Maybe I needed to create a clean fresh install. The system on the laptop was Yosemite 10.10.3 but the latest is 10.10.4. I downloaded the latest version on another computer, the complete OS install .DMG from the Apple app store. I then put that on a separate portable hard drive.

Once downloaded I plugged that drive as well into the laptop. Then with disk utility I re-initialised the disk. Then I ran the install software and installed a new clean OS X 10.4 onto the SSD drive.

Once that was done the setup procedure for that OS X started to run, I closed down the computer and removed the caddy and the extra external drive from the laptop. I then connected my Time Machine backup disk, restarted the computer and everything started up as it should and the OS X set up recommenced. There is a prompt on what you would like to restore from, and I chose Time Machine. I selected the option to restore everything, and let it run. It took only about 3 hours to restore the drive.

Once that was completed, I restarted the laptop and hey presto! It booted up super quick looking just like the desktop and dock I had before I started this whole process. Everything worked fine.

I was prompted to install Java SE 6 so that some of my older programs could run. You can find that here.

Also you need to add a specific command into the system via the Terminal program, which you can find in the Utilities folder in Applications.

Run it and enter “sudo trimforce enable”

This allows you to run TRIMFORCE which efficiently manages the content on your SSD drive. This is an important thing to do.

After that I headed over to the Apple app store and download Dr. Cleaner. It’s free and is an excellent helper in managing your RAM and your SSD, cleaning up files that you no longer need.

Now my Macbook Pro was truly fit to go!!


Now I knew exactly what to do. I started to work on the second machine. I already had the OS X install program on the portable drive, and this machine had already been backed up with Time Machine, so I headed straight into it and repeated what I just did. This drive had only 250 gigs of data. The whole process took about 3 and a half hours. Then it felt like a brand new machine, but with everything still on it as it was. Amazing!

Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive – The STEP BY STEP Process

So here is the basic breakdown on replacing a Macbook Pro hard drive With An SSD drive.

1. Do a Time Machine backup of your laptop.

You should be doing this regularly, but you really need to do this before you start this process.

2. Insert the SSD drive into your computer.

Set up and attach/wear the anti-static wrist band.

Remove the bottom plate of the laptop with your Phillips #00 Screwdriver. remove the screws in order and lay them out, so you can then put the correct screws back in the right holes. They are different lengths!

drive bay fixing - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

Loosen the two screws on the drive bay fixing bar and remove it.

You can now lift the drive out and disconnect it from it’s SATA cable.

mounting bolts - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

With the T6 Torx Screwdriver remove the four mounting bolts from the hard drive and put them on the new SSD drive.

Connect the SSD drive to the SATA cable and place the drive into position.

sd - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

Put back and tighten the drive bay fixing bar.

Put back on the bottom plate and screw it on.

3. Put the old Hard Drive into the caddy.

old drive in caddy - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

Place the old hard drive into your SATA caddy and connect it to the computer via USB.

Connect another drive to the computer with the OSX 10.4 install program on it. (it could be a flash drive!)

4. Start the computer and initialise the new SSD drive.

Start the computer. It will boot up from the old drive in the caddy. Once booted, go to the utilities folder in applications and run Disk Utility.

Set it up to partition.

Name the drive.

Make sure it is set for  Mac OS (Journaled).

Make sure in options that it is set for GUID.

Hit Apply.

This will initialise the disk making it clean for a fresh install of the operating system.

5. Make a clean fresh Install of OSX 10.4 on the SSD drive.

Run the OSX  install program on the external drive.

Target the install for the SSD drive. And Run.

Once the install is complete and you see the program starting to set itself up. Switch off the laptop.

6. Remove the caddy and external drive and connect the Time Machine drive.

Remove both the caddy and the external drive and connect the hard drive you are using for time machine.

Restart the computer, follow the setup instructions, and when prompted initiate recover backup from time machine, and make sure you select everything.

Once this is completed your machine will be fully restored with the same content programs and data.

7. Run Terminal.

Run the Terminal program, which you can also find in the utilities folder.

trimforceterminal - Replacing A Macbook Pro Hard Drive With An SSD Drive

Enter the command “sudo trimforce enable”   and hit ‘y’ to execute. Then hit ‘y’ again.

This is important as it enables ‘TRIMFORCE’ which allows management control over the SSD drive.

8. Download Java SE 6.

some programs still require Java 6 to run. OSX 10.4 doesn’t install it as standard so you have to. You can get it here.

9. Download Dr Cleaner.

Go to the App store and download and install Dr Cleaner. It’s free and very good at it’s job.

10. Enjoy your new Macbook Pro.

It feels like a new toy again.

Good luck with this, as you can see it’s not too difficult!


July 7, 2015