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Brain Transplant
July 13, 2014 6:10 PM   Subscribe

Can I take the harddrive out of my white unibody 13.3 Macbook and just pop it in another 13.3 white unibody? >>

The magsafe thing on my current one is broken, along with a bunch of other bodily damage from traveling with it. From looking online, it looks way easier to replace a harddrive than the magsafe board. I wanted to look online for just a body and the put my harddrive in it (which runs fine, no problem with the OS). Is that doable?
posted by tippy to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
 
I've done this with identical models of Sony VAIO laptop. Works just fine!
posted by Andrhia at 6:14 PM on July 13


Sure you can. Pretty good instructions are at iFixit. It's not trivial, but follow the instructions and you should be fine.
posted by blob at 6:20 PM on July 13


The hard drives are the same physical size. You (or a skilled technician) should have no problem doing it.

So - this will work, but it will only work REALLY WELL if you get the exact same model of Macbook. OSX is smart enough to detect what hardware it is operating on, but you will have some artifacts and things that don't quite fit no matter how smart it is. So, reinstall the OS when you put the hard drive into the new computer.

Migration Assistant will be your friend, though.
posted by arnicae at 6:22 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Macs tolerate this really well-- I've transplanted a drive from a 2009MBP 15" to a 2010 17" MBP. It was not quite perfect, but yours will work better. Windows tends to marry to the unique hardware IDs more, whereas Apple doesn't have a million people building hardware for its OS, so it's difficult or expensive for you to rip them off on the OS revenue by building your own Macbook.

You might be able to get a repair for your Magsafe connector for cheaper, though-- I would at least price it out as well as possible to compare to the price of a new Macbook sans drive.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:52 PM on July 13


Totally doable. It will work fine. I transplanted the hard drive from my Macbook Pro into a Mac mini, and it's running fine three years later. I just made sure the mini was compatible with the version of OS X that happened to be installed on the Macbook.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:52 PM on July 13


Macs don't care about this. there's no "drivers" or other stuff that gets all customized on windows installs, except for third party external hardware. There's only one install of OSX, meaning that a 11in macbook air will have drivers installed for a mac pro tower.

A general rule is that any mac will boot any OSX install thats newer than when it was made. I've never had any problems with this that necessitated doing an actual reinstall.

That said, it is very easy to do a time machine backup, reinstall, and restore from it. It backs up so thoroughly that your browser will open with the same tabs open after the reinstall.
posted by emptythought at 7:44 PM on July 13


It works but you might have to reset the PRAM to make everything work perfectly and that might wipe out a couple of random application settings. My experience.
posted by michaelh at 7:58 PM on July 13


Macs don't care about this. there's no "drivers" or other stuff that gets all customized on windows installs

That's not strictly true; OSX uses kexts for drivers, it just ships with all the drivers for the models of mac that that version of OSX supports and caches the ones its using.

So as long as the mac hardware being moved to is supported by the installed version of OSX, you'll have all the drivers you need when you get there, so it normally Just Works. If the destination mac is too new to be supported by an older version of OSX, then it's advisable to upgrade OSX on the old hardware first.

The only other issue I've seen is that you'll end up with a new serial number; so as far as the App Store and iTunes are concerned, it's a new mac, and thus will need to be re-authorised. As long as you're not already at the max device limit* though, it's fine; otherwise you can delete devices, including the original mac, from the itunes account settings. This may also necessitate a reinstall of some paid apps due to DRM.

Time machine backup & restore is a pretty easy way to migrate your stuff to new hardware if you don't fancy dealing with the not-much-fun of getting the drive out of a mac - though the unibody one looks pretty simple, to be fair.


* max limit is 10 devices/computers total per apple ID, and 5 computers concurrently.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:05 AM on July 14


Excellent. Thanks everyone!
posted by tippy at 6:07 PM on July 15


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