HDD replacement macbook walk-thru
December 10, 2012 4:39 PM   Subscribe

SSD Filter: Macbook Pro running 10.5.8 WLTM Solid State Drive, NSA

Apologies for a very similar thread to those posted before but I haven't been able to find an answer on askmefi or elsewhere.

I have a 2009 MBP (5.5) running OS 10.5.8 (Leopard?). I'm also semi-permanently plugged into an external 1TB disc where I keep my itunes library and Time Machine back up.

I have a Samsung 830 256 SSD and an 8gb RAM Upgrade sitting on my desk which I am about to install but I'm a bit nervous about what to do first. I want to do this properly, I don't mind doing it the long way if it means it will all happen without problems. I could do with a numbered step-by-step walk-through but only up to the physical replacement of the drive, which I'm fairly confident about.

my questions:
- Before I start cloning drives should I upgrade my OS? What is a "clean install"? I probably have the original DVD that came with my MBP - why would I want to reinstall that? Doesn't reinstalling the OS wipe all your docs and files?
- To clone the drive should I use the bundled Norton ghost or superduper, or carbon copy or just the apple OS native drive cloning utility? Why use one rather than the other?
- Are Samsung 830's safe to use with Macs now. Did they have some sort of firmware problem?
posted by Brian Lux to Technology (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Find your MBP model here for a visual step-by-step guide.

If you want to preserve your hard drive as it is now, clone it -- I don't have any advice as to which utility -- and install the new OS after you re-create the image on the SSD. Going from Lion to Mountain Lion preserves your files unless you tell it not to. I don't know about Leopard to Mountain Lion, though.

However, if you have super-duper important files, back them up to your external separately from the image of your hard drive that you're making with a cloning utility. Also, get an external USB encasement for the HD you're taking out, as it will make a perfectly serviceable external HD.

THe reason you want to install the OS update after is that it'll be a lot faster of a process that way (as the SSD is much faster than the HD.) A "clean install" means you'd just be installing the OS onto the SSD for a fresh boot rather than cloning your current HD onto there

830s are fine (I'm using one right now) but make sure you use Trim enabler as Trim isn't enabled by default. Also, never run defrag or benchmarks on an SSD.
posted by griphus at 4:49 PM on December 10, 2012

I would at least upgrade to the latest version of OS X that you can. Apps are starting to drop support for 10.5.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:55 PM on December 10, 2012

Thanks griphus but that link covers the installation but not the cloning procedure. I'm mainly after a step-by-step for everything up until that point - essentially the cloning, I think.

Wongcorgi, do you mean upgrade from 10.5.8 to the latest OS before cloning or just upgrade to a newer OS as soon as I can, once the HDs are swapped?
posted by Brian Lux at 5:19 PM on December 10, 2012

Did the SSD come with a USB cable? Mine did. I simply connected the SSD to my Mac Mini via USB and cloned the internal HDD to the SSD, then shutdown, took out the HDD, installed the SSD, and went about my day.

I can't remember what cloning tool I used, but can probably work that out when I get home in about 6 hours if you want.
posted by Diag at 5:37 PM on December 10, 2012

If it came bundled with Ghost I would use that.
posted by Diag at 5:39 PM on December 10, 2012

You're in a bit of a pickle with regard to your current version of OS X. Mountain Lion (10.8.2) is only available from the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store only runs on Snow Leopard (specifically, 10.6.6 or greater). If you rely upon PowerPC applications, then support for that goes away in Mountain Lion, so it's not a no-brainer upgrade, but if not, you should probably take the leap.

Your bundled copy of Norton Ghost isn't going to work on your Mac. Use Super Duper or CCC.

I'd suggest:

- taking a clone of your existing hard drive on your external.
- removing the hard drive and adding the SSD
- putting the old HD in an enclosure
- "borrowing" a copy of Mountain Lion from someone who has the installer, burning it to a USB key, and installing it onto your new, clean SSD that way
- migrating your stuff from your just-removed mechanical drive, either with Migration Assistant or manually.

Why a clean install? Because it gives you a chance to audit what you've got on your system, and whether you actually use it, and because it can also clear out some cruft that may have ended up there. (My clean install of ML cleared out a problem where certain remote network connections would crap out.)
posted by holgate at 6:21 PM on December 10, 2012

With all due respect, since it sounds like you're kind of new to this, can I make a suggestion? Why would you replace the spin drive with an SSD? Unless you are like the 1 person for whom having an internal CD/DVD reader is critical, I would toss the disc drive, throw that shit in an external enclosure since you might need it one day, and buy a kit to install your SSD in the extra bay.

Boom - you now have an MBP with two hard drives. One for the OS/Apps, the other for storage. Clone the spin drive over to the SSD and then wipe the spin drive. If you think about it, it's a lot more convenient than carrying an external HD with you everywhere.
posted by phaedon at 8:54 PM on December 10, 2012

Depending on how old your source drive is and whether you experience any non-hardware issues (files just become corrupt over time and we collect all manner of dross) you might consider using Carbon Copy Cloner to backup your source drive to the 1T, installing the SSD, formatting it Mac OS Extended (Journaled), then performing the Clean Install on it, running Software Update a couple of times to update everything, then using Migration Assistant to move all your data to the SSD. You'll lose system prefs but you'll retain Keychains, email settings, and everything you really need. Plus you'll have a fresh, clean OS to make the most of your speedy SSD. Another benefit of this method is losing all the unnecessary files that take up valuable space on the (typically) smaller drives. Not sure about any firmware conflicts with the 830. Suggest going to the Samsung site for info and any firmware updaters that you'd install after the Software Updates.
posted by R2WeTwo at 12:08 AM on December 11, 2012

Depending on how old your source drive is and whether you experience any non-hardware issues (files just become corrupt over time and we collect all manner of dross) you might consider using Carbon Copy Cloner to backup your source drive to the 1T, installing the SSD, formatting it Mac OS Extended (Journaled), then performing the Clean Install on it, running Software Update a couple of times to update everything, then using Migration Assistant to move all your data to the SSD. You'll lose system prefs but you'll retain Keychains, email settings, and everything you really need. Plus you'll have a fresh, clean OS to make the most of your speedy SSD. Another benefit of this method is losing all the unnecessary files that take up valuable space on the (typically) smaller drives. Not sure about any firmware conflicts with the 830. Suggest going to the Samsung site for info and any firmware updaters that you'd install the Software Updates.
posted by R2WeTwo at 12:12 AM on December 11, 2012

Phaedon - thanks for the suggestion, I'm mulling it over. Every now and again I need to use the DVD player so I just might be that 1 person. Also I'm interested to see if the charge will last longer with just on SSD inside and if the heat output will go down.

Excuse my ignorance, a few more questions:


1. "a copy of Mountain Lion from someone who has the installer" - is a copy of Mountain Lion one and the same thing as the installer? Do I just need to find someone with a copy of mountain lion and drag-borrow it onto a USB?

2. "If you rely upon PowerPC applications" - I'm not sure what PowerPC apps are. I use Word 2008, is that not going to function after the OS update?

3. when i migrate stuff over to the new hard drive will I also be able to migrate all the useful applications like firefox and handbrake over as well as my docs/photos etc?

4. If I do it this clean install way the new SSD won't actually be a clone of my old drive but a totally new drive that happens to have access to all my old stuff. Have I got that right?


5. "running Software Update a couple of times" - is this to update any changes that might have happened to Mountain Lion, since the copy I have borrowed was released?

6. "losing all the unnecessary files" - Do you mean that formatting the new SSD and performing a clean OS install will get rid of any files that Samsung have pre-installed on the drive? Might those be important firmware things?

7. Let's say I've cloned my hard drive onto my external drive. After I've taken out the hard drive and put in the new SSD, how will the MBP know where to boot up from? Do I have to tell it?

8. Once the SSD is formatted and with the USB with Mountain Lion in my hand what are the steps for performing the clean install? Do I start with my MBP switched off?
posted by Brian Lux at 2:58 AM on December 11, 2012

I'm not sure what PowerPC apps are. I use Word 2008, is that not going to function after the OS update?
I believe that ArchDetect allows you to see which apps on your machine are PPC.
posted by blueberry at 6:37 AM on December 11, 2012

ArchDetect seems to be discontinued. I downloaded a version of it but for some reason it reported back that it could find ANYTHING at all.
posted by Brian Lux at 10:15 AM on December 11, 2012

1. The Mountain Lion package that is downloaded from the Mac App Store can be turned into a USB installer with Lion Diskmaker.

2. Office 2008 should be compatible: note the instructions on AutoUpdate.

3. Migration Assistant gives you that option, yes.

4. Yes. If you were running Snow Leopard or Lion, I'd recommend the standard upgrade, but in this case, it's probably best to leapfrog into a clean Mountain Lion install, then let Migration Assistant copy all your stuff from your old drive.

4a. You may find that certain applications require updates as soon as they're migrated, either because you disabled automatic update checks, or because the auto-updater recognised that you were running an older version of OS X and didn't try to install newer versions that weren't backwards-compatible with the OS.
posted by holgate at 3:45 PM on December 11, 2012

Brian Lux, just to be clear, you can put your Macbook's DVD drive in an enclosure and run DVD's that way. Hell, a brand new external DVD reader/writer won't cost you more than $50.

Think about what having a second hard drive would mean.. you would much less rarely connect to a hard drive, certainly you wouldn't depend on it for an iTunes library.

Plus you have to appreciate that a 256GB SSD is not a lot of space. You're going to have to be constantly shoveling files off to a different drive. In my mind, to have to constantly be doing this with an attached external, sort of defeats the purpose of having a laptop.

As for heat issues, you'll have to let me know what you're talking about. And in the meantime you can download smcFanControl and control the fans. It works remarkably well.
posted by phaedon at 5:49 PM on December 11, 2012

I just did this a couple of months ago. Almost exactly your situation, right down to the external giant hard drive that I needed for my iTunes etc.

And you know what? I came late to same realization as phaedon, and just last night I opened the macbook all over again, tossed the optical drive and put in a fat new spin drive. Now I'm not tethered to the external any more.

Do you really need the DVD drive more than the spin drive? Search your feelings...
posted by hAndrew at 12:05 AM on December 12, 2012

Phaedon, hAndrew thanks for the advice about the swapping out the optical drive. I probably will do this at some point but not at this stage. This is my first experience upgrading a mbp and I want to screw two things up rather than three. Side question: could I crack open the casing for my 1tb USB powered hard drive and put that inside an enclosure inside the optical drive space?

Holgate, thanks for persisting with me. One more question; I might have misunderstood some mac-forum threads but I got the impression you could only install mountain lion onto a drive that was already running at least snow leopard? Have I got that wrong?
posted by Brian Lux at 8:25 AM on December 12, 2012

This is what you should get:


I'm not entirely sure why you're venturing into self-tech support. You should take this into a third-party retailer or an Apple Store and have them make the switch for you. If you fuck something up, you're going to essentially void your warranty.

Also not sure why you are running 10.5.8. If you are running a laptop with a chipset that doesn't support Lion/Mountain Lion, well, you should look into what TRIM support is for SSD's and whether or not your OS supports it. I'm not entirely sure if the TRIM thing is a real problem - but if it is, it means if you run the SSD without TRIM support, your drive will slow down noticeably after some use. Which sort of defeats the purpose of getting an SSD.

Certainly if you install the SSD in an optical bay instead of replacing the spin drive it's not like you're "screwing more things up." You don't have to touch the spin drive at all.

Do I know if the WD Passport can be used internally? Not sure.
posted by phaedon at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2012

I don't know whether it's technically impossible to run the Mountain Lion installer for an in-place upgrade on Leopard, but you simply can't buy and download the installer without Snow Leopard and the Mac App Store; that's why I mentioned upthread that you'd need someone else to provide it.

The approach I've sketched out is to swap out the SSD for the current working drive, install Mountain Lion from scratch on the (empty) SSD, then use Migration Assistant to pull across your stuff from the old Leopard drive.

That way also leaves you with a working, bootable Leopard install on your old hard drive that you should really just put in an enclosure and keep safe once you've done the migration, just in case you discover a PowerPC application that no longer works and doesn't have an Intel upgrade.

phaedon: the 2009 MBP is fine for Mountain Lion. And I've not bothered with TRIM Enabler, all reports suggest that it causes as many problems as it solves, and newer SSDs have better garbage collection routines onboard.
posted by holgate at 9:48 AM on December 12, 2012

...all reports suggest that it causes as many problems as it solves...

Uh oh. Any relevant links?
posted by griphus at 10:07 AM on December 12, 2012

holgate, please note I didn't specifically recommend TRIM Enabler. Not only are the reviews mixed (just look at the comments on their own website) but it's unclear whether that app is necessary in Lion/Mountain Lion.

I'm not however sure if Leopard does any garbage collection. Per this review the Samsung 830 certainly doesn't. Over time on a small drive running the OS this will lead to slower write speeds.
posted by phaedon at 10:56 AM on December 12, 2012

I'm not however sure if Leopard does any garbage collection.

I'm not sure why this is even relevant here, unless you're advising the OP to stick with Leopard, but I'm going to bow out of this one now.
posted by holgate at 11:34 AM on December 12, 2012

So I guess the consensus is, even though you didn't bring it up in your OP -- upgrade from Leopard.
posted by phaedon at 1:03 PM on December 12, 2012

OK, thanks Holgate/Phaedon/R2WeTwo/hAndrew. So these are the steps I'm going to take:

1. Upgrade my 2009 MBP, currently running Leopard 10.5.8, to Snow Leopard.
2. Go to Apple App store and download Mountain Lion and turn it into a USB installer
using Lion Diskmaker.
3. Using Super Duper or Carbon Copy Cloner, clone my HDD to my external HDD.
4. Switch off MBP. Swap SSD for HDD.
5. Switch MBP back on. (GREY AREA - Will the MBP just start? Or will I need to tell it to find the clone of the HDD on the external drive?)
6. Format SSD Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
7. Install Mountain Lion onto SSD. (GREY AREA - Do I do this while I'm operating under Snow Leopard or do I switch off the MBP and...well, I don't know what?)
8. Boot from SSD (?) and look for any Mountain Lion updates.
9. Using Migration Assistant bring over all my files (and apps)
10. Figure out what apps now don't work
11. Possibly install TRIM, whatever that is.
12. Almost definitely replace my optical drive with a 1TB HDD

(Phaedon; most answers to your questions are that I'm cheap and have access to information and helpful people on askmefi and have no warranty left, right?)
posted by Brian Lux at 2:45 PM on December 12, 2012

You are making this way too complicated.

1. Upgrade your current spin drive to Mountain Lion. Make sure that works.
2. Super Duper/CCC the Mountain Lion drive over to your external. Make sure the drive is already wiped and already bootable.
3. Turn off the computer.
4. Switch the SSD in and take the external out.
5. Boot from the external and clone the drive back to the SSD.

For the love of christ make sure the external drive is bootable before you go around changing things. That means if you want to be extra sure, after you clone the drive to your external, restart your laptop with the option-key pressed down and see if the USB-connected drive appears as a startup disk. Choose it and see if the computer works ok.

Another totally legit options is to buy this adapter and plug in your SSD to your current computer, clone straight to the SSD, shut down and swap, and boom you should be ready to go. Plus you'll be able to recover all your friends' drives if their computers crash in the future. PS if you do this do not handle the drive with your fingers, use the static bag it came with.
posted by phaedon at 3:53 PM on December 12, 2012

In step 4 I meant take the spin drive out.
posted by phaedon at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2012

- I have a cable bundled with my new SSD. Cloning HDD to SSD was my original plan but I started to look around learned that a clean install+Migration Assistant was best practice, in order to avoid bring over 'cruft' (new word to me).
- From what I understand, before I can even download Mountain Lion, I have to update to Snow Leopard so I can access the App Store which isn't available through Leopard.
posted by Brian Lux at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2012

That's right you have to upgrade to Snow Leopard and then the latest version of that in order to get access to the App Store. Which I think is 10.6.8. From there you should be able to purchase Mountain Lion and skip Lion. Think of it as a Combo Updater.

What kind of cable do you have bundle with the SSD?
posted by phaedon at 4:41 PM on December 12, 2012

Maybe somebody else is more qualified than me to speak on this, but I personally have never used migration assistant and have been using macs for years and have gone through a lot of equipment.

I mean, if your concern is "cruft" then why use an automated method to transfer information? Just do a clean install and bring everything over manually. I'm not a fan of Apple magic when it comes to things like "migration assistant" and "time machine." Which is not to say they don't have their use. I'm just anal.

I don't mean to confuse you any further but what I would suggest you do if you really want to start "clean" and are in a position to reinstall your apps and shit, is:

1. upgrade your spin drive all the way to Mountain Lion.
2. Follow any set of instructions online on how to create a bootable ML non-startup drive and do that to your 1tb external. Make sure it boots.
3. Swap out your internal drive.
4. Boot from the external and install ML on the SSD.

Make sense? Somewhere in there you'll have to make sure you have a backup of your data. I mean, if you really do have a cable like the one I linked to then you should be able to plug in your internal spin drive as an external just so you can pull the data off of it.
posted by phaedon at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2012

Thanks for all your help phaedon. I'm a little unsure about the what a bootable non-startup drive means but I'm sure it will all make sense following the relevant instructions out there. In your last step by step I'm not actually cloning the whole HDD to the external am I? Could I just as easily create a bootable non startup drive on a USB stick? Is that effectively what what Lion Diskmaker mentioned by Holgate carries out?

Btw this shows the cable I've got with the SSD.
posted by Brian Lux at 12:36 PM on December 13, 2012

So I've done it and I'm pretty happy with the short term results - everything happens quicker. According to the Black Magic app my MBP is reading at 180ish and writing at 250ish which I think is about right for a 2009 5,5 - please correct me if I'm wrong - with its SATA II spec. Later MBPs have SATA III and get read/writes in the 400s.

So, if you are in my boat, running Leopard and want to upgrade your SSD this is what to do:

1. Get hold of Snow Leopard. Apparently if you call Apple care and they might send you out a copy of it for free. Alternatively borrow a disk or download it from wherever you can find a reliable copy.

2. If you download it, as I did, you will need to turn the .dmg file of Snow Leopard into a Snow Leopard USB installer. Get yourself a min 8gb USB thumb drive, following instructions here. (There's no audio commentary which makes it slightly unclear. I ignored what his cursor did between .53s-1.30s because I think he was just looking round for what to click next)

3. Switch MBP off, restart holding alt, choose the USB drive, then choose the main HDD to install on. Once installed check for snow leopard updates.

4. Eject USB Snow Leopard installer. Go to app store feature - download mountain lion.

5. Before installing Mountain Lion download Lion Diskmaker

6. Insert a min 8gb USB thumbdrive and start up Lion Diskmaker - choose all the steps to create a Mountain Lion USB thumbdive then let it do its stuff.

7. When that's finished eject the USB and install Mountain Lion on your MBP and then switch off and leave it to cool down before opening up.

8. Follow this video for putting in the SSD.

9. And then follow this video to clean install Mountain Lion onto the new SSD.

10. Once the installation is complete the MBP will restart and take you through the Mountain Lion set up when it will ask you whether you want to transfer everything from your old drive. At this point I ejected the Mountain Lion USB, put my old HDD in an enclosure and plugged it in and told the ML set up to bring everything over. You might want to do it manually.

And that's it. No problems so far. Only a couple of applications have been made obsolete by the OS upgrade. I haven't installed TRIM as most forums say it's redundant on the Samsung 830. Swapping out the DVD/CD drive is tempting but I don't want to put another spin drive in there for bulk storage. Might wait a year and see what the prices are like for an even larger SSD to put there.

I've probably just restated what everyone here has already said and maybe there are some redundant steps in the process but...it works. Thanks to all your help.
posted by Brian Lux at 2:57 AM on December 19, 2012

« Older Put your back into it!   |   Coffee is a work expense because it just is Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.