Can I swap MacBook Pro hard drives?
January 31, 2013 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Today, I purchased a new 13" MacBook Pro, model MD101LL/A, which I believe is a June 2012 model. I have an existing, working 13" MacBook Pro from early 2011. Can I just pull the hard drive out of the old one and stick it in the new one, or should I restore from a backup? Also, what are the odds the memory in the old one will work in the new one? Both are Core i5.

Thank you for your help.
posted by 4ster to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Being that hard drives have a somewhat limited lifespan, I'd just connect the two using a firewire 800 cable, put the old one in target disc mode (hold T while rebooting) and copy your data to the newer drive. You'll be prompted to do this when you turn it on the first time.
posted by Oktober at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm not sure why you'd want to pull an old HD out of your prior machine to put it in the shiny new one. Target disk mode seems the way to go to me.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2013

A couple of things: the old hdd is larger and I thought it might be much faster.
posted by 4ster at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2013

Is it a higher RPM? Also, you can always through it in a case and use it as an external.
posted by griphus at 2:04 PM on January 31, 2013

In general, 2.5" hard drives in Apple laptops can be swapped across different models of laptop and still work without issue, assuming that the operating system on the hard drive is contemporary with the production date of the machine (and thus has the appropriate hardware drivers for Apple products of that time). Meaning: if the hard drive in your 2011 13" Macbook Pro has been upgraded to Mountain Lion, it will likely work without a problem in your 2012 13" (non-retina) Macbook Pro, but if it's running Lion or Snow Leopard, you may have trouble.

The 2011 Macbooks used slower DDR3 1333 RAM than the 2012 Macbooks which use DDR3 1600Mhz RAM. I'd avoid trying to use the older RAM in the new laptop.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 2:11 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

HDD shouldn't be an issues. Apple products are pretty good about interchangeable hard drives. RAM, on the other hand? I've had terrible luck with intermixing RAM on Apple products. If they're using different specs as noted by EAT TAPAS, chances are it won't work. However, note that the worst that should happen if hardware's not compatible is it simply won't boot. You'll just sit there at the grey screen or get a bad BEEEEEEEEEEP.
posted by jmd82 at 2:54 PM on January 31, 2013

Macs don't seem terribly picky about hard drives. I've swapped out a drive (it was encrypted, even!) on my MBP by simply cloning the drive. OSX didn't seem to care a bit.

Re: the RAM, you can easily find MacBook memory upgrade kits for $40 or so (last I checked).
posted by neckro23 at 3:38 PM on January 31, 2013

A warning note: although you're unlikely to encounter major issues, the drivers on the HDD from your old system may not match up with the hardware in the new system. It might boot but you could experience some weird problems.

I recommend that you use the Migration Assistant to copy over your old data AND settings. That would be the smoothest and most guaranteed transition, and if you get a firewire cable it's pretty quick. If you need any instructions, memail me.

The old hard drive is almost certainly not faster. Firstly, 2011 models shipped with 5400 rpm drives, and 2012 models ship with either 5400 or 7200 rpm, so at MOST it'll be the same. There's also wear and tear which will make the old one slower.

I EAT TAPAS has it on the RAM. It would probably work, but will definitely be slower.
posted by fearnothing at 5:36 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I think this is exactly what Apple’s Migration Assistant is for.

According to the MacTracker app, your new Macbook Pro shipped with Mac OS X 10.7.4, while your old Macbook Pro shipped with Mac OS X 10.6.6 (or 10.6.7 on later units).

If your old Macbook Pro’s OS is anything less than 10.7.4, the new machine isn't going to like that OS being copied onto it. Your new Macbook Pro was designed (and most likely needs) to use at least 10.7.4 to function properly/reliably.

Migration Assistant should take care of this for you, copying over all of your documents, settings and accounts, but not anything potentially trouble-causing. (Even if your old machine is running 10.7.4, I'd still be wary of just duplicating the drive over... because of possible machine-specific drivers/enablers or whatever...)
posted by blueberry at 11:08 PM on February 2, 2013

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