Make my aging Macbook great again.
June 25, 2016 4:01 PM   Subscribe

My Mid-2010 Macbook Pro, which currently runs Mavericks, has been fuddy-duddying around as of late. Beachball city. As such, I finally pulled the trigger on upgrading my hardware: I bought a new SSD (the Samsung 850 EVO 500gb 2.5'') and 16gb of RAM. I'm preparing to install the SSD, and am trying to figure out how best to migrate my data from the old hard drive to the new one. I'm also wondering whether now would be a good time to upgrade to El Capitan. Help?

Here are the specific questions I've got:

(1.0) Is a fresh install of the OS desirable here, or more of a PITA than it's worth? I was all set to start fresh but then I read this and now I'm second-guessing myself. In fact, most of my questions arose after reading this article. I didn't think this process would be particularly arduous, but that's the way it's described, so perhaps I am wrong. Maybe the difficulty there stems from the fact there's only one drive in play?

(1.1) Assuming I do a fresh install, can I just install the fresh copy of the OS onto my new drive, then migrate my files from my externally-stored Time Machine backup? Will this, per the above article, "violate the spirit" of a fresh install?

(1.2) Can the OS I install onto the new drive be El Capitan, even though my Time Machine backup was backed up from a Mavericks system?

(1.2.1) Should I upgrade to El Capitan, anyway?

(2.0) Assuming I don't do a fresh install for whatever reason, does that mean my only option is cloning my old drive onto my new one?

(3.0) I've been reading a lot of conflicting information on TRIM and whether I should enable (?) TRIM. Should I do this if I stick with Mavericks? If I switch to El Capitan?

Thanks, all. If there's something obvious I'm missing concerning any part of this process, please let me know.
posted by sevensnowflakes to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My personal technique (which assumes you don't use boot camp):

1. Get a cheap USB dock and plug the SSD into it
2. Use Disk Utility to format the SSD (OS X Extended, GUID Partition Map)
2. Run Carbon Copy Cloner to clone existing HD to the SSD
3. Power down the computer
4. Swap the drives and install the RAM per relevant iFixit instructions for your machine
5. Boot and run System Preferences -> Privacy -> FileVault to encrypt the new drive

My personal answers:
1.0 More of a PITA than it's worth unless there's a specific problem with your install you're trying to fix.
1.1 Yes, fresh copy and then migrate from Time Machine is possible. Since the OS files will be new, it will still be a "fresh install". But that's not a huge deal in the Mac world, especially not these days.
1.2 Yes, you can migrate files from an old OS onto the new OS.
1.2.1 Up to you. It's free and not bad.
2.0 Yeah, you should really clone if you're not installing from scratch.
3.0 Enabling TRIM is a good idea, but you don't need to do it right away or as part of this process.
posted by eschatfische at 4:24 PM on June 25, 2016

I did find that El Capitan drastically improved my memory pressure on my old 2009 Macbook Pro. It just manages memory better than Mavericks/Yosemite.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 5:54 PM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I tech at the Mac place I go to said they had quite a bit of trouble upgrading MacBooks from Maverick to Yosemite, citing 32 to 64 bit problems. I didn't get anymore detail than that. I guess you would need to determine if your machine is 32 bit or not.
posted by falsedmitri at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2016

"I did find that El Capitan drastically improved my memory pressure on my old 2009 Macbook Pro. It just manages memory better than Mavericks/Yosemite."

My experience exactly.
posted by NumberSix at 9:27 PM on June 26, 2016

Yes, agreed: El Capitan upgrade helped my wife's aging 2008 MacBook immensely. Whatever they did under the hood in the new OS had a big impact on the machine.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:52 AM on June 27, 2016

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