Help me upgrade my Macbook's hard drive
May 30, 2006 8:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy a new Macbook as a secondary computer, however, I want it to be the sole host to my 60gb iPod. I currently have a Toshiba laptop, which has an 80BG hard drive. After two years of use, I've realized I need at least a 120 GB hard drive in any new laptop I get. I don't want to shell out the cash for Apple to throw an upgraded drive in ($250!!!!), but instead I want to buy a new hard drive off ebay or something and replace the 80GB one inside the fresh Macbook. Since I'm only accustomed to the Windows OS -- How do I go about doing this for an Apple computer? Also, does anyone know where I can get a good deal on a laptop drive? :)

Other than cloning a drive on OS X, as I understand it I will need a 2.5" SATA drive for the Macbook. Are all laptop drives SATA?

Your help is greatly appreciated!
posted by drkrdglo to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Any reason for not getting an external hard drive?
posted by chrisroberts at 8:30 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: I should bang my head on the wall right about now. Sorry... it's late :)

Now that, that question is answered... I still have two more!

1) Anyone know where I can find a good deal on a 120 gb laptop drive?

2) Are "Ultra ATA" drives the same as "SATA"?
posted by drkrdglo at 8:31 PM on May 30, 2006

Best answer: You can use CCC on systems that already have data you'd like to keep, but in your case, you wouldn't need to on a fresh install - just reinstall the OS as above.

Here's some guides.

SATA laptop drives.
posted by kcm at 8:31 PM on May 30, 2006

Best answer: What odinsdream said: put in the new drive, then install Mac OS from the DVDs that come with the MacBook.

No, all laptop drives are not SATA. Adoption of SATA in notebooks is lagging behind that in desktops. For example, Seagate's 160GB Momentus 5400.3 is available in PATA, but won't be available in SATA to consumers until 2007. The Momentus 5400.2 and 7200.1 are avaiable in SATA and come up to 120GB, and are generally the best drives people are actually able to buy.

If the drive is "IDE", "Ultra ATA", "PATA", "Parallel ATA", or "ATA-6", it is not SATA.
posted by zsazsa at 8:32 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: To Chris:

I have an external now and it's a pain when you want to access some sort of media and you're away from home (which I am, a lot). If I have 50GB of music, 10 GB of video, and an 80GB hard drive really only has 77GB that's actually usable, then I only have 17 GB left for recordings, programs, and files. 120gb would just be more convenient --- HECK, all even bargain basement desktop computers have at least 120gb HDs in them.

I still can't figure out why laptops are so far behind? If they can put 60gb in a thin iPod -- can't they put a few of those together and make a 180gb hd for a laptop? They'll probably have higher capacity flash drives available for laptops before they ever reach high(er) capacity hard drives.
posted by drkrdglo at 8:37 PM on May 30, 2006

If you bought a sensible MP3 player, you wouldn't need to have to worry about "hosts" or whatnot, just rip music to mp3s and play them wherever you want.
posted by delmoi at 8:47 PM on May 30, 2006

I imagine you would install the drive, and then boot the computer with the OS X installation disc.

There's an OS X installation disc?
posted by bingo at 8:57 PM on May 30, 2006

There's an OS X installation disc?

It is packaged with a new computer. It can also be purchased separately.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:59 PM on May 30, 2006

If you bought a sensible MP3 player, you wouldn't need to have to worry about "hosts" or whatnot, just rip music to mp3s and play them wherever you want.

The iPod does not need a host, I hook it up to many computers and just drag MP3 files right over to it and play them wherever I want...

To the OP: you can just keep the files on your iPod, not the computer. The iPod is a capable hard drive on its own. Yes, you should make backups of it, but you don't need your computer to "host" the iPod. It is a very sensible MP3 player in that regard.
posted by neustile at 9:16 PM on May 30, 2006

If you bought a sensible MP3 player, you wouldn't need to have to worry about "hosts" or whatnot, just rip music to mp3s and play them wherever you want.

It's actually very nice to have a backup of the music without, you know, being one of those responsible people who backs stuff up regularly. I was annoyed at first, but when friends "sensible" mp3 players crash and they lose all their music, I've come to appreciate it very much.

About the question itself. . . beware because I think you'll likely be voiding your macbook's 1 year warranty by doing this upgrade yourself. (It's not completely clear in the MacBook's Warranty.)

And I'm not sure if you'll save yourself too much money. . . SATA drives are expensive, for example this 120 GB drive will set up back $320.
posted by visual mechanic at 9:17 PM on May 30, 2006

oh and by the way, you can of course set it up so that the music is just on the iPod and not on your computer too. But again, I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by visual mechanic at 9:18 PM on May 30, 2006

The "sensibility" of the iPod is an option. When you first connect your iPod to a new copy of iTunes, it nicely asks you what you would like to do -- "sync" (keep a copy on both) or not. I personally choose not to sync and instead backup once in a while as laptop drive space is small and I have a 60GB iPod. Not syncing also gives you the freedom of managing your iPod among multiple computers.
posted by neustile at 9:20 PM on May 30, 2006

what VM said, except I do recommend it :)
posted by neustile at 9:20 PM on May 30, 2006

You're not going to save much money at *all* by trying the "buy a drive off eBay" route. That seems like a really bad idea.

Apple only dings you $150 for that 100gb drive - the same drive at newegg is about $120. So you've saved $30 (and that's not counting tax & shipping) and voided your warranty on a brand new laptop. That's kind of a dumb thing to do.
If that extra 20 gb is something you absolutely must have, I'd suggest just buying it from Apple. They used to be a lot worse at charging for extra stuff, but not so bad anymore.

FYI: a Seagate 120gb SATA HD (laptop) seems to be going for $319. So you're not going to save money at all.

I'd just spend the extra money and get the drive you want at order time.

And ignore the stupid comment about a "sensible mp3 player." The iPod works just fine.
posted by drstein at 10:17 PM on May 30, 2006

Best answer: Err.. that $319 Seagate SATA drive seems way off on price. Newegg has the OEM drive for just $135.

If you're very comfortable with opening up laptops to replace parts, then get the 120gb SATA drive from Newegg and replace the stock 60gb. The stock 60gb drive can go into an external enclosure for an external HD. I'd also recommend buying RAM at the same time for upgrading from 512MB to 1GB or 2GB and save on shipping costs. (Don't buy RAM from Apple!)

Compared with the iBook G4, it's pretty damn easy to replace the RAM and HD now. Here's a video on YouTube that shows a MacWorld guy doing it all in 50 seconds. From what I've read, properly replacing the drive does NOT void the warranty. If you break the MacBook in the process though, then the warranty is voided.
posted by junesix at 10:36 PM on May 30, 2006

Oops, I linked to the 100gb drive at Newegg. However, the $319 figure still seems high compared to other estimates.
posted by junesix at 10:45 PM on May 30, 2006

Hm, I can't find the post now, but the MacBook hard drive is easily replaced by removing the battery and popping a shield off, so they have been completely redesigned from the arduous task that replacing the drive was in the old iBooks to make it, in fact, super easy to upgrade the hard drive. I bet if you search a little more than I did you'll find the pictures someone took of the drive bay in the MacBook.
posted by smallerdemon at 11:00 PM on May 30, 2006

For those that say that apple's price is not so bad, don't forget that, if you do it yourself, you get to keep the 60gb drive you take out! $20 on an enclosure and you've got yourself a nice portable HDD as well.

Considering that newegg charge $80 for a 60gb SATA drive, this means you are really saving about $80 - $100 doing it yourself (assuming you can find a use for / sell a portable 60gb drive).
posted by ranglin at 11:06 PM on May 30, 2006

I linked applications to clone a drive, a guide with illustrations, and a selection of SATA drives above. Just.. FYI.
posted by kcm at 11:19 PM on May 30, 2006

Best answer: a word to the wise: don't do any special configuration of your machine on apple's store.


then it becomes a CTO (configure-to-order) machine, and if you read the store fine print, a CTO machine is not returnable unconditionally during the 10-day window after purchase. a stock machine is.

my new macbook has a bad DVD burner, and after a trip to the apple store and 2 calls to applecare, i was not able to convince them that reinstalling the software or creating a new user would/did not fix the problem. at that point, i decided i just wanted to return the machine and buy another one... and shortly thereafter i discovered that i couldnt, because i had ordered it with 1GB of ram.

the story has a happy ending, as in the end i was able to convince them that the drive was bad. apple's policy in this case is to replace the whole machine, rather than send it in for repairs. but had i not been able to convince them, i'd be very sad right now.

so i guess what i'm saying is: do the ram and HD upgrades yourself. the macbook is by far the easiest-to-upgrade apple laptop ever, so take advantage of that fact and do it yourself. i doubt that apple could ever prove that you voided your warrantee just by upgrading what are intentionally user-servicable parts.
posted by joeblough at 11:35 PM on May 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

i didn't read all the way through the post, so if you answered this, then sorry....

but I was also going to mention the external drive. However, you don't need a huge one.

For about $80-90 you could pick up a [b]2.5 inch[/b] external drive that is powered off a 2nd usb cable. I say you get one of those guys and use it to store your itunes library.

That way you only hook it up to the macbook when needed to access your library, and at other times just leave it in the laptop case...

those 2.5 inch drives are about as big as your ipod
posted by TheDude at 11:50 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for their input! There have been many great points made within this posting -- issues I never thought about like the CTO vs. Warranty issue.

After considering all options, the safest and most cost efficient route would be to buy the 120GB Seagate HD from eWiz for $180.
That way I'll save myself $70, I'll have an extra 60GB external hard drive for future use, and most of all I'll able to return the Macbook if I decide that I'm not satisfied with it in the first few days.

As a side note to the iPod sub-debate going on -- Try to manage 50GB of music manually, then tell me to "buy a sensible MP3 player." Even if someone tries to manually use an iPod + iTunes there are bound to be many songs that person either misses in the "check to update" box or flat out forgets he/she added to the music library. The iPod + iTunes was designed to be an automated and with a big library it does a great job doing just that!
posted by drkrdglo at 5:30 AM on May 31, 2006

Even if someone tries to manually use an iPod + iTunes there are bound to be many songs that person either misses in the "check to update" box or flat out forgets he/she added to the music library. The iPod + iTunes was designed to be an automated and with a big library it does a great job doing just that!

I still disagree, but obviously this is your preference. When I get a new song, either by ripping or downloading, I drag it right to the iPod icon in iTunes on whatever computer I am on. I never have to worry about syncing or missing tracks, and I never have to worry about having all my stuff linked to one computer's collection (i.e. I can hook it into a friend's computer and grab songs off of them.)

I don't consider this "managing music manually" -- iTunes/iPod is still doing all the work of collecting stuff, it's just that all the files reside on the iPod hard drive rather than my laptop's / work computer's.
posted by neustile at 8:25 AM on May 31, 2006

No dude, it's not off on price. you're looking at the wrong drive. Go back and check again. You quoted the 100gb drive.

"Seagate Momentus 5400.2 ST9100824AS 100GB 5400 RPM 8MB Cache Serial ATA150 Notebook Hard Drive - OEM"

(on preview: I see you mentioned that, but a few of the links on froogle are either for refurb drives, or they show that they're out of stock.)

the OP mentioned the 120gb drive, for which there actually is a significant price jump.

And holy crap, they really DID re-design it. I've taken apart many iBooks in the past and it was a serious PITA. As of this morning, I have a MacBook sitting right here (not mine, tho) and it really is simple to replace the drive.

Ok, drkrdglo, go ahead and do it. I didn't realize that it was that easy now. You have my official blessing. :-P
posted by drstein at 11:02 AM on May 31, 2006

Best answer: Just as a note, here's what you used to have to go through to replace an iBook's hard drive.
posted by blueberry at 1:24 PM on May 31, 2006

Response by poster: Blueberry:

I almost cried when I saw what you had to do in order to replace the HD in your iBook. I kept scrolling through the pictures thinking, "When the hell does he finally get to the hard drive?!"

It looks like the only way to make it harder to change a HD in an iBook is to guard it with a few folks from our armed forces.
posted by drkrdglo at 8:20 PM on May 31, 2006

Yeah, it was pretty much a case of removing everything that wasn't the hard drive just to get to the hard drive—there certainly wasn't much left of the rest by the time I got there. I half feared that I'd get the whole thing taken apart only to find a note saying

"Ran to the store for a quart of milk. Back in a jiffy.
–your hard drive"

posted by blueberry at 9:30 AM on June 1, 2006

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