Upgrading an aging Macbook Pro

My middle-aged MacBook Pro

I have an aging MacBook Pro. It has a Core 2 Duo processor. I’ve upgraded the RAM to the maximum 8GB that it supports and last year I upgraded to a 240GB SSD from Other World Computing. Battery life doesn’t compare to a modern laptop; even with a good condition replacement battery I don’t think it will run more than a couple of hours on battery. However, it still does what I need to do. I have it on a Griffin Elevator stand and I love the still-beautiful 15″ 1440 x 900 display.

My issue is that I’ve filled up the 240GB hard drive and I’m getting ready to take a digital photography class. I know that I’m going to have a bunch of large photographs that I want to edit on the MacBook – so it’s time to upgrade or replace this machine. I also use this machine to run various Linux VM’s under VirtualBox and those need storage also. Given that SSD discs continue to drop in price, and this machine is otherwise adequate, I decided to upgrade the hard drive again. This will be the last upgrade, I’m sure, but hopefully, I’ll get another year or 18 months out of the machine.

Drive from OWC

I’ve had good success with Other World Computing in the past and their pricing seems fair. I bought a 480GB SSD along with their “OWC Express” kit, which provides an external case, cable, and tools. The total for the drive and case was about $220. Note: I bought a 3Gb/s SATA II drive. This is on the recommendation of OWC, as my MB Pro doesn’t support the faster SATA III 6Gb/s rate. You can see more information on drive performance for this particular MB Pro at OWC’s site.

Case, cable and tools

Carbon Copy Cloner

The next step is to download Carbon Copy Cloner, if you don’t already have it. CCC is terrific software and they provide a 30 day trial period for the software. If you decide to buy it to use as a backup solution, it costs $40 or so.

Temporarily Connecting New Disk

The next step is to temporarily mount the new external disk in the external enclosure and then to connect it to the MB Pro using the provided USB cable.

New disk detected; initializing and cloning

If everything is working correctly, you’ll get a message like the following. I went ahead and initialized the new external drive. I carefully named it something different from the internal drive and waited for the process to complete.

Cloning and testing

I then rebooted the computer and verified that the Mac saw the old disk and the new disk. Once the disk was initialized, I started up Carbon Copy Cloner and just followed the instructions from the OWC page  to clone all of the data from the old drive to the new one. You need to go slow and triple-check that everything looks correct before starting the process as the cloning process completely erases the target drive. It took about 90 minutes to copy all of the data from the old drive to the new drive. Carbon Copy Cloner has some very nice safety features. It will prompt you to create a recovery partition on the new drive and it will alert you if it detects problems that might lead to data loss.

Once everything was cloned, I rebooted the Mac and held down the Option key on boot. This enables me to verify that the new drive has both the cloned data and the OSX recovery partition. As a last check, I selected the external drive and booted from it to verify that everything worked correctly. Once everything checked out, I then shut down my Mac and followed the instructions on how to remove and exchange the drives. I put the old drive in the external case and put the new drive into the machine.

And that’s it – now I’ve got plenty of reasonably fast storage for my old beast. I’m a fan of OWC’s products and their videos and support documents.