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Replacing Macbook Pro Disk Drive with SSD


About a month and a half ago, I upgraded the standard Hitachi 250 GB SATA drive in my MacBook Pro 15 inch (unibody style) to the new Crucial C300 SSD. So far, the experience has been great. Have been able to achieve reboot time (shut down and restart) of 16.5 seconds and boot time of 13.5 seconds.

 

The applications seem to be responding so much better, no more jumping icons in the dock when you try to open an application. Results are impressive so far. There might be subtle differences when it comes to certain applications themselves, example receiving emails in Apple Mail or Outlook 2011, Chat or voice within Skype, Web Applications, etc. Microsoft Office files absolutely seem to respond very quickly.

 

After using the other Macbook Pro 13 inch at home that doesn’t have the SSD, one starts realizing the impact an SSD can create on application performance.

 

After a week of the SSD upgrade, I performed a memory upgrade on the system (4GB to 8GB).

 

Honestly that didn’t not make any visible impact on reboot times, on boot time and applications performance (atleast non visible so far). It does take more time for the Macbook Pro to go to sleep now compared to when there was 4GB cache. All the cache data has to be typically dumped over to the SSD before the system would go in sleep mode.

 

The cache upgrade didn’t seem to be necessary if you plan to upgrade the Macbook Pro to a SSD.

 

Did quite a bit of research and settled on the Crucial C300 – 256GB SSD. Didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an SSD, like buying the new Intel 500GB SSD. I think more than performance, you might want to look at your budget in relation to choosing your drive (I live by one principle, don’t spend a lot of money on electronic devices to get top of the line (fully configured), rather buy an electronic gadget (latest version but with less configs) less memory/cpu, use it for a few years and move on to new technology, eg an iphone 4 with 8GB cache or an ipad with 16GB cache or an ipod nano instead of a traditional ipod).

 

Step 1: Decision

Decide what is important in terms of Data Storage for you. You have two options

1) Replace the Disk Drive with a SSD, replace the SuperDrive with a Disk Drive and use it for additional storage

2) Leave the super drive as is and only replace the disk drive with the SSD.

If you would still like to use your superdrive, you might have to settle with only a SSD in the system and may have to move your uncritical / unimportant data over to an external drive. If you can discard your superdrive, you will be able to mount the Disk Drive in place of the superdrive using a specialized bracket available in the market.

In my case, I got rid of the Disk Drive and replaced it with the SSD, kept the SuperDrive intact.

 

Step 2: Buy the Drive

Decide on the drive, purchase it. For installation, you have a choice of installing it yourself or driving to an Apple store to get it done. The cost of installing the SSD might exceed over a few hundred dollars at the Apple store and they might have to ship it offsite to a centralized Apple facility to do that, leaving you without a computer for a few days.

This process of replacing the disk drive with an SSD is quite simple and you will be able to do it yourself. Read the rest of the blog carefully and also do the necessary research before finalizing details. The movie created and attached below will help you through the process of replacing the disk drive with a SSD.

 

Step 3: Backup

Backup your data using TimeMachine or a program of your choice. You might have to restore your data in a catastrophic failure, you should always verify and have a good backup. TimeMachine is excellent and does a great job at backup.

 

Step 4: Data Cleansing

If you plan to do a raw copy of all your data from the disk drive to SSD using tools like Disk Jockey, then please verify you try to clean your disk drive data as much as possible.

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Tools like MacCleanse and Disk Inventory X are very useful. Go through it and try to clean whatever you can and whatever you don’t need. Lots of data which could include log files, browser data, archive data, trash can, etc will be cleaned during this process. If you are running MacCleanse and Disk Inventory X for the first time, it may take a long time to clean up your data (couple of hours).

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If you plan to do a fresh install of MAC OSX, then cleaning the drive might not be a big requirement as you can just restore the files from your TimeMachine backup when your SSD is up and running.

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Also during the review process on my disk drive, I found, TimeMachine had a local backup on my drive consuming more than 90GB of space on my existing disk drive, that I was able to clear. Disk Inventory X is a great program to do that.

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If you are using VMware Fusion or Parallels, check to see if you can somehow manage to shrink your Windows Image and it is not bloated even though you might have cleared some data files from it. It is typically challenging to shrink Virtual Images.

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Also go through the Mac Disk Utility to Verify permissions and Repair Permissions on the Disk Drive.

 

Step 5: Review Console Messages

Review Console messages to verify if you have any unwanted software/applications or any MAC binary files that may be causing a typical delay in boot up process. During the review process you may find many apps installed in the .plist and system library extensions that may be hanging up the MAC OSX, causing bootup delays and causing application performance degradation.

During review of my MacBook Pro, I found there was Symantec Antivirus I had installed a while back and then immediately uninstalled but during boot process MAC OSX was trying to load the binaries. Had to delete some .plist files and some system library extensions based on the warnings / error messages in the console.

 

Step 6: Install the Drive

Watch the Video on the installation instructions

Turn your MacBook Pro off completely and disconnect the power to the system.

 

 

Step 7: Power Up the System

Power up the Macbook Pro and login in to the system, wait for the boot process to finish and applications to load.

Now reboot your system and clock the boot up time. Hope you see an amazing difference.

Best approach would be to do some benchmarking with your original Disk Drive and then try to run benchmarks against your new SSD. You can use XBENCH to do some basic benchmarking, you can download it here, http://storagenerve.com/downloads/tools/

 

Step 8: Data Cleansing

Run through another round of data cleansing using Inventory X and MacCleanse. Both these products should be free on the market. Review your apps and see if there are any apps you haven’t been using or do not plan to use in the future that you might want to completely discard.

  • Verify Disk permissions (in Disk Utility) and if any errors, please fix them.

When I initially installed the SSD, my reboot times were down from 2 mins 30 seconds to 35 seconds. Again 35 seconds of reboot time is pretty high in an SSD mode. That got me to research a few things and some orphaned apps still sitting in my plist were messing things up in the MAC OSX.

 

Step 9: Review Console logs

Review all the log files from shut down to reboot. Use your computer for a few days and review logs to find any unwanted / unnecessary processes that might be hanging up or causing delays in applications to load on your MAC OSX.

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The DSMOS arrival process took 32 seconds on my Macbook Pro with the disk drive, with the SSD it was down to 17 seconds. But 17 seconds is quite unacceptable, the process should finish up in a second or two.  That got me to research further more and the underlying issue were security permissions on my root directories.

By the way DSMOS stands for DON’T STEAL MAC OS X.

Here is a nice forum that I ran into during the research http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1025946

After applying the following command set, the DSMOS arrival was less than 1.5 seconds

terminal:
cd /
sudo chown root:admin /.

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If your MAC OSX has a configured Directory server (Active Directory Login/password validation), you might want to verify without the presence of one while you are rebooting or connecting after sleep mode, that your MAC is not hanging up on any of those processes.

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Also ran into some issues with Google Updater Apps and eventually decided to remove as they were really not being used.

If you have programs like Picasa, Chrome, etc, it uses launches these daemons during the boot process. Today for my Chrome, I have to kickoff a manual check for new software update.

http://timesinker.blogspot.com/2008/10/stopping-all-osx-google-background.html

 

Step 10: Benchmarking

Hope you had some benchmarking done with your old Disk Drive in the Macbook Pro. Now would be a chance to do some benchmarking around the newly installed SSD in your system and see the differences. Please see next section if you enable TRIM, you might want to run a benchmark before you enable TRIM and one after you enable TRIM.

 

Step 11: TRIM

TRIM support has recently been enabled on MAC OSX 10.6.7. I haven’t yet enabled TRIM, the scare has always been around corruption associated with TRIM.

 

Please make sure you have a backup of your data before you enable TRIM. The creator of the patch nor I take any responsibilities around TRIM support, it might cause data corruption on your drive. Consistently verify you have a good backups and backup your computer every day.

 

Step 12: Careful

  • Try not to use Secure Trash Erase on the Mac once you have the SSD installed.
  • For the first few uses, please verify and see if your MAC isn’t heating up or the fan is continuously spinning at high RPM’s.
  • Always have backup of your data
  • Turn off HFS+ Journaling

 

** Happy SSD Upgrading…

 

  • Anonymous

    How did installing the SSD affect your battery life?  I’m seeing a large drop in battery performance since installing mine….

  • Tiago

    My battery life also got worse when using the SSD. It’s the price you pay for the performance, as in my case the Kingston SV100 SSD (1A) chews more power than the stock Hitachi HDD (0.6A).

  • Tiago

    Why do you disable the HFS+ Journaling on the SSD?

  • dbau12

    Is this possible with the newer macbook pros? I’m purchasing the 15 inch and they want to charge me 500 dollars to upgrade to a 250GB SSD. Any thoughts on whether it’d be more efficient for me to attempt this myself?

  • http://twitter.com/anveshreddyj anvesh

    Done you need to install OS X on the SSD ?

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