Disk space is a funny thing. You buy a disk, think it will last you ages and then half a year later you are pushed for space. This has happened to my MacBook Pro. The 120Gb hard drive inside is nearly full, and the 150Gb external drive powering both a Time Machine backup and some general storage is pushing 100% capacity. As a result I need more space. I am going to discuss with you today, how you can increase the disk space on your Mac by plugging in new hard drives giving you that all important space.
There are 3 main methods of increasing hard disk space. Internal hard drive, external hard drive and a network attached unit. They vary in price range and capabilities. As a side note, any prices I give in this post are rough approximations. You will have to do your own research. I will also try and find drives which are around 1Tb in size. Since this is a price point which is affordable and has *plenty* to last. I highly doubt 1Tb will last long, the way I am going through it.
The Macs that I will be focusing on today are the iMac, Mac Pro and MacBook/Pro. The mini is not included but it is very similar to the setup I am going to discuss with the MacBooks. If you have older Macs they will probably still follow these lines. If you want to raise any questions or have a better idea, please leave them in the comments.
A internal hard drive is probably the route you want to try first if you are expanding your disk capacity. The basic idea behind this is to add a second drive into the computer. The other two method that I will discuss are more external. An internal drive has the benefits of being more secure, as well as less prone to accidents and generally being in the way.
Probably the easiest way to add storage to a Mac Pro is to add a hard disk to one of the four internal bays. A Mac Pro can take 4Tb of disk storage. Simply open up the case, take out a drive bay and insert a new drive. Officially, the only Mac in the line up in which you can do this. For more information check out the user guide.
By default there is no way to add internal storage for your iMac. Which is a real shame, I am sure Apple could have made an ergonomic method of inserting another drive. The best method if you want an internal only solution is to replace the hard drive by taking the computer apart. You will first have to clone your current hard drive onto the new drive with a tool like Carbon Copy Cloner. Only if you know what you are doing would I suggest this method.
My laptop is in this list and unfortunately there is no real room for you to insert another drive. You have two options at this point, upgrade your existing drive or add a second one replacing your optical disk drive. I hardly ever use my disk drive, as a result it is rich pickings for a hard drive. This very cool trick, take your optical drive out, replaces it with a special mould so everything inside doesn’t fall apart and puts a 500Gb drive in its place. As a result you get two drives, one is your original and the second is where you optical drive used to reside. You can get this very cool product from OptiBay. It is a little expensive, but one of the most unique products I have seen for a long time. I am not sure if it works with the new MacBook range, you will have to enquire. I was considering this option at one point, but I didn’t have the cash flow.
One of the most common ways to expand your storage is through an external drive. This is basically a hard drive in a box, plugged into your Mac through either USB or Firefire. It is a simple way to easily expand as well as pretty cheap. It can be used across any Mac with a USB port. It is also very versatile, since you can pick what drive you want, and where you want to put it. You can also leave the drive at home so it can act as a backup drive.
There are a couple of methods for external drives. You can either buy a package, or do it yourself. The prices range from the bare bones to quite an expensive RAID setup. It all depends on how much storage you are willing to pay for. For example a MyBook is around the $90 mark. You get the nice packaging, all of the lights etc. It is a very good option. My favourite method is to buy your own caddy and drive separately. The one I recommend is this caddy, it comes packages by various brands but it works and 1Tb drive which you can get for only £70.
A diy external drive is cheaper and it gives you the room to expand later. It doesn’t take two seconds to pull out an old drive and stick in a newer larger version. On the other hand the all in ones from MyBook, for example, look a lot nicer and a probably better for people who are not to good with the details of technology.
The final way to upgrade the storage on your Mac is to use a Network Attached Storage device. These drives are very similar to an external drive which you plug into your USB slot. The one big difference is that it is plugged into your router instead. Usually NAS’ offer a lot more features such as the data being available to every one on a network. The only down side I find with a NAS is the speed. They are a lot slower since data has to travel over your network. Unless you have tuned your Ethernet to run as fast as possible (which I can never do) it will never seem as fast as USB.
I personally recommend a Buffalo NAS drive if you want to go down the NAS route. My father has one on his home network and it works really well. It acts like a normal disk. It does take a bit more setup for the system itself and on your Mac. But for anyone who wants a way of increasing storage on all of your computers in the house, a NAS is a feasible option.
If you want to upgrade HDD space you have three options, internal upgrade which is the most complicated, External drive which is the cheapest and finally a NAS. I prefer an external USB hard drive. I have a couple stacked up next to my Mac. They are simple to use and offer a lot of storage. The only problem I am facing now is the lack of USB ports. If you want to find cheap hard drives I would check out Amazon since they usually have the best deals.
If you have any more tips or tricks, or even a completely different method for upgrading disk storage on your Mac please leave a comment. If you have a really inventive way of adding space I would love to hear it. Using drives from other computers, isn’t really fair. Since you are just moving space around and not actually gaining anything.