Upgrading Your Mac’s Internal HDD (To An External One) 1

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Upgrading Your Mac’s Internal HDD (To An External One)

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The title is a bit complicated for what I am trying to achieve in this post. What I am going to cover is a way of upgrading your Mac’s internal Hard Disk Drive and then use this drive externally. I gained the idea from generally searching questions on the net, and from what I did quite a while ago. By the end of this you should a bigger capacity drive in your Mac, and an external Hard Drive to use for extra storage.

1) The first step is to work out what kind of disk your Mac currently holds. Most of the time this is obvious however it is always a good idea to check what type of drive your Mac is running with. To do this go to the Apple Menu > About This Mac > More Info. This will open the System Profiler. You have to do a little bit of detective work to find out what sort of drive you are using. In System Profiler select Serial-ATA under hardware. At this page you will be given a couple of bits of information, most of it is irrelevant, however there is a line called “Model” and a long alpha numeric number. This is the model of hard drive you are supporting. Copy and paste this line into Google and do a search. You should end up with a web page showing the type of hard drive you are using.

There are two points you should note, the physical size (in inches) and the interface speed. The physical size is needed because we want a new one to fit. It usually 2.5 inches for laptops and 3.5 inches for desktop drives. The interface speed (using SATA) is how fast your computer can talk to the drive. You need this number, usually 1.5Gb/s or 3Gb/s so you can get the best performance out of your drive. If you buy a drive that is slower than what you Mac can support you are losing out on potential speed. If you buy a drive that can run faster than what you what can support it really doesn’t matter. The hard drive you currently have installed will be optimised for your system so it is worth remembering what value you have.

At this point you should have two values written down for your hard drive. The size and the speed. We can now purchase a new drive and increase our hard drive space.

2) There are lots of hard drives which you can pick. I usually recommend you find one that is twice the size  (at least) of your current drive. If you sport a 120GB hard drive, find one that is 240Gb or 320Gb to get maximum usage out of it. Bigger is usually better. You can purchase hard drives from anywhere on the net, but I am going to use Amazon as a good place for examples.

There is plenty of examples for 3.5 Inch Hard Drives, on Amazon. The majority are really large and run at SATA 3Gb/s which means you get a lot of speed and a lot of space. Go for the largest hard drive you can afford. Check the reviews to get you are getting a good drive. You only want a bare drive/OEM.

On the laptop side of things, looking for 2.5 Inch Hard Drives, there is plenty to choose from. As with the desktop drives buy the biggest one possible, you will thank yourself in a year or two when you fill it up.

When you get your new drive you will copy files from your old hard drive using a caddy. You need will also need need to buy a caddy at this stage so skip ahead to the caddy section to see what sort of caddy you need to buy)

3) When your new drives arrives. It is time to swap the drives over. There are lots tutorials on the web, the best way to find a guide is to search the net to find one that works. I have found a couple, one for replacing a MacBook Pro, and an iMac. Find a guide, print it out (and this guide while you are at it) and replace your hard drive.

4) At this point you have a Mac with a blank drive. You now have to install an operating system. Find your boot disk that came with your Mac (or a newer version of Mac OS X if you have one)  and install a fresh operating system. If you have a Time Machine backup ask to restore from a backup. This will merge the new operating system with your applications and documents.

If you don’t have a Time Machine backup. Install Mac OS X, you can then transfer your files over later.

5) You now should have a freshly installed OS and a spare hard drive. It is now time to put it in a caddy and use it. On Amazon there is various SATA Enclosures, you want one that has SATA internals and a USB interface, similar to this one. When your caddy comes you can insert your old hard drive and use it as an external one. Most have the applicable adapters so you can use a laptop hard drive in a caddy as well.

6) All you have to do now is transfer and files over (if you haven’t already) and then format your hard drive. Format  your hard drive using Disk Utility in Applications > Utilities.

All done. By the end of it you have an upgraded internal hard drive and an external hard drive (your old one) which you can use for extra data storage.

If you have any questions for comments please leave a comment below.


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