Parallel Desktops

Upgrading The Hard Drive On My MacBook

Yeah, I know, I haven’t even had the machine for a week yet and I’m already looking to upgrade the hard drive. Well, I wanted more than the 120GB that came with the machine but Apple charges so much more for drives that I couldn’t justify it; not when I could simply buy a 2.5" hard drive off NewEgg and plop it into my machine.


So I set off to find a decent sized replacement drive. I take a lot of high end digital photos and my current library of photos runs over 44GB. In addition I shoot some video that I want to edit on my Mac, so 120GB gets shallow awfully quick.
I popped onto NewEgg and found the Western Digital Scorpio 320GB drive. Looked like a winner; nearly triple my existing space and only $179. I also picked up a small USB 2.0 enclosure from Bytecc so that I could set up my new drive properly and have a place for the 120GB drive once I removed it from the MacBook.
The first thing I did was plop the new WD drive into the Bytecc so that I could configure it. That took all of about 30 seconds. I plugged it into the USB port on my MacBook and it saw it, loaded up Disk Utility and I was prompted to set up the drive. I created a new, single partition on the drive and let her rip. It didn’t take long at all – I went upstairs to do a couple of things and when I came back down it was ready to go!
Next I loaded up Carbon Copy Cloner. Great little application for cloning your hard drive. That took all of about 12 minutes since I didn’t have too much on the machine yet.  Once that was done I had my two drives ready to go so it was time to do a little surgery.
I followed the directions that Apple provides for replacing your hard drive – it really is a simple DIY job. All that’s required is a coin to pop out the battery, a very small phillips head screw driver and (no one told me this one) and extremely small Torx drive. The only thing missing from the directions that Apple provides is that there are 4 small Torx screws that secure the small drive housing to the hard drive. Fortunately I happened to have one but if you’re considering doing this make sure you have a small Torx drive bit available.
It only took about 5 minutes to swap the drives and that was with me in full "meticulous" mode. Once the drive was in I fired up the Mac and everything worked! There was a very long delay at first, likely the BIOS detecting that a different drive was in there and having to reconfigure itself but after that it allowed me to log in normally.  I used the Spotlight to try and pull up Disk Utility and the machine had to think about that for a while. It needed to reindex everything, which took about 20 minutes with the CPU running at about 50%.
After the reindexing was complete the machine ran perfectly. The drive is just as whisper quiet as the last one and I am not experiencing any problems at all. As I type this I’m copying my digital photo library over from one of my internal servers – looking forward to seeing what I can do with iPhoto!

By David Alison

I bought my first Mac almost 24 years ago when DOS ruled the world. I didn't keep it too long though. I was just kicking off my career as a software engineer and needed to go with PCs. I bought my 2nd Mac in February of 2008. I didn't expect that I would find myself using the machine as much as I have. It's not that I hate Windows (well, I pretty much hate Vista but XP is a fine OS), it's just that I find myself constantly playing with this machine.

I'll share with you here my experiences of making the move from Windows to Macintosh. I still have a foot in both worlds, hence the name of my section.

3 replies on “Upgrading The Hard Drive On My MacBook”

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You can also boot from the system disc and fire up disk utility and use the “restore” feature. That will clone one hard drive to another.
BTW, you need to set the startup disk after such a maneuver to prevent slow bootups in the future.

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