Upgrade the hard drive on a MacBook Pro (HDD + SSD)

Picture of Upgrade the hard drive on a MacBook Pro (HDD + SSD)
If the original hard drive on your MacBook Pro is getting a little too full you can replace it with a much larger one pretty easily. After all, hard drives have gotten cheap with 1TB drives available for under $100.

If you want to give your aging machine an even bigger boost, I'd strongly suggest opting for a new SSD (flash) drive instead. With your system and apps on it, you can get work done much faster as everything will go from sluggish to snappy.

Either way you go the process is the same and, aside from one long data transfer you can sleep through, it only takes a few minutes.
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Step 1: What you need

Picture of What you need
Here's the small list of hardware you need:
 - new 2.5" HDD or SSD drive
 - external 2.5" USB enclosure ($10)
 - #00 Philips screwdriver
 - T6 screwdriver

And 2 software options
 - Carbon Copy Cloner  - free for 30 days, $40 after
 - SuperDuper!  - free for basic use (all we need here) and $28 for full services

I've used both applications for this and both worked equally well for the basic application of hard drive cloning.

Step 2: Clone your hard drive

Picture of Clone your hard drive
Now we're going to completely copy the hard drive in the MacBook Pro. Complete and total brain cloning. This process is an overnighter for sure. It took me 7 hours to copy over 400GB so plan on roughly 1GB per minute.

Put the new drive into the USB enclosure and plug it into your MacBook Pro. You'll probably need to use Disk Utility to format the new drive. I used MAC OS Extended (Journaled).

Fire up either CCC or SuperDuper! and follow the instructions to clone your computer onto the new drive. Since this is the basic use you shouldn't need to fiddle with the settings. Just hit go and leave it alone for a while.
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markdeso1 month ago

This worked perfectly using Super Duper. I bought the drive and case from Amazon. I bought an extra USB cable but didn' know the cable was included in the case itself. I also had to buy a small screw driver kit from Radio Shack because the posts had a star shaped head instead of a phillips head. I can always use the screw driver kit so it was a good way of spending 18 bucks.

What really helped were a pair of reading glasses. My eyesight isn't what it once was so it was helpful to have the glasses handy.

Great instructable. Thank you very much!

KaritzB1 month ago

I don’t think
so about facing any problem. All is about cost vs. performance. Please have a
backup copy either with Time Machine or with an efficient software of drives in advance before initiating his process. Apart from CCC, I use Stellar Drive Clone software for creating a bootable clone of my MacBook Pro.

danovitz5 months ago

Thanks for the article. I am only having trouble on one front. The new 2TB drive is only showing up as 500GB (old disk size). Do I need to change a software setting somewhere?

AlexW4 danovitz4 months ago

Not sure if you figured it out but you need to go to disk utility (while booted on the new drive) and select the device (not the partition but the the above it in the hierarchy) and go to the partition table. Take the main partition and drag it all the way out to the 2tb end mark

leronb2 years ago
Just how difficult is it to upgrade the RAM on a MacBook Pro? Thanks for the tutorial!
puggirl415 leronb6 months ago

I'm considering doing several upgrades to my older MacBook Pro including RAM. This video tutorial is also very good and covers RAM upgrade, and adding a second Solid state drive where the optical drive is. Check it out.

fungus amungus (author)  leronb2 years ago
Extremely easy. The RAM is held in place by two black plastic tabs. Push both out to side at same time to release the RAM, making it pop up. Pull the RAM out (careful and firm) and put new RAM in (careful and firm again).
Make sure you get ram that is listed as MAC combatiple. The socket is the same but the protocol is slightly different in how they work. found out the hard way on that
tobyhall11 months ago will this one work

tobyhall11 months ago

which hard drive did you use

tobyhall11 months ago

does this work if i have boot camp my mac

fubidou1 year ago
Great post, pity I didn't see it earlier! I had some of the problems that others here had, but finally solved them all. Apart from one: Now my SSD is booting, and i am using my old HD for storage, I want to put the Documents folder into the storage drive. So how does one map the folder so that when you put something in "documents" it goes to the storage drive and not to the SSD? (I'm new to macs, previously only used PC's)
fungus amungus (author)  fubidou1 year ago
madbategg1 year ago
I have a 13inch macbook pro -late 2011, OS X
10.8.4 (12E55). I get a flashing Question mark folder at start up I
have to force shut & power on the laptop 5-6 times then it starts up
fine. I also get a small whirring noise at start-up & when it wakes
up after sleep it freezes & I have to force shut down again( the
force quit- keyboard option don't -work).
I have tried various Trouble shooting steps - like Pram reset,
reinstalling the OS- X, SMC reset, safe boot, disk repair from disk
utility but so far no go. I am worried if I dont get this fixed it
will lead to a bigger problem. My laptop warranty got over just last you think its the hard drive that has failed? & needs to be replaced with a new one?
i had the same problem and finally it just stopped booting up.... so i took it the apple store thinking that i screwed my hard drive ... but they said they was an issue with the ribbon cable with this series of MacBook pro's rubbing on the bottom of the case and shorting out! $17.50 later my MBP is back up and running better then ever!
fungus amungus (author)  madbategg1 year ago
I don't know for sure, I've never had that problem. At the very least, you should back up everything if you get it running again. Then try a new HD and install OS X on it.
hfenton1 year ago
Hi, should I format choosing GUID Partition Table or CCC take care of making bootable?, Thanks
hialeahp1 year ago
I picked up a samsung 840 pro for for my late 2011 MBP, i do not wish to clone my current drive, i want to start fresh. I still have the original startup disk that came with my MBP. To install the new drive, do i simply need to replace the existing drive, hold "c" when powering on to boot from the optical drive, and format using disk utility in there?
fungus amungus (author)  hialeahp1 year ago
Not entirely sure. I think so? Best you check for more info elsewhere
satakieli1 year ago
If I have a Mac Pro and a Macbook Pro, are the hard drives the same dimensions? Can I replace the hard drive in the Macbook Pro by swapping it out with the one in the Mac Pro? Thanks!
fungus amungus (author)  satakieli1 year ago
No, desktops (incl. Mac Pro) use 3.5" drives.
kleinzeit102 years ago
Quick question about the HDD title/name.
I've installed a new cloned 1TB HDD, which boots fine, checked in Disk Utility and it's still named 'Untitled' rather than 'Macintosh HD'. Does this matter?
Will it be a problem if I choose to update to OS X 10.9 or whatever follows Mountain Lion?
Thanks for the tutorial - really easy to follow.
fungus amungus (author)  kleinzeit102 years ago
Don't think it matters. Easy to change it if you're feeling superstitious, though.
robertashba2 years ago
One question... Where did you find a 1TB SSD for $100?? The only thing I'm finding in that price range is around 64GB.
fungus amungus (author)  robertashba2 years ago
That's for HDD, not SSD. In HDD, I saw 1TB for $80
jerryantic2 years ago
Can I accomplish this on an Apple Titanium?
fungus amungus (author)  jerryantic2 years ago
Yes, but the opening up process is different.
Thank you for your speedy reply.

Is there some site where I can get more instruction on how to open and revise an Apple Titanium to get similar results?

Any info would be very helpful.

fungus amungus (author)  jerryantic2 years ago
Start here. Select which one you have and then pick hard drive replacement.
I think that you should explain pros and cons of both hdd and ssd storage systems. I know all of this already so it would be for the benefit of others.
fungus amungus (author)  jackjackboom2 years ago
In a nutshell, SSD is way faster and more expensive than HDD. Current prices were about $80-$100 for 1TB HDD and ~$200 for a 256GB SSD.

Since many people are likely thinking that the 256GB is way too small for all their files it's better to move to a 2 disk system. Use SSD for system+applications and the HDD for the files.

I've seen concerns about reliability, but you should be backing up your data no matter what anyway.
You can find a OCZ 60gb ssd for anywhere from 40 to 80 bucks at microcenter. For a primary drive that is good. you can remove the diskdrive and put a second drive there.
mattglas2 years ago
Where can i get that background?? Its awesome!
fungus amungus (author)  mattglas2 years ago
It's from this. This wasn't a wallpaper, but a shot while the video was playing.
Opening up your MacBook Pro voids your warranty so if that bothers you you can just sit tight with what you have.

I have to disagree.  If Apple (R) did not want you to open their computer they would not put instructions on their website on how to open it.
fungus amungus (author)  thematthatter2 years ago
Hmm, looks like they've relaxed a bit on that front. That wasn't the case in the past. All the same, if there is an issue with your MBP and they can trace it to the RAM, HDD, or SSD you've installed then no luck.
save the pieces and just put them back before you go visit the genius
This recurring meme that opening up and working on electronics in general, and Macs in specific, voids the warranty is a myth. First, it is clear from reading the warranty (which is readily available online) that these actions do NOT violate any warranty terms. More importantly, any such clause in a warranty would be a violation of federal law (Magnuson-Moss Act) and as such would be unenforcible. If, however, you damage something while mucking about, needless to say the OEM is under no obligation to fix your handiwork.
JeppeOH2 years ago
If you want to boost your SSD read-write speed 20%. Here is a tip.
Put a piece of Antistatic-bag between the SSD and the wire connecting it to the board.
Speed-upgrade around 20%
(my Mackbook - same SSD/upgrade as yours went from 20sec boot to 15sec boot time. I just cut up a old antistatic bag from a motherboard I had purchased.

The samsung SSD emits some electromagnetic noise which the motherboard then has to correct for and the SSDs' plastic-casing isn't enough to shield the wire. The wire isn't shielded since the normal disc is a different type AND also it has a metal casing.
Best upgrade: buy a PC!
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