Upgrade the Hard Drive on a MacBook Pro (HDD + SSD)




Introduction: Upgrade the Hard Drive on a MacBook Pro (HDD + SSD)

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at supamoto.co. You'll like it.

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.

Step 1: 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

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.

Step 3: Open Up Your Laptop

Here's your last chance to bail. Opening up your MacBook Pro opens you to the possibility of messing something up and voiding your warranty so if that bothers you you can just sit tight with what you have. But since you've already gotten this far you're probably both inclined to get it done AND have a machine past warranty anyway.

So shut down your laptop and flip it over. Use the #00 screwdriver to remove all the screws on the back. On my laptop there are 10 of them. Be sure to place them somewhere safe so they don't roll away into oblivion. These screws love oblivion.

With the panel removed you can see the hard drive. It's being held in place by 4 more screws. Remove those and you'll be able to lift up the hard drive and unplug it.

Remove the four posts on the side of the hard drive with the T6 screwdriver.

And that's it! Everything unscrewed and removed! Now let's put it back together again.

NOTE: your computer may be slightly different. If it is and you're afraid to go it alone, check out ifixit for more guides.

Step 4: Put It All Back

Now we do everything in reverse.
  1. Add the four posts to the new drive (shown in pic)
  2. Plug in the new drive
  3. Insert new drive
  4. Screw in 4 screws for new drive
  5. Put panel back on
  6. Screw in 10 screws in the panel
And... that's it. Turn the machine on and you're good to go. Enjoy your upgraded machine!

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88 Discussions

Hi. Thank you for all of this knowledge.

I'm wanting to upgrade from 512 to 1tb on my Macbook Pro I belive from 2014/2015 and am wondering if it is going to wipe out all my current information/pics/etc on my computer as well as if I can have apple do it within thier guidlines as not to void my warranty?

1 reply

You should have all of you files safe on the new drive. You'll be copying every single file over.

hi , i recommend this upgrade as we do a lot of it at https://www.apple-bay.co.uk and speed up the mac up to 5 time , so no more spinning wheels

Oh my gosh, I checked "I Made It" and lost my super long helpful comment. Here's the short. It worked no problem... SuperDuper! used this drive Link: http://a.co/68wrNeI 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mid 2010, Sierra

I'm looking at buying a new MacBook Pro. Can I upgrade the hard drive on the newer models? purchase in 2016 new.

1 reply

Hi I have a Macbook Pro A1278 with El Capitain on a 500gb HD.

I bought a 500gb SSD, Hooked it up to a USB 3.0 and Ran SuperDuper with Make Bootable checked on. Said it completely successfully but when i just plug in the SSD i get a long wait and a Folder with the question mark on it.

When i put the old drive back and plug the SSD in with the USB it comes up fine.

What am i doing wrong?

8 replies

Did you first use Disk Utility to format the new ssd drive with MAC OS Extended (Journaled) as described in step 2? Most SSDs are formatted for windows if you buy them

Thought it was fixed :(

It ran a few times with no problem. Now i keep getting the Folder with a question mark again. wtf

I almost think you have faulty hardware or incompatable hardware for the SSD-USB interface. I saw that with a Samsung drive once. Can you use another interface cable?

It's a Sandisk X400 SSD 512gb.

Is that compatible?

Don't have another cable, i was thinking it could be that. If it was incompatible why would it work sometimes

I followed the same steps but this time it worked! Oh well thanks for the help

Actually i just remembered i did cuz SuperDuper only showed one drive until i ran the disk utility to make it show up on the list to copy to

Yes but i will do it again

If i didn't do that wouldn't the drive not come up when i plug in the SSD via USB when the standard HD is up and running the OS?

Thanks for the help! wonderful guide!
Once I want to clone a hdd to a ssd, with google I found this guide:http://www.eassos.com/how-to/how-to-clone-HDD-to-SSD.php
If you want to do the same task, you can refer it!

Thanks for the help! wonderful guide!
Once I want to clone a hdd to a ssd, with google I found this guide:http://www.eassos.com/how-to/how-to-clone-HDD-to-SSD.php
If you want to do the same task, you can refer it!

I have an A1398, what would be the best SSD for this model and what size SSD can it handle?


2 years ago

So I've set up an SSD in the optical bay. And after using carbon copy
cloner, i've copied everything onto my ssd. Now if I want to transfer
files back and forth between my HD and SSD how would I do that?

Also, if I use carbon copy cloner, and booted the SSD, is everything backed up from the hD?

1 reply

I will be doing the same as you in a few days when my SSD arrives in the mail. The way I'm going to check is to shut down the system, unplug the HDD and then boot up to see if everything works fine. Then I'll wipe the HDD. I have a bootable external backup just in case!