My early 2011 15" MacBook Pro has been somewhat sluggish of late. Apps such as iTunes, Mail and Office take 10+ seconds to open and the whole system feels a second or two behind me. Possible cause is the factory-installed Toshiba hard disk which has given me grief for the last 6 months or so (too many bad sectors, corrupted data not fixable by Disk Utility) so I've made the switch to an SSD. I also decided to upgrade the RAM from 8GB to 16GB since RAM is cheap.
I decided to install an SSD as the startup drive to host the OS and applications. A large SSD is expensive and I need more space than an affordable drive for music, photos, movies and so on. Since I rarely use the DVD drive, OWC's Data Doubler kit allows you to replace it with a 2nd drive. I chose:
OWC's step-by-step HOWTO videos showed that doing the upgrade yourself isn't at all difficult.
I wrote a 500 word upgrade plan detailing every last screw change (due to immense paranoia that I would brick my laptop). Digested form:
- Clone existing Toshiba HDD to external USB drive using Carbon Copy Cloner
- Remove existing HDD and replace with SSD (OWC video)
- Remove existing optical drive and replace with new HDD (OWC video)
- Restart Mac from cloned drive
- Format 2 new drives using Disk Utility
- Clone recovery partition onto SSD using Carbon Copy Cloner's Disk Centre
- Clone OS and user directory from external drive to SSD (ignoring large files such as music, pictures, etc.)
- Shut down Mac, disconnect external drive
- Cross fingers, start Mac
And, lo and behold: it worked. I logged in, reconnected the external drive and set up another clone job to run overnight and move all the missing large files onto the internal HDD.
I decided to keep my users folder on the SSD rather than move it onto the HDD to make as much advantage of the speed increase as possible. This meant that I needed to check a few apps:
- iTunes - started in under a second (!) and worked without any problems after I updated the iTunes library location to /Volumes/Data/rhyd/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/
- iPhoto - started in a few seconds (a massive improvement) after double clicking on the iPhoto Library folder in /Volumes/Data/rhyd/Pictures/
- Dropbox - moved the Dropbox folder from /Users/rhyd/Dropbox to /Volumes/Data/rhyd/Dropbox/ and copied the contents of the cloned Dropbox folder into this (to prevent Dropbox downloading everything from the server)
After a week of using my Mac:
- it is fast, very fast. In fact, it feels like a new machine
- logging in takes about 5s before the Mac is usable (last week it was > 30s)
- apps start just. like. that (snaps fingers)
- cold startup is quicker but nowhere near as quick as a new MacBook Pro 13 with Retina
I fixed a couple of minor issues that I hadn't anticipated:
- Office 2011 doesn't like it if you change hard drives. Re-activiation needed.
- TextExpander started before I'd finished setting up Dropbox again so it overwrote my settings file with the defaults - easily fixed though using a previous version from Dropbox
- Some sym links to Dropbox files were broken (e.g. some useful Ruby scripts) and needed updating
- Backblaze didn't like that my old HDD was missing (fair enough). I have to upload everything to them again. Would be good if you good tell them to move data you've already uploaded.
- The system clock reset itself to Jan 1 2001 after I restarted using the cloned external drive (assuming because I'd disconnected the battery (?) for longer than expected). Resulted in some folders showing a modification date on Jan 1st. Odd