Tag Archives: ssd

Late night surgery

Last year I upgraded Shlomit’s MacBook Pro to an SSD. A few months ago I upgraded my MacBook Pro. The only little Mac left behind with its puny little spinning platters was my Mac mini. So I finally broke down and bought an SSD for it. This time it was a 250 GB Samsung 840.

Samsung 840 SSD

Similar to the last times, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to transfer the contents of the original 2.5″ hard drive to the SSD. This took about three hours over USB 2. Slow but without a hitch.


But one thing would be different this time: turns out that when Apple ditched the DVD drive on the Mac mini, it left room for a second internal hard drive. So I can fit both the original drive and the SSD in the little box! Great. The problem: You need a special cable to do this. The solution: OWC ‘Data Doubler’ SSD/2.5″ Hard Drive installation Kit.

For $35 you get:

  • A little ribbon cable to connect the drive
  • Four cute screwdrivers: two were needed for the installation, two were not, and a third type that was needed did not come in the kit but thankfully I had it.
  • Four screws.
  • Four rubber bumper thingies.
  • A piece of green plastic they call “pry tool” and was actually super useful.
  • A U-shaped piece of bent metal, effectively used to move the computer’s motherboard out of the chassis.

A rip-off? Hardly, because they also bundled a very detailed manual with great photos and step by step instructions. Trust me, the booklet alone was worth the price. This was one tricky installation, they sure pack those little boxes tight.

The Mac mini 40% into the installation. These little boxes fit together like one of those impossible to put together wooden puzzles.

I’m happy to report that although it took a long time, the operation was a success. The computer is a lot faster now. Nobody should be forced to use magnetic hard drives anymore. Now all I need to do is decide how to best distribute all my stuff across the 5 (five!) hard drives connected to this machine. I want iPhoto to be fast, but my giant library won’t fit in the SSD. Questions, questions…

SSD Upgrade

Solid State Drives have been replacing Hard Disks on computers lately. Instead of storing data on a rotating magnetic disk, they store data in flash memory: basically silicon chips that keep data even when powered off. They are lighter, use less power, have no moving parts, and most importantly are way faster than hard disks. The problem is that, compared to their rotating counterparts, they are (still) more expensive.

Still, prices have dropped dramatically recently. Shlomit’s computer was feeling a little sluggish so I decided to give it a nice little upgrade.

Crucial M4 SSD

After waiting for a good price on DealMac for a few weeks, I bought a 256 GB Crucial M4 for $180, a very good deal at the time of this writing, to replace the stock 250 GB spinning disk.

The upgrade is reasonably simple, here are the steps:

  1. Copy your Hard Drive contents to the SSD.
    1. I used a borrowed adapter to connect the SSD to the Mac via USB.
    2. Use Disk Utility (it comes with Mac OS X) to format the SSD.
    3. Use Carbon Copy Cloner (donation-ware) to copy the contents of your old hard drive to the new one. This was straightforward and it even created a Recovery Partition on the SSD. But it took a long time: almost 3 hours.
  2. Swap the hard drives. It’s easy, just follow the instructions posted on any of hundreds of YouTube videos. Like this one. But make sure you have the right tools, in my case a Philips #0 and a Torx #6 screwdrivers.
  3. Turn on your Mac and be amazed at how fast it feels now.
  4. Go into System Preferences and make sure you select the SSD as the Startup Disk. Otherwise every time you boot your computer, it’s going to spend ~30 seconds looking for the old drive.
Carbon Copy Cloner doing its thing.
MacBook in mid-transplant. Make sure you don’t misplace a screw.

Really, the speed difference is amazing. Everything is snappy. Opening programs like iPhoto or iTunes happens in less than a second.

If you have a computer that’s 1-2 years old and you want something much faster without buying a new machine, strongly consider upgrading to an SSD. You may have to sacrifice capacity but I think it’s worth it. Just put your pirate movie collection in an external hard drive and/or pay $25 to keep your music on iTunes Match.

If you are buying a new laptop, make sure you get one with an SSD. If it’s too expensive, get a slower processor instead to make up for the difference. You will be surprised at how most slow tasks are dramatically sped up by an SSD. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of a side by side comparison: