How To Upgrade Your Mac’s HDD To An SSD

With the ever increasing list of tasks that you can now perform on the average personal computer, upgrading your Mac from an HDD to an SSD is becoming increasingly common by the day. Of course, just because it has become a common practice doesn’t mean you also have to do it, but if you’ve already done your research and you are convinced that your computer will benefit from an upgrade, here’s how you can upgrade your Mac’s disk drive from an HDD to an SSD.

Confirm if Your Mac’s Model Allow Upgrades

Some Mac models were designed to allow upgrades from an HDD to an SDD or from a lower-end SSD to a higher-end one, but some Mac models were simply not. If your Mac model came with the default HDD or SSD soldered to the motherboard, replacing it will be very difficult, if not downright impossible, so make sure that you can upgrade your Mac’s HDD to an SSD before you head to the store.

Confirm Your Mac’s Compatibility With the SSD That You’re Buying

Most of the SSDs currently available in the market are compatible with most Mac models, but before you upgrade your Mac’s HDD to an SSD, take the time to compare their form factor first. The form factor is basically the size of the HDD or SSD and usually measures 2.5 inches for laptops. There are, however, SSDs that come in the newer MSATA and M.2 form factors which are only a fraction of the size of the standard 2.5 inch. If you don’t know the form factor of your Mac’s HDD, you may seek assistance from Apple’s customer support forum.

Pick Your Preferred SSD Size

SSDs come in different sizes ranging anywhere from 64 GB to 60 TB. What exact SSD size your computer needs will depend on how much information you are looking into storing in your computer, the kinds of tasks that you will be performing on it, and whether you intend to use your Mac’s HDD alongside your newly-purchased SSD or just use your SSD alone (some models allow the installation of both HDD and SSD on the computer at the same time; some models don’t), but, generally speaking, anywhere between 250 to 512 GB should be more than enough to handle your operating system and a couple of programs and applications.

Back Up Your Files

As always, before you do anything with your hard drive, make sure you backup your files first so that you can always recover them in case something went wrong.

You can do this either by doing it through your Mac’s default backup program, the Time Machine, by storing your data in your iCloud, burning your files to a CD or DVD, or copying your files to an external storage device.

Make a Clone or an Image of Your HDD

Disk cloning and disk imaging are two ways to make copies of your files when upgrading from an HDD to an SSD. They mostly work the same way except that cloning your disk allows you to copy the contents of your hard drive to an external storage device then just swap one for the other when you’re done without doing any further step.

Imaging your disk, on the other hand, allows you to copy the contents of your hard drive to an external storage device, but to be able to access the files that you copied, you need to install them on your new drive with an imaging program first.

Except for that minor inconvenience, there’s not much difference between the two, so whether you should clone your drive or make an image of it is up to you.


Installing the SSD on Your Mac

When you’re done backing up your files, you may proceed with installing your SSD on your Mac. To do this,

  1. Flip your Mac and use a Phillips screw to remove the screws that hold the case together
  2. Lift off the case of your Mac and look for the hard drive.
  3. Unscrew the strip of black plastic case that holds the hard drive in place then lift it off from its slot.
  4. Disconnect your hard drive from the ribbon connecting it to your Mac, but be careful not to rip it.
  5. Look for the four metal screws that secure the hard drive to its enclosure.
  6. Remove the screws then set them aside for later use.
  7. Get your SSD then use the screws that you remove from your HDD’s enclosure earlier to secure your SSD to its own enclosure.
  8. Connect your SSD to the cable attached to the ribbon that you disconnected from your HDD before.
  9. Lay your SSD on the slot previously occupied by your HDD, making sure that the screws fit properly.
  10. Put the strip of black plastic case that you remove earlier to its designated slot.
  11. Get the back case of your Mac and screw it back on.

After installing the SSD on your Mac,

  1. Turn on your Mac.
  2. Hold the Command and R keys at the same time then wait until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
  3. Select Disk Utility in the Utilities window.
  4. Click Continue.
  5. Select your SSD and designate it as your startup disk.
  6. Look at the top of the Disk Utility window and click Erase.
  7. Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the options that will appear in the popup window.
  8. Click Erase.
  9. Select Quit Disk Utility from the Disk Utility drop-down menu when you’re done and you’re good to go.

The whole process (minus the backing up of existing files) shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes and should be fairly easily done on your own, but should you ever have any concerns while upgrading your Mac’s HDD to an SSD, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from Apple’s tech support forum.

Good luck!

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