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Upgrading a MacBook Pro Hard Disk

Just last week I inherited a not so old 17” MacBook Pro. Sweet!

It just needed a little TLC, more memory and a bigger and faster disk (7200 rpm, yummy, but not so good for your pocket book).

Changing the memory is surprisingly easy on the later models. Just remove the battery, remove a few screws below the battery (small phillips screw driver) and you are done.

Changing the hard disk is a different story. A few google searches did not turn up the expected solution, but gave me enough ideas to be bold enough to get to it. In fact, it is really simple to open the case. (Before you do this, know that this will void your warranty if it is still current, so don’t say you have not been warned).

Unscrew all visible phillips screws (including the one below the cover from the memory, and then you are left with just a couple of torx screws. Then flip back the machine, open the screen and lift the keyboard/mouse pad. After that, gently unplug the single connection and the disk is within reach (just 2 more screws).

Unplug the disk, plug in the new one, and retrace your steps back.

If you can, though, avoid working above thick carpet, this will save you tons of embarrassing time looking for one of these tiny screws ;)

That was the easy part. Because I just did not have the system disks handy. I had a few other ones, though. A newer Macbook Pro set, and even the latest stainless steel iMac ones. But none of these would accept to install a new system on that brand new disk :(

Fear not, there is a simple solution, that will kill 2 birds with one stone (since I also needed to copy all the existing data from the old disk).

I bought (third trip to Fry’s that day) an external USB 2.5” laptop disk enclosure (this will set you back $15 or more), plugged in the old disk and followed these simple steps:

* plug the external disk
* boot the mac with any system CD (Mac OS X)
* go to the next step till the Utilities menu is available
* use Disk Utilities to format/partition the new disk
* go back and start “Terminal” to do the copy
* once the terminal app has started, figure out the Volume names from /Volumes

ls /Volumes

* then run:

asr --source /Volumes/[SOURCE] --target /Volumes/[DEST] --verbose

asr will even go so far as to show you a progress bar that shows you how far it got. And some time later, you’ll have an exact, bootable, copy of your old disk.

  1. Don’t you have to specify—erase to make sure to bless the new disk, or does that automagically happen if your target is empty?

  2. I did not need—erase, probably because the disk was just newly formatted. On an existing disk with data,—erase is probably a good idea.

  3. I need to do the same with my 2006 macbook pro, so the question is… Are the macbook pro hard disks the same for every laptop? If not, where can I buy one.

  4. But how about SATA 100, SATA 150, SATA 300 ???
    It is possible to install any SATA in my MacBook PRO that originally comes with 120GB 5400 rpm SATA 150 ???

  5. It may work, faster disks usually are backward compatible. Slower like SATA 100 may not.
    Make sure you have a good return policy in case it does not.

  6. Thanks Pascal, installed a 300 one, and runs perfect!

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