Hard drive upgrades are a popular upgrade for many Mac users and there’s a few different reasons for that.
The first biggie is space. With all the files, pictures, movies, music, software updates, and other bits of info vying for space, that once-vast 500GB hard drive is now nearly full. A bigger hard drive means more room to put it all.
The second one is speed. Even on its flagship 17″ MacBook Pro, Apple is still stuffing a 5400rpm drive inside, which can limit how fast you can access your data. Simply by upgrading the internal hard drive to a faster 7200rpm drive or (better still) a solid-state drive like our OWC Mercury EXTREME series, you can nearly triple the performance of the 2011 MacBook Pros, and earlier models show similar gains – we did a whole series of videos about it not too long ago. But I’m getting off-track here.
Replacing a hard drive in most modern Macs is pretty simple, and our highly-acclaimed Instructional Series of videos breaks the process down so pretty much anybody can do it. The trick is making sure your data gets brought over as simply as possible, so you can continue on seamlessly.
If you’re running 10.6.x or earlier and want to bring over your data to your new drive, you have two basic choices. You can perform a simple cloning operation, which will make an exact duplicate of your old drive on your new one. It’s nice and fast, but it also brings over things you don’t necessarily need, which will just take up space. Alternatively, you can use the “Migration” method, wherein you install a fresh copy of the OS on the new drive and run Migration Assistant to bring your files over from your old drive. This takes more time, but lets you leave behind that which you don’t need. Personally, I prefer the second one.
With Lion, it’s not that simple.
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion throws a nice little monkey wrench into things. As part of a 10.7 installation, a hidden “Recovery partition” is created to help in restoring your system should it be required. It functions much in the same way as the install disks of previous OS X versions, which is convenient, since Lion either comes as a download or already pre-installed on your Mac (while there’s also the $69 USB key reportedly being made available later this month, it’s more the exception than the rule) The problem comes when you go to clone your system over.
In most cases, cloning your system drive will only copy over the information from your main partition; that special recovery section won’t come with it. While your system should work just fine without it, you’ll be in a world of hurt if something goes wrong on that drive where you’d need to restore.
That means the “cloning” method of data transfer is pretty much a no-go with Lion. So let’s take a look at the second option: a fresh install and a Migration. Traditionally, you’d perform a fresh install then Migrate over. Except there’s one problem; there’s no installation disk to install a fresh version of Lion from. Sure, you could install 10.6.x, update, download Lion, install Lion, then migrate, but that’s a whole lot of work. And what does one do if their Mac came with Lion pre-installed – no installation disk, remember?
Fortunately, the way around this isn’t too terribly difficult, and we’ve put together some nice step-by-step outlines of what you need to do.
- For MacBook Airs that came with Lion or later pre-installed, pop on over to www.macsales.com/format2011air
- For owners of MacBook Pros, Mac minis, Mac Pros and iMacs that came with Lion pre-installed, you can go to www.macsales.com/format2011
- For those who had 10.6.x or earlier originally, and now have updated to Lion, you can follow the second method outlined on www.macsales.com/format2011
Follow those instructions and your Lion will have much more room to roam.