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How to Upgrade Your Hard Drive
© 2007 KenRockwell.com

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December 2007

I filled up the 500GB hard drive in my desktop Mac, so I replaced it with a bigger one and transferred everything over in just a few minutes, no re-installation needed.

I installed the new drive in a minute without any tools, and spent about a minute doing these commands to transfer everything over seamlessly. I let it transfer overnight, so I didn't lose more than two minutes of productivity.

While trivial on a Mac, it's probably a major operation on Windows.

I was amazed at how it only took two seconds to find a lucid illustrated procedure for the mechanics of the swap in my Quad G5's printed manual. Here's all you do, including transferring all your files and software in one sweep.

I did this in far less time than it takes to read this.

1.) Deactivate Photoshop, since activation usually doesn't survive the copy process. Go to Photoshop > Help > Transfer Activation, which is a misnomer for "deactivate."

2.) Turn off and pop open the Mac.

3.) Unscrew the four screws near the extra hard drive bay that have been waiting there for the past year. Screw them into the new drive. No tools are needed for any of this.

3.) Slide in the new drive.

4.) Pull the bigger connector off the first drive and pull it out an inch. Now there are two connectors. Pop one onto each drive. Pull out the small connector from below the new lower drive, and pop it on the new drive. Duh, you're done.

5.) Close the cover and turn on your Mac. You'll get a scary warning saying something like "cannot recognize inserted drive." Of course not; it's blank! Just click OK or whatever, and it automatically opens the Disc Utility Program. Simply erase the new drive, which formats it for use.

6.) Use a $28 program called Super Duper to copy everything from your old disc to your new one. I did this overnight, since it took 4 hours to copy 460 GB of data. When I awoke this morning, it was done.

7.) Go to the little Apple at the top left and drop down to System Preferences. Select Startup Disk, and select your new disk. This tells your Mac that the new disc will now be your main disk.

8.) Restart your Mac. Feel free to rename the new disk something like Macintosh HD so you know it's the new, main disk.

9.) Go into Photoshop > Help > Activate to reactivate Photoshop on your new hard disk.

10.) You're all done. Feel free to erase the old drive to use it for data, or pull it out and throw it away, or leave it there as a backup.

If you select the old disk as the startup disk and restart, your Mac will be right where it was when you swapped disks. Of course I can't use the old disk to backup the new one, because the old one was getting too small. When I got down to 16 GB of free space, performance slowed because my Mac was running out of room for scratch.

On a Quad G5, the fan will run faster and your Mac will be working harder in the background for several hours re-indexing the new disk for Spotlight searches. Performance may or may not seem a little slower while it does this. It may or may not finish this overnight after the copy completes, too. Of course when it's done, performance will be better than it was with an almost full older drive.


Recommendations   back to top

I bought an upgraded hard drive directly from The Apple Store who sold me my Mac. It was a Seagate drive, in an Apple box.

I could have saved a couple of hundred dollars buying the same 750GB drive from a parts store. Since it would have taken me an hour to research and I bill my time at $297 an hour, it costs me less just to call Apple and know it's going to work. After some 3rd party "compatible" memory (that wasn't) wasted a few days of my time in 2006, I'll never waste my time (at $297 an hour) trying to save money with non-Apple parts.

I now know it's a Serial ATA 3GB/s drive, but if I got the wrong thing and had to return it, that time, too, just cost me way more than what I paid Apple extra for sending me exactly the right thing.

For most people, looking at the Apple System Profiler (Apple > About This Mac > More Info > Hardware > Serial ATA) may tell you what sort of drive you need, since you can see the exact type and model number of what's in there.

If I had the time to futz and research, of course I'd buy a new drive from a parts store. Having no tolerance for wasted time is another reason I can't afford to use any computer other than Apple.


If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

Thanks for reading!



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