How To Upgrade Your Mac’s Hard Drive to SSD

So you think you can SSD?

So you want to breathe new life into your old Mac? Well, this is just for you.

Within this post are the exact steps I took to upgrade my Macbook Pro 2011 from it’s original
hard drive to a brand new 500GB Solid State Drive a.k.a SSD.

Here’s a quick 4 min video summary of the article & how fast photoshop opens for me!

Keep reading below for the complete guide!

Who should do it?

  • Anyone with an iMac, Macbook, Macbook Pro, or certain Air models that still are using a regular hard drive.
  • Anyone who has an older Mac and is experiencing slow boot times, slow app loading, and slow finder movement.
  • Anyone who doesn’t want to buy a brand new Mac, but does want a faster computer.

Personally, I have a Macbook Pro 2011 with an i7 and 8 GB ram and my Mac still kicks ass. It’s speedy, powerful, and get’s the job done really well. So I don’t feel I need to upgrade yet, even though my Mac is 4 years old now. If I had any older of a computer, I would probably not spend the money to do this.

How much does it cost?

I spent $200 for the necessary parts, which I’ll break down below.

However, if that’s too much money, you should definitely consider a Hybrid Drive, which acts similar to an SSD, but is still a normal drive. They are much less expensive and will provide a noticeable boost over your old drive. I had the money, so I went for the SSD, which now have really good prices. If you can, go SSD.

What do I need to buy?

FIRST of all, you need to research the necessary components for your specific computer. This can be done at iFixIt.

Click here to open the iFixIt Guide Menu and find your computer. Then find the tutorial for Replacing the Hard Drive.

Bookmark this page for later, you’ll need it when you begin opening things up. (IMPORTANT: Before opening your laptop you need to determine if it will void your warranty, if you still have Apple Care. Click here to check on Apple’s site. I was outside of warranty, so it didn’t matter.)

Inside the iFixIt page you will need to check the size of your hard drive (probably 2.5 inch) and also any tools necessary to open your computer. You probably need something like a T6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 screwdriver. I needed a T6 and bought a set (see below)

You’ll also need an external enclosure and/or a USB to SATA cable. I went with an SSD optimized enclosure with good reviews. (See below)

Overall, you will need:

  1. An appropriate size SSD (probably 2.5 inch)
  2. An external drive enclosure (to transfer your data from the old drive)
  3. A regular philips head screwdriver that is SMALL
  4. A T6 or other T-size screwdriver

Here’s exactly what I bought:

  1. Samsung 850 EVO 500GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD ($165)
  2. Inateck 2.5 Inch External Enclosure Case Optimized for SSD ($17)
  3. 16-piece Precision Screwdriver Set with both tiny Philips and T6 for my Macbook ($6)
  4. I also bought the 2 year protection plan for the SSD for ($10)

Total for me came to $198. Not too bad compared to buying a new Macbook Pro for $1500+ when the one I have works really well still.

What do I do next?

Decide! First, go download this Free BlackMagic Disk Speed Test from the App Store. You’ll want to see how bad your drive is now, compared to what it’s about to be. For me, I had rather incredible results.

  1. My old stock HD: 19 MB/s Write and 20 MB/s Read.
  2. My new SSD: 467 MB/s Write and 508 MB/s Read

That’s about 25x faster!!! Holy ninja fast!!!

Screenshot 2015-07-04 16.16.49

The SSD is literally 25x faster than my old drive.

How to transfer your data

You can make an exact copy of your drive with this Carbon Copy Free Trial.

Just watch this 3 min video of how to do it and you’re good to go.

Open up your enclosure, put the SSD into it, and plug it into the USB of your Mac. Then follow the instructions inside the video which tell you to format the drive first, then copy that data.

It took me about 6 hours to transfer 350GB to the SSD. I could still work while this took place, but I dared not work on files, save anything, or any of that. It was all web stuff only until the copy was complete.

How to install your SSD

Remember that iFixIt Guide bookmark? Well, open that page up on another device, computer, or phone so you can reference it. Otherwise print it out. You will want to see the steps. I just used my iPad while my Mac was on the operating table.

* Remember to unplug all power sources while working! *

First SSD boot

If you did everything correctly, then your Mac should just boot up! It takes a moment for everything to go the first time.

IMPORTANT Trim and Yosemite OS X: There’s one unique and strange downside to using a 3rd party SSD in a Mac running Yosemite. You will hear all about Trim and if you need it or not. In a nutshell, Trim helps organize data on your SSD when you delete old files and save new ones. Trim is how the OS talks with the SSD. Unfortunately, due to odd security restrictions, Apple does not play well with 3rd party SSD’s. The only way to enable Trim with a 3rd party SSD is to use a program like Trim Enabler. However, using this program opens up security vulnerabilities and interferes with OS X updates, therefore it’s not a viable solution. You can read all about Trim and OS X here on Trim Enabler’s site. I decided to leave trim off and many others have as well. We’ll need to wait until Apple allows 3rd parties to write SSD drivers.

Dropbox Note: it will probably start indexing everything again, which looks like syncing, but it’s not. When I did this it said “Syncing 75,000 files” and I sort of freaked out. Nope, just let it do it’s thing. It’s only checking them all to see if they match the server.

Keychain Access: This will also change and you will need your old computer’s admin credentials I believe.


Now, you can put your old drive into the enclosure and you’ve got some extra backup space! You might want to use it for Time Machine too.

The most noticeable effects for me:

  • Finder becomes instantly snappy again. Whether using shortcuts or loading 600 files in a folder, it’s like NOW.
  • Opening my Macbook from sleep mode. I used to have to wait 15ish seconds for everything to be ready. Now it’s like BOOM.
  • Booting. Yeah, it’s pretty wicked fast now. At least 3-4x faster than beforehand. My Mac was getting quite bogged down and old with all the productivity apps I’ve got installed. Sort of counter intuitive huh? Now it’s like SWISHHHH DONE!
  • Opening Photoshop and MS Word. These beasts of apps now open in less than 3-5 seconds, where as they used to take at least 30-45 sec.
  • Everything is just smoother, better, faster, stronger. Wow.

I hope you enjoy your newfound ninja reflexes!

If you have ANY questions, just leave a comment below. ALSO, if this guide helped you, then let me know so I can make more awesome stuff for you.

To being ninja-like,
– Tharyn
MacDojo Sensei

PS. If you want to get REALLY fast, then check out the brand new Mac Dojo Productivity Course for Yosemite. If you don’t know these tricks, the SSD won’t really matter lol. The mind is always sharper than the sword. 😉