SSD Equals New Tricks for Old MacBooks

Wondering how to revive the flagging spirits of your aging MacBook? Nothing will have more impact than swapping out your hard drive for a solid-state drive, more commonly known as SSD. No, really. People speak of the results in rapturous language. So set aside a little time and get a few tools for an easy upgrade that can be done on any Mac released in 2012 or before. Following is a quick overview of the process, but there are several reliable video resources online.

SSDs are quite a bit more expensive than a standard hard drive, so to replace a good-size HDD will cost you at least £100. It’s worth it if your alternative is purchasing a new MacBook.

What will you need? An internal SSD, a cable or dock for initially connecting the drive externally, a set of small Phillips-head and torx-head screwdrivers, and a utility that will back up your hard drive, such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner.

First, format and load up the SSD: Connect it via a SATA-to-USB cable or a dock, launch Disk Utility, and click Erase. Next, with your chosen utility, you’ll clone your Mac’s hard drive to the SSD. Eject the SSD and shut down your computer.

Remove the back cover on your Mac. Before touching anything inside the case, ground yourself to discharge static electricity; an optional safety step is to disconnect the battery. Unscrew and remove the bracket covering the hard drive. To disconnect the drive, don’t pull on the long attached ribbon, but instead gently wiggle the connector itself. Remove and set aside the four screws in the hard drive. Insert the SSD into the drive bay, attach the ribbon, put the screws back in, and work backwards to reseat the drive and close your computer back up. Now restart. It might take a few moments for your MacBook to make friends with the new drive, but when it does you will notice the difference.

What will you get in return for this effort? Speed, speed and speed. If you’ve come to that point in your Mac’s life when launching an application, saving a document, or starting up and shutting down are taking a painfully long time, converting to a solid-state drive will not only solve those problems, it will have you zipping around faster than you did when that laptop was new. In numerous benchmarking tests, SSDs perform much faster than HDDs in every measure – bandwidth, input-output, response time. If you’re a gamer, designer, illustrator, photographer, or videographer, you will wonder how you survived this long without an SSD.

Standard hard drives consist of spinning platters with motors that run a mechanism over the surface, writing and reading data. The whole operation uses battery life, causes heat, and is prone to damage by both accident and heavy use. SSDs have no moving parts and their design allows them to read data instantaneously, so they don’t generate heat, make no sound, won’t break if you drop your laptop, and are more energy efficient so they save battery life. In other words, there is no downside to this upgrade.