Model A1286. Released February 2011 / 2.0, 2.2, or 2.3 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 Processor

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Feedback on replacing hard drive and putting in SSD drive.

I am going to replace my optical drive with an SSD this weekend, and at the same time, replace my spin drive with a larger one (500GB -> 1TB). And I'm trying to figure out the best sequence to do this. Here's what I have:

1. Backup current hard drive to external HD using SuperDuper (and test to make sure it's bootable)

2. Open computer and replace both drives

3. Restart from external bootable drive.

4. Restore backup to new spin drive from external HD

5. Start from new spin drive, install latest OS on SSD.

6. Restart from SSD.

7. Use Migration Assistant to move settings, accounts, apps over to SSD.

8. Enjoy the new found speed in my old mac

9. ???

10. Profit


- I could alternately put the spin drive in an external housing and back up to it there, then install it with everything on it. Better or worse?

- Could do the same for the SSD - install OS on it, then put it in. Better or worse?

- I figure it's best to keep the OS on the spin drive in the Mac, so then I have two drives to boot from in case anything goes wrong with one of them. I'll start up from the spin drive every once in a while to make sure the OS is updated. What about the apps? Once I move them over to the SSD, is there any reason to keep them on the spin drive?

Other possibly important info - I also have a backup of my data to a Drobo, as an Plan B if anything above fails.

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2 Answers

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Tony - you might encounter issues here.

1 - Depending on your exact MacBook Pro model the drive you put into the optical drive carrier might not work. The issue is with the systems SATA port not running at SATA III (6.0Gb/s). So you'll need to set the drive manually to SATA II (3.0Gb/s. Here's a note from OWC that can offer some clarity OWC Data Doubler

2 - Most of the drives Apple uses don't have crash protection on the drive instead they use their logic on the main logic board so moving the HD to the optical carrier may be risky.

3 - Doubling up on your apps on each drive can create issues. It's best to only have one set of apps and to have them on the faster drive (disk & I/O). Having two copies of the OS is different. But you may encounter licensing issues on some apps when using the other OS to boot up from.

Frankly, we gave up doing the dual drive setups. We now only do SSHD's swapping out the old drive. We have well over 200 laptops in the field now all with Seagate drives.

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As to how to prep things. We use an external case to hold the new drive and clone it over. Then check it by altering the boot disk setting. Once it comes up we open the system and swap out the drive.

If you do a dual setup you'll first will want to make a full copy of your disk as you'll be deleting some files from your current drive.

Using an external case or adapter prep each drive. We left the HD with just the single partition with a GUID and journaled file system. The SSD was prepped with a full working OS. We Also check it making sure it would boot up (don't waste your time updating the OS).

The next step is copy your data files to your new HD and deleting them from your current HD. Once your current HD is cleaned up make sure what is left is able to fit on your new SSD. At this point we boot the system on our diagnostic drive and make any repairs to the disk and lastly, defragment the disk. That way when we clone the OS & apps we have a tight setup.

Clone your HD over to the SSD (wiping out the OS that we first put on). Now alter the boot disk to the SSD to make sure it comes up. Now you can open the system to put in your SSD & HD. Again make sure you have drives that have the correct SATA I/O speed per the given port. And if you move the disk over to the optical port make sure it has crash protection.

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Thanks for your help on this. This is turning out to be more than I was expecting.

I checked my computer, it looks like the optical bay is SATA II. So you're saying I could put in the SSD, but it won't be as fast, and I need to manually set it to a slower transfer speed. How would I set this, that is change it from SATA III to SATA II?

My plan was to have the OS and the apps on the SSD, and keep most of the files on the new platter drive, so I don't want to copy everything over to the SSD, which is why I thought I could install the OS and use Migration Assistant to move the apps over. Then it sounds like I should remove them from the new platter drive. Wouldn't that be the same as moving just the data files over the new platter drive.

I don't know what it means to set up a "GUID and journaled file system" and the new platter drive. Is that something I can do from Disk Utility?

I understand that doing all the copying to the new drives while they're outside in an external case will be easier, so I'll do that.


Having the OS alone on the SSD doesn't really improve the performance as much as having the OS & Apps on it. Which is why this is more complex a setup dying a dual drive unless you install everything afresh onto the SSD.


What many people did was swap the locations of the drives putting the HD into the optical drive carrier. In your system this is not an option as the optical drives SATA port is SATA II Vs SATA III and your current HD drive is SATA III. As you are planning on changing out the HD you could go with a SATA II HD (you will need to check the specs sheet of the drive you are planing on using to see what its SATA speed is and you must manually set it). Then you have the crash guard issue does the HD you are getting have it? Or is it dependent on the system to protect it.


You are correct your SSD will need to be SATA II drive if you put it into the optical carrier and it must be a manually settable to SATA II if it is a SATA III drive auto sense services worn't work correctly here.

Because of these issues we opted to not do the dual setup and just go with a Seagate SSHD drive here a link to the drive info page Seagate SSHD and here is the spec sheet Laptop SSHD. I think you will find it a better choice here as you get the speed of the SSD and still have the storage space of a traditional HD. Just to be clear here this drive must go where your current HD is located (the auto SATA I/O sense will not function in the optical carrier).


Sorry this is so complex, this is really not Apples fault here. The I/O controller chip made by Intel has this limit and any laptop system which uses this controller chip faces the same problem and Apple had no choice on what controller chip to use here.


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