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How To Upgrade Your iMac with an SSD (2018 updated)

The definitive guide

The iMac is an iconic piece of hardware that everyone loves to use. What to do when it slows down with age? You want to extend it's life, but how?

Increasing the ram gets you part of the way, but for a new iMac for the cost of an upgrade you need an iMac SSD upgrade. Replacing the hard drive on any iMac means removing the screen. This is not for the faint hearted, but with the right instructions, it can be done. Upgradeable also provides a installation service where we do all the work.

We created this guide to help you make sense of the right way to prepare and get a new SSD in your imac. Read it now, save it for later or just work out how much it will cost compared to a new iMac.

Keep scrolling, everything you need is contained here, provided free, no catches. If you think that is worth a like or a share, that would be awesome...buying one of our SSDs would be even better :-)

Macbbok pro -intro



Introduction

After you have upgraded the RAM the only other speed bottleneck is the mechanical hard drive. Upgrade to an SSD and you can make your Mac run like new. Applications will open quicker, starting up is snappy, and the overall result is extending the life of your Mac.

Replacing your mechanical hard drive with an SSD, and you will experience an incredible increase in speed. That is what this guide is all about. A RAM upgrade is easy, a iMac SSD upgrade is a bit harder, but after reading this guide you'll be an expert with all the knowledge to make an SSD upgrade simple.

For general use, most iMacs have enough CPU power. We have a 2006 iMac in the Upgradeable office and we decide to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD to see the effect. How fast can it perform? The results even surprised us. The start time went from 2 minutes to 15 seconds. It can perform moderate tasks with ease, browser, mail, word processing. It is stuck on an older OSX, so it can not run Sierra or be used for any power applications, but it does show what an SSD can do to make an iMac more usable.

Why does an SSD improve performance?

It is not the raw speed of the SSD, it is how it works. A traditional hard drive is like a record player, when you send data from the HDD to the CPU the computer has to find it, it hunts around the platters/disc looking for all the data. With an SSD, there is no waiting, this is because your data is effectively in a spreadsheet. The SSD knows where all your data is instantaneously. No waiting. No spinning beach ball.

The SSD is also made from flash chips that are almost as fast as the RAM. So when your Mac runs out of ram and pages to the SSD (uses the SSD as RAM) then it does not slow down, because an SSD is really like a big RAM drive!

Start using your Mac the way it was designed to be used...fast and no waiting. There is a reason most new Macs only come with SSDs.

This guide is just an example of how we try to over deliver our customer service. When you buy from Upgradeable, local tech support is just a phone call away. We have helped thousands of people with Apple computers upgrade their Macs. All that experience is distilled in this guide. We have tried to show exactly what you need to do in simple steps. We call this our "Four R method", because each step starts with the letter R. REPLACE, RESTART, READY and RESTORE. Choose the method that suits you best, and we'll show you how to do it, tell you the hardware you need and back you up with awesome customer technical support.



Table of Contents









Four R method: Time Machine

Macbbok pro -intro

The easiest way to upgrade to a new SSD is to use Time Machine. All you need are tools, bracket and the SSD! You can either restore a whole back up, which includes macOS or you can migrate using the Time Machine after installing a new macOS. Warning: If you have a mechanical hard drive with High Sierra formatted as Extended Journal then you can not restore from Time Machine, you must clone. Detailed explanation here

Our Four R method is a proven easy way to upgrade to an SSD.




1

REPLACE

The new SSD needs to be screwed into an Adaptadrive bracket.
Why do you need this bracket? The SSD is 2.5", the old iMac drive is 3.5" so the holes to fasten it to the iMac will not line up, you need an Adaptadrive bracket. Remove old hard drive, and install SSD. We provide detailed printed instructions when you order an SSD (tell us your iMac model in customer notes at checkout). This will involve removing the front screen.

2

RESTART

Plug Time Machine into the USB port. If you have a wifi time capsule make sure it is turned on. Restart your Mac holding down the Option key. This tells the Mac to find all disks attached that it can boot from. It will recognise the Time Machine and display the icon on screen.


3

READY

As the drive is shipped to you unformatted, you need to initialise the SSD to get it ready for the transfer of data. There is an option after you click into Time Machine called Disk Utility. You need to choose format type (use Mac OS Extended journaled) and a name, you can use Macintosh SSD or get creative. Click apply and this will format the SSD.

4

RESTORE

After formating the drive your Time Machine back ups should be onscreen. Choose the latest, and the Mac will ask if you want to restore back up? Yes. Done. Time Machine will now start restoring onto the new SSD. It will take a while, approximately 100gb per hour.


Software and tools you need

A Time Machine restore is preferred as you can check your back ups are working, and this is the reason Apple created Time Machine.

iMac toolkit (includes long-stem Torx T8 and T10 screwdrivers)
Heavy-Duty Suction Cups to remove the screen on 2009 to 2018 model iMacs.
Adhesive strips and opener for 21.5in iMac (2012-2018)
Adhesive strips and opener for 27in iMac (2012-2018)
NewerTech AdaptaDrive Drive Bracket converts 2.5" drive to 3.5" size
• On some iMacs installing an SSD removes the smart temperature sensor and causes the fan to run constantly. There are DIY hacks to disable the sensor with a paperclip and plugs to override the sensor (expensive) however we recommend controlling the fan with software such as SSD Fan Control
Choose an SSD drive here
• Don't have a Time Machine backup? Read the Apple guide on Time Machine backups

Warning: If you have a mechanical hard drive with High Sierra formatted as Extended Journal then you can not restore from Time Machine, you must clone. Detailed explanation here






Four R method: Cloning

Cloning allows you to make an exact copy of your current hard drive to the new the SSD. The benefit is software does not have to be reinstalled.

The process is largely automatic and the cloning takes 2-5 hours depending on the size of your drive.

iMac -cloning




1

READY

Connect the SSD to a spare USB port using the USB to SATA cable we provide.
The new SSD needs to be screwed into an Adaptadrive bracket. Why do you need this bracket?
The SSD is 2.5", the old iMac drive is 3.5" so the holes to fasten it to the iMac will not line up, you need an Adaptadrive bracket.

2

RESTART

Restart your Mac

Do not allow macOS to turn it into a Time Machine drive.


3

RESTORE

Download and Install SuperDuper! software (free software link is below in the green box). As the drive is shipped to you unformatted, you need to initialise the SSD to get it ready for the cloning by initialising the SSD. Clone your hard drive using SuperDuper!.

4

REPLACE

When cloning is complete, power off your Mac and replace the hard drive with the newly cloned SSD. This will involve removing the front screen. We ship detailed printed instructions with your SSD order. We offer an installation service for customers who are not comfortable disassembling their iMac.


Software and tools you need

There are many reasons you may want to clone your drive to a new SSD. Even if you do have a Time Machine back up, cloning is a simple way of putting all your data on a new drive.

iMac toolkit (includes long-stem Torx T8 and T10 screwdrivers)
USB to SATA cable (needed to connect the new SSD to your iMac's USB)
Heavy-Duty Suction Cups to remove the screen on 2009 to 2018 model iMacs.
NewerTech AdaptaDrive Drive Bracket converts 2.5" drive to 3.5" size
Adhesive strips and opener for 21.5in iMac (2012-2018)
Adhesive strips and opener for 27in iMac (2012-2018)
• On some iMacs installing an SSD removes the smart temperature sensor and causes the fan to run constantly. There are DIY hacks to disable the sensor with a paperclip and plugs to override the sensor (expensive) however we recommend controlling the fan with software such as SSD Fan Control
SuperDuper! software by Shirt Pocket (free download).
Choose an SSD drive here






Four R method: Fresh macOS

Macbbok pro -intro

Sometimes a Mac needs a fresh start. Either you feel your Mac is compromised with malware, or multiple OS upgrades have taken it's toll. Whatever the reason, Apple makes it easy to reinstall macOS.

MacOS can be installed via Internet Recovery or via a macOS USB.




1

READY

This method takes a little bit of planning. OSX or macOS (as it is now called) can be installed on an empty SSD via Internet Recovery (mid 2010 onward) or installing from media such as a USB (pre 2010). If you are installing from USB, you need to make that macOS USB before you start.
The new SSD needs to be screwed into an Adaptadrive bracket. Why do you need this bracket?
The SSD is 2.5", the old iMac drive is 3.5" so the holes to fasten it to the iMac will not line up, you need an Adaptadrive bracket.

2

RESTART

Shut down your Mac.


3

REPLACE

Replace the hard drive (HDD) with the new SSD (in adaptabracket). This will involve removing the front screen. We ship detailed printed instructions with your SSD order. We offer a installation service for customers who are not comfortable disassembling their iMac.

4

RESTORE

If you are installing macOS from USB, then insert macOS USB, hold down option key and restart Mac. If you are using Recovery mode, plug in your Time Machine or Mac drive, restart the Mac holding down the option key. Select Time Machine or recovery disk. This will create the macOS Utilities page that has options such as Disk Utility and install a new macOS. Whichever method you choose, the new SSD first has to be initialised (erased) first via Disk Utility. Caution: If you use (Command + R) and a spinning globe of the world appears, the Mac has not used the Recovery partition but is using Internet Recovery. This is to be avoided, turn off power to abort, as the macOS it will install is the earlier version that originally shipped with your Mac. See How to install a macOS for detailed information


Software and tools you need

There are many options when starting fresh. You can install the current version of macOS or a later version that is more compatible with your apps and programs. You can put the latest macOS on your new SSD then use the Apple Migration tool to copy over data and programs. You do not have to connect to another Mac, you can connect to a Time Machine or external startup disk to transfer files!

• Familar with how to Internet Recovery macOS or have an macOS USB drive.
iMac toolkit (includes long-stem Torx T8 and T10 screwdrivers)
Heavy-Duty Suction Cups to remove the screen on 2009 to 2017 model iMacs.
NewerTech AdaptaDrive Drive Bracket converts 2.5" drive to 3.5" size
Adhesive strips and opener for 21.5in iMac (2012-2017)
Adhesive strips and opener for 27in iMac (2012-2017)
• On some iMacs installing an SSD removes the smart temperature sensor and causes the fan to run constantly. There are DIY hacks to disable the sensor with a paperclip and plugs to override the sensor (expensive) however we recommend controlling the fan with software such as SSD Fan Control
Choose an SSD drive here

Warning: In previous versions of this document we stated that you can fresh install macOS via Internet Recovery. Apple has changed this function. You can now only install the macOS your iMac came with, you can not get the latest macOS like High Sierra. If you want the latest macOS, the easiest way is creating a macOS installation USB or booting from a High Sierra recovery partition or Time Machine.

The Upgradeable Team is here to help. If you want advice or check with an expert, please call, chat or email.






Use SSD as a second drive

iMac 2nd drive

If your iMac has a DVD drive (2009 to 2011), a second drive can be installed, allowing the current hard drive to remain as extra storage. This is done by removing the optical/DVD drive and replacing it with a Datadoubler.




1

Physical installations

The SSD can only be installed in the optical bay slot as the 3.5 inch current drive is too big for the datadoubler. Fit the new SSD onto the Datadoubler. Remove optical drive (DVD) and replace with the Datadoubler. (full printed instructions are included with order).

2

Restart your Mac

Power on your iMac holding down the option key (this starts the boot manager and shows all the drives you can boot from). Your old hard drive should appear onscreen as a device to boot from. Select and start up macOS.
When the Mac starts up, do not allow the system to use the new SSD as a Time Machine.


3

Initialise the new SSD

The new SSD needs to be initialised (formatted). Open Disk Utilities (in applications), select the new SSD. Click on Erase. Give the new drive a name such as "Macintosh SSD", Format type is Mac OS Extended (journaled), Scheme (if available): Choose GUID Partition Map. Click Erase. Wait. The drive is now ready to be used.

4

How are you restoring macOS?

Will you be cloning your old drive onto the new SSD? Or using internet recovery or a macOS USB to install a fresh install of macOS. If you are cloning, install SuperDuper! software and clone your hard drive to new SSD. If you are putting a fresh version of macOS on the new SSD, use one of teh methods listed in the How to install macOS

5

Two bootable drives

There are now two bootable drives, you need to make sure macOS uses the right one! When you restart, hold down the option key and choose the new SSD to boot from. In StartUp Disk (in system preferences) choose the new SSD as the drive the system uses to restart the Mac. Now whenever the iMac restarts it will boot from the SSD first.
It is a good idea to use the new SSD for a while. Make sure everything is ok If everything is ok. If you do not need the 2nd drive as a backup and the new SSD is working perfectly you can erase the drive in Disk Utilities. The 2nd drive can be use as a Time Machine for back ups or use as internal storage.


Software and tools you need

This upgrade looks hard, but it is not, just a few more details, and we always provide printed illustrated guides and free phone tech support if you need help.

iMac toolkit (includes long-stem Torx T8 and T10 screwdrivers)
Heavy-Duty Suction Cups to remove the screen on 2009 to 2017 model iMacs.
• Optical bay adapter bracket NewerTech Datadoubler
• On some iMacs installing an SSD removes the smart temperature sensor and causes the fan to run constantly. There are DIY hacks to disable the sensor with a paperclip and plugs to override the sensor (expensive) however we recommend controlling the fan with software such as SSD Fan Control
• Familiar with how to Internet Recovery macOS or have a macOS USB drive.

Choose an SSD drive here

The Upgradeable Team is here to help. If you want advice or check with an expert, please call, chat or email.









Choose an SSD compatible with your iMac


From 2006 to 2017 all iMac's used a standard SATA drive for the primary storage. This drive was usually a 3.5 inch size (ssd requires an Adaptadrive bracket). From late 2012 all 21.5" iMacs used a 2.5" drive and don't require a bracket. From 2017 all 27" iMacs use a 2.5" drive, so all 27" iMacs from 2009 to 2015 have a 3.5" drive and require an Adaptadrive bracket for the replacement SSD.

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Let us do all the work!


Not everyone wants to do their own installation. An iMac SSD installation We offer an installation service at our Sydney Pymble office. An Apple qualified technician does all our hardware and software work. We match Crucial's warranty, so our labour warranty is also 3 years. This means if you have to claim your Crucial warranty, we will not charge a second installation fee!
How can I get my new SSD installed?
Below we have a full range of SSD drives with installation included. Just choose the size you want, there are no hidden extras. The price you see is the price you pay.

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Get a 1TB installed in your iMac at our Pymble office - pay no more, no hidden extras!
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Accessories you need for a DIY installation


These are the kits or parts you need for a successful installation of your SSD. Add to your cart what you need with the SSD you have chosen. When checking out, don't forget to tell us in the customer notes which iMac you have, and we will include full printed instructions.



Screwdrivers + USB to SATA cable + NewerTech Suction kit + NewerTech AdaptaDrive bracket
15 in stock
More Information...
$99.00
Screwdrivers + NewerTech Suction kit + NewerTech Datadoubler
26 in stock
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$109.00
Screwdrivers + NewerTech Suction kit + NewerTech AdaptaDrive bracket
22 in stock
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$84.00


Choose items individually


If you only need one or two items, you can buy them here.


These are the longer screwdrivers that make working on an iMac easier Part No: UA1297
13 in stock
More Information...
$34.00
Part No: UA1326
94 in stock
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Part No: UA2292
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How to install macOS

Note: Apple has removed the feature to get the latest macOS (such as High Sierra) via Internet Recovery. All key commands now install the original macOS that came with your Mac. For example; if you have an older Mac that shipped with Lion, then internet recovery will install that version on your Mac. The only way to get a newer version of macOS is via macOS Utilities on Time Machine or a recovery partition on a Mac drive (such as your old hard drive).

If you have experienced something different, please let us know.

Why is this an issue?
From Sierra and High Sierra, Apple has a new drive format structure designed specifically for SSD drives.. When you upgrade to High Sierra, Apple changes your drive format structure to APFS. High Sierra will only reliably work on a drive formatted as APFS. To control how the latest macOS is installed, Apple has locked down ways to install it. If you internet recover your macOS, you can not format your drive as APFS and you can not install the latest macOS. To get the latest macOS you need a recovery partition created with one of the latest macOS (like High Sierra).

With the dramatics out of the way, there are various ways to install macOS on your Mac, Apple provides many options. This quick guide is designed to answer questions you have and provide a bit of clarity on the different processes. This is based on our experience and is always being revised. If you can add to these guides, please contact us accordingly.

Restrictions on Internet Recovery
Not all iMacs can use Internet Recovery. The feature was built into iMacs from Mid 2010. You can not use Internet recovery if you iMac is older than these models:
iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)
iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011)
iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, Mid 2010)

How to get the latest macOS on a new SSD?
If you don't have a Time Machine or a working mac drive with the latest macOS then you only have one option. You have to create a macOS USB drive.
If you have a Time Machine or a working Mac drive, you can boot off either device to start the macOS Utilities page which gives you the option of Disk Utility (to initialise the new SSD) and also install a new macOS. That macOS will be the version of macOS that is backed up on the Time Machine or the macOS that created the recovery partition. So if your drive or Time Machine was created with Sierra, then that is the macOS you can download and install. You can not install High Sierra. The latest macOS is only available via an upgrade path. So install Sierra, and then use App Store to upgrade to High Sierra. To use Time Machine restart your Mac while holding down the option key. If restart the Mac holding down Command + R it could use an old recovery partition or Internet Recovery. If you are using a recovery partition you can restart the Mac holing down the option key (recommended as you can see which drive it reboots from) or holding down Command + R.

Using your old drive to get a new macOS
Your current hard drive will most likely have a recovery partition. Plug your new SSD into the Mac using a USB-SATA cloning cable. Reboot the Mac holding down keys Command (⌘)-R. This should make the Mac boot from the recovery partition. If a spinning globe of the world appears, then it is going to Apple website to install an older version of MacOS, so cancel that operation or shut the Mac down via a hard power off (hold down power button). You need to restart holding down the option key, select the recovery partition on the drive that appear. What should happen is the Mac will build The "macOS Utilities" page giving you the option of installing a new macOS (there are also options to restore from Time Machine and Disk Utility).

Using your Time Machine to get a new macOS
Plug the Time Machine directly into your Mac. Hold down the option key and reboot the Mac. Holding down the option key loads the boot manager and the Time Machine drive should appear onscreen. Select the Time Machine and the macOS Utilities page should come onscreen. You will have the option of installing a new macOS (there are also options to restore from Time Machine and Disk Utility).
If a spinning globe of the world appears, then it is going to Apple website to install an older version of MacOS, so cancel that operation or shut the Mac down via a hard power off (hold down power button). Your Mac is not seeing the Time Machine. Make sure there is a physical connection not wifi. Is the Time Machine turned on? Try holding down keys Command (⌘)-R and restarting with the Time Machine plugged in.

Options for older Macs
You can install MacOS via original Apple disks. Apple no longer makes MacOS disks, DVD, CD or physical media. All MacOS software is delivered digitally. If you have original software media for an macOS like Snow Leopard you can install that software and then upgrade via the App Store to the current version. Use the current MacOS upgrade guide for more information.
If you are using Leopard, you need to first buy Snow Leopard OSX 10.6 media from Apple to upgrade the MacOS digitally. You can buy from an Apple Store or calling Apple Support.

Common problems installing a new macOS

Can not boot from Time Machine
From OS X Lion v10.7.3 or later, you can start up from your Time Machine disk. Hold down the Option key as your Mac starts up. When you see the Startup Manager screen, choose “EFI Boot” as the startup disk. The system should create the macOS Utilities page. From here you can use disk utilities to format a new SSD, you can restore from Time Machine or install a new macOS from the Apple servers. If you can not boot from the Time Machine, it is certainly something to do with your EFI. We are still troubleshooting this, we will have a new section on EFI shortly. You can google macOS EFI update to see the issue some mac users are having. It appears Apple updates the EFI in the background during macOS updates. If it fails, there is no warning or notification. So there are a lot of Macs with outdated EFI. If your EFI is current, we have not seen any issues with High Sierra or booting from Time Machine. If you are having issues installing High Sierra, please check if your EFI is update.



How to use Migration Assistant

Apple includes an awesome app called Migration Assistant that we have used to help customers start over with a fresh macOS but keep all their data and applications. Apple allows a lot of different installation and migration options. We will discuss the main ones here, but if this does not answer your migration question, please contact us for more specific information about the upgrade you are planning.

What is Migration Assistant...why should I use it?
Migration Assistant allows you to transfer applications, settings and data from another Mac. macOS can see "another Mac" as your old hard drive or a Time Machine back up. A mac can boot from an external drive, for example, if you put your old hard drive into an external enclosure, you can boot from it, and run that hard drive and it would be exactly the same as your old mac...because it is!

If you just want a new macOS, start fresh with no legacy upgrade data, then you can use Migration Assistant to reinstall all your data and apps, and you will have the benefit of a new macOS with all the apps and data from your old drive.

How to use Migration Assistant
After you have installed the new macOS, the system starts and asks for generic information: country, keyboard type etc. The next part of the installation setup is Migration Assistant.
Apple Migration Assistant
If you have installed a new SSD, you can use either your old hard drive in an external enclosure or a Time Machine back up as a source for Migration Assistant.
The example in the image below, a Time Machine disk is connected and to be used
Select Time machine in Apple Migration Assistant
Select the machine you want to restore from in Time Machine
Select the machine in Apple Migration Assistant
Then select the type of data you want to migrate
Select the items to migrate in Apple Migration Assistant
That is it! You should have a new macOS with all your applications and data restored back on the system.

Limitations of Migration Assistant
The new Mac can not be on Lion (v10.8) or earlier. If you are migrating to an old version of OSX such as Lion, then you need to use another method.
This method is not recommended if the macOS are too far apart in release. It is ok if you are moving from Sierra to High Sierra. But if your computer is on Lion, your application and core system files will not be compatible with High Sierra.



Time Machine: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

We have renamed this section the good, the bad and the ugly. These are the undocumented or little known Time Machine features that can make your life easier or harder when upgrading to an SSD.

THE GOOD
First the most asked question we get: Does Time Machine back up the operating system or macOS?
If your Time Machine is backing up your whole drive, yes the macOS is backed up. You have a complete back up of your Mac. You do not have to download macOS to use your Time Machine. In Sierra and High Sierra we have seen Time Machine go off to the Apple website to verify or update core files. It is not totally understood what is happening, but it is not uncommon for Time Machine to get additional files from the Apple website before restoring a Time Machine back up. Usually these files are to do with the recovery partition on the Time Machine or the Disk Utilities page.

Restore on a new macOS
You can install a new macOS onto your Mac and then restore a Time Machine backup and not overwrite the new macOS. In our tests, we have found Apple has separated out the OS and the data. If Time Machine sees there is a macOS installed on the SSD, it will not overwrite these files, but just restore the data. You can enjoy a new macOS on your new SSD, and then restore your data without affecting the new macOS.
The is good for customers with High Sierra on Extended Journal formatted drives. You can reinstall High Sierra on a new SSD with APFS format, then restore from Time Machine and you will keep the APFS format, have all your data moved over.
The bad is for customers that have installed an older macOS, such as Lion, via internet recovery. If you then restored from Time Machine on top of this Lion macOS then Time Machine will not overwrite the Lion files, and you will create a Mac that can not boot on the new SSD. If you install the wrong macOS on your new SSD, the SSD must be erased using Disk Utility, and then the Mac can be restored from Time Machine.

Rebooting off Time Machine
Time Machine does not have a recovery partition, however you can use it to restore your Mac or install a new macOS. If you want to use Time Machine in this way, plug the Time Machine into the Mac, then restart the Mac holding down the Option key. This loads the boot manager and you can see all drives attached to the Mac. The Time Machine should display as an external drive. Select it and the Mac will build a macOS Utilities page that will have Disk Utility (to initialise a new drive or erase a current drive) and install a new macOS.

THE BAD
The biggest issue we currently have with Time Machine is restoring onto a new SSD with High Sierra. We have written about this before: to run High Sierra on an SSD without problems the SSD must be formatted to APSF, not macOS Extended Journal. If you have a mechanical hard drive and have upgraded to High Sierra, most of the time this drive is formatted as Extended Journal. When you restore from Time Machine onto a new SSD, Time Machine recreates the whole structure. It will name the SSD the same as the old hard drive (even if it is preformated and named different) and it will format the drive as the same as the one on the Time Machine, which is usually Extended Journal. There is no way to change to APFS without erasing the SSD. This is the problem. Currently we have two work arounds. The easy one is clone the drive do not restore from Time Machine. By cloning, you can format the new SSD as APFS, and then the clone will copy all the old files onto the new SSD with the right APFS format. The second work around is installing a fresh OS using a macOS installation USB and then restoring Time Machine on top of the new OS. Time Machine will restore the data but not overwrite the new OS.


THE UGLY
This one might be a bit pedantic but it annoys the hell out of me. When you restore from Time Machine is restores everything including the disk name. It is the disk name duplication that kills me every time. You erase your new SSD, give it a clever name like Ernie because your current hard drive is called Bert. You restore from Time Machine and the SSD is now called Bert. What happened to Ernie? Ok, I know, you can go and rename the drive to Ernie but what if this is a second drive. Both drives are called Bert, how do you know which one is which? It is important, because you need to set the new SSD as the start disk in preferences. You can not rename the drive in disk utilities but you can change the name on your desktop. So go to the desktop, you will see two drives, both with the same name. You can click twice on the name slowly and it will highlight so you can rename it. Then go to Disk Utilities see which drive you changed. You should be able to see details like SSD brand name, which will make it obvious which is the new SSD. That way you can work out which is the new SSD and which one should be renamed Ernie.


How to create a macOS USB

There are a lot of options to create bootable USB to install macOS. We have recommended Diskmaker X in the past but the method we outline here is the recommended method from Apple.
This is our summary of how to make a High Sierra macOS USB drive. With this drive you can install macOS on a blank SSD or boot from this USB and use the tools and utilities to check or format a Mac drive.




1

Download High Sierra

Go to the App Store, search for macOS High Sierra and download. After it has downloaded it should appear in your Applications as "Installer MacOS High Sierra. If you have already downloaded and upgraded to High Sierra you will need to download Sierra again.

2

8GB USB

You need at least an 8GB USB drive. It does not have to be a super fast USB 3.0 version, and older one can be repurposed. It does not have to be a USB. You can use an external hard drive (note: any data on the drive will be lost as it gets formatted). Go into Disk Utilities and rename the USB to "upgradeable". You can erase and rename. The MacOS creation method will reformat the drive, so it does not need to be any specific format type like Fat32 or Mac Journaled. What is important is the name of the drive, as it is used in the code below.


3

Using Terminal

We are going to use the command line app called Terminal to create the MacOS drive. Don't worry if you have never used it, it is very easy, not that scary. Open Terminal, it is found in the Utilities folder in Applications.

4

Copy this code

Copy this code:
sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app


5

Paste the code

Paste the code you copied into Terminal and hit enter. It will ask for your system password (usually the one you log on with at start up). Type Y and return when it asks if you want to erase this drive. When it is finished creating it will display "Copy complete". You can close Terminal.

6

How to use the USB

When the USB or external drive is plugged in, restart the Mac holding down the Option key. The USB will appear on screen as Install MacOS. Select and hit return. You do not need to select a network. If you are installing the macOS on a new SSD it will need to be initialised. Go into Disk Utility, Erase and name. Proceed to install macOS. Please note Apple have added a new format type in High Sierra. If you are starting with a new macOS, like High Sierra, then Apple recommends you use APFS and not Mac Extended journal. APFS is a new format specific designed for High Sierra and above macOS and optimised for SSD drives.

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How to initialise an SSD

When you get your new SSD it is uninitialised. This means it can be used in a Mac or PC. It needs to be initialised before use. In the PC world they call this formatting the drive. In the Mac world it is called Erase and it is a function of Disk Utilities

Disk Utility is a tool included in many places. It is found in the Utilities directory in Applications. It is included in any macOS install app. It is found in the recovery partition on a drive when a Mac is restarted holding down the keys Command + R. It is also a part of the Internet Recovery boot up. There are many reasons why you would want to erase a drive, this guide is focused on initialising a new SSD, however for readers who are looking at general information we have added the following warning...
Warning: Erasing a disk will delete all data on the disk. Never initialise/erase a drive that has data on it that you want to keep. I know that sounds obvious but you would be surprised with the support calls we get :-). Four steps to initialise a new SSD.

New APFS format in High Sierra
Starting from macOS High Sierra, Apple have a new format called APFS. It is recommended to format your new SSD in APFS if you will be using High Sierra or above. APFS is optimised for SSD drives. If you are using macOS Sierra or below, the recommended format is still Mac OS Extended (Journaled).



1

Open Disk Utility

When you start Disk Utility, in the sidebar are the drives attached to the Mac. Select the disk name, not the indented volume name.

2

Erase button

Click on the Erase button. If there is no erase button select the drive again.


3

Options

There are two to three fields that need to be selected.
Name: Enter a name for your disk, such as "Macintosh SSD"
Format: Choose APFS (for High Sierra) or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for earlier macOS like El Capitan
Scheme (if available): Choose GUID Partition Map
Erase options in Sierra

4

ERASE

Click the Erase button and the SSD will be ready to use.


How to clone with SuperSuper!

Please note: this process cannot be used to clone a Windows partition created by Boot Camp. We recommend WinClone by Twocanoes Software. It is commercial software requiring a license to use, however it is not affiliated with our company and that is not an affiliate link.

Before cloning, the SSD needs to be initialised, if that has not been done, please follow our instructions above.

The process is really only two steps...download and run. Superduper! is very simple but powerful piece of software.



1

Download and install

SuperDuper! software by Shirt Pocket (free download).

When the download is complete, install in your Applications folder.

Double click on the SuperDuper! icon to run

2

Clone

Choose your source (Macintosh HDD) and destination (Macintosh SSD) drives. Click Copy Now to begin. You will be notified when it is complete.
Erase options in Sierra


Simple Questions answered


Is the SSD the same physical size as my current hard drive?
Up until the 2012 iMacs, Apple has used a 3.5 inch hard drive, and the standard SSD drive is 2.5". To secure the SSD into the 3.5" space in the iMac you need a bracket. From 2012 the 21.5" iMacs came with a 2.5" drive. From 2017 the 27" iMacs shipped with a 2.5" hard drive.

Can I use any SSD here to upgrade my iMac?
Every iMac (including PCIe SSD iMacs )have a SATA port for a standard SATA hard drive.

Do the PCIe SSD iMacs use a standard M.2 SSD?
No. It is only standard in it's physical size. A standard M.2 drive will not work. Apple has made their drives proprietary.

Are the 2.5" SSD drives faster or better the larger the size?
All our current SSDs are the same speed and quality. The 275GB is as fast as the 2TB.

Do I need a bracket to install the SSD?
Yes. If you are replacing a 3.5 inch hard with a 2.5" SSD you will need an adaptabracket.

Do I need any special tools?
For the pre 2013 models you need a small phillips screwdriver and a Torx 6 screwdriver. These are standard tools, found in many kits and available at hardware stores like Bunnings. Everything you need is in our screwdriver tool kit. The Aura SSD kits include all the tools you require.

Can I clone a bigger drive onto a smaller SSD?
No. If you have 900gb of data on a 1TB hard drive, you can not clone this onto a 525GB SSD. The cloning software we recommend does not selectively clone. It is all or nothing.

Does the hard drive and the SSD have to be the same size?
No. As long as the source (current hard drive) has less data than size of the new SSD. So 300GB on a 1TB hard drive will clone onto a 525GB SSD.

What size SSD should I buy?
We recommend you look at how much data is on your hard drive and then get an SSD at least 20% bigger than the data you have. We have found the optimal free space for an SSD to work with virtual and swap files is 20%. Aim for 30 to 40%. It all depends on your work flow and how much data you store and delete.

Can SuperDuper! clone a windows parition?
No. We recommend Winclone for this type of clone.






Revision log (what has changed)


If you have read or downloaded this guide in the past, you might want to know what has changed, how have we updated this guide.

August 2018
Why you can not restore from Time Machine if your Mac has High Sierra on a drive formatted with macOS Extended Journal (part of Time Machine: the good, the bad and the ugly)

July 2018
We now do not recommend using Time Machine to restore on to your new SSD if you have a mechanical hard drive formatted with macOS Extended Journal. You can only clone.

April 2018
Updating How to Install macOS page. We are troubleshooting installs everyday, and updating information on these pages. It appears a lot of issues revolve around updated EFI. Please check your EFI before doing too much troubleshooting. Booting off Time Machine with an out of date EFI now seems to be problematic

March 2018
In Four R method Time Machine: Replaced default format of extended journal to APFS must be used for High Sierra)
Updated the High Sierra create a USB installer script: we had it wrong.
Added two new topics: Using Migration Assistant and Unknown Time Machine features.

February and March 2018
New APFS format structure. We added the Apple recommendation to use APFS for High Sierra. Updated the How to Initialise an SSD and updated the Disk Utilities image to show all the new format options.

January 2018
We added information about Time Machine recovery partition. If you have a Mac that can not use Internet Recovery, then the recovery partition on Time Machine can be used to restore an macOS. Areas updated were Fresh macOS and How to Install macOS.

December 2017
Updated scripts to High Sierra.