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How To Upgrade Your Macbook Pro with an SSD (2017 updated)

The definitive guide

Do you love your Macbook? Does it just need a bit more speed? Or are you trying to extend it's life?

The biggest speed increase comes from a Macbook Pro SSD upgrade. Sound scary or hard? It's not really, we know you don't believe us, so we created this guide! It has everything you need to know, to make upgrading to an SSD easy. Read it now, save it for later or just work out how much it will cost compared to a new Macbook Pro.

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

There are two speed bottlenecks in a Macbook Pro notebook. Fix both 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.

First bottleneck is RAM. You need at least 8GB of RAM for the current macOS. 10GB or 12GB is nice. 16GB is awesome. If it is a choice between 16GB and an SSD, choose an SSD. You really only need 8GB and an SSD for a super speedy Mac. (Did you expect that bit of truth from the Mac memory upgrade guys?)

The second bottleneck is your the hard drive. Replace it with an SSD, and the speed increase is incredible. That is what this guide is all about. A RAM upgrade is easy, a Mac SSD upgrade is a bit harder, but with this guide you'll be an expert with all the knowledge to make an SSD upgrade simple.

For general use, most modern Macbooks have enough CPU power. I am typing this article on a 2010 Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM and a 525GB SSD drive. I'm running two browsers (Firefox and Chrome. I edited the images for this article in Photoshop, uploaded them to our server using Cyberduck, and I'm running Mail and Excel in the background. I dont have to wait for the CPU to catch up, there is no spinning beachball, there is no lag.

Why?

I have an SSD

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 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 it 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! That's why I (and you) can get away with 8GB of RAM.

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. Lets us show you how.

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.



Chapters









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 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.

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




1

REPLACE

Remove your old hard drive, and install SSD. We provide detailed printed instructions when you order an SSD, just include your Macbook Pro model in the notes at checkout.

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 and give it a person's name like Oscar. 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

The great thing about a Time Machine restore is you only need the SSD and tools to open the Macbook Pro.

Screwdrivers (Phillips #00, Torx T6 and Spudger)
Choose an SSD drive here
• Don't have a Time Machine backup? Read the Apple guide on Time Machine backups






Four R method: Cloning (2006-2012)

These are instructions for 2006 to 2012 (non-Retina) Macbook Pro and Macbooks.

Cloning allows you to make an exact copy of 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.

Macbook pro -cloning




1

READY

Connect the SSD to a spare USB port using the USB to SATA cable we provide.

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. We ship detailed printed instructions with your SSD order


Software and tools you need

Cloning is an excellent way to quickly copy your current drive onto a new SSD. You just need a cloning cable, SSD and tools to open the Macbook Pro.

Screwdrivers (Phillips #00, Torx T6 and Spudger)
USB to SATA cable (needed to connect the new SSD to your Macbook's USB)
SuperDuper! software by Shirt Pocket (free download).
Choose an SSD drive here




Four R method: Cloning (2013-2015)

With the introduction of Retina screen on the 2012 Macbook Pro, Apple moved to a M.2 shaped SSD that was non standard.

These cloning instructions are for Retina 2012 Macbook Pro to the 2015 Macbook Pro. The SSD for the current range of 2016-17 Macbook Pro is still in development.

This cloning method is essentially the same as the one above but the new SSD is installed first. This is because the cloning case (Envoy) works only with the original Apple SSD.

Macbook pro -cloning




1

READY

Download and Install on your current drive SuperDuper! software (free software link is below in the green box).

2

REPLACE

Power off your Mac and replace the original Apple SSD with the new Aura SSD. We ship detailed printed instructions with your SSD. All the tools you need are included. Install the Apple SSD into the OWC Envoy external case.


3

RESTART

Plug external Envoy into Macbook Pro and restart your Mac holding down the Option key. Your original drive should appear on screen, click on it to boot off that drive. The Mac might ask to turn the new SSD into a Time Machine, say no. Go to Disk Utilities and initialise the SSD <-- click link for detail instructions.

4

RESTORE

Clone your original SSD using SuperDuper!. When it has finished, unplug the external Envoy and boot your Macbook Pro from the new SSD.


Software and tools you need

Our SSD drives for the 2012 (Retina) Macbook Pro to 2015 models include everything you need to clone.
Kit includes SSD, printed instructions and tools. All you need to do is download SuperSuper!

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 off media such as a USB (pre 2010). If you are installing from USB, you need to make that macOS USB before you start.

2

RESTART

Shut down your Mac.


3

REPLACE

Replace the hard drive (HDD) with the new SSD (reuse any mounting screws and brackets).

4

RESTORE

Which ever method you choose, the new SSD first has to be initialised (erased) first via Disk Utilities. If you are installing macOS from USB, then insert macOS USB, hold down option key and restart Mac. If you are using Internet Recovery, restart the Mac holding down the three keys Option + Command + R. This will put the latest macOS on your Mac. Caution: If you use standard Recovery (Command + R) the macOS installed will be the version your Mac shipped with not the latest version!


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!

Screwdrivers (Phillips #00, Torx T6 and Spudger)

• Familar with how to Internet Recovery macOS or have an 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.






Use SSD as a second drive

Macbook pro 2nd drive

Your new SSD can be installed as a second drive allowing the current hard drive (HDD) to remain as extra storage. This is done by removing the optical drive and replace it with the new SSD but more commonly the current HDD is removed and put into the optical bay with a Datadoubler. For 2008 to 2012 Macs only.




1

Physical installations

Remove the current hard drive. Fit this drive on the Datadoubler. Remove optical drive (DVD) and replace with the Datadoubler. Install SSD into the empty space where old hard drive has located. (full printed instructions are included with order). You should now have your old hard drive in the optical bay and the new SSD in the hard drive location.

2

Restart your Mac

Power on your Macbook Pro holding down the option key (this starts the boot manager and shows all drive 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. Format type is Mac OS Extended (journaled), give the new drive a name such as "Macintosh SSD". 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 (in optical bay) to new SSD. If you are putting a fresh version of macOS on the new SSD follow the instructions listed in the Four R method: Fresh macOS

5

Two bootable drives

There are now two bootable drives, you need to make sure macOS uses the right one! In StartUp Disk (in system preferences) choose the new SSD as the drive the system uses to restart the Mac.
It is a good idea to use the new SSD for a while. Make sure 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.

NewerTech Data Doubler bracket for Mac optical bay

SuperDuper! software by Shirt Pocket (free download). Or 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 Macbook or Macbook Pro


These SSD drives are a standard 2.5 inch SATA drive, compatible with the Macbook and Macbook Pro range from 2006 to mid 2012 (non Retina screen)

The biggest and the best - Read 530MB/s and Write 510MB/s - p/n UA1858
In Stock and Apple compatible
Technical specifications
$864.00
Professional grade SSD - Read 530MB/s and Write 510MB/s - p/n UA1723
8 in stock
Technical specifications
$459.00
Extend the life of your Macbook - Read 530MB/s and Write 510MB/s - p/n UA1722
9 in stock
Technical specifications
$248.00
Awesome value - Read 530MB/s and Write 500MB/s - p/n UA1721
9 in stock
Click Here to Find Out More
$159.00

In the Retina model of the mid 2012 Macbook Pro Apple changed the SSD they used to a proprietary M.2 drive. Proprietary here means an industry standard M.2 drive is not compatible. OWC have created a third party SSD that is fully compatible and five times faster. All the SSD kits here include SSD, the Envoy external case and tools required for the upgrade. If you are looking for the SSD by itself please contact Upgradeable for a quote.

SSDs compatible with mid 2012 Macbook Pro Retina and early 2013 Macbook Pro
Not compatible with Late 2013 MacBook Pro - model ID: MacBookPro11,1

SSD for model id: MacBookPro10,1 MacBookPro10,2 - 5x faster than the original drive - p/n UA1768
Ships in 2-3 days
Click Here to Find Out More
$759.00
SSD for model id: MacBookPro10,1 MacBookPro10,2 - 5x faster than the original drive - p/n UA1748
1 in stock
Click Here to Find Out More
$461.00

The SSD used in the MacBook Pro with Retina 13" & 15" Late 2013 to Mid 2015 was updated by Apple and is not compatible with earlier models. The SSD, as in the previous model, is a proprietary M.2 drive. An industry standard M.2 drive is not compatible. OWC have created a third party SSD that is fully compatible. All the SSD kits here include SSD, the Envoy external case and tools required for the upgrade. If you are looking for the SSD by itself please contact Upgradeable for a quote.

SSDs compatible with MacBook Pro with Retina 13" & 15" Late 2013 - Mid 2015
Compatible with these model ids: Model ID: MacBookPro11,1 , MacBookPro11,2 , MacBookPro11,3 , MacBookPro11,4 , MacBookPro11,5 , MacBookPro12,1

OWC SSD OWCSSDAB2MB10K Upgrade Kit w/ SSD, Tools & Envoy Pro Enclosure
1 in stock
Click Here to Find Out More
$994.00
OWC SSD OWCSSDAB2MB05K Upgrade Kit w/ SSD, Tools & Envoy Pro Enclosure
1 in stock
Click Here to Find Out More
$679.00

Let us do all the work!


Not everyone wants to do their own 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.

In Store Services Menu


Get a 2TB installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$998.00
Get a 1TB installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$598.00
Get a 525GB SSD installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$397.00
Get a 275GB SSD installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$299.00
Get a 1TB SSD installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$829.00
Get a 480GB SSD installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$539.00
Get a 1TB SSD installed in your Macbook Pro at our Pymble office
In Stock and 100% guaranteed
More information
$1099.00
Must be added to cart with an SSD drive
Available now
More Information...
$158.00



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 Macbook or Macbook pro you have, and we will include full printed instructions.



Screwdrivers + USB to SATA cable
99 in stock
More Information...
$35.00
Screwdrivers + USB to SATA cable + NewerTech Datadoubler
99 in stock
More Information...
$89.00
Part No: UA1291
42 in stock
More Information...
$20.00
Part No: UA1326
43 in stock
More Information...
$19.00

How to install macOS

There are various ways to install macOS on your Mac, Apple has made it very easy. 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.

Standard Recovery versus Internet Recovery
Standard recovery is commonly referred to as Recovery Mode. It can be used by restarting the Mac and holding down the keys Command + R. It uses the recovery partition on the drive to restore the last version of macOS installed on the drive. Using this method to install macOS on a new SSD is not the best option, as there is no recovery partition, the mac will use the internet to install the macOS version that originally shipped with the Mac. In our experience using Recovery Mode is the same as Shift-Option-Command-R which reinstalls the macOS that came with your Mac, or the version closest to it that is still available.
Internet Recovery is when your Mac uses the internet to restore macOS to the drive. When a spinning earth globe appears on screen, this indicates you are in Internet Recovery mode. If there is an apple symbol, then the Mac is using the recovery partition.

If you want to put install the latest macOS that is compatible with your Mac then restart the Mac and hold down this key combination: Option-Command-R

Restrictions on Internet Recovery
Not all Macs can use Internet Recovery. The feature was built into Macs from Mid 2010. You can not use Internet recovery if you Mac is older than any of these:
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011)
iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)
iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011)
MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010)
Mac mini (Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (15-inch and 17-inch, Mid 2010)
iMac (21.5-inch and 27-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Air (11-inch and 13-inch, Late 2010)

Options other than Internet Recovery
You can install MacOS via a USB or 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.




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 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 Sierra

Go to the App Store, search for macOS Sierra and download. After it has downloaded it should appear in your Applications as "Installer MacOS Sierra. If you have already downloaded and upgraded to 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\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/upgradeable --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ 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 Sierra. 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 Utilities, Erase and name. Proceed to install macOS Sierra.



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 Utilities is a tool included in many places. It is found in the Utilities directory in Applications. It is included in any macOS install drive. 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.



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 Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
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?
Yes. Both the standard Apple 2006-2012 Macbook and Macbook Pro hard drive are an industry standard 2.5 inch notebook drive. They are physically exactly the same physical size.

Can I use any SSD here to upgrade my 2012 (Retina) to 2017 Macbook Pro?
No. From the Retina 2012 Macbook Pro Apple started using a proprietary version of a M.2 SSD. We recommend the OWC Aura SSD and have listed these SSD's separately.

Does the 2013-2017 Macbook Pro 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 inch 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?
No.

Can I do this install myself?
Yes. We have had customers of every type of experience: students to pensioners do this upgrade. It is only slightly more complicated than a RAM upgrade.

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.